Linux Humor : 5 Reasons Not To Take Linux Too Seriously

No, no please don’t shoot! Of course, all Linux distro are great and should be taken seriously. But Linux is also different in many ways, especially when it comes to jokes and pranks. For this article, I will show you a short list of examples of this “Linux Humor.”

1. Killing Daemons

You probably know that we do not “terminate” a process in Linux. Instead, we “kill” it. It is crude, and kind of funny in itself, but no one perceives the humor anymore because it is so widespread. However, you should also know that a process which is launched at boot is called a “daemon.” Still not smiling? OK, what happens when you want to terminate a process that has been launched at boot? Yes, you kill a daemon. Now, if you appreciate RPG like I do, you should be more receptive. If you want to see it by yourself, Xscreensaver has an option in its menu called “Kill the daemon.”


2. Avoiding Zombies

There is another funny case about processes, it is called zombie process. A zombie process is exactly what is sounds like: the remnant of a bug or a poorly programmed software which makes a supposedly killed process stay around. Normally, after killing a process, its status become EXIT_ZOMBIES, and it will be removed from the process list. But sometimes, the parent process does not do its job properly and its child stays as a zombie. Of course, it is no use trying to kill such a process: it is already dead (see the humor there?). Well, in fact, a zombie does not affect your system. The only problem it can create is in case of huge proliferation. Since a 32-bit system is limited to 32767 PIDs, if you have too many zombies, you will be unable to launch anything. But this is an extreme case and there are two easy solutions to prevent that: ask the parent to kill its zombie child with

or just kill the parent (what a bunch of awful solutions when you think about it). And to keep track of how many zombie process you currently have, the command

is the easiest way.


3. Insulting Intruders

You may still be unaware of it, but the Linux universe is a violent jungle. Just to remind you, Linux’s mascot is that, and he is the chief architect for the Linux kernel. So if you want to stick to this nice mentality, there is a hidden option that you can activate so that intruders who try to guess the super user’s password get what they deserve: insults. For that, simply type

and find the line which begins with “Defaults.” Append to it “insults,” after a comma. For example, mine looks like that:

And that’s all! Now, at every missed password, the system will find a new way to “encourage” the intruder. But beware, because in most cases, you will be the one to get the insults more than any intruder.


4. Weird Package Managers

In general, developers have their own sense of humor. If you tried TTYtter, the software to tweet from the command line, you may have seen some jokes in the documentation. But Linux developers also like to give strange names to their system, and especially to the package manager of their distribution. Ubuntu is kind of an exception, but if you take a look at some of the major distributions, the software which install programs is not named from nowhere: openSUSE uses the command “zypper,” Fedora and CentOS share the Yum package manager, Archlinux prefers Pacman and Yaourt, PuppyLinux works with PET packages, Sabayon uses Equo, etc. My personal favorite is Source Mage, a source based distribution, with its package manager called Sorcery. So to install a package, you do

and to remove it

Interesting, isn’t it?

5. Terminal Jokes

Finally, we all know them, but their existence is the very proof that Linux Humor exists: the terminal jokes. It is easy to get, type stupid command and make a joke out of the error message. For example, try

the computer will return

Now you know why we are geeks. But there is a lot of them, that I encourage you to try yourself, like:


We all have our hobbies. But developing for Linux will never cut you from your sense of humor. You will notice that behind every aspect that we evoked, there was matter to learn. Linux Humor makes you study the nomenclature, how to deal with zombies, find Easter eggs, etc. And most of all, it brings that sympathetic feeling towards Linux, the feeling of a funny and distracting community.

Do you know any other funny points about Linux? There is a lot of them, so feel free to leave a comment.

Image credit: Penguin by BigStockPhoto


Adrien is a young but passionate Linux aficionado. Command line, encryption, obscure distributions... you name it, he tried it. Always improving his system, he encountered multiple tricks and hacks and is ready to share them. Best things in the world? Math, computers and peanut butter!


  1. hi adrien , I have been using ubuntu for a while now , my problem is that when I create a vpn connection after a minute or two it says the connection failed , what is the problem , I am using ubuntu 12.04
    thanks ali

    1. Well VPN connections have a lot of factors involved. The problem can come from the VPN itself, your drivers, your internet, etc. In fact, there is a ton of similar issues with Ubuntu 12.04: But if you are sure that your VPN is not the source, search in the logs. But if you are searching for a dirty solution, you can try vpnautoconnect ( which will automatically reconnect to the VPN. This might also show if the VPN itself is the problem. You can also try changing your network manager, or your driver for your internet card.

  2. This reminds me to an old joke in the gcc configure script:

    checking for main in -le… no
    checking for main in -links… no
    checking for life_signs in -lkenny… no
    oh my god! They killed kenny
    You bastards
    checking for main in -lz… no


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