Inspired by the New Hacker's Dictionary

Inspired by the New Hacker's Dictionary

Illustrations videos de quelques termes issus du jargon hacker.
The Jargon Lexicon jargon file version 4.4.7

[IRC; common] Under most IRC, /me is the “pose” command; if you are logged on as Foonly and type “/me laughs”, others watching the channel will see “* Joe Foonly laughs”. This usage has been carried over to mail and news, where the reader is expected to perform the same expansion in his or her head.

1. [Usenet: variously ascribed to the TV series Cheers, Moonlighting, and Soap]v. To have sex with; compare bounce, sense 2. (This is mainstream slang.) In Commonwealth hackish the variant ?bonk’ is more common.
2. n. After the original Peter Korn ?Boinkon’ Usenet parties, used for almost any net social gathering, e.g., Miniboink, a small boink held by Nancy Gillett in 1988; Minniboink, a Boinkcon in Minnesota in 1989; Humpdayboinks, Wednesday get-togethers held in the San Francisco Bay Area. Compare @-party.
3. Var of bonk; see bonk/oif.

[Commodore] The Commodore Business Machines logo, which strongly resembles a poultry part (within Commodore itself the logo was always called chicken lips). Rendered in ASCII as ?C=’. With the arguable exception of the Amiga, Commodore's machines were notoriously crocky little bitty boxes, albeit people have written multitasking Unix-like operating systems with TCP/IP networking for them. Thus, this usage may owe something to Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the basis for the movie Blade Runner; the novel is now sold under that title), in which a ?chickenhead’ is a mutant with below-average intelligence.

Epsilon squared
A quantity even smaller than epsilon, as small in comparison to epsilon as epsilon is to something normal; completely negligible. If you buy a supercomputer for a million dollars, the cost of the thousand-dollar terminal to go with it is epsilon, and the cost of the ten-dollar cable to connect them is epsilon squared. Compare lost in the underflow, lost in the noise.

FISH queue
[acronym, by analogy with FIFO (First In, First Out)] ‘First In, Still Here’. A joking way of pointing out that processing of a particular sequence of events or requests has stopped dead. Also FISH mode and FISHnet; the latter may be applied to any network that is running really slowly or exhibiting extreme flakiness.

[from Japan's national hero]
1. A network packet that in theory is a broadcast to every machine in the universe. The typical case is an IP datagram whose destination IP address is []. Fortunately, few gateways are foolish enough to attempt to implement this case! 2. A network packet of maximum size. An IP Godzillagram has 65,535 octets. Compare super source quench, Christmas tree packet, martian.

[from obs. mainstream slang hand-rolled in opposition to ready-made, referring to cigarettes] To perform a normally automated software installation or configuration process by hand; implies that the normal process failed due to bugs in the configurator or was defeated by something exceptional in the local environment. “The worst thing about being a gateway between four different nets is having to hand-roll a new sendmail configuration every time any of them upgrades.”

I see no X here
Hackers (and the interactive computer games they write) traditionally favor this slightly marked usage over other possible equivalents such as “There's no X here!” or “X is missing.” or “Where's the X?”. This goes back to the original PDP-10 ADVENT, which would respond in this wise if you asked it to do something involving an object not present at your location in the game.

[from the then-large number of Usenet VAXen with names of the form foovax] Originally, a fictitious Usenet site at the Kremlin, announced on April 1, 1984 in a posting ostensibly originated there by Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko. The posting was actually forged by Piet Beertema as an April Fool's joke. Other fictitious sites mentioned in the hoax were moskvax and kgbvax. This was probably the funniest of the many April Fool's forgeries perpetrated on Usenet (which has negligible security against them), because the notion that Usenet might ever penetrate the Iron Curtain seemed so totally absurd at the time.
In fact, it was only six years later that the first genuine site in Moscow,, joined Usenet. Some readers needed convincing that the postings from it weren't just another prank. Vadim Antonov, senior programmer at Demos and the major poster from there up to mid-1991, was quite aware of all this, referred to it frequently in his own postings, and at one point twitted some credulous readers by blandly asserting that he was a hoax!
Eventually he even arranged to have the domain's gateway site named kremvax, thus neatly turning fiction into fact and demonstrating that the hackish sense of humor transcends cultural barriers. [Mr. Antonov also contributed the Russian-language material for this lexicon. —ESR]
In an even more ironic historical footnote, kremvax became an electronic center of the anti-communist resistance during the bungled hard-line coup of August 1991. During those three days the Soviet UUCP network centered on kremvax became the only trustworthy news source for many places within the USSR. Though the sysops were concentrating on internal communications, cross-border postings included immediate transliterations of Boris Yeltsin's decrees condemning the coup and eyewitness reports of the demonstrations in Moscow's streets. In those hours, years of speculation that totalitarianism would prove unable to maintain its grip on politically-loaded information in the age of computer networking were proved devastatingly accurate — and the original kremvax joke became a reality as Yeltsin and the new Russian revolutionaries of glasnost and perestroika made kremvax one of the timeliest means of their outreach to the West.

lost in the underflow
Too small to be worth considering; more specifically, small beyond the limits of accuracy or measurement. This is a reference to floating underflow, a condition that can occur when a floating-point arithmetic processor tries to handle quantities smaller than its limit of magnitude. It is also a pun on ‘undertow’ (a kind of fast, cold current that sometimes runs just offshore and can be dangerous to swimmers). “Well, sure, photon pressure from the stadium lights alters the path of a thrown baseball, but that effect gets lost in the underflow.” Compare epsilon, epsilon squared; see also overflow bit.

Hacker's-eye introduction traditionally included in the top-level directory of a Unix source distribution, containing a pointer to more detailed documentation, credits, miscellaneous revision history, notes, etc. In the Mac and PC worlds, software is not usually distributed in source form, and the README is more likely to contain user-oriented material like last-minute documentation changes, error workarounds, and restrictions. When asked, hackers invariably relate the README convention to the famous scene in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland in which Alice confronts magic munchies labeled “Eat Me” and “Drink Me”.
The file may be named README, or READ.ME, or rarely ReadMe or readme.txt or some other variant. The all-upper-case spellings, however, are universal among Unix programmers. By ancient tradition, real source files have all-lowercase names and all-uppercase is reserved for metadata, comments, and grafitti. This is functional; because 'A' sorts before 'a' in ASCII, the README will appear in directory listings before any source file.

star out
[University of York, England] To replace a user's encrypted password in /etc/passwd with a single asterisk. Under Unix this is not a legal encryption of any password; hence the user is not permitted to log in. In general, accounts like adm, news, and daemon are permanently “starred out”; occasionally a real user might have this inflicted upon him/her as a punishment, e.g. “Graham was starred out for playing Omega in working hours”. Also occasionally known as The Order Of The Gold Star in this context. “Don't do that, or you'll be awarded the Order of the Gold Star...” Compare disusered.

That's not a bug, that's a feature
The canonical first parry in a debate about a purported bug. The complainant, if unconvinced, is likely to retort that the bug is then at best a misfeature. See also feature.

Traversal of a data structure, especially an array or linked-list data structure in core. See also codewalker, silly walk, clobber.

2007 – Albertine Meunier