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I saw a t-shirt reading 'anything you say gets piped to /dev/null', not incredibly funny but amusing at least.

Does anyone else have any good one-liner *nix jokes?


locked by Michael Mrozek Sep 16 '11 at 12:19

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these are amusing :) i love the way us geeks have the rather awesome sense of humour! fsk the win! – user4806 Feb 16 '11 at 9:39

32 Answers 32

  • I mount my soul at /dev/null - a colleague

  • image

greyfa.de/Makefile – greyfade Sep 8 '10 at 20:38
AAALT... TEXXXT! – Hello71 Apr 25 '11 at 20:46
I would have the dialog as this: Make me a sandwich - What? Make it yourself. - sudo!! -Okay – Eineki Aug 9 '11 at 9:11

Unix is user-friendly. It's just picky about who its friends are.

(I don't know the origin. There are several variant formulations floating around. T-shirt (first google hit)


There are two major products of Berkeley, CA -- LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be strictly by coincidence.

Jeremy S. Anderson

I went back and found the original of this quote on Usenet & it is actually as I've edited it. – delete Sep 10 '10 at 0:45
LSD was synthesized by a Swiss scientist. I would not define it a Berkley product (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LSD) – Matteo Sep 15 '11 at 15:05
Surely that would be better are "Two things came out fo Berkeley: LSD and BSD. Coincidence?"... – Sardathrion Sep 16 '11 at 8:06

Those who do not understand UNIX are condemned to reinvent it, poorly.

— Henry Spencer

Henry is an amazingly knowledgeable guy about space stuff too! Very eclectic fellow! – geoffc Sep 8 '10 at 14:08
By a coincidence, Henry Spencer is also the name of the lead character in the 1977 film "Eraserhead", so googling for this name gives lots of images of someone with electric-shock style hair. – delete Sep 13 '10 at 13:37
That is actually more sad than amusing since it documents a very real phenomenon. – XTL Nov 28 '10 at 12:24

UNIX was not designed to stop you from doing stupid things, because that would also stop you from doing clever things.

— Doug Gwyn


FreeBSD make:

$ make love
Not war.

or bsdmake on OS X:

$ make love
make: don't know how to make love. Stop

These are all taken from here. A lot of these don't seem to work on newer shells, but they're still possible to laugh at.

 % make fire
 Make: Don't know how to make fire. Stop. 

 % why not?
 No match. 

 % gotta light?
 No match. 

 % !1984
 1984: Event not found. # (on some systems) 

 % How's my lovemaking?
 Unmatched '. 

 % "How would you rate Bush's incompetence? 
 Unmatched ". 

 % [Where is Jimmy Hoffa?
 Missing ]. 

 % [Where is my brain?
 Missing ]. 

 % ^How did the sex change^ operation go? 
 Modifier failed. 

 % If I had a ( for every $ Congress spent, what would I have? 
 Too many ('s. 

 % man: why did you get a divorce?
 man:: Too many arguments. 

 % %blow
 %blow: No such job. 

 % \(-
 (-: Command not found. 

 % sh
 $ PATH=pretending! /usr/ucb/which sense 
 no sense in pretending!
 $ mkdir matter; cat >matter
 matter: cannot create 

 % cd /tmp
 % touch this; chmod 000 this
 % ln -s /usr/bin/touch U
 % U this
 U: cannot touch this: no write permission 

 % rm meese-ethics
 rm: meese-ethics nonexistent 

 % ar m God
 ar: God does not exist 

 % make love
 Make: Don't know how to make love. Stop. 

 Supposedly on older Sun's make will also tell you

 Make: Don't know how to make love. How about war instead?

 % sleep with me
 bad character 

 % ^What is saccharine?
 Bad substitute. 

 % drink yellow_pages
 yellow_pages: Is a directory 

 %touch me
 %chmod 000 me
 %touch me
 touch: cannot touch me: permission denied 

 % ar x "my love life"
 ar: my love life does not exist 

 % ar x "matey, the treasure"
 ar: matey, the treasure does not exist 

 % talk Gorvachev@Kremlin
 talk: Kremlin: Can't figure out network address. 

 % talk Comrade Khruchev
 [Your party is not logged on] 
Haha: '$ ar m God ar: creating God` (GNU ar (GNU Binutils) – al. Nov 10 '10 at 22:49

I didn't see this for a while now:

Unix is sexy: who | grep -i blonde | date; cd ~; unzip; touch; strip; finger; mount; gasp; yes; uptime; umount; sleep

I think " date cd ~;" should be "date ;cd ~;". :) – Hemant Sep 7 '10 at 8:36
yeah, you're right. I did correct it :-) – echox Sep 7 '10 at 11:17
gasp? what's gasp? – xenoterracide Sep 9 '10 at 0:21
gasp is an assembly preprocessor (Gnu ASsembly pre Processor) – echox Sep 9 '10 at 8:33

If you have any trouble sounding condescending, find a UNIX user to show you how it's done.

— Scott Adams, Dilbert Cartoonist

i love this one – Stefan Sep 11 '10 at 11:07

Here are a couple of T-shirt slogans:

There is no place like ~

My favorite:
Thou shalt not kill -9

There is no place like ~ is so much better than There is no place like which makes no sense... – Josh Dec 10 '10 at 17:14

From Linus Torvalds : "Software is like sex: it's better when it's free".


Here's a nickel, kid. Get yourself a better computer.

That line, from an old Dilbert cartoon, is now famous enough that you don't even need the rest of the cartoon anymore.

Here it is anyway:


OK, this is cheating, but still a lot of fun!

Play around with the command line version of xkcd webcomic:

Go ahead, type in your commands!

Here's what you you can expect:

alt text

$ ed You are not a diety. – György Andrasek Jan 8 '11 at 13:21
Fun fact. It lets you sudo rm -rf /. Also "locate raptor" and "locate keys" get interestng results. – Macha Jul 21 '11 at 20:25

You don't exist. Go away.

Message from various programs when they try to look up your user info by user ID and that fails.

Reasons that can happen:

  • /etc/passwd is corrupt
  • the user got deleted between the program getting its doomed ID and attempting the lookup
  • various weirdnesses involving the utmp file

Found in early Unix sources:

 * You are not expected to understand this.
if(rp->p_flag & SSWAP) {
    rp->p_flag =& ~SSWAP;

(Lightly edited.)

Note the now-obsolete =& instead of &= – Neil Mayhew May 27 '11 at 3:08
stop@hammertime:~> touch /this
touch: cannot touch "/this": Permission denied

Seen on a t-shirt a while back:

rm -rf /bin/laden

My favorites:

UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to 
understand the simplicity.
    Dennis Ritchie


One of my most productive days was throwing away 1000 lines of code.
    Ken Thomson

From http://q4td.blogspot.com/

“Unix never says ‘please’”
    — Rob Pike

Sex Drugs and UNIX (Usenix '83)

From the cover of the book 'A quarter Century of Unix' by Peter H. Salus


when installed :


I really don't get this one – Stefan Nov 11 '10 at 19:05
You mean "fortune -o" to get the offensive ones :) – Johan Nov 13 '10 at 18:40
Fortune is a program that prints from a database of oneliners (fsvo line). – XTL Nov 28 '10 at 12:26
oh snap... nice answer +1 – Stefan Jan 6 '11 at 6:41

Microsoft is not the answer. Microsoft is the question. NO (or Linux) is the answer.

  • taken from here

    $ man woman
    No manual entry for woman

If Windows is the answer, it must have been a very silly question. – XTL Nov 28 '10 at 12:27
well... Microsoft is the answer on many occasions... like 'who is to blame?' – Stefan Nov 28 '10 at 15:50
joe@joebox:~$ whatis linux

The Sad Story

[root@localhost root]# gcc homework.c -o homework.c
[root@localhost root]#
[root@localhost root]# ls
[root@localhost root]# 

The Contradiction

less > more

The name came from the joke of doing "backwards more." To help remember the difference between less and more, a common joke is to say, "less > more," implying that less has greater functionality than more. - from wikipedia

this is awesome – Stefan Jul 19 '11 at 8:32

I read your mail.

It'd be much better with I read /var/spool/mail/$USER (or is it referring to the command? Hmm...) – new123456 Feb 26 '11 at 23:41
@new123456, It is a pun because the sentence is semantically ambiguous. A BOFH knows that lusers think 'ah nice guy, he is reading my mail I send him - how thoughtful!' - and at the same time he is recognized by fellow BOFHs as one of them (BOFHs don't care about the privacy of correspondence because they are BOFHs - they read the all the mail of their lusers if they are bored). – maxschlepzig Feb 27 '11 at 10:07

A more traditional version of the dirty joke echox posted:



hm, maybe this one:

In a world without walls or fences who needs windows or gates.

I know it's lame but true too :)


Not specific to *nix but related to coders:

Code is like fart, you support only yours.


[root@satish:~/Desktop]$ whatis linux

linux: nothing appropriate.


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