Linux University Coming Soon

Fake News written by James Baughn on Sunday, November 1, 1998

from the mit-now-has-some-competition dept.

LINUX, MO -- Four months ago the small town of Linn, Missouri changed its name to Linux. Now the town is set to start construction on a new college built specifically for nerds. "Knowledge for Nerds. Stuff that Educates" will be the new college's motto.

Most nerds are already proficient in programming. However, when interviewing for a job, saying "I hack the Linux kernel" just isn't going to cut it. Employers want to see pieces of paper from universities proving that you're a programmer, even if you wrote your first "Hello World!" program in kindergarten. Linux University will strive to solve this problem. While the usual programming classes will be offered, the focus of the college will be on other nerdy topics that students may not be familiar with. This way, students can earn the same pieces of dead trees that other colleges offer, but without being bored in classes like "C++ for Dummies" for four years.

Some of the classes that the college will offer include:

  • Fundamentals of Oral Communication - Learn how to effectively communicate with PHBs (Pointy Haired Bosses). Includes instructions on the proper use of political correctness and buzzwords. Emphasis is placed on the skill of persuading management to use your recommendations instead of those they heard at a Microsoft "workshop".
  • Literature for Nerds - Students will grok the Jargon File, The Bastard Operator from Hell series, and selected science fiction works by Heinlein, Asimov, and others
  • Study of New Media - Basically a goof-off class in which students "study" Slashdot, Freshmeat, and other nerdy "new media" ventures (in other words, websites)
  • Art of Microbrewery - Learn how to make Open Source Beer.
  • Biology of Penguins - A fascinating look at the secret lives of penguins.
  • Geography for Nerds - Students will learn the answers to such as questions as:
    • Where are the best pizza parlors in the Boston area?
    • Where was Linus Torvalds born?
    • What are the best roads to take in Southern California to avoid traffic jams?
    • How many miles is it from Microsoft HQ to the Gates mansion?
    • What are the exact coordinates of Redmond, WA, in the rare event that I have access to nuclear warheads?
  • Rhetorical and Critical Thinking - Students will debate on a range of topics, including:
    • "GNOME vs. KDE"
    • "Everything But the Kitchen Sink: Which is better, emacs or vi?
    • "Windows NT: New Technology or Not Trustworthy?" [Note: will probably be updated to "Windows 2000: Which is worse, Y2K or W2K?" -ed]
    • "Slashdot First Comment Posters Should Be..."
    • "The Holy War: Command Lines vs. Graphical Interfaces"
    • "Will Linux Achieve World Domination?"
    • "What Should Be Part of an Operating System?"
  • Obfuscated Programming Language Design - Students learn how to create their own programming language, particularly one with a horrendously complicated syntax that only they can understand.
  • Political Systems - A survey of the various forms of software development, including Bazaar, Cathedral, Dangle-Stock-Options-in-the-Programmers-Faces (used by Microsoft), among others. Students will learn the fundamental aspects of starting and maintaining an open source project while keeping everyone in line. Eric S. Raymond is scheduled to teach this class.
  • Software Should Be Free, Dammit! - Richard M. Stallman will discuss the moral implications of selling commercial software.

Of course, Linux University will offer other "nerd-friendly" features besides classes. It should come as no surprise that every dorm room will have a T1 connection to the Net (T3 or better available for an additional fee). Each room on campus will have a Slashdot marquee that will flash the latest headlines. Every square inch on campus will be no more than 200 feet from a computer terminal.

Funding for the new college came from Intel, Netscape, Red Hat, VA Research, and other companies. Linux International, The Free Software Foundation, and many individual Linux enthusiasts also provided financial or other support. Those who contributed have been invited to the ground-breaking ceremony next week.

Reactions have been mostly positive. "This is cool," one high school student said. "Now let's just hope they offer really good scholarships." One Anonymous Coward observed, "This is just one more step towards World Domination." A recent college graduate noted, "I wish I was able to go to a school like this. At my college, the most technically advanced class they offered was 'Learning to Use Microsoft Visual Basic'. What a waste of four years."

However, not all are pleased. One pundit noted, "Why the heck does this have to be in Missouri of all places? The Show-Me State is nowhere near the traditional nerd areas of Boston and Silicon Valley. Well, I suppose it's better than Redmond, WA... but not much." Another pundit argued, "Look at all the classes they will offer. They're all bullshit classes! 'Biology of Penguins'? C'mon, that's absurd! I bet most businesses will consider Linux University degrees to be worthless and will hire MSCEs instead."

For more information, visit the Linux U. website at

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