As Easy As /usr/src/linux

Fake News written by James Baughn on Tuesday, August 14, 2001

from the bracket-colon-hyphen-parens dept.

Wiping the sweat from his brow, the contestant diligently continues to recite, "'i' equals 'NR' underscore 'TASKS' semicolon newline 'p' equals ampersand 'task' bracket 'NR' underscore 'TASKS' close-bracket semicolon newline while parens minus minus 'i' parens brace if parens star minus..."

Bzzzt! One of the judges says, "You missed an exclamation point. Ten point penalty for that error."

The contestant realizes it's all over. He had spent 500 hours memorizing the source code to the Linux 0.01 kernel and then blew it all by forgetting one stupid ASCII character in sched.c.

Welcome to the First Annual Linux Kernel Memorization Contest in New Haven, Connecticut, where the stakes are high and the frustration is simply unbearable.

Linux longhairs from all over the globe have descended on the New Haven Offramp Motel to show off their memorization skills in front of a crowd of... dozens.

"Those math freaks can memorize PI and other irrational constants all they want. I'll stick with the Linux kernel source code thank you very much," said Bob Notmyrealname, the organizer of the event.

During the five day competition, contestants recite different files within the Linux 0.01 source code. Day one is the "easiest": contestants regurgitate panic.c (222 bytes) and serial.c (1,340 bytes). Those players who make the least number of errors (if any) advance to round two, which includes more difficult files. By the end of the week, the remaining participants are expected to recite the "hard" files: sched.c (5,155 bytes), console.c (9,524 bytes), and hd.c (9,734 bytes).

It's not necessary for the contestants to remember Linus Torvalds' comments, but they do receive bonus points for including them. For instance, the champion received a bonus for remembering this comment from sched.c, giving him just enough points to edge out the opposition:

...This is GOOD CODE! There probably won't be any reason to change this, as it should work well in all circumstances...

The champion, Eric Malloc, will receive a lifetime supply of "EyeOpener(tm)" brand caffeinated beverages, a membership to the "Linux Distro-Of-The-Month Club", and a $500 gift certificate towards Red Hat products.

"Wow! My girlfriend thought I was insane for memorizing all of these ASCII characters. This will show her!" he said after the award ceremony. He then spent several minutes in a trance while he transferred the contents of /usr/src/linux to /dev/null within his brain's core memory to make room for other things.

"I won't be needing that 320 kilobytes anymore," he chuckled.

Indeed. Next year -- assuming the event doesn't get cancelled due to lack of interest -- the participants will memorize Linux kernel 1.0.0.

"Errr... I'm not sure if I'll enter next year," said the second-place finisher. "I've been dreaming in ASCII for the past two weeks. I don't know if I can memorize another kernel version and still keep my sanity."

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