back to article 'Gimme Gimme Gimme' Easter egg in man breaks automated tests at 00:30

The maintainer of the Linux manual program man has scrapped an "Easter egg" after it broke a user's automatic code tests. On Tuesday, Unix systems administrator Jaroslav Kucera wrote in a Stack Exchange post: "We've noticed that some of our automatic tests fail when they run at 00:30 but work fine the rest of the day. They …

  1. caffeine addict Silver badge

    It's a while since I've played with linux boxes, so excuse my ignorance, but why would an automated test want to run 'man' without any parameters?

    1. Marco Fontani

      why would an automated test want to run 'man' without any parameters

      It didn't. The automated process mentioned in the article needed to run man -w to get the "man path".

      As per the article,

      When you run man without specifying the page or with -w, it outputs 'gimme gimme gimme' to stderr, but only at 00:30."

      So, running man -w (a perfectly sensible thing to do to get the man path) triggered it, which led to the problem.

      IMHO, if it outputed the easter egg only on a man invocation, it wouldn't have caused any such problem, and removing the easter egg altogether is unwarranted. Just don't make it work on man -w and make it work on man alone. My $0.02.

      1. caffeine addict Silver badge

        Ta! Wouldn't have occurred to me that "-w" would give you the path man was using. Yeah, I can see how that would cause problems, and nth-ing the suggestion it would have been fine if it only easter egged if it had no params...

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "removing the easter egg altogether is unwarranted"

        Its presence caused an error when another change was made. What other errors could it cause in the future? That seems a good reason to remove it. It's maybe not a huge increase in the attack area in comparison with other things but it's there.

    2. cjwatson

      "man -w" without any other parameters prints the current man page search path, which is the sort of thing you might use as a building block for something else. The Easter egg mistakenly affected that case.

    3. Hans 1 Silver badge

      The article is incorrect ... the bloke was using the -w

      As for the issue, obligatory xkcd: https://xkcd.com/1172/

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When the automatic code test failed did they send out an SOS?

    1. DailyLlama

      Aha!

      I see what you did there...

      1. frank ly Silver badge

        Re: Aha!

        I think this code has met its Waterloo. It was nice of the author to take a chance on it though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Aha!

          That's the name of the game.

          1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

            Re: Aha!

            Still, the author deserves to be thanked for the music associations this has brought.

          2. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Aha!

            When all is said and done, any one of us might have thought they were under attack.

          3. Laura Kerr

            Re: Aha!

            At least he didn't act like a dancing queen about it - when the phone went ring ring, he just stepped into the light of the super trouper and said 'yes - I do, I do, I do, I do, I do'.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Aha!

              Does his mother know what he did?

              It's open source so it's not about the money, money, money.

            2. Dan 55 Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Aha!

              Knowing me, knowing you. If this were Windows there'd be nothing we could do.

              Ahaaa.

              1. David 132 Silver badge

                Re: Aha!

                One Of Us is crying (with laughter)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Aha!

        no.. "ABBA". "Aha" is a different Scandinavian band.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Aha!

          ""Aha" is a different Scandinavian band."

          Alan Partridge, is that you?!

    2. TitterYeNot
      Coat

      "When the automatic code test failed did they send out an SOS?"

      No, but it does trigger

      cron && cron && cron

      followed by

      su - per $true | per

      Yes OK I'll STFU now and get my coat before the jokes / syntax get any worse...

      1. David Nash Silver badge
        Facepalm

        su - per $true | per

        Well done. In a groaning kind of way, anyway.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      When the automatic code test failed did they send out an SOS?

      I was going to post something about Waterloo, but looking at the queue, I am a bit late to the party...

      Damn... shows how old some of us are...

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Mama Mia, here we go again with the lame jokes.

        My my, how could you not resit it?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aww, Linux only...

    I'm using FreeBSD and was hoping that this could have been triggered by a more commonly available joke. So I set out to investigate /usr/src/usr.bin/man, only to discover that /usr/bin/man on FreeBSD is only a shell script. Oh well, can't win 'm all ;)

    I suppose I could always add this functionality myself if I really wanted to, but I think I'll pass.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Aww, Linux only...

      "on FreeBSD is only a shell script."

      And if a shell script is all it needs to be that's all it should be. Leave the bloat to Windows.

  4. John Lilburne Silver badge

    Unprofessional bollocks

    All code has the potential to cause user issues. Adding unnecessary code is highly unprofessional.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Unprofessional bollocks

      Like the office ribbon?

      1. DailyLlama

        Re: Unprofessional bollocks

        Or that bloody Paperclip?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Unprofessional bollocks

          I will not have people speak ill of clippy.

          You do realise clippy was the first instance of AI.

          How else did it know you were writing a letter?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            How else did it know you were writing a letter?

            Well, he didn't seem too sure of it. Always had to ask what you were trying to do and verify.

          2. Deltics
            Boffin

            Re: Unprofessional bollocks

            > How else did [Clippy] know you were writing a letter?

            It didn't.

          3. Captain DaFt

            Re: Unprofessional bollocks

            You do realise clippy was the first instance of AI.

            How else did it know you were writing a letter?

            Unfortunately, for what passes as 'AI' today, it's still state of the art. :/

          4. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: Unprofessional bollocks

            You do realise clippy was the first instance of AI.

            Artificial Irritation?

            1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

              Re: Unprofessional bollocks

              My irritation was very real.

              1. JimboSmith Silver badge

                Re: Unprofessional bollocks

                My irritation was very real.

                I'll second that!

    2. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Re: Unprofessional bollocks

      Grump !

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Unprofessional bollocks

      It's from a bygone era when software mostly talked to humans. Today, most software talks to other software, and until we invent Artificial Sense of Humor - there's no chance software appreciates such outputs...

    4. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Unprofessional bollocks

      "highly unprofessional"

      Well, I doubt he gets paid for man, so why complain about professionalism?

    5. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

      Re: Unprofessional bollocks

      Like this?

      "Easter eggs in the 1997 version of Microsoft Office include a hidden flight simulator in Microsoft Excel and a pinball game in Microsoft Word.[18][19] "

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_egg_(media)#Software

      1. MacroRodent Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Unprofessional bollocks

        > Like this?

        ..

        > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_egg_(media)#Software

        Doesn't seem to mention the Easter egg in Windows 3.1, where a certain key sequence ( I have sadly forgotten which) popped up a window with rolling credits of the developers on a movie screen, with a figure standing next to it that most of the time looked like a cartoon Bill Gates, but occasionally the head was swapped to look like a bear. There must be some inside joke there...

        I think a "credits" Eater egg like this quite justifiable, given the anonymity under which most developers labour. Might even pay for itself by boosting morale.

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: Unprofessional bollocks

          In the unnecessary but fun category:

          I remember in the 1980s using a logic analyser (I can't remember now if it was HP or Tektronix) that had Connect 4 built into the firmware.

          1. Peter Mount

            Re: Unprofessional bollocks

            Just like my now dead HP calculator, can't remember the formula to trigger it, but it had Tetris in its firmware.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Unprofessional bollocks

              Many HP and TI calculators had hidden embedded mini-games. Likewise, many HP printers have "design team" type eggs as well as the normal test page. My HP 54600B Oscilloscope has tetris. My HP 54622D 'scope has Asteroids. My HP 54645D 'scope has the design team alongside a picture of a badger (!!), and also a game called BUGS! as well as a hidden hardware hacking menu.

              Tektronix test equipment has all kinds of weird easter eggs. I had a logic analyzer with a pong game, and another with breakout. Both are long gone, and I don't remember the model numbers. My 2232 oscilloscope has a wizard riding a skateboard, and my 1751 digital 'scope can display fish swimming.

              As I don't go out of my way to collect kit with eggs, I rather suspect that such distractions are quite common ... perhaps the rule rather than the exception. I even have a fscking coffeepot (Mr. Coffee PRX30) that'll display the designer's name, and has a hidden "diagnostic" mode that displays the temperature in degrees C. The mind boggles ...

        2. patrickstar

          Re: Unprofessional bollocks

          The bear was the mascot for Windows 3.1

          See https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20030818-00/?p=42873/

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Unprofessional bollocks

        ...and don't forget the maze game hidden in Excel, which took you to 3D scrolling credits for the MS Office team :-)

    6. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: Unprofessional bollocks

      So, are your parents fed up yet with you complaining about your DNA during the Christmas dinner? :)

      1. Stevie Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Unprofessional bollocks (4 Daggerchild)

        You stupid sod!

        Soup this time! Hot soup! That stuff has lumps in it for god's sake! *AND* spices!

        They must've heard my screams two counties away.

    7. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Unprofessional bollocks

      All code has the potential to cause user issues. Adding unnecessary code is highly unprofessional.

      Oh, come on, loosen up and get a life.

    8. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Unprofessional bollocks

      And your point is, John?

    9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Unprofessional bollocks

      "Adding unnecessary code is highly unprofessional."

      Somebody had to say it: systemd.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Abba?

    Surely it's Black Flag all the way! No?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40TD4v0jCAc

    1. Excellentsword

      Re: Abba?

      Have an upvote, friend.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Abba?

        Indeed. I'd give you ten upvotes if I could, and I never "vote". Abba still sucks.

  6. Palpy

    You're no fun anymore.

    *hits MAN page with dead chicken*

  7. Bob Dunlop

    I remember when they broke "make telegram". Used to go:

    $ make telegram

    Don't know how to make telegram. Stop.

    Glad to see "who is god" still kinda works.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Glad to see "who is god" still kinda works.

      A long time ago there was a Digital product that had a very basic debugger called "POD". If, with futile expectation, you typed "HELP" at the "POD>" prompt, you got the message:

      POD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES

      Those were the days...

    2. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

      FreeBSD 10.3 YMMV elsewhere.

      steve@stever ~$ make telegram

      make: don't know how to make telegram. Stop

      make: stopped in /usr/home/steve

      Looks like it still works here.

      Buit the who is god thing:

      steve@stever ~$ who is god

      usage: who [-abHmqsTu] [am I] [file]

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Make

        mikew@Morag ~ $ make telegram

        make: *** No rule to make target 'telegram'. Stop.

    3. Mage Silver badge

      Who is god?

      who is god simply returns the prompt.

      1. wayne 8

        Re: Who is god?

        Debian 8

        $ who is god

        wayne pts/0 2017-11-22 15:19 (:0.0)

        $

    4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Does "make love" still result in "Not war?"

      1. jake Silver badge

        @ Phil

        No, it doesn't. Alas.

        $ make love

        make: *** No rule to make target 'love'. Stop.

        $

        1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

          Re: @ Phil

          Again on FreeBSD, but this time it makes a rather pathetic admission:

          [steve@stever ~]$ make love

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

          make: stopped in /usr/home/steve

  8. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    Didn't know about "who is god" - nice.

    "aptitude -v moo" (with multiple levels of v) still works too, as does "apt moo".

    1. Mage Silver badge

      apt moo

      mikew@Morag ~ $ apt moo

      (__)

      (oo)

      /------\/

      / | ||

      * /\---/\

      ~~ ~~

      ..."Have you mooed today?"...

      Looks a bit like a goat or Satanic dog?

      (Can't get monospace to work)

  9. theblackhand

    XKCD

    https://xkcd.com/1172/

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Angel

    Very necessary

    Sad it's going.

    If you do any serious coding you really need a bit of light relief sometimes.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Very necessary

      If we're ever to be reinstated would it be Bjorn again?

  11. Slow Joe Crow

    Interesting, I never knew about the easter egg or the Abba song. To me Gimme Gimme Gimme always means Black Flag, with Henry Rollins in full effect.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obviously "gimme gimme gimme" refers to the Swedish pop band ABBA's hit

    Obvious to Abba fans. Thanks for explaining the reference - I wouldn't have had a clue.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Obviously "gimme gimme gimme" refers to the Swedish pop band ABBA's hit

      "Thanks for explaining the reference - I wouldn't have had a clue."

      Even with the explanation I still don't find my life enriched by it.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    $ touch /dev/knee

    touch: /dev/knee: Permission denied

  14. Lazy Jack
    Joke

    Bloatware

    So, that is what you get, when running operating systems with bloatware. This would never happen if you run Linux instead.

    Oh wait...

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