Tao Te Chip
The tao that can be tar(1)ed
is not the entire Tao.
The path that can be specified
is not the Full Path.
We declare the names
of all variables and functions.
Yet the Tao has no type specifier.
Dynamically binding, you realize the magic.
Statically binding, you see only the hierarchy.
Yet magic and hierarchy
arise from the same source,
and this source has a null pointer.
Reference the NULL within NULL,
it is the gateway to all wizardry.
When users see one GUI as beautiful,
other user interfaces become ugly.
When users see some programs as winners,
other programs become lossage.
Pointers and NULLs reference each other.
High level and assembler depend on each other.
Double and float cast to each other.
High-endian and low-endian define each other.
While and until follow each other.
Therefore the Guru
programs without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Warnings arise and he lets them come;
processes are swapped and he lets them go.
He has but doesn't possess,
acts but doesn't expect.
When his work is done, he deletes it.
That is why it lasts forever.
When you overesteem great hackers,
more users become cretins.
When you develop encryption,
more users become crackers.
The Guru leads
by emptying user's minds
and increasing their quotas,
by weakening their ambition
and toughening their resolve.
When users lack knowledge and desire,
management will not try to interfere.
and everything will fall into place.
The Tao is like a glob pattern:
used but never used up.
It is like the extern void:
filled with infinite possibilities.
It is masked but always present.
I don't know who built to it.
It came before the first kernel.
The Tao doesn't take sides;
it gives birth to both wins and losses.
The Guru doesn't take sides;
she welcomes both hackers and lusers.
The Tao is like a stack:
the data changes but not the structure.
the more you use it, the deeper it becomes;
the more you talk of it, the less you understand.
Hold on to the root.
Graphics blind the eyes.
Audio files deafen the ear.
Mouse clicks numb the fingers.
Heuristics weaken the mind.
Options wither the heart.
The Guru observes the net
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart is as open as the ether.
When the Guru administers, the users
are hardly aware that he exists.
Next best is a sysop who is loved.
Next, one who is feared.
And worst, one who is despised.
If you don't trust the users,
you make them untrustworthy.
The Guru doesn't talk, he hacks.
When his work is done,
the users say, "Amazing:
we implemented it, all by ourselves!"
Throw away documentation and manuals,
and users will be a hundred times happier.
Throw away privileges and quotas,
and users will do the Right Thing.
Throw away proprietary and site licenses,
and there won't be any pirating.
If these three aren't enough,
just stay at your home directory
and let all processes take their course.
When license fees are too high,
users do things by hand.
When the management is too intrusive,
users lose their spirit.
Hack for the user's benefit.
Trust them; leave them alone.
If a system is administered wisely,
its users will be content.
They enjoy hacking their code
and don't waste time implementing
labor-saving shell scripts.
Since they dearly love their accounts,
they aren't interested in other machines.
There may be telnet, rlogin, and ftp,
but these don't access any hosts.
There may be an arsenal of cracks and malware,
but nobody ever uses them.
People enjoy reading their mail,
take pleasure in being with their newsgroups,
spend weekends working at their terminals,
delight in the doings at the site.
And even though the next system is so close
that users can hear its key clicks and biff beeps,
they are content to die of old age
without ever having gone to see it.
Tao of Backup
The novice asked the backup master which files he should backup.
The master said: "Even as a shepherd watches over all the sheep in his flock, and the lioness watches over all her cubs, so must you backup every file on your care, no matter how lowly. For even the smallest file can take days to recreate."
The novice said: "I will save my working files, but not my system and application files, as they can be always be reinstalled from their distribution disks."
The master made no reply.
The next day, the novice's disk crashed. Three days later, the novice was still reinstalling software.
The novice asked the backup master: "How often should I backup my files? It has been a month since my last backup."
The master replied: "Just as night follows day, and Autumn follows Summer, so should backups follow work. As you work, so should you backup that work."
The novice said: "I work each day".
The master replied: "Then you should backup each day".
The novice replied: "I agree, but right now I haven't got time to make a backup, as I have too much work to do."
Upon hearing this, the master fell silent.
The novice asked a backup master: "Now that I regularly backup all my files, am I enlightened to the Tao of Backup?"
The master replied: "By regularly backing up all your files you are on the path to enlightenment, but you will never achieve enlightenment until you scatter your backups to the four corners of the earth. Does the dandelion drop all its seeds at the base of its stalk? Does the cuckoo lay its eggs in one nest? So long as your backups are in one place, you are vulnerable to the fortunes of the world."
But the novice did not listen, and that night the building burnt down, destroying the novice's computer and all his backup tapes. The novice, went to the master and said: "Master, I have lost all of my data. What shall I do?"
The master said, "Do not despair, for yesterday I took one of your backup tapes and posted it to my brother in China. He will return it."
It was only later that he told the novice that he had posted it by sea mail.
The novice took an old backup tape to the backup master and asked: "Master, this tape is six months old. If I am to achieve oneness with the Earth, is it not right that it be re-used?"
The master took the tape and said: "I will re-use it. Now, quickly, go and examine your disk drive."
The novice examined his disk and discovered that a virus had corrupted hundreds of important, but rarely-used files. He loaded a day-old backup, but found that those files were corrupted too.
He loaded the week-old backup, but it was the same. Eventually, he realized that the virus had struck four months before. He returned to the master and said: "Master, you have the only uncorrupted copy!"
But the master had already overwritten it with a copy of DOOM.
The master said: "Just as we respect and care for our ancestors, so we must respect and care for our old backups, for one day they may achieve great glory."
The novice asked the backup master: "Master, now that my backups have good coverage, are taken frequently, are archived, and are distributed to the four corners of the earth, I have supreme confidence in them. Have I achieved enlightenment? Surely now I comprehend the Tao Of Backup?"
The master paused for one minute, then suddenly produced an axe and smashed the novice's disk drive to pieces. Calmly he said: "To believe in one's backups is one thing. To have to use them is another."
The novice looked very worried.
The backup master was visiting the novice who had just finished installing a network security system for his company.
"See", said the novice, "we have total security here. We have installed the most stringent Internet firewall. All of our staff have been trained to use obscure passwords and not to divulge them to anyone. We monitor all network traffic and all our email is encrypted. Truly our data is safe from disclosure."
The master fell silent, but on his way out he pocketed a 20 Gigabyte corporate backup tape that was lying around.
Later he posted it to the novice.
The novice was growing impatient on the road to enlightenment. "Master, as a follower of the Tao, I am taking regular backups of all my files. I am archiving them securely offsite, and testing them using Veracity. Surely, master, I am enlightened now?"
The backup master said only: "You will not achieve enlightenment until you control the integrity of your data, for a copy is useless if the original is corrupt. What use is a mirror if we cannot see? What use is an echo if we cannot hear?" But the novice did not understand.
Later the novice returned. "Master," he said, "a cracker on the Internet penetrated my network six months ago and has been corrupting random files ever since. These hundreds of corrupted files have been flowing through my backup system. Now I do not know which files are clean and which are not. I do not know which backups hold the latest clean copy of each file. What should I do?"
But the master was silent.
On the other side of the world, the cracker laughed.
The novice had just finished testing a backup of all his files, which he was now monitoring with Veracity. It was the fifth backup that week, and he had tested the backup by restoring it and checking the restored data with Veracity before taking it to a locked cabinet offsite to be stored with other backups made over the previous few months. The novice said "Now that I have coverage, frequency, separation, history, testing, security, and integrity, surely I have achieved enlightenment?"
The master said: "You are not yet enlightened, but you are on the final steps of the path to enlightenment. The next step is to buy some more copies of Veracity".
The novice became suspicious and said: "Master, is all this 'Tao of Backup' stuff just so you can sell more copies of Veracity?"
The master said: "Now you are truly enlightened."
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