Geek tribalism in Cuckoo’s Egg

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Cuckoo’s Egg, Cliff Stoll’s account of chasing a hacker as a newly-minted sysadmin at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in 1986. Two things in the book struck me as funny in a the-more-things-change way. The first is how Wayne, the VAX guy, constantly trades barbs with Dave, the Unix guy. The second is how Dave immediately deduces that the hacker isn’t local based on his use of ps -eafg rather than ps aux.

Of course, our lab used Berkeley Unix, as do all right-thinking folks. East Coast people were said to be biased toward AT&T Unix, but then, they hadn’t discovered hot tubs either.

From a single letter, Dave ruled out the entire computing population of the West Coast.

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