Oddball? Me?

Darn! The rules say no religion or politics. I’d better not start anything.


These rules are only there to pre-emptively stop trolls disrupting the forum.

We once has a troll/nut-job ranting about how Haiku was a satanic organisation because the OS has daemons and has code from the BSDs, as they have a “demonic” mascot. I Still don’t know if they was for real or not.

There was also a big scene of over some comments made about the cultural background of a hacking group that once hacked Haikuware. Add in geopolitical differences, and well things got a bit heated.

The strictness may be also caused by drupal’s limited (bundled) moderation system. For example Developers, Contributors, Website admins and forum mods aren’t marked as being such.

I would certainly agree that whoever wrote all that was a true nutjob! If true, that… simply… went way too far.

But in defense of said “nutjob” (or troll, who really knows?), it could just be plain ignorance. To provide an introduction to this post, a few years back when I first discovered free software existed, I found the “gnu” mascot similar to an anthropomorphic goat, and used to write on the 'net that I did not like the GPL (if you don’t believe me – look at my posts even on here from 2 years back)–but it turns out it is just a wildebeest named after a comedic song! And the FSF has indeed helped to advance the free software world, and now I run quite a bit of (L)GPLed software, including multiple distributions of Gnu/Linux and ReactOS. Even Haiku has GPLed pieces.

In getting to the next point, yes, it is true that the BSD mascot could definitely be seen as “the devil”, but again, research first! Rather, we see that it is really Maxwell’s daemon “forking processes”. Nevertheless, BSD is one OS that I do not run because of the oddly devil-like logo (outside of Darwin or OS X, though arguably a totally different OS), though it is one of the best made. I compiled a build of FreeBSD back then, ran it on my iBook G3, and loved it. It was advanced… and yet contrarily simple. But this brings me to the main point I would like to discuss below.

Defining computer daemons

Hopefully, this forum will go into history as the first to seriously debate such a topic, and I hope to do so logically. Please note I’m not for things being named “daemons” either, but if they are not actual “demons”, but are indeed named after Maxwell as I will explain, then stating anything else would be lying at best and would be genuine insanity. Conversely, if they are not, individuals claiming so may have a point with which to argue. However, the only way to determine this would be to present it soundly. As a start, the first quote on the subject is from Wikipedia; sub-quoted from Evi Nemeth, who states:

“Many people equate the word “daemon” with the word “demon”, implying some kind of satanic connection between UNIX and the underworld. This is an egregious misunderstanding. “Daemon” is actually a much older form of “demon”; daemons have no particular bias towards good or evil, but rather serve to help define a person’s character or personality.”

At this point, an overzealous user might mention that the above quote would therefore prove that they are indeed correct. Rather, remember that Christianity was not the only religion in antiquity and that the Greeks, Romans, and other cultures were pagan, and believed in gods, demons, gremlins, and a lot more – hence the more ancient definition that we see outlined in the quote above. Some believed in “personal demons” (which the quote continues to mention as well) and the idea that just as invisible beings helped things succeed, it was possible for the opposite to occur. Please understand, this not devaluing the Christian outlook on this at all, but one must look at this in context by focusing on all cultures to glance at it accurately.

Nevertheless, the opinion within the general hacker culture however can certainly digress from the previous quote, as actual historical figures in Unix history say otherwise, clearly relating the entire origin back to “Maxwell’s daemon”. One excellent book discussed “daemons” quite well, and was kind enough to give us a definition. Since it is relevant to this argument, I quote below (emphasis original):

“A daemon is a program that runs in the background and detaches itself from the controlling terminal in a certain way. The term daemon was first coined by MIT hackers in the 1960s. It refers to a molecule-sorting demon from an 1867 thought experiment by a physicist named James Maxwell.” (pg. 321, Ch. 6 (referred to in the work as 0x600), “Hacking: The Art of Exploitation”, Erickson, Jon).

Yet another publication, written and compiled by the American hacker legend ‘ESR’, simply titled “The New Hacker’s Dictionary”, prefaces the term first with “(from the mythological meaning, later rationalized as the acroynm ‘Disk and Execution MONitor’)” The reader is then informed of the actual definition of a daemon, which is in its simplest terms a UNIX background program. The definition continues to state, "Daemon and demon are often used interchangeably, but seem to have distinct connotations. The term ‘daemon’ was introduced to computing by CTSS people … " (pg. 141).

Also, the definitive dictionary compilation for the hacker community, also written by Eric S. Raymond and contributors, is titled “The Jargon File”, and in it we find a very similar definition for “daemon” as well. It reads: “[from Maxwell’s Demon, later incorrectly retronymed as ‘Disk And Execution MONitor’] A program that is not invoked explicitly, but lies dormant waiting for some condition(s) to occur. The idea is that the perpetrator of the condition need not be aware that a daemon is lurking (though often a program will commit an action only because it knows that it will implicitly invoke a daemon).”

In summary of these quotes, we do indeed note the invisible and dark personalities of even Maxwell’s description or the similarity in spelling and definition as being the following in the New Oxford Dictionary, Third Edition (2010):

“1 - (in ancient Greek belief) a divinity or supernatural being of a nature between gods and humans; an inner or attendant spirit or inspiring force. 2 - archaic spelling of demon”, or finally, as given in Definition 3, “a background process that handles requests for services such as print spooling and file transfers, and is dormant when not required.”

When combining the ancient and modern-day definitions, we do note the origin of the term did involve the supernatural contexts, but it was not the physical idea that carried to UNIX; rather, the background processes were nicknamed for their behavior which clearly had modeled Maxwell’s experiment and what the classical definition implied in the real world versus the realm of the operating system. It would therefore indeed be soundly proven lunacy if anyone said actual “demons” were in a computer or software company, with the exception of deliberately running a system such as the unofficial, satanic edition of Ubuntu.

In conclusion, it is clearly apparent whether in a modern dictionary or other printed publications, in the Jargon File, or from the original quote, all defined the idea of “Maxwell’s daemon” or the ancient ideas held by post-Neolithic cultures as being the accepted and commonly held theory for the naming convention of the modern-day TSR-like programs, and clearly, running a UNIX or *nix-like system is nothing to be afraid of, except, of course for the damage you can cause if you use such a powerful system improperly or maliciously as a virtual vehicle for evil whims.


Other thoughts

In going back to being informal, I did write my own extensions for my software project and sometimes use them to replace daemons, because they run faster and cleaner with less code. And to that “nutjob”: do you run OS X? iOS? Android? Or do you own an nVidia geForce card and use Windows? You’re using all the above with daemons right now!

But, yes, I’m a genuine Christian myself, and do my best to educate myself and carefully review everything from all outlooks, and yet take things seriously. I try to live a clean life… but I’m not going to “force” it on anyone, and if you’re in the U.S.A. like I am, we have serious conservative nutjobs who are ignorant in many areas, push ludicrous theories, and take stuff TOO far – in every area! We all need more understanding. Period.

In summary, there’s a serious difference between nutjob and conscientious… and I guess I wanted to define it. With the Haiku community’s permission, I think I will post this to my own technology site for others to read, as it’s been a long time since I’ve written on something like this.

I haven’t found any reply like this on the Web, so I thought I’d be the first to explain it clearly.

Thanks for reading, all.

Is this the right place to put such an explanation?

Well, it’s in the off-topic forum… though I can’t really see what triggered this lengthy treaties.
Coming from a completely unbelieving environment, it’s a strangely entertaining experience to read about other exotic cultures. :slight_smile:


I think what triggered this gargantuan post is how I have heard people in the past who have thought *nix-like systems are ‘satanic’, added to the ‘nutjob’ mentioned on this forum that went as far as to accuse Haiku! I realized someone somewhere had to post something to bring an end to it, as I am honestly tired of such nonsense. As this was off-topic, I decided to give it a try, whether it’s read or not…

In any case, I hope this all makes sense (and prevents future ‘nutjobs’ on this topic, as you can just point them here and save a lot of typing).

Well, please correct me if this post is against the rules, but, you said some people believed in personal demons. That is not true. I do believe in them. A lot of ‘accidental’ things happened around me, and I went thinking about it, and came with an idea that there are maybe personal demons or guardian angels or so.

I just wanted to tell about it when I saw this post, and I don’t want to start a flamewar about what religion is the best because that’s pointless, and again, I’m sorry if this post breaks the rules

They do say some people are born lucky, and others born unlucky.

It is up to the individual person to decide in what to believe - but they should not try to force their beliefs onto other people - politcal, religious, or any other.