As editor of the Jargon File and author of a few other well-known documents of similar nature, I often get email requests from enthusiastic network newbies asking in effect "how can I learn to be a wizardly hacker?
Back in I noticed that there didn't seem to be any other FAQs or web documents that addressed this vital question, so I started this one.
A lot of hackers now consider it definitive, and I suppose that means it is. Still, I don't claim to be the exclusive authority on this topic; if you don't like what you read here, write your own.
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If you are reading a snapshot of this document offline, the current version lives at http: Please read these—twice—before mailing me any questions about this document. Numerous translations of this document are available: Arabic Belorussian Bulgarian ChineseCzech. Note that since this document changes occasionally, they may be out of date to varying degrees. The five-dots-in-nine-squares diagram that decorates this document is called a glider. It is a simple pattern with some surprising properties in a mathematical simulation called Life that has fascinated hackers for How To Start Off An Essay About Art years.
I think it makes a good visual emblem for what hackers are like source abstract, at first a bit mysterious-seeming, but a gateway to a whole world with an intricate logic of its own. Read more about the glider emblem here. If you find this document valuable, please support me on Patreon.
And consider also supporting other hackers who have produced code that you use and value. Lots of small but continuing donations add up quickly, and can free the people who have given you gifts of their labor to create more value. If you want to know how to become a hacker, though, only two are really relevant. There is a community, a shared culture, of visit web page programmers and networking wizards that traces its history back through decades to the first time-sharing minicomputers and the earliest ARPAnet experiments.
Hackers built the Internet. Hackers made the Unix operating system what it is today. Hackers make the World Wide Web work. If you are part of this culture, if you have contributed to it and other people in it know who you are and call you a hacker, you're a hacker.
The hacker mind-set is not confined to this software-hacker culture. There are people who apply the hacker attitude to other things, like electronics or music — actually, you can find it at the highest levels of any science or art.
There is another group of people who loudly call themselves hackers, but aren't. These are people mainly adolescent males who get a kick out of breaking into computers and phreaking the phone system.
Real hackers mostly think crackers are lazy, irresponsible, and not very bright, and object that being able to break security doesn't make you a hacker any more than being able to hotwire cars makes you an automotive engineer.
If you want to be a hacker, keep reading. If you want to be a cracker, go read the alt. And that's all I'm going to say about crackers. Hackers solve problems and build things, and they believe in freedom and voluntary mutual help. To be accepted as a hacker, you have to behave as though you have this kind of attitude yourself. And to behave as though you have the attitude, you have to really believe the attitude.
But if you think of cultivating hacker attitudes article source just a way to gain acceptance in the culture, you'll miss the point.
Becoming the kind of person who believes these things is important for you — for helping you learn and keeping you motivated. As with all creative arts, the most effective way to become a master is to imitate the mind-set of masters — not just intellectually but emotionally as well.
Being a hacker is lots of fun, but it's a kind of fun that takes lots of effort. The effort takes motivation. Successful athletes get their motivation from a kind of physical delight in making their bodies perform, in pushing themselves past their own physical limits.
Similarly, to be a hacker you have to get a basic thrill from solving problems, sharpening your skills, and exercising your intelligence. If you aren't the kind of person that feels this way naturally, you'll need to become one in order to make it as a hacker. Otherwise you'll find your hacking energy is sapped by distractions like sex, money, and social approval.
You also have to develop a kind of faith in your own learning capacity — a belief that even though you may not know all of what you need to solve a problem, if you tackle just a piece of it and learn from that, you'll learn enough to solve the next piece — and so on, until you're done. Creative brains are a valuable, limited resource. They shouldn't be wasted on re-inventing the wheel when there are so many fascinating new problems waiting out there.
To behave like How To Start Off An Essay About Art hacker, you have to believe that the thinking time of other hackers is precious — so much so that it's almost a moral duty for you to share information, solve problems and then give the solutions away just so other hackers can solve new problems instead of having to perpetually re-address old ones.
Note, however, that "No problem should ever have to be solved twice. Often, we learn a lot about the problem that we didn't know before by studying the first cut at a solution. It's OK, and often necessary, to decide that we can do better. What's not OK is artificial technical, legal, or institutional barriers like closed-source code that prevent a good solution from being re-used and force people to re-invent wheels.
You don't have to believe that you're obligated to give all your creative product away, though the hackers that do are the ones that get most respect from other hackers. It's consistent with hacker values to sell enough of it to keep you in food and rent and computers. It's fine to use your hacking skills to support a family or even get rich, as long as you don't forget your loyalty to your art and your fellow hackers while doing it.
Hackers and creative people in general should never be bored or have to drudge at stupid repetitive work, because when this happens it means they aren't doing what only they can do — solve new problems. This wastefulness hurts everybody. Therefore boredom and drudgery are How To Write Abap just unpleasant but actually evil. To behave like a hacker, you have to believe this enough to want to automate away How To Start Off An Essay About Art boring bits as much as possible, not just for yourself but for everybody else especially other hackers.
There is one apparent exception to this. Hackers will sometimes do things that may seem repetitive or boring to an observer as a mind-clearing exercise, or in order to acquire a skill or have some particular kind of experience you can't have otherwise.
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But this is by choice — nobody who can think should ever be forced into a situation that bores them. Hackers are naturally anti-authoritarian. Anyone who can give you orders can stop you from solving whatever problem you're being fascinated by — and, given the way authoritarian minds work, will generally find some appallingly stupid reason to do so. So more info authoritarian attitude has to be fought wherever you find it, lest it smother you and other hackers.
This How To Start Off An Essay About Art the same as fighting all authority. Children need to be guided and criminals restrained. A hacker may agree to accept some kinds of authority in order to get something he wants more than the time he spends following orders. But that's a limited, conscious bargain; the kind of personal surrender authoritarians want is not on offer.
Authoritarians thrive on censorship and secrecy. So to behave like a hacker, you have to develop an instinctive hostility to censorship, secrecy, and the use of force or deception to compel responsible adults.
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And you have to be willing to act on that belief. To be a hacker, you have to develop some of these attitudes. But copping an attitude alone won't make you a hacker, any more than it will make you a champion athlete or a rock star.
Becoming a hacker will take intelligence, practice, dedication, and hard work.
Therefore, you have to learn to distrust attitude and respect competence of every kind. Hackers won't let posers waste their time, but they worship competence — especially competence at hacking, but competence at anything is valued. Competence at demanding skills that few can master is especially good, and competence at demanding skills that involve mental acuteness, craft, and concentration is best.
If you revere competence, you'll enjoy developing it in yourself — the hard work and dedication will become a kind of intense play rather than drudgery. That attitude is How To Start Off An Essay About Art to becoming a hacker. The hacker attitude is vital, but skills are even more vital. Attitude is no substitute for competence, and there's a certain basic toolkit of skills which you have to have before any hacker will dream of calling you one.
This toolkit changes slowly over time as technology creates new skills and makes old ones obsolete. For example, it used to include programming in machine language, and didn't until recently involve HTML.
But right now it pretty clearly includes the following:. This, of course, is the fundamental hacking skill. If you don't know any computer languages, I recommend starting with Python. It is cleanly designed, well documented, and relatively kind to visit web page. Despite being a good first language, it is not just a source it is very powerful and flexible and well suited for large projects.
I have written a more detailed evaluation of Python.
Good tutorials are available at the Python web site ; there's an excellent third-party one at Computer Science Circles. Now I think it is probably best to learn C and Lisp first, then Java. There is perhaps a more general point here. If a language does too much for you, it may be simultaneously a good tool for production and a bad one for learning.
It's not only languages that have this problem; web application frameworks like RubyOnRails, CakePHP, Django may make it too easy to reach a superficial sort of understanding that will leave you without resources when you have to tackle a hard problem, or even just debug the solution to an easy one. If you get into serious programming, you will have to learn C, the core language of Unix. Neither language is a good one to try learning as your first, however.
And, actually, the more you can avoid programming in C the more productive you will be. C is very efficient, and very sparing of your machine's resources. Unfortunately, C gets that efficiency by requiring you to do a lot of low-level management of resources like memory by hand.
All that low-level code is complex and bug-prone, and will soak up huge amounts of your time on debugging.