There's been lots of buzz around the blogosphere regarding Randall Munroe's 'sudo' comic. I think that on the whole, Randall's comic is really wonderful -- it's one of my favorites, in fact -- but I think this particular "episode" is a really unfortunate example for people to be praising.
I've seen posts where people are talking about how this particular comic is great because you either "get it," or it is completely indecipherable, which for the most part is true. The problem that I have with it, however, is that nobody actually gets it -- they just think they do.
Here's the comic:
See, in the context of the comic, the "sudo" command seems to serve the function of forcing a user to do something that you don't want to do yourself. Stickman 1 says "make me a sandwich," to which Stickman 2 replies "no." Then Stickman one basically just waves his "sudo" wand to force Stickman 2 to do it anyway.
But see, that's not what the "sudo" command actually does. The user of "sudo" is still doing the actual work, they're just doing it with the permissions of another user. For example, lets say that I want to create a file in a directory owned by user Bob. I ask Bob to make the directory for me, but he says no. So then I decide to go over his head and use "sudo" to make the directory myself, and as far as the sytem is concerned, the directory was created by Bob. But I did the actual work.
So, in the comic, Stickman 1 just walked into the kitchen and made himself a sandwich, appearing to any onlookers as if he was Stickman 2. This is not funny.
What is funny, though, is tons and tons of people who think they get the joke, but actually don't. I suspect that Randall did this on purpose, an act which commands of me the following : "Bravo Randall!"
I interpret it as a user and a computer. The user says "Do something I don't have permission to do!" and the computer says "No, do it yourself." And then he calls upon the power of Sudo. I don't think it's meant to symbolize two users on a computer, because, as you point out, that doesn't make any sense.
Also, I fundamentally feel that if you're saying "Everyone thinks this joke is funny, but they're wrong, because they don't get it! Here's the actual joke and it's not funny" then you are, in fact, probably the wrong one who is not getting it. :)
[quote]Also, I fundamentally feel that if you’re saying "Everyone thinks this joke is funny, but they’re wrong, because they don’t get it![/quote]
Yeh, you're right. I shouldn't have included the 'not funny' bit, because clearly it [i]is[/i] funny even though I think it completely misrepresents what sudo actually does.
[quote]Also, I fundamentally feel that if you’re saying "Everyone thinks this joke is funny, but they’re wrong, because they don’t get it! Here’s the actual joke and it’s not funny" then you are, in fact, probably the wrong one who is not getting it. :)[/quote]
I think I went too far with my post. What I was trying to say is that the comic clearly misunderstands what it is that "sudo" does, and that anyone who claims they understand the comic (without creating an un-pictured scenario to explain it, anyway) doesn't.
If "sudo" worked the way it is depicted in the comic, I do think it would be funny.
The author lives in Vancouver, Washington, USA with his girlfriend and a menagerie of cats, rats, fish, birds, guinea pigs and robots.
Among other inanities, he strives to use investigative techniques to work young starlet breasts into every aspect of rational discourse -- focusing on the discourse, thus making it not perverted. Also, has recently begun a career as "Internet hairstylist."
He can be contacted via email and Jabber IM at 'email@example.com'. He likes to be contacted.
(All press inquiries, however, ought be directed towards the author's agent, Alistair Hoel, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.)