It really bothers me that when I chat online with some Jimmy O S Exual or Windows Expatriate about GNU/Linux and mention that I consider myself a happy hacker, then all of a sudden I’m some kind of wannabe corporate criminal mastermind. They seem equate “hacker” with “cracker”. Just because Foxhole at 11 bleats the over-dramaticized story of some bored suburban Dr. Pepper guzzling, Britney Spears ogling, post-preteen kid baby-sat by Bill Gates and the top 50 scripts site, “hacking” into his Dad’s bank account (the password of which was probably scribbled on a post-it note stuck to the monitor), hackers have to endure snide remarks and are stereo-typed as crackers! To quote the seminal teachings of How To Become A Hacker by Eric Steven Raymond:
These are people (mainly adolescent males) who get a kick out of breaking into computers and phreaking the phone system. Real hackers call these people ‘crackers’ and want nothing to do with them. 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. Unfortunately, many journalists and writers have been fooled into using the word ‘hacker’ to describe crackers; this irritates real hackers no end.
I’ll have you know that it’s not just the crackers that have a computer and type into a commandline, many of us are Latino, African, Asian, Kazhakistani, or some mixture of the above! Though I’m mostly Mexican-Greek, but fair of skin, square dressing, somewhat lacking in the ability to speak a conversational language other than English, and have been witnessed drinking a Dr. Pepper now and then, I’m often mistaken for a cracker. The fact is that there are few less represented minorities in the hacking community than Mexican-Greeks! Sure theres lots of geeks that are crackers or cracker wannbees, but to just stereotype and say computer geeks are all crackers only perpuates misunderstanding and intolerance!
Hacking is about creating a community of many diverse groups and not the sole domian of crackers! Tell the ignorant talking heads to get their facts straight when they put a camera in your face and let them know that hacker does not equal cracker!
Furthermore, to all those Ubuntu haters out there who think Mark Shuttleworth is a cracker just because he is making GNU/Linux more accessable to future hackers, I’ll have you know he is really a brother from South Africa!
Throughout history crackers have been destructive, particularly towards hackers. Some of the real hackers were Native Americans who studied the source code of the land water and sky. They shared their knowledge with everyone so that all could live from the land free, but some newbies to this continent only wanted to plunder what they could and took any wisdom for granted. These crackers took the seeds of corn (like some immature script-kiddie) and claimed to “pwn” the land. They DDOSed the buffallo and spread deadly viruses in the form of “freeware” blankets and created poverty with “adware” currencies and promises (not to be confused with the “Free Open Source” life the Native peoples once had). Much of the documentation and wisdom has been lost or destroyed, but fortunately the source code is still in tact. There is, however a new danger because much is being done through litigation, lies and greed to lay proprietary claim on everything including life itself.
What do we do? We must continue to hack and not let the crackers bring us all down.