Comic: How to get help with the command line

The other day, I made a comment on a Spiked Math comic. I thought about modifying said comic to make one which would match my comment, but before I even had a chance to, Mike from Spiked Math had made one. Excellent, less ‘work’ for me! Here it is:

Well, I still felt like making my own comic based on the comment, so I extended this storyline to its logical conclusion:

So there you go. Don’t mess with the man.

I’d feel horribly unfunny explaining the jokes, which might not be very funny in the first place, so I’m just going to leave a few links here for those of you who are not familiar with all the subjects:


man page


Solution of the Poincaré conjecture (by Perelman, not perlman, but what’s a factor of e between friends?)

xkcd comic I borrowed the perlman/Perelman image from

The Man

Linux From Scratch (I know, you can install some Linux distributions quite easily these days; I was just teasing.)

Richard Stallman

GNU/Linux naming controversy

Life Imitates xkcd, Part II: Richard Stallman

Things which should be in this comic, but aren’t:

  • Stallman’s halo (I forgot about it, though I still sort of gave RMS a halo anyway.)
  • Varied text on the computer screens; I couldn’t find a font which would be legible.
  • A line showing the attempts at assembling Linux Man, resulting in hilarious half-penguin, half-gnu monsters, or something. I didn’t have time.

Also, the first frame on the third line should read ‘Wow. On Mac OS X, even the command line is user-friendly’ to avoid ambiguity and avoid splitting ‘Mac OS X’ over two lines.

Feel free to make your own version of the comic with or without these missing things; it’s licensed under Creative Commons, as usual (and so are the two comics I borrowed from.)

This paragraph has been edited significantly since the original post, so if this is your second time reading it, the fact that it seems different is no guarantee that you’re going crazy. In case you do make your own version, it might be useful to know that I used 10 point bold Comic Sans for the dialogue (I’m allowed to, because it’s a comic. And what’s a comic sans Comic Sans?) 10 point bold Helvetica for the URLs, and 18 point bold Helvetica CY for the command line. I tried to match Spiked Math’s original strip. I think it was absurdly large Courier for Richard Stallman’s dialogue. I wanted to use the same font he uses on his slides (he gave a presentation at CERN once, using slides with nothing but white text on a black background) but 20 seconds of Googling didn’t yield any images of them, and I was tired by that stage. The ‘Ka-TANA!’ was written with my index finger on an iPad. You don’t have to copy this ‘font’ if you make a derivative comic. I just thought it would be amusing to mention that I drew Stallman’s big moment on such an ‘evil’ system.

Ah, I almost forgot to mention: This is my 100th post on this blog, which is significant because it’s the square of the base of our number system.

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  1. #1 by Brett Glass on December 15, 2010 - 1:32 am

    Actually, it’s Linus Torvalds who is “Linux-Man.” Stallman tried for years to write something like Linux and couldn’t do it.


    • #2 by Angela Brett on December 15, 2010 - 1:35 am

      Stallman isn’t supposed to be Linux-Man in this comic. Linux-Man is unassembled in the box; Stallman is simply StallMan.


    • #3 by Joakim on December 16, 2010 - 11:28 am

      Actually, I’m pretty sure Stallman himself never tried to write a Unix compatible kernel. However, some other people in the GNU project did, but that is another story.


  2. #4 by Spiked Math on December 15, 2010 - 2:21 am

    Haha, this is excellent!


  3. #6 by Jyrki Lahtonen on December 15, 2010 - 6:41 am

    Very well done, Angela! I was first surprised to see that Stallman can swear in Finnish, but if it is a Stallman/Torvalds hybrid, then it makes sense.


    • #7 by Angela Brett on December 15, 2010 - 8:45 am

      It’s just supposed to be StallMan; Linux-Man still needs to be assembled. But I guess Perlman->Perelman->Perkeleman would be a logical sequence.


    • #8 by Angela Brett on December 15, 2010 - 10:27 pm

      Oh, and where is he swearing in Finnish? I only know one swear word in Finnish and he’s not saying it, so if he’s swearing in Finnish, then it’s complete serendipity, and he’s discreetly swearing at Torvalds in a way that most of his followers won’t understand.


      • #9 by Jyrki Lahtonen on December 16, 2010 - 10:05 am

        My first impression was that the naughty Finnish words ‘paska’ and ‘saatana’ (they mean ‘shit’ and ‘satan’ respectively) are apparently used here.

        If a person is swearing in a Finnish cartoon, the first syllable is often replaced with a hyphen, and you get ‘-ka’ and ‘-tana’. I guess that dropping the first syllable is conveying the impression that the person is muttering through his/her teeth, or at least is not speaking up properly. You also see ‘-kele’ 🙂

        Only at this point I notice that ‘ka’ is missing the preceding hyphen, and the word uttered by StallMan might be ‘katana’, i.e. a samurai sword. Apparently my imagination is working overtime whenever I visit your site…


      • #10 by Angela Brett on December 16, 2010 - 12:49 pm

        Haha… well, now I know some more Finnish swear words. I will try them out on my Finnish friends at lunch time. The ka-TANA is referring to the sword, but it’s not supposed to actually be said by Stallman, it’s just a play on more common onomatopeia in comics (especially Batman) such as ka-pow, ka-boom, etc. Maybe I just hang around weird people, but I’ve seen all sorts of random words preceded by ka- in comics just for the fun of it (and it’s a cheap way of pointing out what the badly-drawn object or action is.) I was originally just going to write ‘SMITE!’ or ‘ka-SMITE!’ but then I realised that katana begins with ‘ka’ so that would be a perfect way to point out what the badly-drawn object was. 😀


  4. #11 by Joakim on December 16, 2010 - 11:38 am

    Funny comic!
    Just so you know – “ü” isn’t a Swedish letter. It’s used in German (and probably some other related languages). You might have watched too much The Simpsons (“Düff, from Sweden”).


    • #12 by Angela Brett on December 16, 2010 - 12:57 pm

      Ah, good to know. Consider it a ‘heavy metal umlaut‘ then. I did quickly look up Swedish vowels on wikipedia, to check whether there was an accent I could put on the I, but I didn’t pay enough attention to the possibilities for u.


  5. #13 by tim314 on December 16, 2010 - 7:24 pm

    This is hilarious. Well done!


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