Linux users are often described as hackers…
This doesn’t mean they maliciously break into computers or write viruses.
It’s simply using the word hacker in its original sense from the 1970s, when it described a computer
enthusiast who was interested in exploring the capabilities of computers. Many of the people behind multinational
computing corporations started out as hackers. Examples are Steve Wozniak, a cofounder of Apple Computer,
and Bill Joy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems.The word hacker is believed to derive from model train enthusiasts who “hacked” train tracks together as part of their hobby.
When computing became popular in the early 1970s, several of these enthusiasts also became interested in
computing, and the term was carried across with them.
However, in recent years, the media has subverted the term hacker to apply to an individual who breaks
into computer systems. This was based on ignorance, and many true hackers find the comparison extremely
offensive. Because of this, the term cracker was invented to clearly define an individual who maliciously
So, don’t worry if an acquaintance describes herself as a Linux hacker, or tells you that she has spent the
night “hacking.” Many Linux types use the term as a badge of honor.