Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Linux Genuine Advantage

Everyone's been wringing their hands lately over the new "Windows Genuine Advantage" program, which Microsoft uses to determine whether your copy of WinXP is legit or not. But did you know Linux has had something very similar for years and years now? It's true! Chances are it's already on your box, perhaps without you even knowing it was there.

So here, for the first time ever, is the super-secret way to tell if your machine has a legitimate, authorized, legal copy of Linux or not:

1.) At a shell prompt, type /bin/true. You won't see any immediate output here, but don't worry. Linux Genuine Advantage (LGA for short) does its thing quietly, and you don't need to enter any serial numbers off any cds, or go register on some random website, or enter any personal information, or provide a credit card number. The state-of-the-art LGA system is able to figure out all the info it needs without ever interacting with you. It's clever that way.

2.) When step 1 completes (which should take almost no time at all on any modern PC), type this at the shell prompt: echo $?. This command will let you see your super-secret LGA authorization ID code. If your copy of Linux is legal, this ID should be 0. Otherwise, you will need to contact SCO headquarters and purchase a new Linux license. (Please note that a nonzero ID may also indicate a causality violation, so prior to contacting SCO you may want to try rebooting the universe you currently inhabit, and then retry step 1. Be sure to exit universe before rebooting.)

And remember: If you don't participate in LGA, your box *will* stop working on January 19, 2038.

Be careful who you share this information with. If people find out about this trick and learn the secret ID code (and quite possibly even if they don't), they'll be able to get their own "legal" copies of Linux, absolutely free.

[Originally posted elsewhere.]


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