Hackers I admire

Before proceeding I would like to clear the difference between a hacker and a cracker. As defined by The Jargon File, Version 4.3.1, 29 JUN 2001 a hacker is (abridged for my purpose):

  1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary.
  2. One who programs enthusiastically(even obsessively) or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing about programming.
  3. A person who is good at programming quickly.
  4. An expert or enthusiast of any kind
  5. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.

A cracker is some one who breaks security on a system. Coined in 1985 by hackers in defense against journalistic misuse of hacker. An earlier attempt to establish `worm' in this sense around 1981-82 on Usenet was largely a failure.

Contrary to widespread myth, cracking does not usually involve some mysterious leap of hackerly brilliance, but rather persistence and the dogged repetition of a handful of fairly well-known tricks that exploit common weaknesses in the security of target systems. Accordingly, most crackers are only mediocre hackers. Thus, there is far less overlap between hackerdom and crackerdom than the reader misled by sensationalistic journalism might expect. Crackers tend to gather in small, tight-knit, very secretive groups that have little overlap with the huge, open poly-culture hackerdom; though crackers often like to describe themselves as hackers, most true hackers consider them a separate and lower form of life.

If you already know the difference between a cracker , you may want to know about a cracker's viwpoint of things too. A Comment on "Warez D00dz" Culture is an article (this link should be more permanent) which provides some insight to what The Scene, or "warez d00dz" culture really is.

Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie

These are the people who wrote C. C is C. Often described, with a mixture of fondness and disdain varying according to the speaker, as "a language that combines all the elegance and power of assembly language with all the readability and maintainability of assembly language". In his Reflections on Trusting Trust Ken Thompson said "I am a programmer. On my 1040 form, that is what I put down as my occupation.". He had also written a very cunning Trojan Horse into the C compiler which he describes in his essay. I will give it briefly here:

The C compiler contained code that would recognize when the `login' command was being recompiled and insert some code recognizing a password chosen by Thompson, giving him entry to the system whether or not an account had been created for him. Normally such a back door could be removed by removing it from the source code for the compiler and recompiling the compiler. But to recompile the compiler, you have to use the compiler -- so Thompson also arranged that the compiler would recognize when it was compiling a version of itself, and insert into the recompiled compiler the code to insert into the recompiled `login' the code to allow Thompson entry -- and, of course, the code to recognize itself and do the whole thing again the next time around! And having done this once, he was then able to recompile the compiler from the original sources; the hack perpetuated itself invisibly, leaving the back door in place and active but with no trace in the sources.

Truly awesome and truly fiendish!

Richard M. Stallman

He is the President, Free Software Foundation.However, I think it would be better to describe him as the founder of the Free software Movement. For a better understanding of Free Software you can read The GNU Manifesto written by Richard Stallman at the beginning of the GNU Project, to ask for participation and support. He is also the programmer of Emacs and gcc(and a lot of other things). I admire him for his hacking skills, his vision and his determination.

Bjarne Stroustrup

Stroustrup designed and implemented the C++ programming language. Many people describe C++ as elephantine but I love the language. Almost anything that can be done in any language can be done in C++. The C++ Programming Language by Stroustrup is a good book for learning C++ but it is not for novices. The book is full of useful tips, code snippets and advice. Really makes you appreciate the hacker that is Bjarne Stroustrup.

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