General FAQ

Please read carefully this FAQ before sending an e-mail.

I can't download anything from your FTP site, it says something about reverse DNS ?!?
It's because FTP daemon at doesn't accept connections from host which doesn't have correct reverse DNS record. Contact your local administrator or ISP to correct this problem, or use alternative HTTP access at and
I downloaded some ".bz2" files, how can I read them?
These files are compressed using BZIP2 program. Bzip2 is a freely available, patent-free, high quality data compressor. It compresses files to within 10 to 15 percent of the capabilities of the best techniques available, so I use it. For more information about bzip2 see
OK, I downloaded the bzip2 program. How do I extract .tar.bz2 file?
Use "bzip2 -dc something.tar.bz2 | tar xvf -" (w/o quotes).
Your program doesn't compile/work on my system. I'd like to report a bug.
Ooops! Send me an e-mail with bug description and information about your system:
I read that you are a hacker. How do I hack
I don't crack machines (except my own, because I often forget passwords). Remember, that hacker is not a criminal. You probably don't know the difference between "hacker" and "cracker". Here are definitions from The hacker's dictionary:

hacker: /n./ [originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe] 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 capable of appreciating hack value. 4. A person who is good at programming quickly. 5. An expert at a particular program, or one who frequently does work using it or on it; as in `a Unix hacker'. (Definitions 1 through 5 are correlated, and people who fit them congregate.) 6. An expert or enthusiast of any kind. One might be an astronomy hacker, for example. 7. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations. 8. [deprecated] A malicious meddler who tries to discover sensitive information by poking around. Hence `password hacker', `network hacker'. The correct term for this sense is cracker.

cracker: /n./ One who breaks security on a system. Coined ca. 1985 by hackers in defense against journalistic misuse of hacker (q.v., sense 8). An earlier attempt to establish `worm' in this sense around 1981--82 on Usenet was largely a failure.

Use of both these neologisms reflects a strong revulsion against the theft and vandalism perpetrated by cracking rings. While it is expected that any real hacker will have done some playful cracking and knows many of the basic techniques, anyone past larval stage is expected to have outgrown the desire to do so except for immediate, benign, practical reasons (for example, if it's necessary to get around some security in order to get some work done).

Thus, there is far less overlap between hackerdom and crackerdom than the mundane 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 this lexicon describes; though crackers often like to describe *themselves* as hackers, most true hackers consider them a separate and lower form of life.

Ethical considerations aside, hackers figure that anyone who can't imagine a more interesting way to play with their computers than breaking into someone else's has to be pretty losing.

Last updated: 28 April 2000
by Martin Hinner, <>