Aug 1, 2009

My Unsettling Ubuntu Experience

I'd been using Ubuntu 9.04's LiveCD feature at work to migrate Windows profiles. Unlike Windows, which never properly migrates user directories no matter how you coax it, Ubuntu's simple drag-and-drop replacement from network backup makes user migration a piece of cake.

I simply booted, configured the network settings, logged into our network backup, and copied the old user directory over top of the new one (we're on a domain). When the user logged back in, their old stuff was all in place. It had really been a lifesaver, and I'd started reading up on it more and started to set up an Ubuntu workstation. But that's when I ran into some weird problems.

After installing and tinkering around on the GNOME desktop, I opened Terminal. After writing some scripts and creating user accounts, a new terminal window opened. I thought this very odd since I hadn't initiated a new session and none of my scripts would have either. As I was about to close it, I paused my mouse. The terminal session had printed something to the screen, seemingly by itself.

trollaxor@ubuntor:~$ *** DO U LIKE GUYS Y OR N

I typed N and the window disappeared. "How weird," I thought, and figured one of my buddies had installed some third party software or something to covertly mess with me. I couldn't remember when I'd told anyone about this install, but I was content to leave it at that since everything was otherwise fine.

A half hour later, I was farting around in GNOME when it happened again. This time, there was no terminal session even open to begin with; the window just popped up out of nowhere. And again it asked the same question, ominously blinking at me.

trollaxor@ubuntor:~$ *** DO U LIKE GUYS Y OR N

Before I did anything else I opened another terminal session and ran top so I could figure out what the fuck was running in the background that was randomly harassing me. I peered through it, sorted by CPU, memory usage, command name—but nothing. I'm pretty familiar with Linux and I didn't see anything that looked out of the ordinary. At this point I switched back to the frustrating terminal session and typed N and the window closed… Only to open right back up and ask again:

trollaxor@ubuntor:~$ *** DO U LIKE GUYS Y OR N

Now irritated, I texted several of my buddies the same question, figuring they'd own up when it became obvious to them their little joke had succeeded. Two asked me "wtf" and another said "no y do u? fag!" No admissions came, implicit or otherwise, and I began running ps with its myriad options in hopes of spotting the offending process. A second terminal window popped up on top of the first with the same damn question blinking at me.

trollaxor@ubuntor:~$ *** DO U LIKE GUYS Y OR N

Finally in desperation I typed Y and hit return in both of the windows. At first, they went away and I sat silently in anticipation. When nothing happened after ten seconds, I returned to editing my GNOME config files when the desktop wallpaper changed all by itself. Instead of the boring orange default, I was staring at something much different. This was no longer mildly irritating or perplexing—now I was freaking out and wanted answers. I logged onto Freenode and joined #ubuntu.

#ubuntu Official Ubuntu Support Channel
<trollaxor> hi. i was wondering if anyone ever noticed any versions of ubuntu throwing up terminal sessions with text inside.

Minutes passed as conversations about screen resolution problems on netbooks, laptop fans running non-stop, and permissions errors on an external USB drives ran back and forth—typical IRC chatter—but someone eventually responded to my question.

<mechabuntu> trollaxor, it's possible but unlikely. that's really weird.
<waitn4koala> troll, what are the sessions saying?
<trollaxor> "DO YOU LIKE GUYS Y OR N"
<mechabuntu> You must have installed some 3rd party applications.
<rasputin_> trollaxor, well what did you answer? Y or N?
<mechabuntu> has anyone else had access to that system, trollaxor?
<trollaxor> mechabuntu, no. just me since i set it up a few hours ago.
<waitn4koala> troll, did you give anyone remote login access?
<trollaxor> rasputin, I answered "N" at first and the sessions disappeared
<rasputin_> hmm, that's too bad!
<trollaxor> but when I answered "Y" it changd my wallpaper
<waitn4koala> troll, wtf. what did it change it to?
<trollaxor> this…
<puck_you> Ha! Did troll install GNU/Linux or GAY/Linux?
<mechabuntu> troll, that is fucked. are you sure someone's not messing with you??
<rasputin_> trollaxor, it's so intuitive, it knew JUST the right wallpaper for you!
<trollaxor> mechabuntu: no, this is really happening. i'm actually getting scared...
<trollaxor> rasputin, uh, no, this is not supposed to happen on any unix install ever
<rasputin_> you've never heard of gaybuntu, have you, trollaxor?
<mechabuntu> oh no, not this shit again
<trollaxor> uh no what the hell is that
<waitn4koala> is marked as being away: Away.
rasputin_ has invited you to join #gaybuntu
<waitn4koala> !op

Obviously something was going on in #ubuntu but I didn't stick around long enough to find out what it was. I logged out, deleted the Freenode connection and log files, and opened in Firefox.

FreeBSD 7.2R had been out since May and I'd gladly put up with migrating pains over Gaybuntu any day. I could play with it on my server and check out FreeBSD LiveCD for work. The sooner I wiped this machine the better. And lo and behold, just as I started copying the ISO to my flash drive, Ubuntu's image viewer started opening pictures of young nude boyish men engaging in carnal acts so lurid I won't describe them here.

By the time I had burned a copy of the FreeBSD 7.2R install disc, the Ubuntu machine was spitting the CD drive out at me while playing a chorus of moaning sexual intercourse sounds from the speakers. It was like my machine was possessed by a gay Linux ghost!

I was really messed up by this and didn't sleep well the next couple of nights. In fact, I kind of stayed away from computers altogether and my boss got on my case for slacking. I wanted to tell him the truth about what had happened, but I thought better of it and suffered in silence. Every time I approached a Linux machine I held my breath in fear. I made peace with manual Windows profile migration and ditched all of our Ubuntu discs.

A couple days later, in my final act of destroying Gaybuntu, I microwaved the Ubuntu CD-R. After several seconds of blue electrical crackling and a small puff of smoke, the disc was beyond use. I shredded it and double-bagged the shards before throwing it in my neighbor's trash.

I suggest taking a long, hard look at your Ubuntu installs for any strange behavior—my unsettling Ubuntu experience still rattles my psyche to this day. Don't let gay Linux happen to you.


  1. Trollaxor, you never disappoint. Thank you.

  2. 10/10, You are an inspiration.

  3. ubuntu IRC channels are publicly logged. I found your initial query in #ubuntu logs, but the rest of your IRC conversation is apparently completely fabricated.

  4. I think this bug will be corrected in the next Ubuntu verison, "Kinky Koala."

    ... or maybe it won't.

  5. Troll, It was probably a launchd action set to run every so often. You wouldn't see the process unless you caught it in the middle of spawning that session.

  6. Most likely explanations:

    a.) You made it up.
    b.) You were hacked.

  7. This is such gayness

  8. Sir, you're a genius

  9. Dude wtf was up with that picture?

  10. fail fabrication of facts u_u

  11. I do have to admit it's kinda strange ... anybody who knows anything about Linux knows exactly and precisely what is he/she is installing. Either this is a joke or you have no idea about Linux and therefore you where hacked. But this hacking business is also bullshit since you could, at any time, pull the network cord and catch the signal fault, and eventually identify the problem.