Computer Crime Research Center

How To Become A Hacker

Date: August 04, 2004
Source: The personal domain of Eric S. Raymond.
By: Eric Steven Raymond

... dialect of HTML) if you don't already know it. There are a lot of glossy, hype-intensivebad HTML books out there, and distressingly few good ones. The one I like best is HTML: The Definitive Guide.

But HTML is not a full programming language. When you're ready to start programming, I would recommend starting with Python. You will hear a lot of people recommending Perl, and Perl is still more popular than Python, but it's harder to learn and (in my opinion) less well designed.

C is really important, but it's also much more difficult than either Python or Perl. don't try to learn it first.

Windows users, do not settle for Visual Basic. It will teach you bad habits, and it's not portable off Windows. Avoid.

Q:

What kind of hardware do I need?

A:

It used to be that personal computers were rather underpowered and memory-poor, enough so that they placed artificial limits on a hacker's learning process. This stopped being true some time ago; any machine from an Intel 486DX50 up is more than powerful enough for development work, X, and Internet communications, and the smallest disks you can buy today are plenty big enough.

The important thing in choosing a machine on which to learn is whether its hardware is Linux-compatible (or BSD-compatible, should you choose to go that route). Again, this will be true for most modern machines. The only real sticky area is modems; some machines have Windows-specific hardware that won't work with Linux.

There's a FAQ on hardware compatibility; the latest version is here.

Q:

I want to contribute. Can you help me pick a problem to work on?

A:

No, because I don't know your talents or interests. You have to be self-motivated or you won't stick, which is why having other people choose your direction almost never works.

Try this. Watch the project announcements scroll by on Freshmeat for a few days. When you see one that makes you think "Cool! I'd like to work on that!", join it.

Q:

Do I need to hate and bash Microsoft?

A:

No, you don't. Not that Microsoft isn't loathsome, but there was a hacker culture long before Microsoft and there will still be one long after Microsoft is history. Any energy you spend hating Microsoft would be better spent on loving your craft. Write good code --- that will bash Microsoft quite sufficiently without polluting your karma.

Q:

But won't open-source software leave programmers unable to make a living?

A:

This seems unlikely --- so far, the open-source software industry seems to be creating jobs rather than taking them away. If having a program written is a net economic gain over not having it written, a programmer will get paid whether or not the program is going to be open-source after it's done. And, no matter how much "free" software gets written, there always seems to be more demand for new and customized applications. I've written more about this at the Open Source pages.

Q:

How can I get started? Where can I get a free Unix?

A:

Elsewhere on this page I include pointers to where to get the most commonly used free Unix. To be a hacker you need motivation and initiative and the ability to educate yourself. Start now?



Original article



Add comment  Email to a Friend

Copyright © 2001-2013 Computer Crime Research Center
CCRC logo