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“Why do we have a server named ‘Vicious?'”

My first non-food service, non-retail job was working desktop support for my college, the University of Missouri-Columbia. They were doing a massive computer upgrade and needed some part-time help. When they realized they’d found a journalism student who knew PC hardware and already knew OS/2, they cut the interview short and showed me around. I started work the next day.

My job was, initially, to unbox a few hundred IBM PC 330s and 350s, install network cards and memory, then install OS/2 on them. We had room for me to set up about 10 of them at a time, on long folding tables on opposite sides of a long room. It was lonely work at times, but I got to work with computers, and they were paying me $8 an hour. I liked it better than retail.

After a few days I had enough time to watch the boot process. OS/2 had a facility called Configuruation, Installation and Distribution (CID), similar to Microsoft’s unattended installation that appeared in later versions of Windows NT, that automated much of the process. An administrator configured machines in advance, and then when build time came, I booted off a floppy, entered a computer name, and the process pulled down what it needed from the network. After 30 minutes or so, we had a functional machine. CID probably saved a couple of hours of repetitive work. On this particular day, after I got nine machines going, I watched the 10th go through its the CID process. I noticed the machine kept addressing a server named \\VICIOUS.

The next time my boss came by, I asked him, “Do we have a server named ‘Vicious?'”

He laughed. He explained CID and said “Vicious” just seemed like an appropriate name for a CID server.

“Of course, Sid Vicious had probably come and gone before your time,” he added.

I’m trying to figure out what to call Sid Vicious. He wasn’t really a musician, and wasn’t really a rock star. His attempt to become the latter while not being the former made him rather famous in certain circles. The British punk rock band Sex Pistols hired him to play bass basically because he looked like a punk rocker. Although he performed with the band live, a curiously small number of their recorded songs actually contain any of Vicious’ work. His former band members don’t hold him in very high regard–I recall in one interview, their lead singer said, “Sid was a coat hanger taking up space onstage.” A notorious drug addict, he died of a drug overdose in 1979.

From time to time, I’ve heard of people naming their cats Sid Vicious. So these guys thought it was a good name for a server.

I liked working with them, and not just because they gave me the break that started my career.

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