349: Success

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Success
40% of OpenBSD installs lead to shark attacks. It's their only standing security issue.
Title text: 40% of OpenBSD installs lead to shark attacks. It's their only standing security issue.

[edit] Explanation

This comic refers to a common experience in which attempts to improve or change something can get you into even worse trouble, and where just getting back to the state at which you started becomes an arduous or even impossible task. Here, this idea is taken to a ridiculously (and amusingly) extreme level, where the attempt to install an operating system snowballs into ever more complicated problems, resulting in Cueball and Megan somehow literally getting themselves in deep water.

The OS they are trying to install is OpenBSD, an open source Unix operating system which, like some other Unix variants, is notoriously difficult to install and configure correctly, especially on home desktops with less common hardware profiles, and especially compared with the more popular Windows operating system.

The title text is a reference to OpenBSD's premium on security. For a time, their slogan was "Five years without a remote [security] hole in the default install!" This was eventually changed to "Only two remote holes in the default install, in a heck of a long time!" That their only standing security issue would be shark attacks is effectively an acknowledgement that any attempts to install the OS will only lead to getting stranded in the middle of the ocean.

This comic was referenced later in 1350: Lorenz.

[edit] Transcript

As a project wears on, standards for success slip lower and lower.
0 hours
[Megan looking at Cueball working on the computer.]
Cueball: Okay, I should be able to dual-boot BSD soon.
6 hours
[Cueball on the floor fiddling with the open tower in front of him.]
Cueball: I'll be happy if I can get the system working like it was when I started.
10 hours
[Cueball standing in front of the computer which now has a laptop plugged into the tower.]
Cueball: Well the desktop's a lost cause, but I think I can fix the problems the laptop's developed.
24 hours
[Cueball and Megan swimming in the sea, island and beach seen in the distance.]
Cueball: If we're lucky, the sharks will stay away until we reach shallow water.
Megan: If we make it back alive, you're never upgrading anything again.
Comment.png add a comment!

Discussion

There is nothing in the comic about project management. The only point is that we start out assuming total success, then just hope we don't actually end up in a worse position, then that there is at least one working computer on the premises, and finally just by hoping to survive. The is purely a comment, taken to extremes, on the most likely result of an interaction with man and machine. As the 'incomplete' tag indicates, the BSD upgrade is just used as an example. The comic is not attempting to advocate for better project planning, no matter what anybody may think. 108.162.219.223 18:45, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

What's incomplete about this explanation? It seems pretty thorough to me. 199.27.128.136Evan
Personal tools
Namespaces

Variants
Actions
Navigation
Toolbox

It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal or Bitcoin?