Title text: Proper User Policy apparently means Simon Says.
On both Windows and UNIX computer systems, users can be assigned all kinds of rights, for example rights to access certain directories and files, or to execute certain commands. The sudo command (pronounced "sue do" or "pseudo") lets certain (authorized) UNIX users override these policies by executing the command (everything after the word "sudo" on the command line) as the root user. Root (sometimes called the superuser) has complete system powers, exempt from all access controls; it is similar to a Windows administrator, however even the powers of a Windows administrator is limited - the system32 folder, for example, cannot be deleted because it is a critical part of the operating system, while there is no such restriction on UNIX - if a root user feels like (or accidentally) deletes a vital file, they are free to do so. As a result, common advice is to not use sudo unless the command in question absolutely requires it - indeed, most commands do not require such privileges.
One very common activity for UNIX administrators is to install or configure software using the UNIX make command, e.g.
% make install. Often this command requires administrative permissions in order to complete successfully, which in practice means the "
make this" command will fail unless it is typed as "
sudo make this" instead. However as mentioned before since most commands work just fine without sudo, along with general discouragement from using it willy-nilly, it is fairly common for people who use or administer UNIX systems to attempt a straight up
% make install and have it fail. They then need to repeat the command with "sudo," whereupon the computer responds obediently, and everything works smoothly.
Cueball is demanding a sandwich from his friend. Not being properly asked, the friend denies the request. Cueball then (ab)uses the sudo command on the friend, who then has no choice but to go and make the sandwich, and now does so without complaint, because Cueball has all the rights. For anyone versed in installing system software with the
make command, this exchange is intensely reminiscent of the analogous onscreen experience.
Simon Says is a children's game in which a leader gives various commands that must be followed if and only if (iff) the leader prefixes the command with "Simon says." The title text compares the way the computer will run some commands if they are preceded with "sudo" to the way Simon Says players are supposed to follow orders if (and only if) they are preceded with "Simon says."
Alternatively, the title text might merely be referring to the similarity between Cueball ordering his friend around with "sudo" to the Simon Says game leader ordering other players around. Wikipedia suggests that the "Simon" in the name of the game may be the powerful lord Simon de Montfort, or a corruption of Cicero, both of whom were influential politicians of their day.
In xkcd: volume 0, an additional line is added:
Make: No rule to make target 'sandwich'. Stop.
Make uses a file within the program in order to determine how to make it; lack of such a file will give an error. This sentence shows just that happening to 'sandwich': there are no clear instructions that make has found for it, the same way that Cueball has not specified the sandwich beyond its moniker.
- [Cueball is sitting on a couch, talking to a Cueball-like friend.]
- Cueball: Make me a sandwich.
- Friend: What? Make it yourself.
- Cueball: Sudo make me a sandwich.
- Friend: Okay.
- This comic used to be available as a T-shirt and as a signed print in the xkcd store before it was shut down.
- The sudo tool has adopted a sandwich-based logo, as seen on the Sudo main page (and the bottom of the list of contributors).
- Searching "make me a sandwich" on DuckDuckGo tells you to make it yourself, but searching "sudo make me a sandwich" returns "Okay."
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