“Installing Linux on a Dead Badger”
by Lucy Snyder
Let’s face it: any script kiddie with a pair of pliers can put Red Hat on a Compaq, his mom’s toaster, or even the family dog. But nothing earns you geek points like installing Linux on a dead badger. So if you really want to earn your wizard hat, just read the following instructions, and soon your friends will think you’re slick as caffeinated soap.
Minimum Installation Requirements:
- one (1) pocketknife
- one (1) screwdriver, flathead, to install Duppy card (see item 4. below)
- CD drive
- USB, Ethernet, or a free slot for wireless networking card
- Telnet or SSH client installed
- cyberspiritual controller program such as FleshGolem (Mac OS X and Linux), Phranken (Windows 98, ME, 2000), or ItzaLive (Mac OS 8.1-9.x and Amiga)
- one (1) Duppy card (available in CardBus and PCI models) or SpiritInTheSky external adapter (available in ethernet and USB models)
- VüDü Linux (available from Twisted Faces Software)
- minimum 3′ x 3′ (1m x 1m) fireproof surface, in secure, ventilated area
- one (1) dead badger, good condition
Optional Installation Requirements:
- one (1) gallon of holy water (Bless! brand exorcise water is ideal) in a silver or silver-plated bucket
- one (1) pair latex gloves
- one (1) fluid ounce of flea-killing shampoo such as Ecto-Soothe or Mycodex
- running water and a large sink or washtub
The following test installation was conducted on the concrete floor of the garage of a detached single-story house, on unconsecrated ground, using a 400MHz clamshell iBook, and began shortly after local sunset.
Step 1: Find a suitable badger. Specimens from zoos are ideal, but suitable badgers can be found as road kill along highways in many parts of North America, the British Isles, continental Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa.
Other animals of family Mustelidae can be used in place of a badger, but an adapter may be required. See Appendix II for details.
Step 2: Once you have obtained a dead badger, check it carefully for structural damage, particularly in the spine, skull, and legs. Dead badgers do not heal, and a badger with broken legs will display limited mobility. Brain and spinal cord damage is likely to interfere with the Linux installation and render any successfully-installed system unstable, as well as voiding all explicit and implicit warranties according to the laws of any and every state, country, or alternate dimension, present or future.
As a precaution against infection, wear latex gloves at all times when handling your dead badger. It is highly recommended that you wash the carcass with a suitable flea-killing shampoo.
Step 3: Obtain a copy of FleshGolem or other cyberspiritual controller program. This test was conducted with a copy of FleshGolem downloaded from the Apple site’s utilities section. Follow all installation instructions carefully, including addenda in the readme.txt file.
All cyberspiritual controllers should be compatible with either Duppy cards or SpiritInTheSky adapters.
Step 4: Insert Duppy card or attach external SpiritInTheSky adapter. Duppy cards work best if you’re using a Mac with an Airport slot; response on the external SpiritInTheSky adapter may be sluggish. Further notes below apply only to Duppy card installation on the test iBook used.
The card has a hinged lid and a clear cover over what looks like a small, shallow ivory box. Open and place a small amount of hair and blood from the badger in the compartment, then close the cover, being careful not to let stray hairs stick out of the compartment. Install card into Airport slot by unlatching the small white tabs at the top of the keyboard, lifting keyboard assembly off (being careful of the wires), and inserting card into slot.
Step 5: Install Duppy card security antenna (included with card) in badger. Badgers may be run without security antennas, but this is not recommended. Insecure badgers may be hacked by anyone with a compatible card and badger bits. Each Duppy card/antenna system is uniquely coded so that a properly installed system will allow only the original user to run the badger.
To install antenna, make a small incision with the pocketknife at the nape of the badger’s neck. Then shove the antenna down the badger’s back under the hide. Antenna must lie as flat as possible along the spine, or security will be suboptimal. Antenna may also be installed by cutting the badger’s back skin open, but requires post-installation stitchery to restore structural integrity; this method is recommended for licensed taxidermists only.
Step 6: Install your badger’s operating system. VüDü is the preferred Linux distribution for badgers and related species (see Step 1). This distro was designed by German software engineers who contributed to the SuSE project before they started up Twisted Faces Software in Jamaica. An alternative distribution is Pooka, which is available for download at SoulForge.net. However, there is no alpha build for MacOS and Amiga, and some Windows NT users have found that the Harvey utilities built into Pooka may cause sudden, unpredictable invisibility issues.
VüDü Tech Tips:
Default partitioning: /root goes in the spinal cord and brain stem, /swap and /soul go on the left hemisphere of the brain, and /usr, /var, and /home go on the right. If you’re working with a badger with damage to one of those areas, you can repartition one or the other brain hemisphere, but as noted in Step 2, using a brain-damaged badger is not recommended and may interfere with successful installation.
System configuration information and the spiritual components of the package come on a small, rolled-up piece of parchment. Space is available to write in a password, as well as any auxiliary programs like NecroNull. The VüDü package comes with two scrolls, but a Santeria, Vodoun, Wiccan, or Catholic priest or priestess who has undergone Twisted Faces’ scrollmaking training can also provide suitably blessed parchments. Check the VüDü home page to find a qualified cleric in your area.
When modifying the scroll, be sure to use chicken blood-based ink, and write neatly. Various languages may be used on the scroll — VüDü is written in SoulScript, but successful modifications have been made in Latin, Hebrew, and Enochian. Further modifications can be made by Telnetting or SSHing into your badger later; start only with essential information. After finishing modifications, roll up the scroll and stick it down the badger’s throat, all the way into the stomach. Use a screwdriver or pencil to get it all the way in.
Step 7: Install VüDü itself. In the package, there will be a large square of herb-scented paper. This is the entire code for VüDü. Fold this paper into an origami shape resembling the animal you’re installing VüDü on (see also Appendix II). There are folding directions for common animals in the box. Make a hollow inside your paper badger and add a little more blood and hair from your animal.
Don’t lose the paper; replacements are expensive. There are recipes for homemade paper on the Web, but getting all the information correctly transcribed is a huge task, as this must be handwritten; furthermore, the requirements of herb collecting, drying, and curing are formidable.
Step 8: Invocation/boot procedures. Place badger in center of fireproof surface, making sure ventilation is adequate and all doors are locked. Turn off all cell phones and pagers, and cease using all other unapproved electronic devices. Using the badger’s blood, smear a foot-wide pentagram around its body. Place origami code-badger at the top point of pentagram, and light paper while making the boot incantation:
Suse vivo vixi victum reduco is ea id creatura absit decessus a facultas Linux! Dev root, dev root!
The paper should burn with green flames. Black or gray means the herbs were improperly prepared. Purple flames indicate kernel panic; douse the flames with the bucket of holy water and abandon installation site immediately. Seek shelter at the nearest church or other consecrated area. You may need to enlist the assistance of an exorcist if you cannot reach shelter in time.
When you produce green smoke, it should flow over the badger and into its mouth and nose. The badger will awaken as a Linux-powered zombie. Enjoy your new undead badger.
Reanimation puts most creatures in a foul mood, and the test badger woke up murderously angry, requiring a hasty launch of FleshGolem to get the beast under control. It is highly recommended to have the computer close at hand during the incantation
If the badger isn’t responding correctly, you may need to make some configuration adjustments via Telnet; instructions are in the VüDü manual.
If the badger does not respond at all to the boot incantation, call Twisted Faces’ tech support. Make sure to try all other troubleshooting options first. After two free calls, tech support will cost you an arm and a leg . . . and they’ll only accept fresh, gangrene-free limbs.
DISCLAIMER: No badgers or Macintoshes were harmed in the course of this test installation. Your results may vary. Please note that zombie badgers are banned in many municipalities in California and Wisconsin; zombie badgers must remain leashed at all times in Texas. Zombie badgers can move at great speeds, and are prone to sudden acceleration; use proper caution when driving your zombie badger. Do not allow your zombie badger to consume mushrooms or African snakes, or your badger may emit catchy techno music. Do not taunt zombie badgers. Prolonged use of a zombie badger may cause acne, insomnia, leprosy, unusual weather, or the end of time. Please dispose of your zombie badgers properly; consult your local recycling company for proper disposal protocols.
Lucy A. Snyder is the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated and five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author of 15 books and over 100 published short stories. Her most recent books are the collection Halloween Season and the forthcoming novel The Girl With the Star-Stained Soul. She also wrote the novels Spellbent, Shotgun Sorceress, and Switchblade Goddess, the nonfiction book Shooting Yourself in the Head for Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide, and the collections Garden of Eldritch Delights, While the Black Stars Burn, Soft Apocalypses, Orchid Carousals, Sparks and Shadows, Chimeric Machines, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger. Her writing has been translated into French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Czech, and Japanese editions and has appeared in publications such as Asimov’s Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, Pseudopod, Strange Horizons, and Best Horror of the Year. She lives in Columbus, Ohio. You can learn more about her at www.lucysnyder.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @LucyASnyder.
This story originally appeared in Strange Horizons.