Bastard Operator From Hell

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The Bastard Operator From Hell (BOFH), a fictional character created by Simon Travaglia, is a rogue system administrator who takes out his anger on users (often referred to as lusers), colleagues, bosses, and anyone else who gets in his way.

The BOFH stories were originally posted in 1992 to Usenet by Travaglia, with some being reprinted in Datamation.[1] They were published weekly from 1995 to 1999 in Network Week and since 2000 they have been published most weeks in The Register. They were also published in PC Plus magazine for a short time, and several books of the stories have also been released.

By extension, the term is also used to refer to any system administrator who displays (or wishes he could get away with) the qualities of the original.[2] The term has become common Internet slang.

In the stories, the PFY (Pimply-Faced Youth) is the BOFH's assistant; this too has become a general term for a junior or trainee system administrator.[3]



Early BOFH editions took place in a university, moving on to an office workplace over time (an exact transition is not given). BOFH 2k began with the BOFH and PFY moving to a new company.

Whilst the BOFH and PFY got irritated at the incompetence of users, they used this to his advantage to further their devious means, mainly using the following tricks:

  • Deleting users' files
  • Deleting users (by arranging "accidents")
  • Lifting raised floor tiles so users (or engineers, or the Boss) fall down
  • Quicklime pit
  • Electrocuting users (from an over-voltage cattle prod, using nails as fuses, or by other means)
  • Locking the machine room and triggering the Halon release
  • Trapping them in the elevator
  • Slamming their testicles in desk drawers
  • Pushing users off the comms riser
  • Blackmail, either with real or electronically fabricated evidence
  • Putting users on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list
  • Destroying systems with etherkillers (power plugs spliced onto a piece of coax cable), or talking users into destroying their own systems.
  • Locking them in the airtight tape safe
  • Putting laxatives in their food or coffee

Early BOFH editions focused mainly on the above tricks, although over time many other schemes and plots have been used, with many now aimed at management as well as the users. Early BOFH editions simply featured the BOFH, the systems manager and the lusers — as time developed, the Boss, PFY and other characters (see below) appeared.

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