Command Explained: “Look Busy On *nix”

Here’s a command that I posted on my main blog last year. Open a terminal and give it a try (stop it with Ctrl+C)!
$ cat /dev/urandom | hexdump -C | grep "34 32"

`The Penguin' says...

I recently posted a command to “Look Busy On *nix“:
$ cat /dev/urandom | hexdump -C | grep "34 32"

If you ran it, you console/terminal screen should have been filled with lines like these:

I will break apart the command and explain what it actually did.

Indicates that this command should be run as a regular user (i.e. without root privileges). This isn’t actually part of the command and shouldn’t be included when typing it into the shell.
Output the contents of the specified file(s) to stdout.
The file from which to read. /dev/urandom is a special file that acts as a pseudo-random number generator.
Redirects or “pipes” the output of the previous command into the input of the next command (stdout to stdin).
Outputs a hexdump of the specified file, or stdin if no file specified.
From the man page:

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Linux Distros: What are the differences and how do I choose one?

Linux distro stickers

Ask a newcomer about Linux and they’ll probably mention something about Ubuntu. Someone a little more knowledgeable about Linux will know that there are many flavours, called “distributions” (or “distros”, for short), of Linux. There are over six hundred distributions out there, and they’re all labelled as “Linux”. What makes one distro different from the next, and how do you choose one?
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