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Wednesday, December 10 12:00 AM ET

Hackers Successfully Install Linux on a Potato

By Brian Briggs

Amsterdam, Netherlands – Hackers from the LinuxOnAnything.nl Web site successfully installed Linux on a potato. It's the first time the operating system has been successfully installed on a root vegetable.

Linux Potato“A potato doesn't have a CPU, memory or storage space, so it was quite a challenge,” said Johan Piest of the Linux on Anything (LOA) group. “Obviously we couldn't use a large distribution like Fedora or Ubuntu, so we went with Damn Small Linux.”

After weeks of trying the group got a Linux kernel specially modified for a potato loaded, and were able to edit a small text file in vi. Linux was loaded onto the potato using a USB thumb drive and commands were sent in binary to the potato using a set of red and black wires.

The LOA group is a part of a growing group of hackers attempting to get Linux loaded on anything. It started on electronic devices like Gameboys and iPods, but recently groups have taken on tougher challenges like light bulbs and puppies.

The LOA group was in a race with another hacker group, the Stuttering Monarchs, to be the first to bag the potato. “The potato has been the vegetable that everyone has been gunning for, because it's so versatile like Linux itself. You can boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew,” said Piest. “You'd think we'd get some sort of reward for this, but it's all about bragging rights for us.”

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LOA was the group that first installed Linux on a Shetland pony in 2003, but growing competition from other hacker groups have shut them out in the past five years.

“We were close to being the first with Linux on a cracker, but those jerks from Norway beat us out,” said Piest.

The first vegetable Linux install was on a head of iceberg lettuce by a group of hackers in Turkey.

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