Cat /dev/random | perl

Cat /dev/random | perl

This is a jargon heavy joke. I will attempt to explain it:

First, the words above are an example of something that you could type into a bash shell. Anyone that is a Linux enthusiast could tell you what they would do if you asked them.

The first word "Cat" is short for concatenate, and it prints the contents of a file to the shell.

The second part "/dev/random" is the name of a file, and it is a special system file. When read, this file produces an endless stream of pseudorandom data - complete gibberish.

After the filename, there is a special character known as a pipe, and this character "pipes" the output from one command into the input of another command.

The final part of the joke is the command perl, which runs the perl interpreter, and that is the crux of the joke.

Basically this joke says "take a bunch of random gibberish and give it to the perl interreter". The reason why this is funny is that perl is a programming language that is known among software developers as being impossible to read. Some have called it a "write only language", which is to say that you can write it, but then never read it afterward.

The joke is saying that since perl (when you are trying to read it) looks like random gibberish, then perhaps any random bit of gibberish that has no meaning might run as a perl program and produce some output.

This is funny. Why are you not laughing?


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