Want A Break From Hardware Hacking? Try Bitburner

If you ever mention to a normal person that you’re a hacker, and they might ask you if you can do something nefarious. The media has unfortunately changed the meaning of the word so that most people think hackers are lawless computer geniuses instead of us simple folk who are probably only breaking the laws meant to prevent you from repairing your own electronics. However, if you want a break, you can fully embrace the Hollywood hacker stereotype with Bitburner. Since it is all online, you don’t even have to dig out your hoodie.

The game takes place in 2077 where, apparently, people are still using green monochrome terminals and writing JavaScript code. Who knew? The operating system is suspiciously Linux-like with commands like alias, cat, cp, kill, and the like. We were nonplussed that in 2077 they’re still using vim, but you can use nano. We always thought real hackers would be emacs users. Our machine only starts out with 8 MB of RAM, too. Good think you can virtually buy more.

We won’t quibble that cls is a synonym for clear or that you use help instead of man. It is, after all, a game. This means you don’t have to feel bad using the buy command to purchase a program on the virtual dark web, either. Hey, if you can shoot bad guys in an FPS game, why can’t you do business with fake cyber-criminals. Why should Grand Theft Auto players have all the fun?

You know how in a video game you are a much better shot and can sustain a lot more damage than you probably can in real life? The same principle applies here. Using the scan-analyze command helpfully tells you how many open ports connected computers have and how much hacking skill it will require to break in. That’d be handy in real life, we bet.

We did think it was bad form that the tutorial admonished us for not entering the commands it wanted us to. What kind of hacker wouldn’t try something else? Anyway, it’s probably a better diversion than whatever Facebook or phone game your friends are wasting time with. It probably doesn’t impart any real hacking skills, but not everything has to be useful.

If you want a game that might teach you something, try the Bash crawl adventure. Or, go write and play some BASIC games in your browser.

19 thoughts on “Want A Break From Hardware Hacking? Try Bitburner

  1. “The media has unfortunately changed the meaning of the word so that most people think hackers are lawless computer geniuses instead of us simple folk who are probably only breaking the laws meant to prevent you from repairing your own electronics. ”

    Nah Hollywood used the concept that people already had. Hacking has had that rep since the 70s and the days of phreaking, and 2600. Before that computing was relegated to math departments and major corporations that were also a bit lawless partially due to the equipment’s novelty. Its always been the realm of shady geniuses that were valued for their problem solving more than their conformity. ..see Alan Turing et al.

    1. Just rent some storage space, then once in a while when time permits, browse your cache, add new, take out some to fix/repair/cannibalize parts, ask yourself “why did I get this besides “FREE” ? I have just doubled my rented storage space here in Tokyo, cost was only %40 more,,,, neat the savings!!! opps,,, bottom line costs more. Need to think about this in more self reflective mood.

    2. coulds you resto-mod/ build music production computers from the parts the load them with legal shareware clone of similar to cakewalk or ableton ? then work with schools/kids or whomever would be interested insaving some money and buying what they need …not what like “appgle” or etc…its simply an idea…i dont understand all the worldly obsolescence with most computers …of course,faster ,bigger,newer drives the wheel…not practicality….good luck. your thought is good.

  2. Does anyone remember there used to be a website/game (not defunct) called something like hackerlab? It was public linux terminal you could ssh into, when you logged in, the welcome message was a clue for how to find the password for the next level. Then you could dig around the system until you found the next password. To “play” the next level you log out then back in as the next username level_0, level_1, etc… I think the final level got you root access to the entire system. After completing each level there was a text file you could edit and tag your name showing you’d reached that level. It was a blast to play.

      1. That’s awesome, it looks like a very similar clone of the game I used to play. I still wish I could remember the name of the original, this one is so close, it had to be inspired by it. I’ll have to give this a play. Thanks!

  3. “We always thought real hackers would be emacs users.”

    I won’t get into the vi vs emacs thing, but I will pointing the “gate keeping” with a disapproving frown…. we can do better.

    1. Right. I agree. We can do better by using Vi.

      I think that the post statement is a shot at humor for people old enough to have used either in anger. Young gamers probably use a perfectly lovely IDE.

      1. On the humor thing, I totally get that it’s a joke, but unfortunately these jokes have side effects. Mainly that they validate other people who are doing gate-keeping, and also gives them a “it’s humor” justification to hide behind. Especially when the validation is coming from a community leader.

  4. “If you ever mention to a normal person that you’re a hacker, and they might ask you if you can do something nefarious. ”

    Hold on a second. *starts typing* Are you excited now? About as fun as watching Leo Tolstoy writing down War and Peace.

  5. The fact that it’s so close to using a linux cli but in some details so diferent is a bit offputting. Ex: “tail n00dles.js” to see the process logs? There’s some other one (I’m too ashamed to share) that I actually googled to find if it was a real linux command.

    A person spends it’s whole life trying to make sense how a linux machine works to have it all being broken by a game. :D

  6. > We were nonplussed that in 2077 they’re still using vim

    wow, mean! You take that back, good sir, or meet me in on 1.1.2077 by the grave of Bram Moolenaar for a walking aid fight!

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