Public Universities are always running on a limited budget which means they sometimes come up with “innovative” solutions. A couple of years back, an X-Box with some variant of Linux installed had been put in the server room to support a subject designed to teach computer-illiterate Philosophy students how to build their own web pages. This unorthodox platform was chosen because one of the techs was a Linux enthusiast and had convinced “the powers that be” that a cheap web server solution for this subject could be implemented using an X-Box rather than a standard PC or server. Grateful to save money where they could, the project was approved.

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Several years later and most of the staff in the department had moved on to bigger and better things. There was a new manager and a brand new set of helpdesk techs. The department’s Unix administrator was one of the few people left who knew what the X-Box was used for. Each year before the second semester class began he powered up the X-Box and updated its software. Few of the other staff ventured into the server room so there was little reason to wonder why an X-Box was sitting on the rack.

 

Five weeks into the “Web pages for Philosophy students” class the excrement encountered the rotary cooling device. The IT department’s help desk started receiving calls from Philosophy students who were unable to access their web projects.

 

Flummoxed, the help desk staff escalated the job ticket to the Unix administrator. Unable to remotely access the X-Box, he trotted off to the server room. He was surprised to find that the X-Box was no longer present. He did a quick search of the room but failed to find it. As it did not look as though someone had broken in to the room, there had to be another explanation.

 

The administrator went down to the new manager’s office to report the missing X-Box. The new manager was quiet for a moment and then sheepishly informed the administrator that it was he who had removed the X-Box. The manager had thought the X-Box was just a games console that the IT departments staff used for recreation when it got quiet. Noticing that the X-Box hadn’t been moved from the server room for some time and that his son was going to be at home on school holidays for the next two weeks, the manager decided to take the X-Box home so that his son would have something to entertain himself with.  The manager then drove home and retrieved the X-Box. The administrator got a labeling machine and plastered the words “This is actually a server” all across the console.