705: Devotion to Duty

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Devotion to Duty
The weird sense of duty really good sysadmins have can border on the sociopathic, but it's nice to know that it stands between the forces of darkness and your cat blog's servers.
Title text: The weird sense of duty really good sysadmins have can border on the sociopathic, but it's nice to know that it stands between the forces of darkness and your cat blog's servers.


This comic is a reference to the 1988 movie Die Hard, where several supposed terrorists have taken hostages inside the fictional building Nakatomi Plaza. They take over the building, and cut all communication to prevent anyone communicating with the outside world. The goatee that the man has is a reference to Hans Gruber, the main antagonist in Die Hard. In the original movie, NYPD detective John McClane (who was in the building at the time) famously climbs through ventilation ducts and walks across broken glass. A major plot point is that the antagonists communicate through radio, just like this comic. In the original movie, he kills many of the antagonists and manages to rescue most of the hostages, foiling their plan in the process.

However, in this comic, instead of freeing the hostages, the individual mentioned instead reconnected the servers to the outside world. The person on the other end of the phone, immediately recognizes the reason: the man that entered the building is a sysadmin (short for system administrator), and he is concerned that his servers are losing uptime, or time spent running or connected to the internet. This evidently concerns the man on the phone, who knows that a good sysadmin is an unstoppable force once started.

The title text is a simple joke about the fact that the sysadmin will crawl through broken glass and defeat criminals/terrorists just so a cat blog (where owners write about their cats) can stay up. This creates a humorous contrast between the seriousness with which large websites treat issues like uptime and business continuity and the often mundane and banal uses people actually have for them.

A sysadmin is also mentioned in the title text of 309: Shopping Teams and in 1305: Undocumented Feature.


[Bearded criminal is holding a pistol and talking on a mobile phone.]
Criminal: We took the hostages, secured the building and cut the communication lines like you said.
Phone: Excellent.
[Still talking on the phone, waving gun around in the air animatedly.]
Criminal: But then this guy climbed up the ventilation ducts and walked across broken glass, killing anyone we sent to stop him.
Phone: And he rescued the hostages?
[Criminal looking confused and defeated, shoulders hunched and pistol hanging limply at his side.]
Criminal: No, he ignored them. He just reconnected the cables we cut, muttering something about "uptime".
Phone: Shit, we're dealing with a sysadmin.


This comic used to be available as a T-shirt in the xkcd store before it was shut down.

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This is very clearly a Die Hard parody. -- ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~) Indubitably --JSekula71 (talk) 23:36, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

Oh man. This needs some reworking. --Quicksilver (talk) 03:10, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

This entire entry has to be a troll... We may need an ExplainExplainxkcd for those who don't get it. 05:15, 9 March 2016 (UTC) 10:33, 26 April 2014 (UTC) In Die Hard, the terrorists used a chainsaw to cut the telephone trunk cables. Try repairing that damage.

Never underestimate the dedication of a truly devoted sysadmin! -Pennpenn 04:57, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

The title text is highlighting the absurdity of the sysadmin's devotion to duty by contrasting the forces of darkness (very serious) against a blog describing the daily activities of your cat (trivial). ---BD (talk) 07:36, 17 November 2014 (UTC)

Why are there so many parentheses in the explanation? I think that needs to get fixed. Vince7778 (talk) 23:09, 17 January 2017 (UTC)

Yeah, it's kind of ridiculous. 625571b7-aa66-4f98-ac5c-92464cfb4ed8 (talk) 05:15, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

It is 2024 - Where can I get the T-Shrt? (talk) 14:39, 21 May 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)