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How to Get a Shell Account
What if you are certain that you don't already have a shell
account? How do you find an ISP that will give you one?
(When I wrote this back in 1997, it
was still easy to get shell accounts. Back then almost any city
of a few hundred thousand had ISPs that offered shell accounts.
Even today, when they are rare, the best shell accounts are usually
with a local ISP. If you get an account locally, you can get
to know the people who work there. If they offer shell accounts,
you can be almost certain some hackers work there. That's how
you can find the best mentors!)
The obvious place to start is your phone book. Unless you
live in a really rural area or in a country where there are few
ISPs, there should be a number of companies to choose from.
So here's your problem. You phone Boring ISP, Inc. and say,
"I'd like a shell account." But Joe Dummy on the other
end of the phone says, "Shell? What's a shell account?" You
say "I want a shell account. SHELL ACCOUNT!!!" He says,
"Duh?" You say "Shell account. SHELL ACCOUNT!!!"
He says, "Um, er, let me talk to my supervisor." Mr.
Uptight Supervisor gets on the phone. "We don't give out
shell accounts, you dirty &%$*# hacker."
Or, worse yet, they claim the Internet access account they
are giving you a shell account but you discover it isn't one.
To avoid this embarrassing scene, avoid calling big name ISPs.
I can guarantee you, America Online, Compuserve and Microsoft
Network don't give out shell accounts.
What you want to find is the seediest, tiniest ISP in town.
The one that specializes in pasty-faced customers who stay up
all night playing MOOs and MUDs. Guys who impersonate grrrls
on IRC. Now that is not to say that MUD and IRC people are typically
hackers. But these definitely are your serious Internet addicts.
An ISP that caters to people like that probably also understands
the kind of person who wants to learn Unix inside and out.
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