= L =
line eater, the n. obs.
[Usenet] 1. A bug in some
now-obsolete versions of the netnews software that used to eat up
to BUFSIZ bytes of the article text. The bug was triggered by
having the text of the article start with a space or tab. This bug
was quickly personified as a mythical creature called the `line
eater', and postings often included a dummy line of `line eater
food'. Ironically, line eater `food' not beginning with a space
or tab wasn't actually eaten, since the bug was avoided; but if
there was a space or tab before it, then the line eater
would eat the food and the beginning of the text it was
supposed to be protecting. The practice of `sacrificing to the
line eater' continued for some time after the bug had been
nailed to the wall, and is still humorously referred to. The
bug itself was still occasionally reported to be lurking in some
mail-to-netnews gateways as late as 1991. 2. See NSA line eater.
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.