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Unix is the operating system of legend which has enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with NetHack. Its equally legendary text editor, vi, is the source of the [yuhjklbn] control system. When playing on a Unix-compatible system, eating an apple gives the message "Core dumped.", an in-joke for Unix debuggers. Although NetHack's "hack" refers to "hack 'n' slash", it nevertheless uses hacker lore as a spiritual source, growing from the same sensibilities that link Unix-culture, programming-culture, and general geek-culture.
NetHack is considered by some sysops to be part of the standard suite of tools for any Unix site worth its salt.
Although many platforms are now officially supported, there are those who feel that a well-administered multiuser Unix system is NetHack's platform of choice.