In some operating systems, the null device is a device file that discards all data written to it but reports that the write operation succeeded. This device is called
/dev/null on Unix and Unix-like systems,
NUL: (see TOPS-20) or
NUL on CP/M and DOS (internally
nul on OS/2 and newer Windows systems (internally
\Device\Null on Windows NT),
NIL: on Amiga operating systems, and
NL: on OpenVMS. In Windows Powershell, the equivalent is
$null. It provides no data to any process that reads from it, yielding EOF immediately. In IBM operating systems DOS/360 and successors[a] and also in OS/360 and successors[b] such files would be assigned in JCL to
References in computer culture
This entity is a common inspiration for technical jargon expressions and metaphors by Unix programmers, e.g. "please send complaints to
/dev/null", "my mail got archived in
/dev/null", and "redirect to
/dev/null"—being jocular ways of saying, respectively: "don't bother sending complaints", "my mail was deleted", and "go away". The iPhone Dev Team commonly uses the phrase "send donations to
/dev/null", meaning they do not accept donations. The fictitious person name "Dave (or Devin) Null" is sometimes similarly used (e.g., "send complaints to Dave Null"). In 1996, Dev Null was an animated virtual reality character created by Leo Laporte for MSNBC's computer and technology TV series The Site. Dev/null is also the name of a vampire hacker in the computer game Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption. A 2002 advertisement for the Titanium PowerBook G4 reads The Titanium Powerbook G4 Sends other UNIX boxes to /dev/null.
The null device is also a favorite subject of technical jokes, such as warning users that the system's
/dev/null is already 98% full. The 1995 April Fool's issue of the German magazine c't reported on an enhanced
/dev/null chip that would efficiently dispose of the incoming data by converting it to a flicker on an internal glowing LED.
- Filesystem Hierarchy Standard
- Memory hole
- rm (Unix)
- Standard streams
- Unix philosophy
- Write-only memory
- "Redirecting Error Messages from Command Prompt: STDERR/STDOUT". support.microsoft.com. Retrieved 2020-03-06.
- Commodore-Amiga, Inc. (1986). The AmigaDOS Manual. Bantam Books. p. 12. ISBN 0-553-34294-0.
- "OpenVMS Programming Concepts Manual". h30266.www3.hpe.com. Archived from the original on 2020-07-02. Retrieved 2020-03-06.
- SteveL-MSFT. "about_Automatic_Variables - PowerShell". docs.microsoft.com. Retrieved 2020-03-06.
- "Single Unix Specification Section 10.1: Directory Structure and Files". The Open Group. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
- "bit bucket". Jargon File. Retrieved 2013-12-27.
- "null(4)". The NetBSD Project.
- "sh(1) manual from version 4 Unix".
- "Dev-Team Blog - Donations to /dev/null". 2015-09-07. Archived from the original on 2015-09-07. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
- Goodman, Danny (2004). Spam Wars: Our Last Best Chance to Defeat Spammers, Scammers, and Hackers. New York: SelectBooks. p. 170. ISBN 9781590790632. OCLC 1036874851.
- "Image: unixad.jpg, (1094 × 720 px)". Archived from the original on 2013-03-26. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
- "The FreeBSD Funnies". Freebsd.org. Retrieved 2012-11-28.