Evi Nemeth

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Evi Nemeth
Evi nemeth.jpg
Born(1940-06-07)June 7, 1940
DisappearedJune 4, 2013 (aged 72)
Tasman Sea
StatusMissing for 9 years, 8 months and 3 days
Occupation(s)Author, retired professor
Known forLead author of "bibles" of system administration

Evi Nemeth (born June 7, 1940 – missing-at-sea June or July, 2013) was an engineer, author, and teacher known for her expertise in computer system administration and networks. She was the lead author of the "bibles" of system administration: UNIX System Administration Handbook (1989, 1995, 2000), Linux Administration Handbook (2002, 2006), and UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook (2010, 2017). Evi Nemeth was known in technology circles as the matriarch of system administration.[1][2]

Nemeth was best known in mathematical circles for originally identifying inadequacies in the "Diffie–Hellman problem", the basis for a large portion of modern network cryptography.[3]


Nemeth received her bachelor's degree in mathematics from Penn State in 1961 and her PhD in mathematics from the University of Waterloo, Ontario in 1971. She taught at Florida Atlantic University and the State University of New York at Utica (SUNY Tech) before joining the computer science department at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder) in 1980. She served as manager of the college's computing facility from 1982 to 1986. She also was a visiting Associate Professor at Dartmouth College in 1990, and at UC San Diego in 1998, while on sabbatical from CU-Boulder.[4][5]

While at CU-Boulder, Nemeth was well known for her undergraduate systems administration activity, in which students over the years had the opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge and skills in Unix system administration. Together with Steve Wozniak, Nemeth established the Woz scholarship program at CU-Boulder which funded inquisitive undergraduates for many years. Nemeth also had a special talent for inspiring and teaching young people. She mentored numerous middle- and high-school students, who worked with her to support computing in the college and came to be known as "the munchkins". She also mentored talented young undergraduates, taking them to national meetings where they installed networks and broadcast the meetings' sessions on the Internet on the multicast backbone. She coached the university's student programming teams in the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest.[6]

T-shirt with Layer 8 and Layer 9

From 1998 to 2006, Nemeth worked with Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) at the University of California, San Diego, on various Internet measurement and visualization projects.[5]

Outside the United States, Nemeth helped bring Internet technology to the developing world through her involvement with programs of the Internet Society and the United Nations Development Programme.[6]

A network guru T-shirt[7] from the 1980s shows OSI Model layers with additional Layer 8 as the "financial" layer, and Layer 9 as the "political" layer. The design was credited to Evi Nemeth.

Later life[edit]

After her retirement, Nemeth sailed her 40-foot sailboat Wonderland around various parts of the world, including a circuit of the Atlantic; the Panama Canal; and across the Pacific to New Zealand.[4]

Disappearance at sea[edit]

In late May 2013 she, along with six other people aboard the vintage yacht Niña, traveled across the Tasman Sea en route to Australia from New Zealand. On June 4, the day the last message, sent by Nemeth, was received from Niña, the Tasman Sea had 65 mile-per-hour winds and swell height reaching 26 feet. A natural disaster (e.g. a rogue wave) might have led to the disappearance of the boat.[8][9] On July 5 New Zealand authorities officially ended the search for the Niña,[10] though relatives of the crew of Niña have continued to search.[11]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Nemeth, E., Hein, T., Snyder, G., and Whaley, B., Unix and Linux System Administration Handbook, 4th edition, Prentice Hall, 2010.
  • Nemeth, E., Snyder, G., Hein, T., Whaley, B., and Makin, D., Unix and Linux System Administration Handbook, 5th edition, Prentice Hall, 2017.
  • Brownlee, N.; Claffy, K. C.; Nemeth, E. (2001). "DNS measurements at a root server". GLOBECOM'01. IEEE Global Telecommunications Conference (Cat. No.01CH37270). Vol. 3. p. 1672. CiteSeerX doi:10.1109/GLOCOM.2001.965864. ISBN 978-0-7803-7206-1. S2CID 10140817.
  • Broido, A.; Nemeth, E.; Claffy, K. (2002). "Internet expansion, refinement and churn". European Transactions on Telecommunications. 13: 33–51. CiteSeerX doi:10.1002/ett.4460130105.
  • Mullin, R., Nemeth, E. and Weidenhofer, N., "Will Public Key Crypto Systems Live up to Their Expectations? HEP Implementation of the Discrete Log Codebreaker", Proc. of the 1984 Intl Conf on Parallel Processing, Aug. 21–24, 1984, pp. 193–196. Selected for the best paper award for this conference.
  • "Otter: A general-purpose network visualization tool". International Networking Conference (INET) '99. June 1999. Retrieved 2013-06-28.


  • 1984—Best Paper Award, International Parallel Processing Conference, Chicago, August, 1984
  • 1995—USENIX/LISA Lifetime Achievement Award[12]
  • 1999—Top 25 Women on the Web Award[13]
  • 2007—Distinguished Engineering Honoree at CU-Boulder[14]
  • 5th Annual Telluride Tech Fest Honoree
  • 2018—NCWIT Pioneer in Tech Award[15]


"Early ethernet developers... objected to a roundoff error that exceeded the ARPANET's entire bandwidth, but marketing won out."[16]

"Many people equate the word ‘daemon’ with the word ‘demon’, implying some kind of Satanic connection between Unix and the underworld. This is an egregious misunderstanding. ‘Daemon’ is actually a much older form of ‘demon’; daemons have no particular bias towards good or evil, but rather serve to help define a person's character or personality. The ancient Greeks' concept of a ‘personal daemon’ was similar to the modern concept of a ‘guardian angel’ – ‘eudaemonia’ is the state of being helped or protected by a kindly spirit. As a rule, Unix systems seem to be infested with both daemons and demons." (p. 403, USAH)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Evi Nemeth | Telluride Tech Festival". Techfestival.org. Archived from the original on 2011-10-17. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  2. ^ "Racing yacht missing: Seven lost in stormy seas – National – NZ Herald News". Nzherald.co.nz. 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  3. ^ (R. Mullin, E. Nemeth and N. Weidenhofer, "Will Public Key Cryptosystems Live up to Their Expectations? HEP Implementation of the Discrete Log Codebreaker" in Proceedings of the International Parallel Processing Conference, pp. 193–196, 1984.)
  4. ^ a b "Computer Science | CU-Boulder". Cs.colorado.edu. 2012-11-26. Archived from the original on 2016-10-18. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  5. ^ a b "Senior Staff Bio - Evi Nemeth". Caida.org. 1999-08-23. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  6. ^ a b "Computer Science | CU-Boulder". Cs.colorado.edu. 2012-11-26. Archived from the original on 2016-06-22. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  7. ^ "T-shirt by ISC".
  8. ^ Mullany, Gerry (2013-06-28). "Florida Family and 4 Others Missing at Sea Off New Zealand". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  9. ^ Anna Leask (2013-06-28). "Racing yacht missing: Seven lost in stormy seas". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  10. ^ "Godmother of Unix admins Evi Nemeth presumed lost at sea". theregister.co.uk.
  11. ^ "Bringing home the Niña and her crew". Nina7.org.
  12. ^ "LISA Outstanding Achievement Award". 1995. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  13. ^ "sfwow top 25 honoring a network of women". 1998-12-12. Archived from the original on December 12, 1998. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  14. ^ "CU-Boulder Honors Distinguished Engineers For Contributions | University of Colorado Boulder". Colorado.edu. 2007-04-17. Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  15. ^ "Evi Nemeth, National Centre for Women & Information Technology". NCWIT. 2018-05-18. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". www.ex-parrot.com. Archived from the original on 2 June 2001. Retrieved 14 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)