Source: CompTIA Linux+ Certification Study Guide by Robb H. Tracy (2008)


It never fails that a major issue manifests itself while you're away at a conference, on vacation, or at home asleep. Without a remote access solution in place, you have to change out of your pajamas, drive in to work, slap yourself three or four times to stay awake, and fix the problem. What a waste of time! It's often said that Linux administrators are more effective at solving problems with bed head while wearing pajamas.

I don't think I fully understand what it's saying. If it means what I think it means, that is, Linux sysadmins are better at solving problems when their hair is untidy, then I don't understand why there is no indefinite article in front of bed head. Why isn't it written as with a bed head. After all, we do say "with a clear head", don't we?


3 Answers 3


Bed head is the tangled or tousled state of hair most people have when they get out of bed in the morning, before they comb or brush it. It's used without an article as a joke, treating it as a condition or affliction, like bronchitis or cancer.

Linux administrators (like lower life-forms such as professional writers) are said to work most efficiently when they're fresh—immediately after rising, before they've spent unnecessary energy on arranging their appearance and travelling to work.

  • Why not "with a bed head"? After all, we do say "with a clear head", don't we? Feb 6, 2017 at 16:11
  • @CookieMonster See my addition. Feb 6, 2017 at 16:22
  • That's absolutely great! But would it be possible for you to elaborate more on that point? The grammar seems to be interesting. Feb 6, 2017 at 16:23
  • 1
    @CookieMonster Hmm ... I don't see any room for elaboration. "He woke up with bronchitis" - "He woke up with bed-head". "I've got a bad case of bed-head today--I can't make my hair sit down". Feb 6, 2017 at 16:26
  • @Stoney - I can see where the confusion is here for the learner: "He woke up with a cold" - "He woke up having a bad hair day..."
    – J.R.
    Feb 6, 2017 at 16:27

"Solving problems with" is ambiguous. It could mean that the bed head is the problem and they am solving it; or it could mean that they have bed head while solving other problems.

Based on the context, I think the author is trying to say #2: Linux administrators are more effective at solving problems while the administrators have bed head.

The "remote access solution" is a part of this. If a server has a problem and the administrator has to go in to the office to fix it, presumably the administrator will address their bed head during their preparations to go into work (along with changing out of their pajamas).

The only time an administrator would have bed head (and be wearing pajamas) while fixing a problem is if they are accessing the server remotely. If a remote access solution is in place, and an administrator gets an alert about a server while they are asleep, the administrator can wake up and address the problem immediately, while they still have bed head and are in their pajamas.


bed head

is the adjective used to describe a slightly drowsy, fogged way of thinking when not quite fully awake, it is an uncountable noun, it is not about the state of one's hair, otherwise it would be called

bed hair

Which is the tousled hair style which was popular a few years ago also nicknamed the "JFL" look.

This is not a real life Linux sysadmin (for obvious reasons).

  • I'm going to ignore the highly problematic "for obvious reasons" and stick to the point. You're actually incorrect; Webster defines bedhead as tousled or messy hair, resulting from having just awakened. It has nothing to do (directly at least, though that is the implication) with a foggy head. Feb 6, 2017 at 22:18

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