...making Linux just a little more fun!

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The Foolish Things We Do With Our Computers

By Ben Okopnik

"Foolish Things" is a now-and-again compilation that we run based on our readers' input; once we have several of these stories assembled in one place, we get to share them with all of you. If you enjoy reading these cautionary tales of woe, proud stories of triumph, and just plain weird and fun things that happen between humans and silicon, that's great; if you have some to share so that others may enjoy them, even better. Please send them to .

[ You can even tell us that it happened to A Friend of Yours, and we'll believe you. ]

-- Ben

Teacher, Teach Thyself

from The Perl-Trainers list

Ben Okopnik wrote:
> On Wed, Dec 22, 2004 at 05:58:00PM -0800, Randal L. Schwartz wrote:
> > >>>>> "Tim" == Tim Maher writes:
> >
> > >> On Wed, Dec 22, 2004 at 08:33:25PM -0000, Peter Scott wrote:
> > >> Some advice for Perl trainers doing hands-on demonstrations:
> > >> Don't type "my $self = shift" (or shift anything else) without
> > >> practice.  It is too easy to typo and leave the 'f' out of
> > >> 'shift'.  For some reason I am more prone to making this
> > >> mistake in front of an audience than when coding alone.
> > >> Peter Scott
> >
> > Tim> Been there; done that!  I also recommend avoiding attempts to
> > Tim> type the potentially much more embarrassing "$count" for the same
> > Tim> general reason (did it once; won't ever take the chance again!).
> >
> > And don't do live demos on your laptop where you might have personal
> > data unless you've already rehearsed every step of your demo in the
> > privacy of your own cubicle, and verified that nothing of questionable
> > interest might be exposed.
> >
> > And on a completely unrelated topic, keep in mind that the resource
> > fork of a movie you downloaded to a UFS partition on MacOSX will be
> > stored in a file named "._moviename.mpg", which doesn't get removed
> > when you say "rm *".
> >
> > :-)
> Not that I've ever suffered from any of the above problems, oh no...
> (Displaying your /etc/bashrc, when it happens to contain aliases
> designed to discourage those who type curse words as commands - during a
> demo at a bank headquarters, no less - cannot *possibly* have happened
> to me. Never.)

Oh, Fuss and Botheration. I think I've Just Nuked the World...

from Richard Neill

When I was learning Linux, I decided to install the recent version of Mozilla (from mozilla.org), since the version that came with Mandrake 8.0 was a few months old, and Moz was really making leaps every month (around version 0.93, I recall).

Anyway, the installer asked me where I wanted to put it. I looked where the distro put it, (/usr/bin/mozilla), and told the installer to put the new copy in /usr/bin. Of course the installer wanted to put a whole bunch of files there, not just the mozilla executable, and it complained that the directory wasn't empty. Might it delete the other files in the directory, it asked? Yes, I said.

Bother. It's surprising how useless a Linux distro gets when you effectively do rm -rf /usr/bin. It's also odd that nothing immediately breaks, e.g. KDE continued to work fine.

What I should have done was rpm -Va and then reinstalled the packages. But in the end, I did a full reinstall.

If It Walks Like a DIG, and quacks like a DOC...

from Robin Twombly

I run several version of Linux and the worst problem I had was when I miss typed a directory name when deleting. I wanted to delete the folder var/www/ htdig and I accidentally typed var/www/htdocs thus deleting all my internet files for my apache web server.

At the time I was not clear on how to undelete a file on Linux.

Thank you for many hours of fun reading.
Happy Linux Gazette Reader

[ A pleasure, Robin. Thanks for contributing to Making Linux Just a Little More Fun! -- ben ]


picture Ben is the Editor-in-Chief for Linux Gazette and a member of The Answer Gang.

Ben was born in Moscow, Russia in 1962. He became interested in electricity at the tender age of six, promptly demonstrated it by sticking a fork into a socket and starting a fire, and has been falling down technological mineshafts ever since. He has been working with computers since the Elder Days, when they had to be built by soldering parts onto printed circuit boards and programs had to fit into 4k of memory. He would gladly pay good money to any psychologist who can cure him of the recurrent nightmares.

His subsequent experiences include creating software in nearly a dozen languages, network and database maintenance during the approach of a hurricane, and writing articles for publications ranging from sailing magazines to technological journals. After a seven-year Atlantic/Caribbean cruise under sail and passages up and down the East coast of the US, he is currently anchored in St. Augustine, Florida. He works as a technical instructor for Sun Microsystems and a private Open Source consultant/Web developer. His current set of hobbies includes flying, yoga, martial arts, motorcycles, writing, and Roman history; his Palm Pilot is crammed full of alarms, many of which contain exclamation points.

He has been working with Linux since 1997, and credits it with his complete loss of interest in waging nuclear warfare on parts of the Pacific Northwest.

Copyright © 2005, Ben Okopnik. Released under the Open Publication license unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 114 of Linux Gazette, May 2005

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