live and learn

Mike McCarty Mike.McCarty at
Tue Jun 8 23:45:53 PDT 2010

Neal Murphy wrote:


> mid-nineties. And just a couple weeks ago, I overwrote a disk that contained 
> half of a couple striped MD filesystems. Lost nearly 10 years of pics and 
> history. Another time, while redesigning the Smoothwall build system, I 

Of course, you've got it all on backup.


> So if all you did was wipe out a link to a shell, you haven't tried hard 
> enough. :) Almost any Linux distro that has a rescue mode (even Debian's 

I agree with this assessment. One of the reasons I _never_ log in as
root, and my "normal user" has no special priviledges at all.


> And, yes, I have done 'rm -rf *' when in the root directory on my old AT&T 
> UNIXPC. I've since learned to be more careful. But, clearly, not careful 
> enough. :) 

I recall an old DEC system which ran Mt.Xinu (which is "Unix tm"
backwards). The sysadmin for that machine was absolutely clueless
about hierarchical file systems, and system integrity and security,
and put all the directories in /, and all users were just aliases
for user number 0 (root). About once a month they had to rebuild
the system from scratch because someone would fat finger an rm,

# rm -rf /fred

typed as

# rm -rf / fred

which would run for quite a while, then say it couldn't
find fred, after which ls wouldn't work, etc.


> As Mike says, LFS is not for newbies. Though I might allow that it is not for 
> newbies who have only one computer. Keep a computer, any computer, handy for 
> internet access to search for the mistakes you make and how others have 
> recovered. At least technically, we humans learn from our mistakes and are 

I recommend that the build be done on the "spare" and the main machine
not be poked around with. If you absolutely only have one machine,
then put an empty disc in it. Until you have a good amount of experience
doing builds, anyway. I've worked as a professional programmer since
1982, and been doing systems support building various kernels (even
wrote a few RTOS kernels) since about 1984 or so, and I've porked
my main system once.


> A possible future enhancement to 'the book' might be to incorporate checkboxes 
> that a newbie would check off as she performs each step. Extra work? Yes. But 
> worth it to make each step clearer? Yes again.

Possibly. However, who prints the book? Mostly, I was cut'n'pasting
the commands.

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