Saturday, August 30, 2008

Idiotic Move of the Year Award

... goes to me!

A couple of days ago, I got tired of manually inserting the vboxdrv the first time I wanted to test something after a reboot (which happens about five times a week due to an intel driver bug in Lenny) so I typed
# echo vboxdrv > /etc/inittab
That's right, folks, not double GTs! I didn't realize that I had mistyped, though (it was a typo) and went along my merry way until the next reboot when, you guessed it! I got stuck at a prompt I've never actually been at in almost eleven years. Reading the error, there seemed to be a problem with inittab ... something about a limit of four characters. Odd, that.

Oh, well, I decided that the problem with /etc/init wasn't something I wanted to try to fix inside the system, so I broke out a live CD. The one I had handy was Ubuntu 8.04.1, so I booted and opened /etc/inittab on the proper partition.
stared at me, and I immediately realized what I had done. Wow, I felt stupid. Not really a problem, though, because I could just copy over the inittab from the live CD and everything should be workable (though there might be some differences) and I could fix from there. Except, ummm ... Ubuntu doesn't appear to have inittab. I'm going to have to look into that one and write about how they get around it. I didn't realize that Ubuntu was actually using Upstart for anything yet.

Luckily, I just had to boot an old laptop with Lenny, copy the file to a USB key, and move it over to the machine.

Still, it's easily the stupidest thing I've done to a system in a year, maybe in three to four.


  1. AnonymousAugust 31, 2008 7:35 PM

    This is why I've started using RCS to version my config files. If you make a big mistake, you can still check out the previous version. (As long as you didn't wipe out the ,v file too! ;-)

    I am not sure I understand your Debian2Debian idea. Aren't programs such as rsync more than good enough to do the job? Maybe they need a good graphical interface, but I would think if one looked, one would already be out there... --sowth from slashdot

  2. August 31, 2008 7:56 PM

    I've played around with the idea of putting /etc/ in a version control system, but the reality is that I do so little reconfiguration that I've never bothered. It sure would have made the recovery less stressful.

    Debian2Debian isn't about a backup system, though I want to have that all handled eventually. It's an attempt to use ZeroConf/Avahi to set up as much stuff for a user as possible in a transparent way. There are no easy ways to set up server/client rsync out of the box right now. I almost went with NFS to handle the problems I was running into, but I decided to make the automatic backup a priority for later and get file/music sharing working first.

    The server serves files and music. The client sees these without any "Places > Connect to Server" BS. There are no permission problems in the shares (also no security ...). The user opens Rhythmbox and sees the music on the server with no configuration.

    The client automatically sees all other D2D clients on the network and can move files around with Giver, can talk with a ZeroConf IM client, and uses the server's Apt cache.

    It's in progress, but the first .debs are out the door and I'll continue to make it better as I go along (and learn more). Within six months, I hope that I can get DAPP picture sharing and some automatic video sharing in the vein of DAAP or uPnP to work.

    Vacation is over, though, and I've got a real job to do, so it'll be slow.


Other I' Been to Ubuntu Stories