back to article Beware the three-finger-salute, or 'How I Got The Keys To The Kingdom'

Friday is upon us, and with it another On Call story from those poor souls who have to answer the phone when everything goes wrong. Not all heroes wear capes and, as we'll see, remember to ward their Linux servers from an enthusiastic boss. "Hans" is the contributor of today's tale, and his story takes place some 15 years ago …

  1. Jusme
    Facepalm

    Back in the day...

    ...we had many Sun servers. Being cheapskates, we didn't endow them with the customary (and rather nice, for the time) Sun CRT and keyboard - they were only for workstations. Instead they had some ancient ICL serial terminals pressed into service for local consoles.

    Now these ICL serial terminals had an interesting key layout, with a "break" key on the top-left, conveniently placed immediately above the return key and to the right of the backspace key. Pressing the "break" key, as one would expect, generated a serial-line break condition. Unfortunately these early Sun servers interpreted a serial line break on the console port as a "break to monitor", immediately and unconditionally halting the running OS (SunOS 3), and somewhat degrading their role as file servers or whatever. If you were quick, typing "cont" would restore normal operation, if not...

    Yes, I pressed it by accident. And learned to type "cont" very quickly. As did others, who weren't so familiar with the foibles of this setup. By the time they'd typed a few *nix commands into the monitor, figured things weren't quite right, and called someone over, it was too late to safely just continue (as we discovered the hard way), so a full reboot, and fsck, was required - usually most of an hours downtime.

    Fun times...

    1. trolleybus

      Re: Back in the day...

      cont? Are you sure you got the vowel right?

      1. Jusme

        Re: Back in the day...

        Yes.

        But the location of the break key was top-right, not top-left like wot I rote.

    2. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Inconveniently placed keys

      Some keys should not be where they are, or even exist at all. That's something I learned while doing tech support on a trading floor, as most traders' keyboards were missing the numeric pad enter key. They purposefully removed it in order not to type a wrong price or volume by accident.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Back when I worked as an accountant I got intimately acquainted with the numeric keypad. When you have to enter an average of 6 financial numbers a minute during the day, you get used to it pretty quick.

        You tell me that Golden Boys had issues with the numpad ? Maybe they should cut their white powder usage a bit.

        1. Paul Shirley

          Your accounting software has an undo button. The undo process for an unexpected or incorrect trade is rather more frightening, not least because it could cost more than your annual income to perform!

          1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            Um, nope, back then it didn't. It didn't even use the mouse.

      2. Filippo

        Re: Inconveniently placed keys

        The "power" button for my current laptop is the top-right button of the keyboard. The mind boggles to think at what thought process, if any, went into that decision.

        1. Yes Me Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Inconveniently placed keys

          Acer?

        2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Inconveniently placed keys

          The most patently dumb keyboards have, or had as luckily I haven't come across any recently (they get immediately skipped with prejudice) power and suspend keys on the keyboard itself. The most utterly idiotic thing to put on a keyboard near guaranteeing regular shutdowns in the middle of work.

          The only other recent keyboard annoyance that comes close is the stupid default to special function keys rather than the standard function keys themselves. Press F1 for "help" and Wifi, or something random depending on the keyboard, turns off... seriously? Oh, and the swapping of the Fn and Ctrl keys on pesky Lenovo keyboards.

          Historically one of the major stupid things was Microsoft's selection of a keyboard layout without the "Help" key that almost all other keyboards at the time had. Instead they chose to repurpose the existing F1 key...

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: Inconveniently placed keys

            The most patently dumb keyboards have, or had as luckily I haven't come across any recently (they get immediately skipped with prejudice) power and suspend keys on the keyboard itself. The most utterly idiotic thing to put on a keyboard near guaranteeing regular shutdowns in the middle of work.

            Those buttons on the KB itself aren't so bad - when they're away from the normal keys and in an out-of-the-way area. One of the shortest lived keyboards I've ever known was one a mate had that had the '"sleep" key at the level of the "home" key, and the home etc keys dropped a row.

            I can't imagine how it was that I simultaneously accidentally spilt a glass of coke (which I didn't touch back then), a cup of coffee, a bag of sugar and something else into it. It certainly wasn't keyboard malice, and I did give him a very nice replacement immediately afterwards anyway (which by pure coincidence I'd purchased on my way to see him that very day, which I really was wanting just as a spare for home and not at all because I was planning to make sure his existing keyboard was destroyed and irreplaceable). And when trying to clean all this mess out,I did accidentally break a couple of keycaps and accidentally pushed my screwdriver through the membranes of a few more keys. And in my shock and frustration of how bad things were going, I did also purely accidentally use the longer screws in shorter holes, driving them in with such accidental excessive force that they drilled a new hold through part of the circuit and out the top of the case...

            Such a shame. It was such a nice keyboard too! :)

            One thing I found really annoying with certain laptop brands is the swapping of F1 etc keys with the 'media keys' so you need Function+F1 instead of just F1. Being someone who seldom uses media keys and often uses function keys, especially when I was using a lot of repair tools each day....

            (FTR, I usually set the "sleep" buttons to "do nothing" anyway, just in case I come across a stupid keyboard again).

          2. david 12 Silver badge

            Re: Inconveniently placed keys

            It was an IBM keyboard. And although Personal Computer World reviewed the IBM PC as --meh--, they were unequivocal about the keyboard: not just excellent, not just best: genre re-defining.

            1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

              Re: Inconveniently placed keys

              That makes more sense and is a fairer party to blame rather than Microsoft. Which from memory does have VK_HELP defined as a virtual key in windows...

        3. FlamingDeath

          Re: Inconveniently placed keys

          Of course thought went into it, thoughts about profits and nothing else

        4. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Inconveniently placed keys

          I recently encountered a keyboard that had an extra row of buttons labelled 'sleep', 'hibernate' and 'power off' right over the ins/del/pgup/pgdn/home/end block.

          Two minutes later, while the system was rebooting where I had intended to just move the start of some document, those three keys fell victim to a Leatherman Wave Tti, and then a LowaT rident size 46 for good measure. I wish I could subject the person who concocted this abomination to the same treatment.

        5. Daytona955

          Re: Inconveniently placed keys

          At work, we get provided with an HP USB-C dock to go with our HP laptop. The entire top surface of the dock is a fscking OFF switch that powers down the attached laptop if anything so much as looks at the dock. Brilliant piece of design...

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Inconveniently placed keys

            Brilliant piece of design...

            In HP's defence.. They've had so many problems with laptops (and AIOs) overheating and not acting to protect themselves from overhot situations.. So it's nice if them to at least give you a very easy to reach OFF switch and, lets face it, there's at least a 75% chance your HP is overheating and really should be shut down right now...

            (Worst I've seen is a melted CPU socket in an otherwise nice HP AIO - because the fan clogged, was quite hard for the user to clean, and HP would rather you buy a new machine than chuck in a .002c sensor and "kill power NOW" circuit)

      3. baud Bronze badge

        Re: Inconveniently placed keys

        I heard that heavy excel users remove the F1 key (which open the help window), to avoid pressing it, while reaching for the F2 key (edit)

    3. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

      Re: Back in the day...

      First Sun server I ever encountered wasn't anything to do with my work (which was on VAX), but was positioned adjacent to me under the bench on which our VT*** terminals sat.

      It wasn't anything on the keyboard that struck. Just a power button that was right in my natural legroom.

      1. dvd

        Re: Back in the day...

        I worked on machines that had power keys exactly at knee height.

        It was quite common to come across people with legs akimbo trying to maintain pressure on the power button with their knees while trying to finish up their work and initiate an orderly shutdown before leg cramps enforced a disorderly one.

        1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change
          Alert

          Re: Back in the day...

          I like the image!

          Good thing that was a young man's game[1]. Can't help thinking it could be altogether more troublesome with a 50-year-old prostate.

          [1] I honestly can't even begin to relate this to a lady's life experience.

    4. GnuTzu Silver badge

      Re: Back in the day...

      Oh, there were so many oddball proprietary keyboards.

      In server environments, I much cherish the standardization of keyboards.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Back in the day...

        But what about software reconfiguration of keyboards? I can configure this one on my laptop to behave like a French keyboard or a New Zealand one or even simplified Pinyin. Without a relevant overlay that could cause someone else some problems.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: Back in the day...

          > that could cause someone else some problems

          IBM PS/2s could reconfig the keyboard with ANSI sequences.

          This. in addition to the movable keycaps, was the cause of much hilarity in the university student lab.

        2. GnuTzu Silver badge

          Re: Back in the day...

          Oh, I meant to mention internationalization, but forgot.

          Mostly, I whine about shrunken backslash keys, for those of us who do a lot of character escaping... which, of course, has nothing to do with the escape key.

        3. Adrian Harvey
          Headmaster

          Re: Back in the day...

          Pendatic I know, but New Zealand uses the US keyboard layout as dollars are the currency and English the most spoken language.

          (Ok, even more pedantic, there is a keyboard setting for Maori language that changes the back-quote key to a macron compose key, but I argue it’s not the “New Zealand” layout )

          Icon: closest for pendant

          1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change
            Coat

            pendant[sic]?

            Hanging's too good for 'em?

    5. LateAgain

      Re: Back in the day...

      Ha. I'd never seen a server stop because you unplugged a cable, that wasn't being used, until the sun fire

    6. MarkSitkowski

      Re: Back in the day...

      I'm surprised nobody mentioned the Sun keyboard with the control and shift keys (or was it shift and caps-lock?) interchanged. That was all kinds of fun to use...

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Back in the day...

        I'm surprised nobody mentioned the Sun keyboard with the control and shift keys (or was it shift and caps-lock?) interchanged.

        You mean Sun's "UNIX layout" ...given how often you use control character it is perfect and much more natural. Decision to put caps lock (whcih is rarely used) where Ctrl should be was idiotic in the first place.

        Luckily it is easy to rectify that with X11 and just swap the keys the way they're meant to be.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: Back in the day...

          Decision to put caps lock (whcih is rarely used) where Ctrl should be was idiotic in the first place.

          You do realise that decision predates electronic computers by a day or two, and almost pre-dates the useful harnessing of electricity itself? :)

  2. Martyn 1

    Back in the days when I was a VMS operator I just happened to look over the shoulder of one of the trainees as they were typing:

    $delete [*...]*.*;* /before=-90

    (delete everything on the entire disk older than 90 days)

    I just stopped him before he hit <CR> and asked what the hell he was playing at "Eric told me to delete everything older than 90 days...", I stopped him in his tracks and went to ask Eric (the boss) about it, his response was "We're short of disk space and the users don't need anything older than a couple of months so we're gonna play tough and delete anything older than 90 days and then we'll have loads of space", I pointed out that as well as user data that disk also held the executables for the production system and he would end up deleting the entire code and the whole world would come crashing down and a heap of brown smelly stuff would hit the fan.

    It was pure chance I was looking over the guy's shoulder at that moment and we were only a <CR> away from compete disaster. No doubt about it - Eric would have been on the streets if it had happened, but although he was an idiot he was a nice bloke and I didn't want to be around trying to pick up the pieces anyway.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Nice catch, how did Eric react?

      1. GnuTzu Silver badge

        Just a guess, I've seen bosses slink away avoiding anyone's direct eye contact. Those in charge never dare admitting they are less than competent enough to lead.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          I've also seen the opposite.

          1. GnuTzu Silver badge

            Like maybe: "well, you didn't see what I was going to do to address that", and stomp off before having to explain what?

    2. ridley

      Now don't be silly Eric would have been fine.

      The trainee on the other hand...

  3. KittenHuffer Silver badge
    Happy

    We had a semi-regular issue with one system ...

    ... where the backup had to be launched from the system console, and required the date and time of the backup to be typed in. And if yesterdays date was entered then the backup would kick in immediately, no warning, and no way to abort short of a full system reset.

    In the days before the Interwebs I had to teach myself RSTSE to write a decent script that took <enter> and <enter> to default to 'today' and '10pm'! The office peeps that were lumbered with the job of setting the backups loved this.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "The Boss handed over his key to the server room"

    As well it should be. You're the Boss, you send peons to the server room. Because it doesn't matter how knowledgeable you think you are, you have no idea how things are set up, how to check what state they are in ad how to ensure that you are acting on the proper server when you fiddle around on keyboards.

    Because if you did know all that, you wouldn't be the Boss, you'd be a peon.

    So rely on the people you pay to do the job.

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: "The Boss handed over his key to the server room"

      And once you know that you're the only person with a key to the server room, you can use it as an impromptu nap-space when you're feeling a little bit hungover.

      Ahem, I mean "running some manual backups in the server room".

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: "The Boss handed over his key to the server room"

      Because if you did know all that, you wouldn't be the Boss, you'd be a peon.

      I disagree, I've had jobs where the Boss knew it all as he taught me and still could take over when I wasn't available for whatever reason.

    3. JakeMS
      Devil

      Re: "The Boss handed over his key to the server room"

      Not always the case. I'm one of 3 founders in my business for the last 6 (.. almost 7.. wow) years, that makes me a "boss".. although I don't tend to think of myself that way.

      I'm also the tech guy, I single handedly done the initial setup of every single system the business uses. The advantage of being boss is... there has never been any windows in this business (all linux systems, right down to the EPOS).

      As such, in this case if something goes wrong with any of these systems, I'm very much the boss you want looking at those systems.*

      As for the other two founders.. absolutely not... They don't even have any SSH keys... lol.

      * Thankfully I've only had one serious incident, which was when a "yum update" on RHEL7 decided to wipe out the EFI bootloader, causing the system to not come back online.. quickly fixed however.

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: "The Boss handed over his key to the server room"

        "I'm also the tech guy, I single handedly done the initial setup...!

        Yes we can see that by the less than stellar grammar!

        1. JakeMS
          Angel

          Re: "The Boss handed over his key to the server room"

          I've had too much to drink to care about grammar...

          1. keithpeter
            Pint

            Re: "The Boss handed over his key to the server room"

            Excellent: we assume you are well away from the server room and that you have disconnected all your terminal sessions...

            1. JakeMS

              Re: "The Boss handed over his key to the server room"

              Absolutely! lol. They are working well and were updated just before xmas. So now I can just sit back, relax and study a foriegn language (Currently studying Japanese) while drinking a few beers forgetting about business and servers/computers until the new year.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. FlamingDeath

        Re: "The Boss handed over his key to the server room"

        " there has never been any windows in this business (all linux systems, right down to the EPOS)"

        Well that won't last long once the business grows, and all the new muppets will then need Microsoft, because they won't know how to use anything else, and even that (Microsoft) they don't know how to use, and always end up needing the IT support to come and show them how to use a computer, which by the way is the main tool used in their job

        I can only hope that as generations go by, this idiocy will fade away

      3. phuzz Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: "The Boss handed over his key to the server room"

        "there has never been any windows in this business"

        What do you do if someone farts?

    4. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: "The Boss handed over his key to the server room"

      Nah, I trust him enough to nag the shit out of me until I have an answer to the all burning question:

      "When will it be back up??!"

      Thought lately, another part of the circus is screaming for help, but it isn't my monkey...

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The Boss handed over his key to the server room"

      I remember when we lost our entire production system due to a stupid IBM FSE pulling the live power supply form the SAN rather than the failed one.

      The boss' solution to prevent this was to lock the computer room and allow access only with his signature. Senior management and vendors, however, could just walk in (vendors still needed a job ticket though, same as before).

      This eleganlty blocked access to the people who knew what they were doing, while still permitting the easy access of people who had a track record of causing issues. This boss was the same one who, when a company-wide survey had shown IT staff had very low faith in senior management, came to talk to us and tell us that we "shouldnt feel bad about doing so badly on the survey ... but need to work hard to improve our scores".

      1. FlamingDeath

        Re: "The Boss handed over his key to the server room"

        'came to talk to us and tell us that we "shouldnt feel bad about doing so badly on the survey ... but need to work hard to improve our scores".'

        Sociopaths do have a way with words. Can you spot the sociopath(s) in your office?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    French company

    The server room being the only constantly fresh place in the building, the Boss used it to keep some bottles of wine at the right temperature.

    So when you entered you saw backup tapes, wine and champagne bottles, and various computer spare parts (mice, keyboards, HDs) all living in peace on the same shelf. Positive point, VIP visitors and the boss himself weren't the only ones who took advantage of the "liquid IT": We used to top off meetings with a glass of excellent white wine, or even champagne when the situation called for it (and it did regularly).

    (For those who don't like wine, both the president and the CEO had some exceptional single malts in their office, and weren't stingy with it. And no, we weren't drunk all day, availability doesn't necessarily leads to abuse.)

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: French company

      I used to work at the NIMR in Mill Hill before it moved to central London and became The Crick Institute. It had an onsite bar which opened at 5pm weekdays. The seminar room was just beyond it and seminars where on Friday afternoons so you repaired to the bar just outside to continue matters if matters needed continuing.

      I first made the acquaintance of Czech Bud there, they did bottles before most places did.

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: French company

        In my only year working onsite the office was almost opposite a pub and team meetings were usually scheduled for the end of the day, in the pub. When the CEO was visiting from down south the entire office decanted itself into said pub mid afternoon and hammered the company credit card. Remote work doesn't get all the perks :)

        The office secretaries job at my last employer has an element of keeping the fridge stocked with drink...

        1. Jos V

          Re: French company

          I was called up yesterday, saying they had a big problem. I told them I was at an Italian restaurant having pizza and beer. He asked me to bring pizza and beer. I complied. And fixed the problem in 5 minutes before the pizza went cold, and the beer warm. Why do I keep the damn Cisco blue flat serial cable on hand you ask?

      2. timrowledge

        Re: French company

        I used to work at a Palo Alto research lab of some repute. Meetings that ran over lunch could be catered, so obviously all meetings ran over lunch. Out of about 200 staff, two were catering arrangers. I swear they had an underground conveyor to the posh sushi place on University Ave. And 3pm Friday was Beer o’clock.

        I miss Interval!

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: French company

      Canford Audio are your friend: https://www.canford.co.uk/Products/11-231_CANFORD-RACKWINE-Winerack-rack-mount-3U-black

      I'm pretty sure they used to do a chilled rack too, but I can't immediately find it.

  6. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Similarish happened to me...

    ILike a total idiot, I'd messed up the order of a new filesystem in /etc/fstab - I placed it before it's parent mount. The server was used for interdepartmental stats reports by various boses, along with being a site dns server, and site internet proxy/intranet.

    Months later, one bozo from the windows team went to do something on one of their servers, and did alt-ctrl-delete on the wrong keyboard, trying to wake his box from the screensaver (who does that anyway?? Pressing "SHIFT" surfices._

    Needless to say, the box tried to reboot, and failed due the fstab entry, about 10am. I wasn't in that day, and so the machine was down until a colleague started work at 3pm..

    There was a bunch of Unix support guys on site, but no-one had a clue what was wrong.. sigh.

    Still, it was my stupid cockup...

  7. Pirate Dave
    Pirate

    Yeah

    Early on, I realized that editing inittab and changing the Ctrl+Alt+Del behavior on my Linux servers was a good idea. Got bit a few times on production machines, and decided to instead have it flash up a message like "I just saved your ass, idiot! Use the shutdown command." or something like that.

    One less vector for public failure is always progress...

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Yeah

      "changing the Ctrl+Alt+Del behavior on my Linux servers was a good idea"

      One site I supported (a school) had a few teachers who'd got it into their heads that the solution to anything running slowly was to "reboot the server" - the problem being that they'd take it down in ways that made fsck/requotaing at startup mandatory (the days of ext2fs) and a couple of thousand pupil directories to check made things slow for at least a day, so they'd get into a nasty positive feedback loop. (The ACTUAL cause of most things going slow was 50-odd windows classroom computers all attempting to fire up the same software at once, on a 10Mb/s hubbed network on the student side. Collisions galore.)

      I eventually solved the issue by setting ctrl-alt-del to the message "I'm sorry Dave, I can't allow you to do that. Now go and sit in the corner.", disconnecting the reset and power switches from the front panel (the days of AT power supplies) and fitting padlocks to the server cabinet as well as educating office staff that anyone attempting to enter the server cupboard should be challenged no matter what seniority they might have (the worst offenders were the IT staff, of course - guess who specified the network despite warnings it wouldn't be adequate?)

      There was some griping in the first couple of days but once they let the thing actually run continuously for more than 72 hours at a time it started performing fairly well (as well as 8MB ram would let it - this was a very long time ago)

      The slowness was eventually fixed by fitting 100MB/s switches and the machine eventually enjoyed uptimes hitting 2 years at one point before being replaced and the filesystems upgraded.

  8. trindflo
    Trollface

    Any doubt why Microsoft taught people to hit Ctl-Alt-Del as soon as they sit in front of a keyboard?

    I'd be interested to hear anyone who can defend this as something other than Microsoft intentionally causing grief for other operating system users.

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: ...why Microsoft taught people to hit Ctl-Alt-Del...

      Ctl-Alt-Del used to be used to send a (non-maskable?) interrupt, to reboot an unresponsive workstation, regardless of the running OS. The 3-finger salute was often necessary.

      Now, I think* Microsoft** Windows catches that and uses it for a less radical purpose - e.g. giving you the chance to start Task Manager to kill a process. Or "interrupt" the screensaver so you can log in.

      * Probably technically wrong, but you get the idea.

      ** Microsoft - Going from pioneering standards to borking standards over the decades.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: ...why Microsoft taught people to hit Ctl-Alt-Del...

        That's his point - why did MS think it was a god idea grab a deliberately hard-to-do key sequence designed for hard reboots, and make it into a generally used command sequence?

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: ...why Microsoft taught people to hit Ctl-Alt-Del...

          It was never supposed to get out in the wild, it was just a testing tool. Unfortunately, some bean counter said "Ship it".

        2. sprograms

          Re: ...why Microsoft taught people to hit Ctl-Alt-Del...

          Perhaps MS set it that way because during the first X iterations of the OS that sequence was so often required. Might as well make it familiar and easy....

        3. jason 7 Silver badge

          Re: ...why Microsoft taught people to hit Ctl-Alt-Del...

          Hard to do? Are you an otter or lost a arm in a conflict somewhere?

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: ...why Microsoft taught people to hit Ctl-Alt-Del...

            Obviously I meant "hard to do accidentally", but yes, now you mention it, it is quite hard for us otters!

      2. zb42

        Re: ...why Microsoft taught people to hit Ctl-Alt-Del...

        This was a deliberate choice, someone could run a program that looks like the normal login screen which actually steals usernames and passwords. Ctrl-alt-del can't be intercepted by a user-mode program.

        Larry Osterman wrote a blog post about this in 2005.

        https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/larryosterman/2005/01/24/why-is-control-alt-delete-the-secure-attention-sequence-sas/

        1. -tim
          Boffin

          Re: ...why Microsoft taught people to hit Ctl-Alt-Del...

          Ctrl-Alt-Del could be intercepted on x86 computers of that era. The 1st IBM PCs (5150, the ones with cassette ports) were the ones where it couldn't be intercepted as it sent a hard interrupt but that was removed by the days of the XT which implemented the reboot code in BIOS. Since an PC couldn't use that key combination, no early DOS programs supported its use and it was nearly unused by the time Microsoft needed a "force a login window" key. It had been used by a few games to adjust how they worked in "turbo" mode.

  9. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Ugh!

    Ugh. I do expect a Linux server to restart when given a ctrl-alt-del at the console. I would NEVER expect some linux box acting as essentially an appliance (firewall/etc. as described) to start up in some maintenance mode rather than just booting up it's services. I mean, seriously... They would have had maybe 5 minutes downtime (if it boots rather slowly...) otherwise. Oh well, this kind of thing keeps IT people busy 8-)

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Ugh!

      You're assuming it doesn't wedge on the way down. I've seen that way too often.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Ugh!

      Did you actually read the article? The server came up with all services stopped/disabled, which is kind of suboptimal if it's a box used as an Internet gateway. Well, it was a perfect firewall, but you generally don't want that.

      Apparently when the system was set up the services were started manually, but not added to the appropriate runlevel.

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    WTF?

    Shocked!

    A boss that admits his failings. Are cats now sleeping with mice, foxes with chickens?

    1. Benson's Cycle

      Re: Shocked!

      Tennyson asked "Came figs from thistles or grapes from thorns, how can a despot feel with the free?"

      Short answer: actually, some can.

  11. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    My golden rule - if you change something somewhere on a critical box, reboot the box and see if it resume working operation. (Some critical changes/fixes cannot be done remotely, and require you to be present physically).

    If it does not, fix it before somebody complain.

    If you want to be a real bastard, do some changes to a running config on a router, delete the saved config, and walk away. Chances are it'll be rebooted, losing all of its configuration. Muhuhaha.

  12. John Gamble

    The Very Open VMS System

    Went to work for a company whose computer network was VMS. This was fine, I liked VMS. A coworker in a different department asked me to handle some problem, and was confused when it turned out that I didn't have permissions to access his problematic files. I was confused that he expected me to have permission.

    It turned out, that everyone -- EVERYONE -- hired before a certain date had superuser permissions on the system. What was the significance of that date? That was when the new system administrator was hired. He couldn't just yank everyone's permissions (well, he could, but the backlash might have been a greater, if temporary, problem that he didn't want to deal with). So he worked out a stealthier method of setting standard per-group permission settings for new hires, and yanking superuser status from old hires who screwed up even slightly in their daily work.

    Since not having superuser status was normal for me, I just asked the admin (in front of the coworker) for permission to be added to the coworker's group, I hoped it would be a lesson in why superuser status should not be the default for him, but who knows.

  13. Manolo
    Trollface

    On my machine, the three finger salute invokes the command 'play pissoff.wav'.

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