View Full Version : A Lesson for Everyone
09-09-2002, 01:28 PM
Every once in a while, the debate surfaces over using the root user as your main user, and why it's safe (it isn't), why it's bad (it is), etc.
I was digging through some old files, and found a picture I took sometime last year.
It's my PowerBook running 10.1.something, after I'd logged in as root and had the computer panic on me.
Or the picture directly:
I figured someone might like to see that.
But that makes me wonder ... What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to the computers of the readers of this forum? Worse things? Not-so-worse things?
09-09-2002, 03:08 PM
Back when we had mostly Sun systems here where I work, most of us had root access to our machines. I can't remember why, but we did. Anyway, one of my coworkers logged in as root one day and forgot about it. Did a "cd" to go to his home directory, did an ls, and wondered what this big "vmunix" file was taking up all of his space. So he promptly deleted it. It's been several years since this happened, so I don't remember how long it took the system admin to rebuild his OS from scratch.
(For all you that dont' do Unix, vmunix is the kernel file. It would be like deleting /mach_kernel in Mac OS X. You can't get it back, and your entire system is hosed).
09-09-2002, 03:57 PM
...taken from Mikey-San's website...
This is why you should never log in as root or use root as your main user. Ever. Period. You might think you're perfect, but even if you are, the software is not.
it's funny how software vendors (don't) think sometimes. i'm a consultant, PCs mostly, and i have a lot of clients that use Quickbooks in a networked, multi-user environment. however, in order for Quickbooks to work in a networked, multi-user environment (from a fileserver) is to grant all of the users accessing the Quickbooks file Domain Admin rights on the server and domain.
<insert favorite horror story here>
the fix, according to Intuit is "don't install Quickbooks on a file server"
to quote the poet:
...i don't know. Third base!
09-09-2002, 07:09 PM
One day, my iMac started acting crazy. When I closed applications, files would automatically save themselves - without my input. I'd open up a folder, type one letter and files would open up! Applications would launch themselves! Right away, I go to Norton Anti-Virus. I scan my disk, Norton tells me everything is OK, and then it scans again. I can't stop NAV from scanning! I have to get out the paperclip and reboot. My computer is possessed!!
...turns out that the stack of notebooks at the right edge of my desk had shifted over and was pressing down on the Enter key.
I was in charge of two SGI's (an Octane and an Indy II) several years ago as a grad student. As part of my maintanance, I would go through old users directories to sort out the stuff that should be kept (Research data) from the stuff that was just personal junk.
Our workstations were in a small closet that had no windows, and was pretty secluded. They also were used by members of several research groups, so what was data for us looked very different from what data other groups needed. Pictures are one of the differences. We often need to present molecular graphics, and people don't always name these images in a systematic way.
While I was cleaning out files, I was checking out CNN's web page, so I had netscape open....
Anyway, I stumbled across a folder full of images with random number/letter names (W342L.jpg, for example). The only way to tell if they were data from a project or pictures of someone's kids was to open them.
Well, as soon as I clicked on the first picture in this folder, my boss walked into the room. Imagine my shock, suprise, embarassment, and horror as a rather graphic hard-core sex pic pops open over the Netscape window...
My boss looked at it and said "What's that?"
In my moment of shock, the only thing I could come up with was "a picture." He shook his head and walked out. Lets just say that it was a pretty tense hour as I tried to explain to him what had happened. I still don't think he believed me. Oh, well....
This had nothing to do with being logged in as root, but was definately a direct result of my having root responsibilities.
09-10-2002, 10:36 AM
I've had similar things happen. Sorta.
At my old job, I once turned on a customer's computer to see porn.
On the desktop.
Set as the desktop picture.
Underneath a good dozen aptly named .jpg files.
It was really creepy.
09-10-2002, 02:55 PM
Ok, now that "scary" has been defined as something other than hardware or software, but as user as well...
I was helping troubleshoot for a friend of mine who was also a professor at my college.
He brought his mac into his office at the college, so I could take a look at it between my classes. He, another prof/friend, and I were all sitting around chatting while I was booting it up, and taking a look.
Specifically, he was having a problem with CUseeme (video conferencing software) not sending any video. Well, I went right to the source, and launched CUseeme.
What's the first thing that showed up in the video window? A video capture of this professor sitting on his couch, in bikini briefs, and fully "aroused."
There was a pause of a few seconds while everybody soaked this in. It was exactly like a scene in a John Hughes film where something totally unexpected and huge happens: we were sitting around, exchanging anxious glances, and thoughts obviously flying, wondering what the hell we were going to do, now.
After a few seconds of this, I calmly clicked the window closed, asked what the symptoms were of his video troubles, proceeded to pretend that I hadn't just seen what I had obviously just seen.
I'm still laughing, even now, as I picture that little scenario.
09-10-2002, 03:15 PM
I wonder if, after x number of years working with computers, everyone has a tale about discovering inappropriate material on someone else's computer.
Back when a five gigabyte hard drive was unimaginably large, I had to help my boss troubleshoot why our fileserver was almost full after only a month or two of service.
I was poking around when I discovered a gigabyte-sized folder named "stuff" with the visible flag set to off. So we switched the flag and opened the folder.
The first thing we noticed was the resume of one of the layout guys. The second thing(s) we noticed were just hundreds and hundreds of totally extreme porn gifs.
The weirder thing was that there also was a folder called "heads," that was just disembodied heads. All we could figure was that he pasted them over the actors' heads -- the guy whose stuff this was was a whiz with Photoshop. Most of them were celebs, but some were named after coworkers.:eek:
Still gives me the creeps.
09-10-2002, 11:49 PM
Straying slightly from the topic of scary experiences into the realm of stupid mistakes, here's mine:
After a long wait, I receive my copy of Myth, but spend a few long weeks unable to play it due to the broken state of my CD drive. Late one evening, someone suggests that I use ShrinkWrap to create an image of the CD, and not ten minutes later I have borrowed an internal CD drive from a computer at my (then) place of work and gotten it installed in my faithful old PowerComputing clone.
ShrinkWrap works great, and after nearly an hour my 850 meg HD is bursting at the seams with 400 megs of long awaited Myth goodness. However, as I watch the progress bar tick past the last pixel, I get a hard crash. Not even Macsbug seems to work. Dismayed, but undeterred, I restart.
Another freeze on the startup screen. I restart, and this time it seems to be working, until it hits the desktop, at which point it freezes.
At this point, I'm a little worried. Restart again, and now the video artifacts begin to appear--offset rows and columns of pixels, bars of static on the startup screen. I had never seen anything like this. The computer freezes at seemingly random times, but almost always before I can do anything useful. I'm getting alarmed, when the coup de grace is delivered.
Restart. Chimes of Death.
Utter horror. Praying, I restart... and the Chimes are gone, though the video artifacts remain. After much agonizing, I arrive at the conclusion that my system and/or HD must have been damaged when ShrinkWrap crashed in the middle of intensive disk writing.
Booting from the CD (this worked, much to my later amazement), I reformat the drive and reinstall. The installation completes, and I Shut Down instead of Restarting... it's around 2:00am, and I need to return the CD drive. I pop it out, take it back, and return filled with apprehension.
I start up the computer, and the mystery problems have vanished. Exhausted, I go to bed. And five minutes later, I realize what a fool I've been.
A SCSI conflict.
The next day I borrow the CD drive again, change the SCSI ID number to one that didn't conflict with my HD, and create an image of my Myth CD, without mishap. And I am humbled.
(Oh my god, it's pages long!)
03-18-2005, 06:45 PM
The off-topic posts that accumulated in this ancient thread have been split into a new thread, found here:
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