[techtalk] Generic Question

Telsa Gwynne hobbit at aloss.ukuu.org.uk
Tue Dec 28 13:07:51 EST 1999

Slightly off the original topic, this.

On Mon, Dec 27, 1999 at 05:37:23PM -0500 or thereabouts, Robert Kiesling wrote:
> There are some skills that I'm not sure where they're documented...
> like telnetting in to a jammed-up POP server, or concocting a 
> regular expression to adjust every users' ~/.profile.  

...or approaches you might take when you discover someone with the
root password just did rf -rm * in the root directory?

I originally read this on what was probably its fifth or so reposting
to Usenet, years ago; but since I just found out it's on the web I
thought I'd share:


Early on in it comes,

	So I leant over to another terminal, already logged in, and typed
	        grep 147 /etc/passwd
	only to receive the response
	        /etc/passwd: No such file or directory.
	Instantly, I guessed that something was amiss.  This was confirmed
	when in response to
	        ls /etc
	I got
	        ls: not found.

The rest explains what they did about it. 

Relevance to techtalk, given that this story is now 13 years old?
Um. Well, I think the morals still hold true. Particularly "don't
panic!" and "UNIX tools really can be put to unusual uses". I
discovered the latter when I didn't realise that bash had a random
function and I concocted a truly horrible pipeline involving
cat, read, cut, echo, sed, dc, and tr on /proc/uptime to get a
random letter (don't even ask what I thought I was doing...), but
I think that story has some rather more productive examples of
unusual uses of usual tools. :)

Telsa "and I was proud of that series of pipes, too!"

techtalk at linuxchix.org   http://www.linuxchix.org

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