In the interest of newbs

The consensus among staff members on the forums is that there are certain things you should not post.

There are obvious entries in that category — like porn and spam and swear words — but some are a little less conspicuous. Some are just snipped out for the sake of newcomers to Ubuntu who might inadvertently type them in and somehow destroy their new system.

Here’s an example. And it should go without saying that you should not try these until you’re more comfortable with Linux, and you know what the consequences could be.

sudo rm -rf /

That one will try to forcibly remove your root directory. Rumor has it that it won’t work on a mounted partition, but who’s going to test it?

Here’s another. Same idea here, although it’s a little more subtle.

nohup cd /; rm -rf * > /dev/null 2>&1 &

That one is also a no-no on the forum.

This one is a common insertion into most conversations that ask for fun things to do with the terminal.

:(){ :|:& };:

It looks like a series of emoticons gone wrong, but in fact it’s a fork bomb — basically a program that spawns and executes itself, with the net effect being to overwhelm a computer. It’s quite elegant actually, but elegance won’t save it from my snippers.

And remember: It’s only because there are so many new people on hand that the snippers are needed at all. Think of it as insulating an inexperienced user from the dangers of inexperience.

Or, as Alexander Pope said it: “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” :D

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2 Responses to “In the interest of newbs”


  1. 1 dosnlinux 2007/01/15 at 3:10 PM

    I can say from personal experience that rm -rf / WILL work on a mounted partition. I learned this the hard way when as root I mistyped `rm -rf .*/` as `rm -rf .* /`

    It took me forever to find out why `ls` couldn’t be found :P

  2. 2 The Scripting Fool 2007/01/15 at 9:00 PM

    I actually had a similar experience writing a script at work. It was supposed to recreate the modules directory for our bootable cd so I had a line similar to rm -rf /lib/modules/$KERNEL_VERSION, and of course KERNEL_VERSION wasn’t defined and most of the kernel modules were removed…

    And of course `ls` didn’t after that.


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