Saturday, June 25, 2011

Incident - Insulted by Unix one day

Got fascinated with Unix when I was working in college. Used to explore the Unix commands a lot and loved writing scripts. My primary method of learning was guessing the command (like awk, ls etc. ) and then exploring in the man (manual) command. You give 'man awk' then it shows the full details of the awk command. Used to think of a purpose then assume a command and use the man to explore it. The advantage of the man command was that you can even go to a specific section. (e.g. man 5 awk, will show the section 5 of the awk command's details). 

Normally when you try to see the details in the man(ual),if the command (e.g. zyx) doesn't exist in Unix, you get a message like
'No entry for zyx in the manual'. It is a normal message and you are not hurt by such messages. My optimism of guessing a command grew strong to an extent, one day I wanted to see section 5 of a guessed command. (Later I felt why I tried that!) Was not sure first of all whether that command itself was there. Let us assume that the command was 'wqy'. Entered the command as 'man 5 wqy'. Got a blow to my optimism (?!) when I got the below message. 
'No entry for wqy in the manual. But what do you want from section 5?'
     Got mixed feelings of shame and anger to see a message like that from Unix. Turned to my left and right to check whether the two students sitting at my sides  saw that insulting message and cleared the screen faster than Rajinikanth.Ever imagine a life without Google, this is a pastview  (opposite to preview) of it.

Moral: Never try practical comedy with non living things.


  1. once i was 'trying' shell script, titled my script as "date". I seldom knew that i cannot use file names with that of commands. i tried executing this 'date' shell for n number of times and it kept hanging. after 4 hours i got a call from the sys admin. pona.. the guy was barking at me saying i created so much of threads as date and that had ocupied entire memory. guess the next!! :) anniku thalaikku vandhadhu thalappavoda pochu!! unix training nan edutha first solli tharadhu idha dhan

  2. Thanks for sharing this interesting story! While working in college, the LAN was set up and the net OS had 2 EXE files called HIDE and SHOW to hide/show other files. Tried hiding the SHOW.EXE and showed that. Later tried hiding the HIDE.EXE etc,etc. After a while could not 'see' both these EXEs. Started blinking like hen thief (Tamil translation!) Had to take Lab assistant's help for restoring those 2 EXEs.

  3. After few years of PC experience as a lecturer, during my AS/400 training as a student,my first DB update program crashed and a run time message showed that 'attempting to update a record without lock' and it expected a reply also. During the class, they told to lock before updating a record. I thought somebody has observed my attempt to update without lock and asking for a reply also. Pressed Enter to avoid the reply. Later came to know that it was a system message. :)