It was about three o'clock on a Thursday afternoon when Kevin
called me. I remember the time because I had just been thinking
about knocking off early. It had been a hard week, and the P&L
was looking good, so I was ready for a break. Then my cell phone
chimed, and when I pushed "Talk", Kevin's voice was in my ear.
Kevin doesn't call me all that often. We hardly ever see each
other socially any more- he's in Seattle, I'm here on the East
Coast. He's a Filepro and C kind of guy, neither of which I do much
with any more. We keep in touch; Xmas cards and all that, but only
chat now and then, and usually it's just that: chit chat.
But today Kevin had a problem. "I've got this script that keeps
looping on itself and I can't figure out why".
Well, I knew better than to ask the obvious- Kevin is no fool:
the script wouldn't be calling itself. But I also knew that Kevin
was doing more and more Linux, so I asked "What OS?". The answer
came across the country on fiber optic cables and was then
broadcast for my cell phone to pick up: "Red Hat 6.1, patched to
I thought for a second and said "Let's just try something- this
isn't your answer, but just humor me. Put "#!/bin/sh" at the top of
Kevin paused before he answered. He knows I'm not an idiot, but
sometimes he wonders.. "Umm, sh is a link to bash on Linux", he
"I know", I explained, "but just do it anyway. Try it.". I heard
keys clicking, and then his voice came back. "Son of a gun- it
doesn't loop- I don't get it. What's going on?".
It was my turn to pause. "Well, I have another question, though
it's really more of a statement: you have this script run when you
log in, don't you?".
"That's the problem. You've done that wrong, and that's why it
Do you know what Kevin did wrong and why the "#!bin/sh" stopped
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