This is a support situation from this week. It's real, though I've obfuscated some names to protect the innocent.
Customer called saying that program foobar32 would not run, complaining of missing library foolib32.so. Given the naming of the library, I suggested that foobar32 probably needed to be reinstalled and she agreed.
The nice thing about foobar32 is that you can do that. Download a binary from their website, run it, and it will update itself without overwriting any of your data. All programs should be written like that; unfortunately not all are. I think the most frustrating are the ones that will do it but only if you are installing a new version.. well, anyway, foobar32 does it right.
So I talked her through ftping to foobar's site, locating her foobarinst32.elf program, and downloading it. The last thing I said was "Now type quit", but I heard a lot more keys a-clicking and then she said "Nope, still doesn't work."
That surprised me a little. After all, she knew that the missing library was named foolib32.so, so why would she think downloading foobarinst32.elf would magically fix that? I don't know, but my suspicion is that she was tired (it was after hours) and perhaps frustrated, so I'll give that a pass. I explained that we had a few more steps to do first, and I started out by telling her to type "chmod 755 foobarinst32.elf". She immediately responded with "It says 'chmod: foobarinst32.elf: No such file or directory'".
Huh? We just downloaded that. It has to be there. But then I remembered all those clickety keys. "Did you cd somewhere else after we downloaded that?", I asked. Why yes, she had.
"Do you know where you were when you downloaded it?".
No, she didn't.
"I'll do a 'find'", she offered. See, she's not a helpless, 'I don't know Unix at all' type of person. Not at all. I waited, and a minute later she said "Got it. I was in /root".
Good. I had her cd to /root and try the "chmod 755 foobarinst32.elf" again. No complaints this time. OK, now we'll execute it. "Type dot slash foobarinst32.elf", I said.
"Dot slash foo what?", she asked.
Aaargh. I know she's tired, I know she wants to go home. But sheesh, it's OK to be involved and engaged. It doesn't have to be passive robot time, type whatever the voices say. We downloaded foobarinst32.elf with the intention of running it, we chmod'ed foobarinst32.elf so that we could run it. Arrgh. I repeated it: "Dot slash foobarinst32.elf".
And then.. nothing. A few clickety clacks, a couple of pauses between more clicketys, and she said "OK, that's done". And that, frankly, surprised me, because foobarinst32.elf does ask a few questions that she might not know the answers to, but apparently she did. And then she tried "foobar32" and pronounced it working correctly once again.
Actually, this customer is one of the easy ones. She does know her way around, at least a little bit, and she's anything but stupid. Probably that's why it surprised me that she hadn't followed the chain of what we were doing. Had it been a totally clueless customer, the kind that has to be led through every single keystroke over and over again, that wouldn't have surprised me.
Oh well. She was tired. She wanted to go home. No harm done.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-03-10 Anthony Lawrence
If debugging is the process of removing bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in. (Edsger W. Dijkstra)