Yesterday I began the story of a conversion from Windows to Linux. At first, everything seemed to be going well. Then some strange things started happening.
I was accessing this through a Windows Terminal Server and then sshing over. They had called me because I forgot to transfer a minor file, so I connected and then attempted a "su". It wouldn't take my password. I hadn't yet set myself up for sudo, so I was stuck. I assumed I had misremembered the password, though that seemed odd, as I had been using it just the day before. But I had left ALT-F1 logged in as root, so I had them run "passwd" to reset it and we continued.
The next day things were going well enough that they wanted to do some printed reports. I hadn't set up printers yet, so I connected and again had the same problem: I couln't su. I asked if they had changed anything, nope. Very, very strange. I had them reset it again. This time I added myself to the sudoers file. But I had to do it manually: visudo wouldn't run. It dumped core, and I was starting to feel very uncertain about the whole machine. That was escalated a moment later when I tried to "cat" a file and got a segmentation fault. The "cat" worked.. but it gave that error.. very weird. I immediately thought of the original installation problems I had seen with Filepro: their install script had been failing with segmentation faults.. what the heck was gong on here? I decided a site visit was in order.
When I got there I did a shift pageup on the F1 console and saw that nobody had messed with the password other than the two resets I had requested. I also confirmed that "cat" and now several other commands were issuing seg faults. Most were not working at all; it was odd that cat was at least "working". I decided to shut the machine down.
That was the end of life for this machine. It came back up, but only "sort of". Networking wouldn't start (segmentation faults, of course) and there were many other failures. This had to be very low level: corruption in a library or the kernel itself.
So that's where we are right now. They didn't have another machine handy to repeat the install, but I happen to have another box coming to me that was slated for another project. There's no rush on that, so I'll temporarily steal that for this test. I'll have to do everything all over again, but most of that is just unattended computer time, so it's not too bad. With luck, we can get back to testing on Monday.
And we did.. that new box has been running flawlessly ever since. Reports that used to run overnight now take seconds.. and zero network locking problems. Fast, reliable.. good move!
If you have an old app and need a Filepro programmer, I can help.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2012-07-14 Anthony Lawrence
The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action in mind. (Frank Herbert)