Your stupidest mistake when running Linux?

Also in today’s open source roundup: A roundup of the smallest Linux distributions, and have we hit peak screen size for smartphones?

Even Linux users make mistakes

Linux has much to offer any computer user, but we’re all human and everybody makes mistakes. A user in a recent thread on the Linux subreddit asked folks what their dumbest mistake was when using Linux, and he got some funny answers.

Xenomorph started the thread with this post:

What was your stupidest mistake when running Linux?

In Fedoa 24: run update in GNOME

Switch to different workspace

Forget about update

reboot

Find out the computer doesn't work anymore. Panic.

More at Reddit

His fellow Linux redditors responded with their thoughts:

T_hunger: “I once ran "rm -rf / tmp/*" (note the extra space). As root. During a presentation. The video is up on YouTube.”

Agentf90: “Installing Ubuntu. Blew the speakers on brand new zenbook 3 with the first "wrong password" audio alert before I even logged in. Returned the laptop immediately.”

Danspanner: “Sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

I don't know why, but from Ubuntu 8.04 to around 12.04 that one always, without fail, broke everything.”

Amauk: “I heard of one guy who mixed up his device names, mistaking his hard drive for his modem.

Dialled his disk and scribbled a bunch of AT commands over his MBR.

Forgot his name, though...”

Leegethas: “I once managed to do a: chmod -R 777 /

I obviously wanted to do this to a specific directory, but I accidentally hit enter and did it to the entire system.

Fortunately it was a brand new install. Yeah, I had to start over. But no real damage was done.”

Mnpaulsen: “Was making a bootable USB for my homeserver. Ended up dd to a wrong device so iso ended up on /dev/sda instead of /dev/sdb.

And this was during my exams.

Noticed next day when i booted up my system.”

CanadianUkr: “Tried a new modeline for the monitor. Started X, burnt my CRT monitor immediately. This was 20 years ago.”

Throwaway: “openSUSE deals with repositories in kind of an inflationary way. You typically add lots of repositories to your system and then in order to avoid problems, it doesn't cross-update software packages from different repositories.

Now that's all good and fine, but when you run your usual system update in the terminal (sudo zypper update), then it gives you a notice about these more up-to-date packages being available in other repositories.

And it tells you that you can install these package updates by running sudo zypper dist-upgrade.

Well, queue me running a dist-upgrade every single time that I wanted to do a system update. And that was on openSUSE Tumbleweed, so probably once a week most of my system's packages were reinstalled from a different repository.

Lets just say that I can now attest to it being a dumb idea to cross-update packages from many different repositories. My system was completely broken within a few weeks.

(Running sudo zypper dist-upgrade does also give you a warning that this might potentially be a dumb idea, so yeah, this was my fault.)”

Cismalescumlord: “Well, just last year I ran sudo dd if=openSUSE-Leap-42.2-DVD-x86_64.iso of=/dev/sda bs=4M on my main work horse.

Not me, but a data centre admin guy ran sudo shutdown -r -h now on our main database server. Cue the two hour drive of shame; it's probably coincidental, but they can now remotely power on the servers.”

Daemonpenguin: “It's a toss up. It could be the time I moved instead of copied the C library on my Linux install, causing all programs to stop working. (This is why items in /bin should be statically linked.) Or the time I was removing a directory called "home" and ran "rm -rf /home" instead of "rm -rf home". That slash makes a big difference!”

More at Reddit

The smallest Linux distributions

It’s often said that bigger is better, but that’s not necessarily true when it comes to Linux distributions. Smaller distros can often offer a great deal of value in a very small package. A writer at DistroWatch has a helpful roundup of some of the smallest Linux distributions.

Jesse Smith reports for DistroWatch:

A lot of time and digital ink is dedicated to talking about features, new capabilities and ease of use. This week I want to go in another direction and talk about minimal Linux distributions, projects with low resource requirements and small (less than 100MB) installation media. Some people have limited Internet connections and/or lower-end equipment and this week I want to explore some of the distributions which are designed to require as few resources as possible.

Tiny Core Linux

Nanolinux

RancherOS

SliTaz GNU/Linux

Alpine Linux

During my whirlwind tour of these small Linux distributions, a few things stood out. One was that there is a lot of variety in the tiny end of the Linux ecosystem. Apart from Nanolinux, which was based on Tiny Core, each distribution listed here has a very distinct style. If I had extended this trial to include slightly larger (but also small) distributions like Puppy Linux and antiX, we would continue to see a surprising amount of diversity, which tends not to be reflected in the larger, more mainstream distributions.

There were some common factors though. When trimming down a distribution, it seems removing local manual (man) pages is one common way to shrink the installation media. I have mixed feelings about this. Most people using tiny distributions probably already know their way around a command line, but when dealing with a minimal interface documentation becomes an important factor. Busybox also seems to be a favourite component of small distributions, replacing the more commonly used GNU userland utilities.

More at DistroWatch

Have we hit peak screen size for smartphones?

Smartphone screens have gotten bigger and bigger over the years. But at some point they can’t keep increasing in size if they are to fit in the pockets of users. Have we reached that point? A writer at the Communities Dominate Brands blog looks at the issue of smartphone screen size growth.

Tomi T Ahonen reports for Communities Dominate Brands:

We are likely near the peak of how far screen sizes for the current form-factor smartphone concepts can grow. It is like my friend Christian Lindholm predicted back in 2007, that the physical dimensions of the gadget work with the human dimensions - our fingers typically - and the other restraints like sizes of our pockets and something a bit bigger than 5 inches was where Christian back then (in 2007 the largest phone screen size was the freshly-released iPhone with its massive 3.5 inches).

The most popular premium and mid-range phone models sold today tend to be in that 5 inch size range say between 4.5 and 5.5 inches, and very few sell in any meaningful numbers in the over-6 inch range even though the 'phablet' size screen has now been around for us for five years. We seem to have now discovered the 'sweet spot'.

So its time for me to speculate again. I think we have arrived at a kind of at least-temporary plateau and possibly the peak of how far this phone form factor will grow in screen size. We may see NEW form factors (Samsung rumored to give us a foldable screen, that folds like a book to give us twice the screen size in the same pocket size). But lets explore the evolution of the screen size. And good news: I have been drawing PICTURES for us... :-) Isn't that nice

It may be too early to tell, but to me, the market seems to have stalled. There are plenty of options stretching a phablet screen to over-six-inches in size, and yet they don't take the market by storm. It does seem like the 'large' screen optimal size is about that 5.5 - 5.8 inch range like the Galaxy Note and iPhone Plus; the low end is somewhere above 4 inches, say 4.5 inches and a 'sweet spot' forms for most common smartphones to do a large-enough screen but small-enough-to-fit size with about 4.8 to 5.2 inch screen sizes. A bit like cars seem to settle to some 'standard' form factors and many rival models all produce 'citycars' or 'SUV's etc, we may have now discovered the main screen size form factors and these may live with us now for a decade or more.

More at Communities Dominate Brands

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