Lawrence and Bruce's Puzzle Page 2

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 29, 2009.

  1. Here's a little puzzle presented in the form of a dialogue between
    two characters. The characters are fictional, but the situation really
    did happen. If you can guess the solution before reading to the end,
    award yourself the corresponding points listed on the right.

    Bruce: How's it going?
    Lawrence: *Sigh* Something's gone wrong with the Ubuntu 9.04 install
    on my Eee.
    Bruce: 9.04--is that the "Jaundiced Jackanape" release?
    Lawrence: Very funny. But I can't seem to upgrade or install software
    any more. Every time I try, it says that dpkg was
    interrupted, and that I need to do a "dpkg --configure -a"
    to fix it.
    Bruce: And what happens when you do that?
    Lawrence: It fails with this weird error. And so I'm stuck. Maybe
    my package database is corrupted or something.
    Bruce: Well, you could always reinstall...
    Lawrence: Never! I've never had to redo a Linux installation,
    whether to fix configuration stuffups or for any other
    reason. And I'm not about to start now.
    Bruce: All right. So what exactly is the error you get from the
    dpkg command?
    Lawrence: I get this interesting message "cpio: ./init : No such file
    or directory." It seems to be trying to rebuild the initial
    RAM disk for use for booting my kernel, and failing. 100
    Bruce: You seem to have quite a few different kernels installed.
    Lawrence: Yeah, left over from previous updates. I like to keep the
    previous kernel around every time I do an update, just in case
    of any boot problems. You think the error is only happening
    with one of those old ones, that is no longer properly
    Bruce: Worth a try removing them, and see if it helps, I guess.
    Lawrence: OK, that's ... no good. Now I've only got the kernel I'm
    currently running installed, and I'm still getting the
    error. 80
    Bruce: Hmm ... you seem to have a lot of these "mkinitramfs_xxxxxx"
    directories piling up in your /tmp directory.
    Lawrence: Of course! Those would be the remnants of all the failed
    attempts to regenerate the initial RAM disk!
    Bruce: Let's have a look through them, shall we?
    Lawrence: Yes, there's the complete directory structure of the initial
    root filesystem that's used before your actual root volume
    is mounted. Notice they're symlinks, not copies-- 60
    Bruce: Symlinks to where?
    Lawrence: To items in /usr/share/initramfs-tools.
    Bruce: Interesting. There's a top-level "init" item, which is a
    symlink to /usr/share/initramfs-tools/init--
    Lawrence: --which doesn't exist! 40
    Bruce: So. your initramfs-tools package has somehow lost one of its
    Lawrence: I've never had that happen before. Strange.
    Bruce: So all we have to do is put it back.
    Lawrence: OK, try to do a reinstall of that package--sigh. Same error
    as before. I can't do any installs, upgrades, or reinstalls.
    Bruce: So you can't reinstall the package until you fix the error.
    But you can't fix the error until you reinstall the package!
    Lawrence: Seems that way.
    Bruce: Unless ... can you get a copy of that init file from
    somewhere else? 20
    Lawrence: Well, I've got Debian Unstable on my main Shuttle workstation.
    It's not Ubuntu, but it's near as dammit.
    Bruce: OK, let's try it.
    Lawrence: SSH in ... yup, I have a /usr/share/initramfs-tools/init
    file. Turns out it's a script, not a compiled binary, so
    the fact that my Shuttle is running a 64-bit Linux, and the
    Eee only 32-bit, doesn't matter. Copy the script onto the Eee,
    regenerate the initial RAM disk--it works!
    Bruce: Might not be quite the right version, though.
    Lawrence: True. So I'd best reinstall the proper package, just to make
    sure. Hey, I can install software again!
    Bruce: And regenerate the RAM disk again.
    Lawrence: Why?
    Bruce: To make sure it includes the right version of the init script.
    Lawrence: Oh yeah. Done.
    Bruce: What format are these initial RAM disk files?
    Lawrence: Compressed cpio archives, of course. Remember we got the
    error from cpio before? 0
    Bruce: And when we were failing to regenerate the RAM disk before,
    you still had the old one from the last successful
    regeneration, whenever that was, right? Because it wouldn't
    have overwritten the old one until it had successfully
    made a new one, right?
    Lawrence: Certainly. Why do you ask?
    Bruce: Because we could have extracted the right version of the
    init script from there, instead of having to futz around
    with a temporary copy of the wrong one from your Shuttle.
    Lawrence: Oh yeah. Never thought of that.
    Bruce: Live and learn...
    Lawrence: Yeah.


    Your score:
    0 -- Stick to Microsoft Windows.
    20 -- By all means use GNOME or KDE, but stay away from anything
    resembling a command line.
    40 -- You can probably manage a few Shell commands and edit files
    with vi.
    60 -- You can probably manage a few Shell commands and edit files
    with emacs.
    80 -- You can tame balky Linux systems with one hand while
    throwing lightning bolts with the other.
    100 -- You rule. Other Linux mavens bow down before you. Feel free
    to write the next Puzzle Page. :)
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 29, 2009
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  2. In message <>, geoff wrote:

    > Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
    >> Your score:
    >> 0 -- Stick to Microsoft Windows.

    > All that cryptic L-banter give you a stiffy Larry ?

    I'll bet you didn't even get it at the 0 score, did you? Let's see if I can
    come up with a rating for those like you:

    -20 -- Your mind can grasp the concepts behind "Snakes and Ladders", but I'd
    recommend staying away from championship matches.
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 30, 2009
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