Major problem trying to install 5.0beta3 for linux

Bernhard Reiter bernhard at
Wed Sep 22 16:11:28 EDT 1999

Hello Rich,
to you happend, what happens to every unix system administrator sooner
or later. You used the power of "rm -rf".

Generally you should be _very_ careful about issueing  "rm -f" at all.
If a "-f" and wildcards are in the game it is like doing surgery on the
open heart. :)

On Wed, Sep 22, 1999 at 12:34:48PM -0700, Rich Shepard wrote:
> Not knowing whether or not the tar file
> creates its own base directory (but assuming that it did), I copied the
> tarball to /usr3, a partition physically located on another machine on my
> network.

Be absolutely sure what your commands do.
I test every unpacking command first, if operating under
such conditions.
	tar -tvmlzf file.tar.gz
usually tests it.

>   I gunzipped and untarred the file in one step and watched files being put
> into directories with names of /bin, /dev, /etc, /driver, /fonts, /garde.
> /txt and so on. These all showed up as subdirectories under the /usr3
> partition. Since I want all of GRASS in a directory called
> /usr3/GRASS-5.0beta3, I started rm'ing the files and directories. It was
> after I invoked 'rm -rf /bin' that I discovered that I trashed the /bin
> directory on my main workstation!!

I testdrive superuser rm commands with a
	ls whatever

If you actually did a  "rm -rf /bin" then you targeted the root "/bin"
directory. You wanted a "rm -r ./bin" (being in the right directory)
or an "rm -r /usr3/bin".

>   This is a terribly dangerous situation. When I installed the last 4.x.x
> release of GRASS, none of this occurred. I'm not sure what to do about
> cleaning up the directory structure now and getting the 5.0 beta in the
> right place. In the meantime, every executable program and utility in /bin
> (such as 'ls') is gone.

Next time, unpack the stuff not as root, but as a new user for this
purpose and in its own directory, like you did. E.g. create "grass" as user 
and as group. As "grass" you cannot eliminate root's files. 
You might need to set a few paths after installation being root, but it
generally is worth the trouble.

And be more carefull with your superuserpowers. 

Research Assistant, Geog Dept UM-Milwaukee, USA.    (
Association for a Free Informational Infrastructure              (
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