You’re doing what now?!

Ok, So you’ve all probably noticed that I’m on a bit of a blogging hiatus at the moment.

I’d like to temporarily break said hiatus to issue a Public Service Announcement:

Please, please, please do not — I repeat — do NOT run scripts you find on the internet that use techniques such as the apt “--force-yes” flag or that meddle with system configuration without backing stuff up. If you do not know if scripts you run do these things, then you probably should not be using them.

There are quite a few of this type of script floating around, including the RiceeeyTweak script and derivatives, which combine the “--force-yes” flag with changes to the fstab and kernel module files with no backing up!

When I was experimenting with putting Ubuntu on my EeePC 701, I ran one of these EeePC scripts for kicks and giggles. I can quite comfortably assure you that the screen going into powersave every 10 seconds does not improve the usability of something which you use to read the news and/or email during a commute to work. The ‘sound fixes’ also did the opposite. The sound worked fine for me OOTB, and wasn’t b0rked on my EeePC until after I ran the script. Do. Not. Want.

Naturally, I reinstalled. Now I run a vanilla Ubuntu with the netbook-remix packages. They’re brilliant!

Another tasty little example of script stupidity is the ‘new’ Ultamatix (really, it’s just a Ghost of AutomatiX), which contains 193 independant lines with the “--force-yes” flag (some lines with the command twice), most which looked like the following:
etc/ultamatix/ax_data/gutsy.autoscript:2180:if ! sudo apt-get install --assume-yes --force-yes kubuntu-desktop && sudo apt-get remove --purge --assume-yes --force-yes kubuntu-docs
etc/ultamatix/ax_data/gutsy.autoscript:2191:if ! sudo apt-get remove --purge --assume-yes --force-yes kubuntu-desktop
etc/ultamatix/ax_data/gutsy.autoscript:2202:if ! sudo apt-get install --assume-yes --force-yes xubuntu-desktop
etc/ultamatix/ax_data/gutsy.autoscript:2213:if ! sudo apt-get remove --purge --assume-yes --force-yes xubuntu-desktop
etc/ultamatix/ax_data/gutsy.autoscript:2224:if ! sudo apt-get install --assume-yes --force-yes edubuntu-desktop
etc/ultamatix/ax_data/gutsy.autoscript:2235:if ! sudo apt-get remove --purge --assume-yes --force-yes edubuntu-desktop

Take special note of those lines with ‘apt-get remove --purge --assume-yes --force-yes‘. Ick.

But wait, there’s more! This script also contains russian roulette such as:
etc/ultamatix/ax_data/gutsy.autoscript-1295-else
etc/ultamatix/ax_data/gutsy.autoscript-1296-wget -c http://ubuntu-tweak.googlecode.com/files/ubuntu-tweak_0.3.4-1~ppa1_all.deb 2>&1 | sed -u 's/.*\ \([0-9]\+%\)\ \+\([0-9.]\+\ [KMB\/s]\+\)$/\1\n# Downloading \2/' | zenity --window-icon=/usr/share/ultamatix/pixmaps/tweak.png --width=600 --height=100 --progress --auto-close --title="Downloading Ubuntu Tweak..."
etc/ultamatix/ax_data/gutsy.autoscript:1297:sudo chmod +x ubuntu-tweak_0.3.4-1~ppa1_all.deb
etc/ultamatix/ax_data/gutsy.autoscript-1298-sudo dpkg -i ubuntu-tweak_0.3.4-1~ppa1_all.deb 2>&1 | zenity --window-icon=/usr/share/ultamatix/pixmaps/tweak.png --width=600 --height=100 --progress --pulsate --auto-close --title "Installing Ubuntu Tweak..."

The author calls this Ultimate Edition. I call it Ultimate Destruction.

So once again: Please, kids, don’t try this at home. When you do, you make all the people who volunteer technical support online and Baby Tux cry.

Most of all, you run an extremely high chance of making yourself cry.

(No, I will not provide links to either of these timebombs. If you cant find them with Google then you really Really REALLY should not be using them.)

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17 Responses to You’re doing what now?!

  1. Horatio says:

    There are many ways to bork ubuntu, including installing standard updates. A few more won’t matter very much…

    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/236307

  2. I recently installed Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) and it’s the first Ubuntu release in which I have not had to even open a terminal. Ubuntu has come a long way in a short time.

    I cannot understand why Automatix is still around, it’s dangerous and should not be used. And you, Melissa, should be congratulated for this blog entry. thanks for bringing this into the public eye :)

  3. Puppies says:

    Re: Horatio

    When a kernel update goes south, all you have to do is load up an old kernel from your GRUB menu. This is why old kernels are not immediately deleted (and why the kernel packages are the way they are).

    Yes, regressions are something we try and avoid, and they sometimes slip past, but they’re at most annoying.

  4. Horatio says:

    Sorry Puppies, but using an old kernel has the same issue. It seems to be completely stuffed.

  5. bgrupe says:

    Isn’t the problem rather that Ubuntu/Debian do not provide means to run dpkg in a “transaction” mode which can be rolled back if anything goes wrong?

    Additionally a filesystem dump could be created or even better a filesystem with transactions and shadow copies (pardon the Microsoft term) could be used instead. I hate to say this but running updates of Ubuntu has been a pain in the past and will be in the future if nothing changes.

  6. Vadim P. says:

    Thanks for the post.

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  8. Malta Paul says:

    Thanks for a great post. Keep up the good work.

    (don’t forget to visit our Web site?)

    (Your comment is approved this time, but it almost got swallowed as spam. I’m still not entirely convinced it isnt. — admin)

  9. Surion E. says:

    I update Kubuntu 8.04 regurarly and nothing ever goes wrong. There is no need to use external tools…

  10. Vadim P. says:

    Hey, great news… linux.com just promoted the program.

  11. Ibod Catooga says:

    Sheee-eeet, Automagixt da bomb it da only thing make Ubuntu usable Before Automagixt Ubutunu was communisk like Vladimir Poopin. I use Autalmalix and I love it more than hobbits or vernacular.

  12. TheeMahn says:

    Wow, I do enjoy the intelligence, it has absolutely nothing to do with Ultimate Edition that is a linux distro, also made by me. I will say no more other then read here http://forumubuntusoftware.info/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1365&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&start=50&sid=22f2ef41c98de9e5bf1880e18efb3413#p14250 maybe a little research before blasting off at the mouth.

  13. Cristiano says:

    Yeah, it would be comic if it weren’t tragic:
    http://www.linux.com/feature/143414

    :(

  14. melissa says:

    TheeMann are you kidding. I *read* the script. You may have fixed some things, but you left in what is probably the most critical of them all. ‘apt-get install|remove –force-yes –assume-yes. You then go saying it’s fixed and safe. THAT misleading makes it more dangerous.

    People will take your word that you fixed Arnie’s danger, but you have not. You can still totally screw up peoples systems with that monstrocity.

  15. John says:

    TheMann i am going to assume you know that –force-* and –assume-* is bad. Everyone else that has had Ubuntu/Debian for mare than a month happens to know that it can break your system something awful. Yet i see it in you script and you say its safe? What are you smoking son.

    TheMann, I hope you are going to support your script unlike automatix did. Like i said if you wrote the script you should know those flags are bad to just run for the hell of it. If you dont already know that than i suggest you not write scripts anymore.

    This is not a flame but i would like an explaination on why you think –assume-* and –force-* are ok to run without a need to run it.
    They should only be used when the user types it in so the user knows what is going on, or can watch it and stop it if it is doing something that he doesn’t want it to do.

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  17. Matt Darcy says:

    Nice job calling out ultimatix, the sooner this is blacklisted the better

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