Monday, 16 August 2010

Proof Against Most Idiots

Fair warning: Geekish laudatory rant ahead. Still with me? Good!

I suppose it says something less than complimentary about our Craft that, when things actually work in a sensible fashion, recovering from Stupid User Actions™, it's surprising enough to be noteworthy. But I seriously doubt that I'm the only one who's noticed this.

Case in point: yesterday, I started downloading the Debian Linux testing-version DVDs. Yes, plural; there are 8 of them., as the standard software repository comes along with the test build. Anyway...

As most of us do, I was multitasking pretty heavily last night; when I knocked off, I just put my iMac to sleep as usual. It was long after I had gone to bed that I remembered, "hey, wasn't I downloading a passel of Linux DVDs when I slept the system?"

Expecting to have several "interesting" error messages displayed when I woke the system up (if in fact the file system hadn't been somehow damaged... yes, I was used by Windows for far too long), I powered up the system and was about to log in when BAM!... 15 minutes of phone calls. Thoroughly distracted afterwards, I log in, check my email, read a couple of new bug reports for a project I'm working on, and then remember "hey! everything's working!"

I switch to the Terminal window for the download (which was using GNU wget 1.12 if you care), to be greeted by the following display (excerpting):

--2010-08-15 19:45:15--
Resolving (,
Connecting to (||:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 302 Found
Location: [following]
--2010-08-15 19:45:20--
Resolving ( 2001:6b0:e:2018::142,
Connecting to (|2001:6b0:e:2018::142|:80... failed: No route to host.
Connecting to (||:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 4696719360 (4.4G) [application/octet-stream]
Saving to: “debian-testing-amd64-DVD-6.iso”

89% [===============================================================================================>           ] 4,214,102,016 --.-K/s   in 13h 40m 

2010-08-16 09:26:01 (83.6 KB/s) - Read error at byte 4214102016/4696719360 (Operation timed out). Retrying.

--2010-08-16 09:26:04--  (try: 2)
Connecting to (||:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 206 Partial Content
Length: 4696719360 (4.4G), 482617344 (460M) remaining [application/octet-stream]
Saving to: “debian-testing-amd64-DVD-6.iso”

100%[++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++==========>] 4,696,719,360 1.26M/s   in 6m 26s  

2010-08-16 09:32:50 (1.19 MB/s) - “debian-testing-amd64-DVD-6.iso” saved [4696719360/4696719360]

Note the report of a read error at 09:26:04 on 2010-08-16. The software was complaining that it had to recover from a timeout. Yes, I'm sure ten hours or so significantly exceeds whatever timeout value had been coded into wget... but it never missed a beat (or a byte; the SHA1 checksum matched afterwards).

I'm including the obligatory "don't try this at home, kids!" warning... but, if you aren't sitting in front of Windows, isn't it nice to know you can?

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