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Oh for f- sake

Remember all those problems I've had with my Nokia N900? That probably convinced everyone reading not to get one? I think I've found the problem, and it's mostly not Nokia, or even unstable apps, but my own shell aliases.

See, I use the command shell. And use aliases to make things go better. In fact I have a big file I share around all my accounts. It's never had problems before... but after detective work I won't describe, I found that having it automatically loaded (e.g. .profile of "source etc/aliases", me having my own etc subdir) broke boot. And of all those aliases, removing only one prevented the lack of booting:

alias '.'='pwd'

which makes a simple dot act as a "print working directory" command, instead of the "load file" command it naturally is. Not that I've used it in either form, it's a really old legacy. But I have to assume that the oddity of the phone -- which boots you directly into your userspace, no login screen, plus it's using some weird heavily pruned version of the Unix shell, 'ash' only maybe even less so, means that there's some process during boot where my shell gets started and it goes through startup scripts trying to use '.' to read in other files only these are happening after my .profile and therefore they break and the boot never finishes.

Which I can still grumble about; if this thing were presenting itself as a proper handheld Linux machine, there'd be a login screen, and options for safe-boot in case you messed up, and more of an error output. Things shouldn't be this fragile.

I also can't be 100% certain that this was the only culprit; installing in-development apps might still be stupid. I just know it is a reproducible culprit, one likely to have been involved in all prior cases.

So I guess the lesson is the N900 is probably quite usable, unless you re-program key shell functionalities in an overly aggressive login process.



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Aug. 23rd, 2010 08:06 pm (UTC)
aahh, the smack your head against something hard learning curve moment.

I have those a lot these days, why do they have to change stuff when they upgrade when it worked just fine the first time? I still have issues with turning my cell phone on and off, they swapped the buttons the last time, and when my sister tries to hang up my phone, she closes the case, which doesnt disconnect like her cell does. *sigh*
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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