/bin/rm -r -f *

Early on in my GIS career I worked for a data conversion company. Our clients were mostly local governments wanting to convert paper maps into digital data for their new GIS software installations (think Arc/Info 7 and ArcView 3). We would work on Sun SPARCstations running SunOS Unix and Arc/Info. We called the Sun workstations “pizzabox” machines because of their shape.

One day while I had a bunch of windows open and working too fast, I decided I was done with my temp data in a directory and decided to delete everything, so at the unix prompt I issued the command “rm -r -f *”, which if you did not know means delete everything without asking with force! So you know when you hit that enter key and then realize you just deleted stuff you should have not deleted? Yes, I happened to be in the window that was in the unix library directory (/lib) and just hosed the unix operating system! Why did I have admin rights again?

Needless to say, our system admin had to spend some precious time bringing my workstation back to life. I told him at least I still had my temp data to delete again! He did not appreciate that one.

So if you cringed when I mentioned that command, check out this story about how the movie Toy Story 2 was almost killed in the same way!

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