E. T. wrote to tell us of a support tale from days long gone by at a company long since acquired by a much larger behemoth. A customer had called in, entered all of his information, but hung up before a human got on the line. The support system generated a nameless ticket which got randomly assigned to one of the support folks. Then the customer called back, entered all of his information again, and got E. T.

The customer wanted to delete slice 0 on his system. For those of you not familiar with this, in *nix, slice 0 is the root of the file system and basically points to where everything on the disk is located. Deleting slice 0 is the equivalent of deleting everything on the entire hard disk. While there are the occasional disk corruptions that require this action, they are exceedingly rare, and once done, you are forced to reinitialize and re-install the operating system.

E. T. told him that he didn't want to do that because it would wipe out the entire file system. The customer persisted, insisting that he wanted to free up the precious GB of disk space that this unnecessary file system was consuming. He insisted that he did not install whatever was on this file system, and that it didn't belong there, so he was going to delete it, and needed instructions on how to get it done.

Since E. T. was obligated to help the customer, he finally went over to the software guys, and asked one: Do you know how to delete slice 0? Naturally, the software guy replied: You don't want to do that... E. T. continued: I know, but this guy is insisting that he didn't install anything on that partition, and he wants to reclaim the space. I know it's stupid, but "The customer is always right" and all that; we're obligated to support him and answer his question! The software guy told E. T. to Talk to Bob.

E. T. hunted down Bob and asked: Hey, Bob, do you know how to delete slice 0? Of course, Bob replied: You don't want to do that...

This went on with several people, until finally E. T. got someone who told him how to do it.

As E. T. was headed back to his desk, the guy next to him asked: Hey is that F.P. Dingbat at XYZ company?

Yeah why?

Because when he originally called and hung up, his case was assigned to me; if you have him I'll just close it out.

E. T. decided there was a better way to handle this situation: No don't. He is about to do something above and beyond stupid (little did E. T. know the true scale of Epic Stupidity™ that the customer was about to commit). So let's give him 1/2 an hour to hang himself, then you call back so we can see what happened.

E. T. got back on the phone and told the guy how to delete the file system, but again, advised him that what he was about to do was evil, bad, would make his life Hell-on-Earth, and that he should absolutely, positively, not do it. Of course, the customer got all snooty at being told he was making a mistake, and barked back: See, you CAN do it!, and hung up.

A half hour later, the other support guy calls the customer back to see if he could help him with his original issue.

Did the guy delete slice 0? Yes but in a far more destructive way than one might imagine. It turned out that he had issued a command to SU on every machine in his company and execute the command sequence to remove slice 0. Then he executed the commands on his own box. He took the whole place down!

The customer asked the support guy: I only entered the one command; what the fsck did I just do?