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Follow-up on EVE's Boot.ini Issue

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the that-bootini-to-you dept.

Bug 169

Krinsath writes "CCP, publishers of Eve Online, have posted a Dev Blog detailing the circumstances leading up to the deletion of XP's boot.ini file, which was earlier discussed on Slashdot. The blog post has intimate details about how the mistake occurred (a new installer from their normal one), how they responded and what CCP has learned from it. While fairly dry, it is to the company's credit that they're being open about one of the more serious bugs to crop up in gaming's recent history."

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I was affected by this... (2, Interesting)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706456)

...luckily I boot useing grub.

Re:I was affected by this... (1)

kami911 (997871) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707244)

Me too :o)

That's actually a really straightforward response. (5, Insightful)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706458)

Now if only more businesses acted this way.

Re:That's actually a really straightforward respon (4, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706464)

But they should delete greater percentages of XP...

Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (4, Informative)

Animaether (411575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706528)

what of the users who did lose valuable computer time due to this problem? The proverbial kid handing in their homework (or dissertation paper or whatever), for example. Apologizing and willing to pay for a third party tech support service (e.g. Geek Squad) is nice and all, but does that cover damages incurred? doubtful. Perhaps that EULA will finally get a test.

As for the bug itself... the installer code is NSIS script; quite powerful, but you do need to know what you're doing. Especially with a command such as "Delete", I can't help but wonder who failed to RTFM (TFM reads, as they point out, that "Delete" requires a full path to be safe or else it expects the path to be root) and instead made an -assumption- on how it would work.

Now, to their defense, NSIS is also a little inconsistent (RMDir needs /r to be recursive, but DeleteRegKey needs /ifempty to NOT be recursive; whatthe.) and I've wiped my entire root myself while developing an installer with it, although via a more complex bug.. NSIS simply doesn't have any built-in "you dumbass"-protection like most commercial installers.

Although I think it's nice of them to say that they're not blaming Windows for their own mistake, I do honestly think that Windows should protect such vital files at all cost - including against Administrator level process (e.g. a prompt "you dumbass - are you sure?" will do).

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (4, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706548)

what of the users who did lose valuable computer time due to this problem? The proverbial kid handing in their homework (or dissertation paper or whatever), for example. Apologizing and willing to pay for a third party tech support service (e.g. Geek Squad) is nice and all, but does that cover damages incurred? doubtful. Perhaps that EULA will finally get a test.

Almost never will damages be covered. Come to think of it, I think in this case I can say "Damages will never be covered." You have to show value and proof of destruction of that value. Your homework being destroyed? Your dissertation being destroyed? While it may have a large amount of value to you, monetarily it has very little value.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (2, Informative)

Thomas M Hughes (463951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706792)

Almost never will damages be covered. Come to think of it, I think in this case I can say "Damages will never be covered." You have to show value and proof of destruction of that value. Your homework being destroyed? Your dissertation being destroyed? While it may have a large amount of value to you, monetarily it has very little value.
Lost homework is usually only about 1-3 weeks of lost work. Often less. Dissertations are a whole different beast.

A lost dissertation has a lot more value than sentimental value. You've spent X years of your life working on it, with the clear expectation that you have a high probability of getting a PhD. Having a PhD means getting a job that pays better than the pay of a graduate student. If graduate student pay is $Y, and reasonable post-doctoral pay is $Z, and you lost X years of work due to the bug, the monetary value of a lost dissertation is X*(Z-Y). This is assuming the entire dissertation can be recreated again, which in some cases is not possible.

As a PhD student in the social sciences, my graduate student pay is ~$15k on average. Starting PhD pay is ~$40k. It takes 7 years to get a PhD on average, but for realistic sake, lets say I've been working on my dissertation for 2.5 years (ignoring the time spent on comprehensive exams and coursework). Using these values in the formula above, I'd expect to lose $62,500 dollars if I had to start my dissertation from scratch. These values go much higher in the hard sciences, with little question.

Knowing this, I've got backups of stuff, because I'm not an idiot. But were I to lose everything, it'd be really, really hard for you to claim that my loss was minimal in monetary terms, and only a large loss in personal sentimental value. If someone were to maliciously burn down my home, including a large portion of my notes and drafts for my dissertation, you better believe I'm going to claim monetary losses on those. I fail to see how it's any different if a corporation's negligence does similar damage.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1, Insightful)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707848)

Data stored without backups is vulnerable to many things. Buggy software, viruses, hardware failure and so on. If you lose data as valuable as a phd thesis due to such a failure then IMO you who have been negligent.

We don't expect hardware vendors to provide anything more than a replacement when thier products fail and I don't see why software should be any different.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1)

cheesegoduk (781731) | more than 6 years ago | (#21708302)

Your dissertation being destroyed? If you don't have multiple backups of such an important piece of work(to you) in the first place, your just as retarded as the dev's who caused EvE's problem.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1)

Ost99 (101831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706842)

Even though the bug deleted a file, it's not possible to lose data due to this bug.
The only thing you stand to lose is a few minutes (or hours) of production time due to a non booting system.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21706868)

anon to bail on mod bits...

what if in those few hours (if you're not familiar with Windows at all and don't have a boot or rescue disk, etc. etc.) you needed access to those files? Do you file away every new e-mail to an external drive ready to be taken to the nearest computer cafe in case your machine goes wonky? I doubt it.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1)

deathy_epl+ccs (896747) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707438)

what if in those few hours (if you're not familiar with Windows at all and don't have a boot or rescue disk, etc. etc.) you needed access to those files? Do you file away every new e-mail to an external drive ready to be taken to the nearest computer cafe in case your machine goes wonky? I doubt it.

Do you expect to get paid by somebody every time your computer gets corrupted when you need to finish some vitally important work?

Also, the window was incredibly thin in which it took them to catch it... they have a couple hundred thousand players, and approximately 200 players got hit by it (I'm rounding, I know the number is larger) which indicates that the response time had to have been pretty quick, since the players were undoubtedly waiting with baited breath to download the patch as soon as the servers came back online.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1)

GryMor (88799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707620)

Significantly more got hit than the 200 that contacted them. But as they said, most people could eventually fix it themselves or with help from friends, and in many cases where they needed help from friends, they had no means of contacting CCP until their computer was fixed. Three members of my (tiny) corp got hit with the problem, one needed some assistance fixing it and had no net access until he was instructed, over the phone, on how to fix his computer. Anecdotally, there were people whose tech support reformatted their drives to fix the problem, but I have no way of verifying that.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21706856)

A dissertation being lost due to a program deleting one or more files shows some value: the value of the system administrator. Zero.
It would be dumber to keep a dissertation on a single system with no backup, than to distribute a game with an installer that deletes a file.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21707066)

anon to bail on mod bits...

as mentioned in another post - it's not so much the point that you don't have access to the file forevermore.. clearly you can get access back to it. It's that for whatever amount of time between that cockup and your getting things back up and running - you do not have access to it. To some that may not be particularly important, to others it could very well be. And yes, I know, if your data/etc. is so important, one shouldn't be installing games on it anyway - right? :)

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707582)

Your dissertation being destroyed?
If the crash of your computer means your "dissertation being destroyed", you may be too stupid for a PhD anyway. nothing.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706576)

what of the users who did lose valuable computer time due to this problem?


That's a good point. And generates some good advice for future student/gamers: Do not install any new software of any kind a week or two before a paper is due*

*at least, not without having some kind of back-up which can be read and worked on on another computer and which you regular test.

TFM reads, as they point out, that "Delete" requires a full path to be safe or else it expects the path to be root


That sounds like the the opposite of a good way for delete to fail.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707590)

That's a good point. And generates some good advice for future student/gamers: Do not install any new software of any kind a week or two before a paper is due*


Well, over at my university we have deadlines every second week or so... that advice would pretty much require you to not keep your system up to date with patches. This would be why I backup my entire /home directory to an external drive that isn't connected when I'm not making the backups, and keep copies of important papers on a USB key I carry with me. I guess if my house burns down I might lose the computer and the drive, but I'd still have the important stuff on the USB key, and quite frankly I think my university would consider my house burning down "exceptional circumstances".

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21707796)

Do not install any new software of any kind a week or two before a paper is due*
that's why i'm still using feisty fawn; exams are just round the corner :(

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (3, Funny)

LarsG (31008) | more than 6 years ago | (#21708010)

Do not install any new software of any kind a week or two before a paper is due

ITYM "Don't install an addictive game before a paper is due."

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706594)

Although I think it's nice of them to say that they're not blaming Windows for their own mistake, I do honestly think that Windows should protect such vital files at all cost - including against Administrator level process (e.g. a prompt "you dumbass - are you sure?" will do).

Isn't the first thing most people do on Vista is turn off the Administrator "Are you sure?" prompts?

(I know that personally I do not- I don't get them more than a half-dozen times a day, if that, so it's really not that big a deal.)

Cancel or allow? (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706682)

If you really want that sort of behaviour, why haven't you switched to Vista? That sort of behaviour is a big part of why hardly anyone is?

Re:Cancel or allow? (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706990)

I have Vista running on one of my machines, as I need to be able to test on it.

And no, I'm not referring to Vista's behavior of demanding Admin rights for a ton of things.. though I don't have a direct problem with that.. if somebody does, have them run as administrator.
I'm only referring to popping up a big fat warning when you are (or something else is) about to do something to a critical system file where the change could very well leave the machine unbootable without a boot or rescue disc. As long as the machine can still boot on its own and load a smidgen of code that can restore whatever other system files - let an administrator play with those freely.. but files that completely prevent a bootup without external means should be very closely guarded.

Re:Cancel or allow? (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21708318)

You mean like this?

danielbo@danielbo-desktop:~$ sudo apt-get remove bash
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following packages will be REMOVED:
bash foomatic-db-engine foomatic-db-hpijs foomatic-filters ubuntu-desktop ubuntu-minimal
WARNING: The following essential packages will be removed.
This should NOT be done unless you know exactly what you are doing!
bash
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 6 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 0B of archives.
After unpacking 8679kB disk space will be freed.
You are about to do something potentially harmful.
To continue type in the phrase 'Yes, do as I say!'
?]

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21706728)

The proverbial kid handing in their homework (or dissertation paper or whatever), for example.

The children! Won't somebody PLEASE think of the CHILDREN! *swoons*

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21706922)

anon to bail on mod bits...

I love these types of responses :) say 'kid' and "won't somebody think of the children!" responses abound. So just for you imbalanced people who think that any time kids are mentioned it's a "think of the children!" argument (despite that kids are more likely to play this thing, kids including ages all through to their late teens - not just the images of 6 year olds that such cries tend to conjure (I'd be a little worried if somebody let a 6 year old play EVE, but I'm sure that'll just get me more "won't somebody think of the children" respones XD), and some kid actually having lodged exactly such a complaint on their forums), here's a "think of the geriatrics!" argument.

What about granny who wanted to mail her grandson who is deployed to Iraq and only has a small window to read the e-mail; and now can't? Won't somebody think of the geriatrics!? And the veterans-to-be, for that matter! Go troops, or something!

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706798)

Why weren't these people backing up their work (let alone definitely needing it when using an operating system well known for its bugs)?

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706864)

Well, the people who sufferd will have learned some valuable lessons:
1) Do not install anything anymore once a system is running and you have critical data on it.
2) Backup
3) Be able to restore that backup

To me it is comparable to changing a tire. If you are not able to do that, you should not even be given a driving licence.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707124)

Its interesting to note that its impossible to do stuff like that accidentally under Linux. /boot/ is usually unmounted once its not needed and *nothing* should be touching anything in there anyway.

Oh well. Thats what Windows users get for using a really bad file layout.

oh yes it is... (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707270)

When cloning my linux from old hd to new hd, I accidentally forgot to change the label name back for the root= entry in grub. and couldnt boot unless I fixed it with the repair CD console login.

Its as fragile as boot.ini, though I personally have a few copies of it and /boot.copy /local/boot.old

What linux needs is like the old VMS days of auto versioning, grub.conf;1 etc...

If its a system core component config, then its smart to do it for that, HD space is plenty for text files.

Re:oh yes it is... (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707290)

a) You were moving partitions around, not installing a game patch. :P
b) Why didnt you simply press 'e' at the grub screen? You can edit how it boots from its self.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707576)

I don't think I've seen any Linux distribution where /boot is unmounted after boot, and most of the newer ones tend to default to a single-partition layout. A better example would be something like the FreeBSD boot loader, where the multiboot code lives in the boot sector (512 bytes of really neat assembly code) and presents a menu for selecting the partition or disk to boot from. Even if the entire FreeBSD partition is nuked you can still boot into any other operating systems you might have installed.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707242)

You realise most people on Slashdot attack Vista for doing what you suggested.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21707552)

> "Delete" requires a full path to be safe or else it expects the path to be root

But that's a completely braindead design by default. EVERY SANE PIECE OF SOFTWARE assumes CWD. For DELETE, of ALL operations, to ignore the EXPLICITLY-SET PATH and work on the ROOT makes this the fault of the installer for sheer unparalleled fuckheadedness (and that's a technical term).

It would be like if "ls" were replaced by a "ls" that formatted the root partition unless you invoked it as

"ls --do-not-format-root-please-pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top"

I don't blame the EVE guys for this one. If every single line of every single program has to be vetted by every single person every single time they use it along with cross-referencing the complete documentation of Shakespeare, you might as well forget about ever getting anything done in software and retire to Montana.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21707610)

Why is is that if something bad happens you seem to want compensation? This is life, something bad happens, that doesnt entitle you to reparations. The sooner you yanks learn this and stop suing everyone for everything the better.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21707702)

Vista does protect critical system files by locking out everyone (including "SYSTEM") and only allowing the new TrustedInstaller account access to the files - an admin has to go to some lengths to deletes such files. This is different to the UAC prompts most other people are referring to, so even if you were prompted and confimed the deletion it won't happen as you won't (even as admin) have sufficient permissions..

Although having said that, this particular problem is a non-issue on Vista as there is no boot.ini file - the boot loader uses a different mechanism for this now.

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (1)

KillzoneNET (958068) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707780)

what of the users who did lose valuable computer time due to this problem?
Well obviously, if anyone who puts valuable time into the use of their computer would be able to find out how to fix a problem on their own and any other problem they encounter in the future so as to not completely lose their valuable computer time.

Its a different story however when said valuable computer time is dedicated to a space game on the internet...

Re:Straightforward, sure.. but... | also, the bug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21707860)

fwiw, the dev blog post says the documentation says 'should' not 'requires' regarding DELETE. Granted this really doesn't count for an excuse, but it does imply they RTFM'd.

Re:That's actually a really straightforward respon (2, Funny)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706716)

Yeah, if only more businesses did not test products enough before deployment, or read TFM when using delete commands...

AND THEN they send GEEK SQUAD to "fix" your computer. Talk about adding insult to injury!

Re:That's actually a really straightforward respon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21707602)

Now if only more businesses acted this way.
But this thing made into every news site and people openly reported they can't boot into XP. It is nothing special to openly apologize and explain what really happened after it became public.

okay windows guys... (-1, Troll)

zonker (1158) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706492)

Now's your chance to jump in and make some silly claim about how stable your windows system is and that you never reboot so this won't affect you.

Re:okay windows guys... (2, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706600)

I would, but I had a power outage that terminated my 4-week uptime. :)

Worst part of it was, I was baking pecan butter tarts at the time. In an electric oven. They don't make UPSes for that.

Re:okay windows guys... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21706726)

Hmm, too many humans rebelling again, eh Oracle?

Re:okay windows guys... (1)

m4g02 (541882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707194)

I run Vista, so this would never happen to me as it no longer use a boot.ini file... But I do have to reboot quite often because the #$% thing keeps crashing for no reason :P

How is that even possible (5, Insightful)

AndrewBuck (1120597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706508)

From the article...

"Why doesn't Windows protect its system startup files? That's a good question, one that I have asked myself in these last few days and wish I knew the answer. But of course I'm not going to blame Microsoft for our mistake. Windows doesn't protect those files and therefore software developers must take care not to touch them. We should have been more careful."

That is a good question. I am not an EVE player myself so I don't know if this update had to be run with admin privileges but it doesn't appear to be that way from the question and reply. If you are not running as admin then how is it even possible to remove a system file that is necessary to boot the system. Unlike the EVE representative making this statement I am going to blame Microsoft, it should not be the developers responsibility to make sure they don't break the OS, it is the OS developers responsibility to make sure that it cannot be broken without admin/system/root access.

-Buck

Re:How is that even possible (1)

gQuigs (913879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706518)

You have to be administrator to modify/delete/etc the boot.ini file. Most home users run windows with full admin, as that is the default, which you can blame on MS if you want.

Re:How is that even possible (1)

AndrewBuck (1120597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706590)

I was mistaken in my assumption then. I read the bit about "Windows doesn't protect those files and therefore software developers must take care not to touch them." to mean that they were modifiable with user level access. I do agree though that it is ridiculous for people to run as admin all the time, this serves as a good example of why that is a bad idea.

-Buck

Re:How is that even possible (1)

Perseid (660451) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706638)

That's one of the flaws in XP - chances are you can't get away with not being administrator. Some things won't install. A few things won't even run. Not being Admin will lead to an unpleasant experience.

Re:How is that even possible (1)

DeeQ (1194763) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707646)

First if they were not admins they wouldn't be able to install anything. So this would have never happened if they couldn't be admins. So you are basically saying no kid you can't play video games at all or do anything on your computer. If you were to argue a more sensible adult should regulate what gets installed it would make no difference. This was a video game that has worked for quite some time now and would be trusted. They adult would just log in and do it himself. Also Don't you need root privileges to install things in linux? Guess what happens when your running that installation, as admin, that was bugged and for some god awful reason it deletes your important files. Linux doesn't protect them either. It has nothing to do with the OS. It has everything to do with the programmers program.

Re:How is that even possible (0, Flamebait)

fat_mike (71855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706572)

YES, THIS IS WINDOWS/BILL GATES FAULT!!!!!

What is up with the whole Linux thing lately here. Anyhow...

You'd think that they would have caught this during, I don't know, quality control, testing, beta's, simple common sense. This is a prime example of get it out the door or I won't get my bonus. The gaming industry is heading towards the shithole that every other entertainment industry eats from.

Games have producers. Why the hell does a game need a producer?

Oh, that's right...most game companies are owned by entertainment companies who saw "Video Game Industry Worth Billions" headlines.

And what do we get, 800,000,000 first person shooters. Hell, GQ, Esquire have almost as many FPS ads as "insert magazine name here" does. Playboy even does a yearly spread on characters from games.

The aliens will attack and a whole generation will think "Laser to the leg, fuck that I'll regenerate it and fuck that noob up"

Re:How is that even possible (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706588)

Why the hell does a game need a producer?

Uh, to produce it?

Re:How is that even possible (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706712)

Exactly.

Having worked on games with and without a producer.... yeah, they earn their paycheck (and this is coming from one of the software engineers)

Re:How is that even possible (5, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706592)

That is a good question. I am not an EVE player myself so I don't know if this update had to be run with admin privileges but it doesn't appear to be that way from the question and reply. If you are not running as admin then how is it even possible to remove a system file that is necessary to boot the system. Unlike the EVE representative making this statement I am going to blame Microsoft, it should not be the developers responsibility to make sure they don't break the OS, it is the OS developers responsibility to make sure that it cannot be broken without admin/system/root access.

Two things to note:

  1. This was an XP problem. Technically it could've happened on Vista, but I haven't seen anything that said it did. As such, this falls into the same category of problems that Microsoft attempted to fix in Vista with UAC -- nearly everybody ran XP as admin, and many apps expected you to be running as admin.
  2. This was a problem with an installer/uninstaller. Since nearly everything on Windows installs into %programfiles% and that's a shared location, installers need admin access (installers that ask if you want to install for "Just this user" or "Everyone" are not going to install in %userprofile% if you choose "Just this user". They're just looking to see if the Start Menu shortcuts should go into "%appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu" or "%allusersprofile%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu"). Vista will elevate your privleges when you try to run an installer (you'll get a UAC prompt), after which a misbehaving installer could screw up boot.ini. Regardless of operating systems, you almost always install applications as administrator. Yes, you can install apps in $HOME on *nix systems, but 9 times out of 10 you'll use sudo on the installer (sudo apt-get install foo). Therefore this is technically a bug that could happen on any OS. It's not difficult to imagine an application install that deletes your kernel image, for example.
The real WTF here is that they have an important game file named "boot.ini". That's an exceedingly poor choice of filename. Think of it like having a game file called "autoexec.bat" or "vmlinuz" that actually has nothing to do with the DOS boot process or the Linux kernel. The only defense they give for that is "legacy".

Re:How is that even possible (1)

Doogie5526 (737968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706876)

This could indeed happen on any system. I saw a Perl script in Linux just today that said ${directory}/file. The directory variable was empty and it tried to write to /file. Fortunately, it didn't have permissions to do anything damaging. Hopefully it would have been better written if it did run with those permissions.

Didn't Quake have an autoexec.bat file as a startup script?

Re:How is that even possible (5, Informative)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706966)

Didn't Quake have an autoexec.bat file as a startup script?
Quake 3, and I assume for 2 and 1, contained a file called "autoexec.cfg." I always thought it was aptly named, being a DOS veteran myself, because it contains game configs like default keybindings (e.g. bind w +move) and such that actually allow you to control the game in the first place, and it's always called during game startup. Very similar in function to the file that it is named after.

Re:How is that even possible (1)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21708030)

Quake 3, and I assume for 2 and 1, contained a file called "autoexec.cfg."

Yup, Quake 1 and 2 have that file too (though it doesn't seem to be always present, unless created by the user - at least for me, it seems that the only game where it gets automatically created if it doesn't exist is Quake 1). It also seems to appear in Doom 3 and Quake 4, and I assume every game other game based on id engines.

Re:How is that even possible (2, Funny)

mav[LAG] (31387) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706904)

Technically it could've happened on Vista, but I haven't seen anything that said it did.

Well, that would require a group of people who have Vista installed.

Re:How is that even possible (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706956)

This would've happened on Vista just the same, if it weren't for the fact that Vista uses a newer bootloader that no longer uses the boot.ini file. As such, Vista was unaffected, but UAC wouldn't have prevented this problem if Vista still were using the boot.ini file.

Re:How is that even possible (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707116)

Really? You think your average user would pay attention to that? They know they're installing software, and they trust the source - unless they know what boot.ini and that it really is a bad idea to delete, chances are they'll just hit "Allow". That's one of the fundamental flaws of UAC as security. If the user trusts the installer, they're going to hit allow. If the user doesn't trust the installer, they wouldn't have run it anyway. UAC is good for things that try to stealth-install, or do things behind the user's back, but it doesn't protect from buggy software (like this) or malicious software that tricks a user into running it (like trojans).

Re:How is that even possible (1)

m4g02 (541882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707176)

I don't understand your reply, he said UAC wouldn't stop it from happening but that Vista has a new boot system that no longer use a boot.ini file (changes are made with bootsect.exe). He is right and... I don't know what are you discussing. What's your point? You seem to be off-topic.

Re:How is that even possible (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707192)

Sorry, you're right, I misread the wouldn't as would.

What can? (1)

sid0 (1062444) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707726)

but it doesn't protect from buggy software (like this) or malicious software that tricks a user into running it (like trojans).


What can?

Re:What can? (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 6 years ago | (#21708092)

User education, that's all. Or locking the machine down so tight that they can't install any software at all, or run anything that's not white-listed (but then, by who?). Kind of defeats the purpose of a general purpose computer though, if you ask me.

Re:How is that even possible (1)

m4g02 (541882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707188)

Technically it could've happened on Vista

Wrong, Vista no longer use a boot.ini file, changes to the boot process can only be made by running bootsect.exe in a CMD window.

Re:How is that even possible (1)

RonnyJ (651856) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707846)

The "legacy" defense they give is exceedingly weak, in fact non-existent.

Windows 2000 was released in 1999, XP in 2001, both use boot.ini - yet they say they named it in 2001 but say the name is there because of "legacy"? This could have happened back in 2001, they couldn't have used the "legacy" excuse then. I'd sooner they said 'yeah, we gave a file a silly name, and didn't realise'.

Re:How is that even possible (2, Interesting)

Bellum Aeternus (891584) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706642)

I did patch EVE as a non-privileged user on my XP Pro system and the problem didn't happen to me. It does seem to be that since most people basically have to run as an administrative account to make XP "work", CCP was able to damage the OS as they did.

This is a multi-part failure. One part Microsoft for making an OS that almost requires standard users to run a privileged account all the time to make basic applications work. One part CCP for developing software that damaged the underlying OS.

My only hope is that either Microsoft begins developing software that not only protects users from the outside (they're still yet to do even this) as well as from themselves. They should take a page from Apple's book on how to do this; or Linux adoption picks up and we start seeing more of the applications I (and the bulk of business and home users) need being developed for it.

Re:How is that even possible (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21706992)

Oh don't play that game. It is so tiresome. You know 99% of the users are running as admin because thats just what you do in windows.

Re:How is that even possible (2, Interesting)

Deviate_X (578495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21708018)

"how is it even possible to remove a system file that is necessary to boot the system. Unlike the EVE representative making this statement I am going to blame Microsoft,"

The boot.ini file is actually protected. It is specifically marked as a System File, Read-Only and Hidden. This means that to modify the file you need to remove these attributes in a specific order first before you can modify or delete it, even if you are logged in as Administrator.

The only way to prevent software from doing bad things to important system files not to store important system information in text files on the filesystem...

So... (0)

dangitman (862676) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706560)

Is it EVE, Eve, or EvE? The slashdot title, summary, and related links say three different things.

Re:So... (1, Troll)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706584)

CCP write it as EVE on the website.

Re:So... (1)

Cctoide (923843) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707530)

Additionally, people also say "EvE" because it's what it looks like on the logo, and "Eve" because, I assume, they're too lazy to capitalize the rest of the word.

It's nice when companies are honest (3, Interesting)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706562)

If only more companies were so honest and straight forward when they cockup. It almost makes me feel like playing EVE again. CCP can consider themselves as being given a virtual karma bonus.

Although I can't help but wonder if the "honesty is the best policy" choice was because of their handling of the last PR cockup.

Re:It's nice when companies are honest (1)

soupforare (542403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707166)

They're trying to make up for lost karma in the seemingly unending employee-player scandals.
I'd probably give it another go, it's not really that bad for an online spreadshzzzzZZZZZZ

Re:It's nice when companies are honest (1)

discord5 (798235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21708062)

I'd probably give it another go, it's not really that bad for an online spreadshzzzzZZZZZZ

Pvp is pretty awesome in Eve, but there are a lot of parts in the game that could really use some improvmezzzZZZZzzzzzZZZ

Lip service... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21706640)

Don't believe everything you hear from profiteering companies.
From CCP'S forums...

http://myeve.eve-online.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=658000 [eve-online.com]

Cosmo Raata "quote"

"Only question I have, is WHY THE F do you put up a phone# for someone in the US to call, ask them to leave a message and never call them back????!!! I needed assistance and ended up relying on help from someone else after waiting too long, as I had filed I needed and just couldn't wait for you. Kind of pathetic if you ask me. I was impressed that you'd offer to take calls, but you proved that it was only a fake gesture to cover your asses.

P.S. You still haven't called (6 days later)."

How long is too long? (1)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706662)

He was one of 215 users that was affected, it's possible they didn't even know the cause. All you have if someone whining that they waited "too long". How long is too long? 15 minutes, 1 hour, 8 hours a day, multiple days? The user's post on that forum is very subjective and some people are just plain impatient.

Re:How long is too long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21706702)

6 days of waiting... That's too long.

Re:How long is too long? (1)

coolGuyZak (844482) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707554)

Further, who would admit they were wrong when they do get help? Online?

Weak! (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706704)

The Operation Flashpoint dedicated server bug that deleted every file of the drive that it was installed on makes this one look weak.

Wish I could find a link right now but I can't. It will quite a scene on the BI forums when that one came out.

Re:Weak! (1)

erdraug (962369) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707678)

That reminds me of those old Sierra installers for windows that deleted everything in the parent directory when the game was unistalled.

Only half the answer we need (1)

Chuu (307073) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706828)

While it's nice to know the technical reasons for problem, it still does not answer why they failed to take note of this problem when it was originally reported and discussed on the beta server's message board two days before the expansion hit the live servers.

It's in the eight post of this [eve-online.com] thread.

Re:Only half the answer we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21706926)

It was mentioned somewhere in the EVE forums I believe, that their Windows XP setups are configured to have backups of critical system files; as such, when their own copies of Boot.ini were overwritten, Windows called upon the backup automatically, and booted as it normally would.

Re:Only half the answer we need (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21706974)

It was reported in a forum - why oh why would you report a bug such as this one in a forum the developers might or might not read instead of using the proper bug report tool is beyond me.

Alright! (5, Funny)

Cheezymadman (1083175) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706834)

Finally, a benefit to Vista! Vista users like myself were 100% unaffected by this. It was awesome.

I cant help but wonder... (4, Interesting)

Nezer (92629) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706884)

I have never been into MMOs. I just didn't get them. However, in the last week things have changed and it's due, in part, to this bug.

You see, until this bug happened EVE was totally off my RADAR screen. When I read about the bug on /. last week I went to the companies website and found myself intrigued. Further discovery that they didn't charge $50 for the box on top of the monthly fee was also appealing. Further, I see client software for Macs and Linux. Intrigued I download the Mac client and create the trial account. Two days later I'm hooked and sending them my CC #.

If it hadn't been for this bug, I probably would have never bought their product! They say that any publicity is good publicity and I think this is true. Sure the SNAFU was pretty bad yet the product was still compelling enough to buy it despite a pretty bad QA miss. This latest response from the company will only help further get their name out there and is truly an opportunity to make lemonade from lemons.

Re:I cant help but wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21707754)

So what you're saying is, the worse your software is, the more people will be lining up to buy it? (insert microsoft joke here)

I'm curious how you can be prompted to throw money at a company that just dropped the ball this severely in the QA department. Do you not like your computer?

Plus, before harping on the virtues of CCP, I suggest you look around on /. for previous postings mentioning some of their practices.

boot.ini ? heh (1)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707148)

Now if I could count how many hours of my life have I wasted because of disappeared boot.ini's, geez. Nice move, still.

If somehow the boot.ini is deleted (1)

zukinux (1094199) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707340)

Just grub a linux-live-cd and install LILO/Grub/.. on MBR, then you would be able to select a partition on your booting process.

What would we have done without Linux? Novel prize to Linus Torvalds.

That was a very, very good analysis of the problem (3, Informative)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707362)

Having violated /. policies and actually Read The Fine Article, it was a good analysis. I wish more people would write their bug reports this well, and explain how they're going to address the problem.

I also wonder if they wouldn't benefit from a nice virtual environment system to do QA testing of new releases with? Capturing the full graphical behavior of an OS is difficult in virtual systems, due to the overhead of the virtualization itself, but it might be a lot cheaper than keeping a dozen different hardware configurations around.

Re:That was a very, very good analysis of the prob (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21708270)

the VM only give low end video cards that suck for game testing.

Package Management (1)

Jessta (666101) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707518)

When is MS Windows going to get proper package management?
These sort of problems are not something that should be occuring in a modern operating system.

Re:Package Management (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707614)

It wouldn't have mattered. Unless your package manager runs as a special user who has carefully controlled privileges and you have some form of rôle-based access control this could still happen. A *NIX package can typically run pre- and post-install scripts (as root) and so it would be easy for the developer to accidentally do 'rm -rf boot' and have it delete the contents of the boot partition rather than the initialisation files for the package, since they forgot that the installer ran in the root directory rather than /opt/{package} (or wherever).

Re:Package Management (1)

Jessta (666101) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707682)

I can't speak for other package managers but the gentoo package manager(emerge) runs the installer in a sandbox, it then copies the relevent files to the system while checking to see if they conflict with the files of any other package.
An rm -rf in an install script will not do anything to the system.

Re:Package Management (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707778)

How does this work with things like PostgreSQL, where the update procedure between major versions requires connecting to the live db, dumping the data and then restoring it, or for other packages where some configuration beyond simple modification of configuration files is required?

Re:Package Management (1)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21708178)

A *NIX package can typically run pre- and post-install scripts (as root) and so it would be easy for the developer to accidentally do 'rm -rf boot' and have it delete the contents of the boot partition rather than the initialisation files for the package, since they forgot that the installer ran in the root directory rather than /opt/{package} (or wherever).

Yes, but at least in Debian, for most update tasks you don't have to manually add and remove files and directories; the package manager clears them up. If, when uninstalling package massive-timewaster, the package manager automatically removes the package's files from /usr/share/games/massive-timewaster and, if no files in that directory exist, the directory itself gets removed - BUT if there are files the user created, the directory is retained. It also won't overwrite another package's files, and will ask if it has to replace a config file that you have edited by hand (and a backup of the old version is retained if you choose to use the new version).

I'm betting most *nix package managers would have easily caught a simple "messing with a file that belongs to another package" situation, which is what this boot.ini situation really boiled down to.

However, for the sake of fair assessment, I have to say that at least in this GRUB package version I have at hand, dpkg doesn't seem to manage /boot/grub/menu.lst so theoretically another package could overwrite it. Well, at least GRUB will give you a prompt if it can't make heads or tails of the menu.lst. (I think. I could be wrong. =)

Not trying to troll but... (1)

TheSeer2 (949925) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707532)

I reckon' they're only so open about it (even though there isn't much reason not to be, but all the first posts are praising them for some mystical transparency that is hardly unique) is to compensate for that whole staff-cheating scandal.

I kept reading it as CCCP (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21707630)

Read it as CCCP and not CCP and everything becomes a whole lot clearer

Can you imagine how this happened? (2, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#21708194)

Programming guy 1: So we're finally done with coding everything.
Programming guy 2: Yeah finally.
*Programming guy 2 tries to make a joke*
Pr. guy 2: Hey pr. guy 1, look at this
Pr. guy 1: lol, you appended a del boot.ini
Pr. guy 2: Well, I'm going to take a coffee break
Pr. guy 1: Yeah, me too
Pr. guy 2: Wait, lets put a sticky-note on the board that we're done
Pr. guy 1: Sure
*Pr. guy 2 puts sticky on the notice board*
*both walk off*
*manager walks in*
*manager looks at the board*
Clueless manager 1: Nice, the work is finally done.
Cl. manager 1: Ahhh, I'm on a tight schedule. Lets send this file to the head programmer so he can compile everything.
*Tries to click close*
Cl. manager 1: What, changes have been made? Whatever, save.
Cl. manager 1: Ok, open outlook. Send. Done. Wow, I know this will be a spectacular release.
*Cl. manager walks of*

New Trinity update patch notes.. (1)

pizzutz (1175903) | more than 6 years ago | (#21708310)

CCP is releasing their new update patch for Trinity next week. I don't think I've ever seen a software release patch notes [eve-online.com] that end with the disclaimer "Please note: No Windows System files were harmed during the creation or deployment of this patch."

Installer "technology" (3, Interesting)

kabdib (81955) | more than 6 years ago | (#21708328)

I'm not aware of a single installer package on Windows that isn't a useless, complicated, badly-documented, bug-ridden piece of crap. The times when I've had to use (say) InstallShield, I've seriously thought about finding a new job. This stuff sucks *and* blows. (Don't get me started on USB support and BlueTooth. Oh my God. Don't even think about reading about that stuff: Once you crack open the docs and see the wavy tentacles, the squamous mouths, the eyes, the eyes, the eyes that . . . well, you'll never be quite the same again. T-tr-trust me on th-that).

Remember the happy days of "just copy" installs, which worked great on MacOs in the 90s? Upgrade to a new system? Just copy your "apps" folder over.

The question, "What kind of installer should our OS have?" is like asking, "Should we drink the red poison or the green one?" Just asking the question seals your doom.

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