April 24, 2019

Linux Bug #1: Bad Documentation

Finished with exit status 1

  • November 18, 2009
  • By Carla Schroder
The Internet and Google enable laziness in FOSS development because they make it too easy to abdicate the job of proper documentation to "The community." Telling users and potential contributors to use Google, mailing lists, and forums is not documentation. It's a way to guarantee having fewer users, unhappy users, and fewer contributors.

Let me share with you how I spent much of the past week. (Lately I've been spending a lot of time wrestling with application problems; this is just one example.) A certain application that I use every day was failing on one command and returning this fine unhelpful error message:

Finished with exit status 1

Oh goody, how illuminating. So I look in the man page and none of the error codes are explained. The command does not generate any logfile entries. Good so far, a promising start. Next stop, Google. Google finds a fair number of other users with the same problem, but no solution.

After some more attempts to figure it out (trawling mailings lists, pestering friends, sending out the bloodhounds) I give up and contact the developers. I get a reply, yay! The short story is the dev wanted to know what the logfile said. I'd already said there was nothing in the logfile...

Read the rest of the story here.

Most Popular LinuxPlanet Stories