Famous operational issues

bzs at theworld.com bzs at theworld.com
Wed Feb 17 06:17:39 UTC 2021

 > On Tue, 16 Feb 2021, John Kristoff wrote:
 > > Friends,
 > >
 > > I'd like to start a thread about the most famous and widespread Internet
 > > operational issues, outages or implementation incompatibilities you
 > > have seen.
 > >

When Boston University joined the internet proper ca 1984 I was in
charge of that group.

We accidentally* submitted an initial HOSTS.TXT file which included
some internally used one-character host names (A, B, C) and one which
began with a digit (3B, an AT&T 3B5), both illegal for HOSTS.TXT back

This put the BSD Unix program which converted from HOSTS.TXT to Unix'
/etc/hosts format into an infinite loop filling /tmp which in those
days crashed Unix and it often couldn't reboot successfully without
manual intervention.

On many, many hosts across the internet.

I hesitate to guess a number since scale has changed so much but some
of the more heated email claimed it brought down at least half the
internet by some count.

It was worsened by the fact that many hosts pulled and processed a new
HOSTS.TXT file via cron (time-based job scheduler) at midnight so no
one was around to fix and reboot systems.

The thread on the TCP-IP mailing list was: BU JOINS THE INTERNET!

It was a little embarrassing.

Today it probably would have landed me in Gitmo.

* There were two versions, the one we used internally, and the one to
be submitted which removed those host names. The wrong one got

        -Barry Shein

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