This guy did not delete his entire company in one click

Apr 15, 2016 - 11:29pm AST

It turns out that the guy that deleted his ‘entire company’ from his server, was a big, fat, fraud.

The story which got most of its attention via an article on The Independent, started when Marco Marsala, the owner of a web hosting provider, requested information about data recovery (on Server Fault’s forums) after he accidentally deleted about 1535 customers’ worth of hosted data with a single Bash script command. Here is his original post.

I run a small hosting provider with more or less 1535 customers and I use Ansible to automate some operations to be run on all servers. Last night I accidentally ran, on all servers, a Bash script with a rm -rf {foo}/{bar} with those variables undefined due to a bug in the code above this line.

All servers got deleted and the offsite backups too because the remote storage was mounted just before by the same script (that is a backup maintenance script).

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How I can recover from a rm -rf / now in a timely manner?

While most commenters knocked him for not having independent back-ups (with some going as far as offering advice from a legal point of view), a few others figured out that that simple command would not have been enough to actually wipe the servers clean.

André Borie, another Server Fault member, pointed out that the script mentioned would not have worked as it was incomplete.

I’m curious about how the command succeeded though – a simple rm -rf / should fail (or at least it does fail on my personal server) unless the –no-preserve-root option is provided.

It turns out that this was just another guerilla marketing tactic to bring more publicity to Mr. Marsela’s hosting company. Beyond the general plan of advertising his start-up, he also wanted to bring attention to his new book about various Unix administrative horror stories.

He went on to add that his question was simply a joke and that the Ansible tool would have prevented such a disaster as the above code would be considered incomplete, resulting in an error being displayed. Deleting the entire server would only be possible if ‘-no preserve’ was appended to the string.

After it was discovered that the question was indeed fake, the mods hosted a small discussion to determine what should be done with the thread, as deleting it would also removed earned points by legitimate members posting potential solutions to the poster’s problem.

It looks like the thread has since been left for public display, but with a few warnings indicating that it was indeed a hoax because of the attention surrounding it, with recommendations that it should not be used as reference for similar situations.

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here. This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed.

Let’s see if Mr. Marsala’s plan really works or if it will simply backfire tremendously. I mean, we can definitely trust this guy now, right? …Hello?

[Image: Wikipedia]

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