Friday, October 8, 2010

how NOT to design software for ease of troubleshooting

psypete@pinhead:~/svn/bin/src/etherdump$ svn up
At revision 211.
Killed by signal 15.

strace gives no indication wtf is going on and there's no debugging mode to give me more information. Of course this is subversion, so instead of a simple man page to give me some help I have to read through the 'svn book' or run commands 20 times to even know there's no debugging flags (afaict).

What is the actual problem and fix, after 15 minutes of googling? Some version bump re-introduced a bug (I didn't know I even upgraded subversion so perhaps this is some other thing making the bug pop up) that causes svn to kill itself if ssh isn't playing nice. Effectively you have to use "-q" anywhere that svn calls ssh, which was my weird tunnel subversion config change.

The tool could have spit out something like "hey, ssh is giving me shit, so i'm bailing; check out ssh" and it would have greatly decreased the time it took me to resolve the issue. Instead it just committed hara-kiri and told me a cryptic signal number. This is not how to design a tool made for user interaction.

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