The first time you use sudo on a UNIX/Linux/FreeBSD computer, it gives you a warning. The warning is brief and says (more or less), “don’t ever forget that using this command gives you the power to really f— things up.”

So today I meant to type:

sudo chown -R Jerry:admin .

But instead I typed:

sudo chown -R Jerry:admin /

The first command says, “change the owner of every file and folder in this directory and all subdirectories to Jerry.” That’s what I wanted to do. The second command? It does the same thing, but for every file and directory on the whole damn computer. I won’t go into the whole UNIXology of ownership; just take it from me that what I did could be very bad.

I stopped the process while it was still rampaging through my /Applications folder. I stared at the terminal window for a while, wondering if I was about to “nuke and pave” — wipe things clean and start over.

But wait! Part of Apple’s effort to bring *NIX to the masses is a tool specifically designed to go through all the files on your hard drive (particularly the /Applications folder) and fix ownership and permissions problems. I ran the utility, it fixed a bazillion issues, and, Turing willing, I’m A-OK.

Today I was glad my operating system came with training wheels.


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