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[humorix] Ask Humorix: Segmentation Faults?

Ask Humorix: Segmentation Faults?
November 17, 1999

Anonymous Windows Refugee writes,

I have Windows and Linux both installed on my hard drive. 
Earlier today, when trying to run a C program I had just
written, I got this error:

Segmentation fault (core dumped)

What does this mean?  Am I doing something wrong?


The Humorix Oracle responds:

What you describe is a very dangerous situation.  A
segmentation fault ("segfault") is a grave error that
should not be taken lightly. Stop what you are doing and
read this carefully:

Think of Linux as "matter" and Windows as "anti-matter". 
On a dual-boot system such as yours, these two substances
reside next to each other on your hard drive.  A partition
(think of a "lead wall") separates the two, but this
division can be easily breached when heavy wear and tear is
placed on the hard drive (i.e. anytime when using

When matter and anti-matter meet, they undergo mutual
annihilation. Likewise, when Linux and Windows meet, they
undergo a highly unstable nuclear reaction.  The Linux
partition, composed of "electrons", and the Windows
partition, composed of so-called "anti-electrons", will
combine to form a faultline along a segment of the breached
partition wall -- in other words, they form a segmentation

This segfault is highly unstable, and dangerous.  Most
times, the computer's BIOS will automatically execute a
"core dump", in which the segfault is ejected from the hard
drive and sent out through the back of the box.  In these
cases you will see the "Segmentation fault (core dumped)"
message, indicating that the system has automatically
dumped the dangerous segfault and "healed" itself.

However, if the computer is unable to contain the segfault,
then the Linux kernel will display a "Bus Error" message.
This is a potentially deadly situation; you must take
action immediately by killing the power to the machine and
ducking for cover.  Don't mess with "shutdown -h now" or
"rm -rf /*", you must immediately turn off the machine.  

If you fail to react in sufficient time, the segfault will
continue to expand until it reaches a "critical mass" and
forms a black hole (or, in the vernacular, a Big
Uncontrolled Singularity, or Bus for short). This black
hole will swallow everything in its immediate surroundings
before destroying itself in a brilliant display of

For some unexplained reason, Bus errors occur most commonly
when using Netscape.  Segfaults are commonly associated
with homebrew programs that have not been fully debugged,
but this error can occur at any time you have Windows
installed on your hard drive.  I recommend you ditch
Windows completely to prevent the formation of any unwanted
space-time anomalies, which can be quite annoying.

You owe the Oracle a copy of IDG's "Quantum Mechanics For
Dummies" book.


James S. Baughn

Humorix:      Linux and Open Source(nontm) on a lighter note
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