World's most frustrating televised Linux install just got more frustrating

Twitch crowd-controlled installation hijacked by Gentoo botnet, wrecked by fiber cut

Vid Hundreds of people are trying to install Arch Linux on a machine at the same time in the same terminal, using a voting system to decide the next keypress.

It's horrifically frustrating watching an attempt to run makefs hijacked with a slowly typed rm -rf / command; the filesystem-wiping order thwarted at the last moment by frantic backspacing by the crowd.

Played out on video-streaming site Twitch, Twitch In A Shell is crowdsourcing the installation of the Arch Linux distribution – but was apparently swarmed by an army of bots that started installing Gentoo, smashed by a suspected distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, and suffered a fiber outage with its host data center.

The denizens of Twitch had some success, and rather a lot of fun, last year trying to crowdsource a game of Pokemon Red. Now a group called Twitch in the Shell has vowed to try a Linux install using the fingers, if not the wisdom, of crowds.

The attempt began on October 31, with the idea that participants would all enter keystrokes, and the most popular one every ten seconds would be input into the terminal. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but – if the Pokemon example is anything to go by – works out in the end.

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Not so this time. Within a day of starting, the installation was in trouble after there was an attempt to hijack the proceedings and install alternative Linux distribution Gentoo. The organizers aren't sure if this was run by a botnet or just a determined pack of Gentoo fans, but the attempt was beaten off eventually.

Then on Monday another massive surge of traffic occurred on the website. The organizers still aren't sure if this is a DDoS attack, or just the project getting more attention than it anticipated.

Within an hour there were more issues, this time with the hosting provider, which started to experience interlink problems. The issue has now been identified and was tracked back to a rogue backhoe operator who accidentally severed the fiber connection to an data center.

The install attempt is continuing but, based on the progress shown so far, could take a very long time to complete. ®

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