I lent a friend a computer with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on it, and he messed up the cat command.

$ cat testfile.txt
cat: meow!

Can someone tell me how to fix this? please?

Output of which cat:

  • 9
    Try which cat. If it says something like "siamese" or other cat's species, you friend is a genius. Otherwise, copy the output in your question.
    – Rmano
    Mar 31 '14 at 23:02
  • 11
    April fools! Lolz
    – OrangeTux
    Mar 31 '14 at 23:07
  • 1
    Please add the results of file /bin/cat and ls -l /bin/cat*. By the way, your "friend" had root access, doesn't he?
    – Rmano
    Mar 31 '14 at 23:14
  • 1
    Ah... he did have root access. I checked the file contents: echo "cat: meow"
    – TheDoctor
    Mar 31 '14 at 23:15
  • 2
    I didn't expect a question with this title on this SE site ... ;-)
    – Joey
    Apr 1 '14 at 8:52

If he's a friend, he probably did something of the style (as root)(1):

mv /bin/cat /bin/cat.orig 
echo "echo 'cat: meow! '" > /bin/cat
chmod 755 /bin/cat

If he's less of a friend, he omitted the first line.

Asking apt-file

apt-file search -F /bin/cat 

says that the package is coreutils. You can probably reinstall it, although I see it as a bit of a dangerous thing...

(1) well, I really would have added alias which="echo cat: is a siamese" to your .bashrc, but well...

  • 2
    If he's less of a friend, he omitted the first line. I like the way you said that.
    – user595510
    Sep 2 '17 at 11:21

It's actually an April Fool's trick. I changed the clock on my Debian box out of April 1st, and it fixed itself. Sick, sick joke...

  • 2
    I changed my date to April 1st and tested it on Ubuntu 12.04, no jokes here. Apr 2 '14 at 16:27
  • My cat commands are normal today again... Weird, but that's what I found out to fix it :-S Apr 2 '14 at 16:36

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