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How were bugs handled post production RTM before the cloud?

thefern profile image Fernando B πŸš€ ・1 min read

Morris Internet Worm

I was listening to The Changelog podcast 277 which is about the The Story of Visual Studio Code. I started thinking about how did software engineering teams handled bugs after Release To Manufacturing (RTM), before the cloud and before git repositories, or any other type of downloadable patch.

If you were on such teams I would love to hear about it. I am interested to know if CD's rom installers were delivered with patches in mind, or even floppy disk installers. Or did another full installer was delivered, rather than a patch.

  • What was your most memorable bug?
  • What was the most costly bug?
  • How was the patch delivered?

Discussion

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phlash909 profile image
Phil Ashby

So when I was working at BT on their Wireplay on-line video game service ('96-'01), we occasionally shipped cover disks with updated client software or new games via large UK publishing houses, so we really did have an RTM step.

Our most memorable & costly 'bug' was actually shipping malware that came in from a 3rd party games developer (I won't name them, sorry!), and which our corporate-managed sheep dip machine missed, because the corporate AV update process took about two weeks. Lesson learned - always pull the latest anti-malware signatures directly from suppliers before dipping new things, and always have 2+ anti-malware products to cover each other's gaps. These days, we have the joys of VirusTotal, heuristics, sandboxed execution and crowd-connected detection that provide much better protection!

Luckily for us, the malware was mostly harmless (tm) and could be removed with a suitable 'silver bullet' tool, that we delivered directly to known affected parties (~350 people) on floppy disk, and made available on our forum for download, hoping that the bandwidth didn't DoS the forum!

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thefern profile image
Fernando B πŸš€ Author

Thanks for detailed answer Phil. Always nice to hear from past experiences, especially when times were different. Good point on advances on malware tools, one can never be too safe when it comes to that, nowadays sandbox is really the way to go if unsure about any executables for sure.