Debugging with a hunch

I’ve wanted to write about this for a while, but refrained from doing so because it sounds cocky. Yet it’s growing more and more puzzling to me how I manage to achieve what I do.

I will have to give a little background on an incident today which means disclosing the fact that I am the Linux specialist in my department… And since I am in the department which I am in, I don’t have access to the source. You all know how important that is from a debugging point of view. Alas, it’s only to settle the fact that, before today, I have never seen any of the codes themselves.

So some two experts were with me and I was just standing there watching them go through codes trying to isolate why any command sent to the shell returns a “Bad Command” error (no more ls, cd, man or anything). They debated, searched and debated again till finally, one of them left because of the futility of the search. This is to set the theme.

So I get this feeling of where the problem is, yet since I am with two experts who know more than me I properly shut my trap and just listened. When it’s just me and the other guy though, I slowly brought him to where I think it is (just a passing glimpse of a few lines of code which he scrolled through while doing page downs) and asked him to change a few things. It worked and we fixed an otherwise disastrous bug (actually, it was 3 bugs in 1). How did I do this?

And this has happened quite a few times now. Is it possible that i can debug by feeling alone?

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