I was sitting in Office Hours, when a student came to me with a seemingly simple issue. He’d installed the requisite software and downloaded the assignments, and yet they were nowhere to be found. I dismissed him, and told him to reinstall everything. The install process took a lot of time, so I helped other students while he waited.
He showed me a shell he’d opened, with the install logs present (apt-get is so chatty). I verified the software was available there, and asked what the problem was. He then proceeded to open another shell and demonstrate that the software was missing. I checked his path and noticed he’d downloaded the assignments. No issue there. I verified that in both shells, we were in the same working directory and logged in as the same user. Now I was truly miffed. I dismissed him again to help other students and mull this over in the background. I could see he was getting impatient.
I returned to him once again and tried to sus out his environment. My first real clue was that the assignments folder was available in once shell, but not the other. I finally noticed that the title bars of the two shells were not the same. One read "ubuntu" and the other "wsl". I closed both of the shells and asked him to reopen them. He searched both of the previous terms in the windows start menu.
Here I remembered that wsl supported running multiple linux distros at a time, similar to how one can run multiple vm’s and containers at a time. Docker for Windows uses this feature, and I’d played around with it earlier. I listed the number of distros he had and was greeted with two versions of ubuntu. I checked the windows store (we’d directed students to install ubuntu from there, I consider installed distros from the windows store an excellent feature), and saw he’d installed both the LTS and the latest version of ubuntu. Our instructions were very clear in that only one distro should be installed, and wsl might have even installed the version of ubuntu we wanted around that time. Not sure where he got that idea.
The issue as easily resolved by deleting one distro and completing the install instructions again.
This was the only time I felt violent rage during my two years of TA experience. The student had been a little dismissive and impatient while I addressed his issue (it took about 1-2 hours, a lot of which was spent helping others). He couldn’t explain how or why he’d done this. Surely, whilst installing the second version of ubuntu, he’d have notice another was already installed? They would have appeared side by side in the windows store! I’d spent so much time streamlining the setup instructions.
After helping him, I took a break and walked around. I was very drained even hours later, when I vented to my friends