Talk:Lp0 on fire

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Citation Needed?[edit]

" must be noted that there have never been any actual reports of printers which had friction related fires.[citation needed]"

Sorry folks, I don't think that's how citations work. One assumes that it has *NOT* been reported, UNTIL someone cites such a report. You just can't cite a report of something being unreported. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:59, 19 November 2008 (UTC)


I call bullshit. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

The "lp0 on fire" message is a goof, originated in the Linux kernel Way Back When. I'm trying to find a reasonable reference. -- 00:38, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
I live in the same city as Michael Johnson, the guy who originally put this into the Linux kernel, and he told me the story in person. He turned a joke in the comments of the code into an error message in the early 1990's and Linus Torvalds accepted the change. He said it's been "driving people on the internet crazy" since then. I tried to put the story into the main article a while back with the references I could find but someone reverted it as alleged vandalism. --Mitch Franklin (talk) 03:01, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
The message does not reliably indicate whether the printer in question is actually aflame. Glad that's cleared up. --DigiDuncan (talk) 23:03, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
This story is questionable, agreed. Moreover, nobody has seen this message simply because it's no longer in the kernel anymore. It's been replaced by "unknown error" IIRC. -- A chicken passeth by —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:01, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it is. Linux kernel 2.6.22-13-generic here (with Ubuntu patches), and in drivers/char/lp.c, line 255, you can see printk(KERN_INFO "lp%d on fire\n", minor);. (You can also find other instances of the "on fire" in other components with "grep -R 'on fire' /usr/src/linux/*".) — SheeEttin {T/C} 23:17, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

To this day?[edit]

and continues to baffle users to this day. The reference cited for this is from 2000. Do we still call 7 years ago "to this day"? 04:48, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes. --Kizor 10:48, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
And so the Wikipedia cogs turn. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:44, 13 April 2009 (UTC)


Though the error message is real, the reason for it is not as is presented here. The message is just a place holder for the last 'impossible' combination of status bits. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Which, as explained in the article, is often because there is a major problem with the printer, which could potentially be that the printer is on fire.
Even if it isn't actually on fire, the problem is major enough that the operator should go check on the printer immediately. — SheeEttin {T/C} 17:05, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Printers Spontaniously Combusting[edit]

I actually saw a big dot matrix line printer catch fire and explode many years ago, in the mid 80s. It was sitting on the sysop's desk and suddenly blew up violently, shooting sparks and smoke just like in Lost in Space. It was quite spectacular, though I have no idea if it was because it got some wierd command or what. Andacar (talk) 03:27, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

I would have to go with catastrophic hardware failure. Most stuff by the late 80's had sanity checks to prevent absurd values or commands being entered. (talk) 09:53, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

Dubious interpretation of used reference[edit]

I think the post referenced has been misunderstood and the information is prestented here in slightly a wrong way. I don't think the paper dust will create friction, but that's what will ignite, instead. The friction is created by the drum against the paper. Also, it's wrong to say misaligned parts because that implies incorrect installation to begin with. Finally, the direct quoting of "quite a bit" is not encyclopedia quality text. -- (talk) 05:21, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

This is an actual error[edit]

Sadly, LLNL used to have a truly great collection of war stories (since deleted), and I once read there that they actually had a printer that would catch on fire in the event of a malfunction (it was based on an industrial newspaper printing press, IIRC), and that was the original origin of the message. I will continue to try to find a source for this... Msaunier (talk) 17:09, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

  • Found it. It's kind of hearsay at this point, but unfortunately, much about early large-scale computing is. Adding it to the article. Msaunier (talk) 17:23, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

Major change to add the real story[edit]

Adding the real story into this page, as a good deed, is what I would like to do now. How do I go about doing this without one of you reverting it again? Michael K. Johnson told me this story in person, and I hunted around to find sources to corroborate his story. He said he put in this change and that Linus Torvalds accepted the change! The most compelling source to corroborate this story is that Michael K. Johnson is listed as the third author of lp.c, with Linus Torvalds being the second author listed. Below is a paragraph that I propose, and I intend for this to be the first thing in the History section. I can simply insert this as a new paragraph.

The "lp0 on fire" error message, in this form, appeared in 1992 or 1993 in the Linux kernel when Michael K. Johnson wrote it as a continuation of an old Unix-related joke. Johnson stated, "When I did my Linux parallel port driver rewrite some years ago, the original author had put a comment something like 'unknown error; on fire?' under a conditional. I liked it so much I turned it into an error message (for better or worse...) that said 'lp on fire'."[1] The lp.c file version of the Linux kernel, which lists Michael K. Johnson as one of the authors of this file, has the line of code that generates this message.[2]

--Mitch Franklin (talk) 03:55, 25 March 2014 (UTC)

That's how it got into the Linux Kernel, but I think the Unix "joke" was based on real life instances of printers catching fire. We want to make sure that the entire story is captured. Sturmovik (talk) 11:22, 25 March 2014 (UTC)