NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences
About Core Files

When a Unix application crashes because of a bug or some other reason, the system tries to preserve the program's environment for future inspection by writing it to a file called `core'. The name comes from the dark ages when memory resided on ferrite cores.

Core files are very useful in determining the cause of a crash; programmers can use a debugger to "look inside" a core file. But regular users are not likely to do that very often.

If you see a core file and you are certain that it isn't an important document that you saved under that name, please delete it. If you aren't certain, do ls -l core and examine the creation date and file size (which is usually a humongous number; in reality the file takes up less space, so don't panic). If you still aren't sure, do strings core | head. If it is a genuine core file, you should see the name of the program that created it, followed by some garbage.

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Last modified: 4/23/97 by webmaster@math.niu.edu