Crashes and Burns…

After much struggling, and much guilt about how far behind I’m falling in all my work, I finally got Kubuntu working. To be fair, much of the time was spent converting over my data and getting all my programs working. Some time was spent (ok, A LOT of time) trying to determine if I could find programs in Linux that would replace all my essential programs. The answer to that question is now a firm “maybe” — and I’m hopeful.

But this is how my life was on Friday…

I woke up and was at my desk just before 7 a.m. I looked over the system I’d been working on for the prior two weeks and decided that, despite the few programs I’d not been able to find, the system was good. I attached my 80 gig tiny portable external drive (the one I’d been using to transfer data between the old system and the new Linux machine) and I prepared for my first full system backup.

I’d set up an automatic backup, but the drive was so full, the backup had been throwing “no space” errors. I started clearing off redundant files, I even dumped a few essential files on the desktop of the Linux laptop to permit a full backup to grab them all.

In the middle of this process, I got an error that I didn’t have the correct rights to delete these files. This was, mind you, after I’d deleted a whole slew of them. It refused to let me delete enough to grab my backup. I started to reboot the machine, puzzled at this new development, when my mouse quit responding. A few seconds later, my laptop started making an unholy racket. It sounded like a blender. It sounded like a something was pushing against one of the fan blades and was getting hit every time the interior fan rotated.

I had to take it down hard. Once it was down, I took the portable HD over to the Tablet and deleted off the rest of the files, cleaned up my desktop, removed unnecessary icons and files and emptied the garbage.

I checked the clock to be sure I’d have enough time to complete the backup before my first morning appointment and then I turned my attention back to the Linux machine. I booted her up and the horrid “crunching” sound — like a fan-blade crunching up something was now replaced by an even louder noise. I flipped it over and listened to the areas where the fans are located. Nope.

I listened to other areas and tracked down the sound… right under the door for the hard drive. Yes, dear readers, it was my HARD DRIVE making that noise. Needless to say, it wouldn’t boot. At all.

So after a moment of staring at it expecting it to spit green stuff and spin about, I tried rebooting. Several times. I was just hoping to catch a part of the boot process that would let me bring the system up and, quick like a bunny, pull off all that work I’d done. Nope. My Linda Blair machine was possessed.

My weekend sucked. I had to cancel all my appointments for Friday (and I had a full schedule). I had to give up the hope that I’d be able to catch up on client work. I had to give up my plans to go to the farm and work on the cabin. I called my father who offered me one of his recently set-up dual-boot machines.

I made the decision, upon consulting with him, that he and I would build my next machine. We will be buying a corporate-grade mother board, extra cooling fans, built-in redundancies, a high speed OS drives and will set it up so my programs and data are not stored on that smaller (but super fast) drive. I’ll also have a raid rack for my drives (he and I are still arguing about that one… he wants them inside my main box, I want two or three in the box and the rest in separate housing).

It will be a pain to build it all by hand and get it set up, but once that’s done… I’ll probably not have to touch it for several years.

I’m going to Linux, but may consider a dual-boot. I’m tired of replacing my system every 12-18 months. I’m tired of equipment failure. I’m tired of a typical every-six-months re-gen schedule. I’m tired of losing work and time and big chunks of my life to technology.

I like poking at machines, learning, and stretching the limits. But I need a machine that will let me do that and not dump my butt as a result. Building it is the only way. It won’t be a game machine — heck, I don’t have time to play games anyway. It will be an uber, rock-solid business machine. It will take some time to build, but it will pay off huge time dividends over the next few years.

Then, I can spend my “hardware” budget on extra drives and (as my father teases me) extra keyboards. He’s made me promise to buy TWO new keyboards for the new computer because in 6 months I wear all the keys of any keyboard. It’s a fact. My children even complain if they get my “used” keyboards that there aren’t any letters. I figure they should be touch typing anyway, so a board with only the Q, W, X, Z and V keys marked shouldn’t be a problem!

For now, It’s Sunday and after spending all day Friday trying to do command line “fixes” to make my monitor work with his Linux box, I fell back to a dual-boot laptop he offered me at the same time, and have managed to recover most of the system.

Thankfully, very little work was actually lost — only a few files that I’ve noted so far — and I’ll be up and running by Monday a.m.

I missed the farm, but I’ll take it in stride and will plan this next week to begin ordering the parts I need to start building “Peace” — my mac-daddy box.

I love Linx, even with the frustration of learning command lines for the heavy lifting. I just made a mistake dropping my Kubuntu on a laptop that I had retired nearly two years ago for business. Pops and I found that the weirdness in the machine was the optical drive — and wrongly assumed the rest of the machine was solid.

Live and learn. The Linux laptop I set up for Alex had the same issue — the hard drive is flakey. So I’ll have to start over with that one again soon too. I think I’ll do a box for her to. I need stability first — and something I can get inside and fix — then I’ll look at mobility.

When it’s all said and done, I’ll probably have the Tablet set up as a Linux machine too and will use it for jaunts away from my desk. I’ve even found a website that takes my tablet model and gives  blow-by-blow on setting it up for Linux… no small feat with all the extra software for “inking” — but that’s all in the future.

Right now, I have to get to work and catch up on some client work and get out my invoices, which are sadly past due. Someday soon, I hope to catch up with my whirlwind life.

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