January 27th, 2008


Adventures in Linux (or, Saving Six Study Program Documents from Certain Doom)

Not long ago, I actually got "real" internet access at home. This consists of the cheapest possible DSL connection that I could possibly obtain: $15/month, which I split down the center with Tina. Since it's on my phone bill, it's not an extra bill, just more like an extra feature.

I also received red_sput's computer from my parents at about the same time. He had run into the classic confusing issue of "Windows just shuts down before fully booting," which indicated that there was some sort of issue with his WinXP installation. I offered to look at it, but he bought a new computer back in November, so it wasn't really urgent.

When I pressed the power button, the computer sprang to life, and I watched in amusement as the entire thing booted and popped into Windows with no problems at all. "I have it working," I told my father, who had seen it not work before. "What did you do?" he asked. "I turned it on." "Huh, nothing else?" "No," I said, "nothing else. There's a magical aura that tech support people have that makes it impossible to replicate an issue once the computer is in their hands. I have that aura."

It turns out that the issue was a combination of spyware, viruses, and (as I soon found out) a faulty hard drive.

Since then, I've been playing around with the machine (and am currently typing on it). I've used it for all sorts of things, from gaming to updating the Three Cranes site. But two days ago, I heard that ominous clicking on boot.

The hard drive had gone. Gone, daddy, gone.

While there was nothing of actual importance on this machine, I did have some ADF Clergy Training Program work saved on this machine and it was not yet backed up. While I can always re-write some of this stuff, I was kicking myself for falling victim to something I've told many, many Dedicants over the years: back your work up!

As a result, I went back to a solution I used last time a hard drive died: Linux.

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In short, I think that the older versions of Knoppix are what I recommend and will probably stick with if I actually have to do anything in the future.

For the really short term, though, I'm just going to get a new hard drive for this bad boy and use my flash drive to back everything up until this one finally craps out. While it's on its last legs, I did manage to get back into Windows and boot from the hard drive. I noticed yesterday that the hard drive had appeared in Knoppix, meaning that it's working temporarily. So for now, the machine is intact. Sorta.

Did I mention there's also a c-clamp holding the monitor together?

I love computer repair and support. It can be so. . . ghetto.