January 2006

Well, last night I set up the network sharing and edited my environment so as to include the 60G and 80G drives we recovered from Fire before decomissioning it.  So now, we officially have over 2 terabytes of accessible disk space!  Now I just have to get my FTP server working again so I can get to my files remotely.  I’m hoping my new SATA card will come this weekend so I can install it while Carolyn is on her ski trip.  If it works, a 500G drive will not be far off.  By the end of 2006 I expect to have at least 3 terabytes. :)
I would like to celebrate the day when I finally have re-memorized my new credit card number.
It took a few years.  But everytime I order, I guess.  And each time, I get closer.  Today, I finally did it all (incl expiration and the 3-digit # on the back of the card) right without looking.  Last time that happened, a site holding onto my CC# told me their databases had been compromised by Russian hackers.  So maybe it’s time again…
So I tried installing VectorLinux on Fire (after burning a new disc with better media).  No go.
At least with Kubuntu, through some googling I found out Alt-M puts you in adminstrator mode.  So I can do administrator stuff despite the fact the button everything says to push doesn’t exist.
Of course, that did nothing to fix the network, which doesn’t work.  And I’m not super-duper interested in finding out what the problem is when the card worked fine under windows.
This is my 3rd bout with Linux (Slackware in 1999, Redhat in 2002) and once again I do not think it is ready for old machines.  Maybe it would work fine on new machines, but Windows is still better in my book.  And less annoying.  Yes, I said it.
Well, my computer “Fire” seems to be shaping up a bit.  Once we realized the cd was invalid, despite passing verification, we realized we’d spent like 2 nites pulling harddrives 5 times, ram once, cpu once, moving monitors, and all kinds of crazy shit.  All of it was a wild-goose-chase stemming from thinking the computer was bad instead of the CD!
Burned a new cd.  Used its self-testing method to self-test.  Fine.  The thing actually worked.
I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, so I only installed the base package.  What a mistake that was.  I was all done and all I got was a unix prompt!  “HELP” only revealed shell operator commands.  I guess I’m supposed to know all this stuff already?  I manually went thru directory trees looking for “startx” where I thought it should be.  Finally, I realized I only had the base package installed.
So I decide to install the rest.  How do I do it?  I don’t know.  Apt-Get?  Nah.  My network wasn’t configured.  I said “configure network later”.  No opportunity was given.  If “configure network later” means having to do it manually later, then warn me!!!   I kidna figured I would be presented with an opportunity of equal ease to setup my network.  And to install the additional packages.  No fucking way.
So, yes, I had to install again starting from scratch.  This time I put in my network info right away, and did the full installation.
Yay!  I had a login prompt by bedtime!  But… My browser wouldn’t work.  Oh look, my network card is greyed out.
I’d like to change the settings, but they are greyed out.  They say I need to push the “Administrator Mode” button to be able to make those kinds of changes.
I do not see this button.  And upon googling, I am finding other people who don’t see the button.  So then they have to find out the name of the binary that is being called and “sudo <binaryname>” just to use what is essentially a control panel.
Fuck that. I might just literally throw the whole computer away.  This Ubuntu is not living up to it’s reputation.
There’s still VectorLinux to try.  At least it has some cool screensavers.

So my computer Fire is confusing me again… Now I find out the Ubuntu install cd has some sort of self-check program, and it tells me the fucking disc is corrupt! Well goddamn, I burned it using Nero with Verify turned on on my pre-built Gateway machine running Windows XP. Never in my whole life of Windows not-XP or non-Gateway cd-burners have I had this problem.

And “Storm” (my main computer, best computer ever) just had it’s cd-burner break! That Plextor burned every cd I burned for years! (Of course I’ll never get another Plextor, but that’s another story.)

So now I am stuck with 600 or so blank cds from my huge batch of 1,200 way way way way back when (3 dvd burners ago). And they aren’t “in the burn strategy list” for the stupid Gateway DVD/CD burner. It insists on a verification. And lies to you that it is fine when it isn’t. What… The… Fuck.

Am I to become suspect of combo cd/dvd drives now? Do I need to buy a separate cd burner? (That’s sooooooo stupid when dvd burners are so cheap!) Do I have to research the cd-burning capabilities for my dvd drives?

Oh why did I buy those 1,200 CD-Rs?

Fortunately Gateway had some stupid recovery program that came with their computers, and I opened the shrink-wrap and found five CD-Rs I can use in the meanwhile. I must choose wisely. Ugh. It’s like collecting fancy pennies. Worthless, but you need several kinds. Okay sue me I’m not in the mood to think of a good analogy, you’ll just have to be happy with a bad one. I’d be surprised if anyone read this far. :)

Well it definitely looks like our computer “Fire” is dead, and dead for good.   Carolyn gave it a bad IP address and didn’t change it back last summer, which in theory contributed to the death of that machine’s webserver, shortly followed by TCP/IP stack death and/or total OS death.  It sat for a few months during this construction detente and finally we needed the space back bad enough that we started trying to fix it — in January.  (Yes, a few months passed by, and I really needed some of the data on the 160G that lived on that machine.!)
We tried Win2K.  We tried TinyXp.  We tried Linux — both Ubuntu and VectorLinux.  No go.  Nothing installed.
Then we took the 17G out, and moved it to Carolyn’s computer “Magic”.  Our newer computers (Hell, Magic) have SATA cards and all SATA harddrives.  But Magic is our oldest new computer (if that makes sense), so it had both SATA and EIDE ports.  So we moved Fire’s old old 17G harddrive (the oldest harddrive still in use in the house: we use 17G, 25G, 80G, 80G, 80G, 120G, 120G, 120G, 160G, maybe a 200G, 250G, maybe a 300G, 400G).  We use so many harddrives I can’t rememeber them all but the total storage is about 2.2 terabytes.
So anyway we move 17G over to Magic, map it on the network, and I finally recover many files I’ve needed for about 6 months.  After a couple hours I’ve moved everything over to my main computer (“Storm”).  Now we have an EMPTY 17G drive.  We tried Ubuntu Linux and Vector Linux and TinyXP again.  No go.
I thought, “What if the installs are failing because the cd-drive is reading the disc improperly?”  Very improbably, but I hunteded down the old computers people had given me, found one, and gutted it, gaining a floppy drive, a cd drive, and 2 EIDE cables.  The 90W power supply was utterly useless and the 8G drive was too hard to unscrew (A drive screwed directly into a case?  What the fuck were they thinking back in the Pentium-II days?!?!).
Tried the new cd drive and lo and behold, the thing doesn’t even eject.  Okay, we got to stress test the cd tray at least.  “If I kick this, will it really break off?”  Findings indicate cd drive eject trays don’t break as easily as one would expect.  Still, “It’s fun to smash stuff” as Homer says to Marge.
Is “Fire” dead?  I think so.
But I’m still going to try 2 more installs.  One with half my ram in, one with the other half of my ram in.  Maybe I have some bad RAM.
And I’m going to set the bios to failsafe.  Sure, I enjoyed overclocking my P3-450 to 558mHz all these years, but if it’s making it a non-computer, it’s not worth it.
If all that fails, I’ll gut it for the cd, floppy, network, sound, and video cards and it will be on my curb. 
Someday, I’ll have a web and ftp server again.

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