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my PC disaster recovery...

Date/Time Permalink: 03/17/06 01:16:37 pm
Category: General

I've been tied up rebuilding my home PC infrastructure.

And how has *your* Holiday season been? Mine saw one of the three computers in this household go down in flames! And I post my hardware struggles partly to educate those going through the same thing, and partly to invite others to share a laugh at my own naivete. So, we have (had) three machines in the household: Village Idiot is the only one on the Internet, Crash Test Dummy is the kid's gaming machine and testing ground for new live CDs and programs I write, and Euclid (named after Max's computer in the movie "Pi") is my own workstation.

It all started when Village Idiot's CPU fan started making noise. Obviously, it had some dust and gunk accumulating in it, so I got the CPU fan out and thought I'd be clever and take it apart and clean it, rather than replace it with the half dozen other fans I have laying around. It appeared to be completely store-bought new by the time I'd finished, and I plugged it back in and fired the machine back up and watched it. It seemed to be working fine. I closed it back up and used it for awhile before leaving it for the night. Next morning, the computer was dead. Nothing happened when I tried to turn it on. The fan had quietly failed and caused the Intel Celeron (last piece of Intel hardware in the house) to overheat. Wasn't that stupid of me? It is because this machine has the oldest, most-generic motherboard plus the badly-aged Celeron and also because it was free (tossed out by a friend and resurrected for the mere price of a power box) that I was so reckless with it, I suppose.

So the Crash Test Dummy was pressed into service. I pulled the CD-writer out of Village Idiot along with the old hard drive (running Red Hat 9, another dinosaur), and fit them into Crash Test Dummy's setup. I slapped it all together and tested it. It couldn't find the second hard drive. I re-disassembled it and discovered the IDE cable contact to hard drive two had come apart, thanks to my bad habit of disconnecting IDE cables by grabbing them by the cord and yanking on them. I replaced *that* with one of the dozens of two-headed IDEs I have laying around. Also, the reclaimed video card I'd pressed used had picked this particular moment to die as well, so I switched over to the motherboard's built-in video. Village Idiot doesn't see much heavy gaming activity, anyway.

So the new Village Idiot now runs the newest hardware in the house, and the "new" Crash Test Dummy is a pile of hardware parts, waiting for - just in time for Christmas! - a trip to the store to lavish my Christmas bonus money on a new motherboard and processor. Did my passive-aggressive subconscious deliberately sabotage the hardware I was tired of fixing because this was the perfect time to hint to my Close Ones that I'd best appreciate cash to spend on hardware for the Holiday Season? Quite possibly. This is the last time I try to fix a CPU fan.

Village Idiot will get Mandriva 10.1 installed on it's first hard drive and then have the home directories and such moved over from the second hard drive, which will probably then be storage space for new iso's that I download. The Red Hat system, nicely as it performed for so many years, was simply becoming impossible to install new programs on because of the "RPM-hell" syndrome. And I'd tried Fedora Core 4 on this system, but the performance just wasn't the same. Mandriva will be the new distro of choice for the whole family's use, and hopefully the full benefit of Mandriva's package system will make it easier to upgrade.

But, anyway, it's been a mess. More later.

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