Death and Windows

Got into work today, and my computer was acting a bit funny. It took my password, then stared at me blankly. Flipping around to the console, I saw notes to the effect that while life is all well and good, my root partition was mounted read-only and I would not be able to do the great things I had wanted to do.

Digging a bit deeper, I then see the error messages which indicate the filesystem was not in a good place, so that’s why we were reading only, writing disabled.

Anyway, my primary hard drive was hosed. I was able to reboot, and an fsck got the system in a place where I could at least do enough things to start my plan into new areas of the world.

Hello, Windows

I’ve been running Ubuntu for a couple years now, and generally it’s been great. It’s free, it’s fast, and the support for both hardware and software is rather top notch. The failure of the hard drive was actually nothing to do with the operating system, though I did need to start from scratch.

Armed with a license for Windows 8.1, I took a dive back into the Microsoft world. I’ve been using it at home for more than a year now, though this step has further sealed it: Linux for servers, but not for my desktop.

Windows 8 is definitely a bit odd. I like it a lot, though. The paradigms are different, but they make sense to me. I understand they’re mashing together interfaces for a phone, a tablet, and a desktop. It takes a bit of training, but going back to Windows 7 really doesn’t feel quite as nice.

Smaller bites

Luckily, I’ve been rather good at keeping backups. I’ve had two spare drives, and had access to a third. Most of my actual work was contained in a Virtual Machine, too, which I’ve intentionally kept rather minimal.

After looking everything over, Bittorrent Sync got me the bulk of my bytes in order, allowing for more than two extra copies of everything I care about, one closer enough that a local wired connection quickly sorted out tens of gigabytes of restoring.

On a failing drive, it’s tempting to try and save every bit, though I’ve often found that getting what you need and getting out grants rather more success. Drives like to spiral when they’re already down, and what looks fine may not be hours later.

So, with the bulk of the transfer abstracted, I was able to concentrate on my 8GB virtual machine image. Trying to copy it out to one backup drive revealed that even this secondary was rather on its last legs, which at that point just fucking figured. It was a Monday, after all.

I got it, though, and thanked myself for paring down to 8GB rather than 16 or 32. Sure, space is cheap, but in these situations with such larger images, every byte can count towards a potential problem in re-assembling a consistent whole.

Git was definitely another big part of the success, knowing that everything that really mattered was not only in my own machine in two or three places, but on others throughout the network, all with the latest updates. If for no other reason than that, learning Git is worth its weight in gold.


There’s a part of me that regrets a move away from running Linux this time around. It’s not as open, or as free. It’s a funny landscape, though. Ubuntu seems to make the most suitable environment, yet it still gets heaps of criticism for not quite adhering to the Linux Way.

Microsoft, on the other end, has been trying, but is largely perceived as more the uncool, legacy monster. Hell, even desktop computers in general don’t have the hype or attraction that they did a few years ago.

For me, open source lives better in a slightly more adaptive landscape. It’s great for servers. It’s incredible for software development of most any kind.

In the end, I’m just glad it all mostly seems to work.

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