Never been so happy over bad hardware...

Some time over the last few months, my personal computer at home took a nosedive into disaster. Through power outages and careless monkeying with circuit breakers, it refused to boot to a working prompt, and when it did show signs of life, it looked as if my most precious information was lost forever: my home directory partition. Yes, I know that a filesystem is more robust than that. There's no such thing as a complete and catastrophic failure when it comes to generic issues with home computers. My heart sank, none the less, when I couldn't run the standard file system check (fsck) utilities on the problem partition.

This evening, while the children slept and my wife was out visiting with her sister, I crept downstairs to see what I could do to recover my personal, electronic life of close to two decades. I powered the system off, held my breath, and powered it back on. beep. I watched in anticipation as GRUB announced that it found something bootable. YES! My heart skipped a beat when I saw the display flip to frame buffer and a higher screen resolution. OK. I grinned when the status updates indicated that there were working filesystems on the mirrored hard drives! And there! My chewie partition was alive and well, passing the journal recovery! YES!!!

And then I saw the kernel panic! The hardware is fubarred. It could be the CPU, memory, or the motherboard itself. The last message indicated a video card issue, but with memory or CPU failures, it could be deceiving, a false lead. I wouldn't be able to initiate a system back-up this evening to other media, but I did find out that my old life still lived! The $200 desktop PC I purchased for my children will come in handy for recovering my old life. The two disks won't be able to live in the small form-factor machine, but the hardware will be instrumental in reading the data and backing it up elsewhere.

I have hope again that my folly of poorly administered personal backups may not be a complete failure after all. (I had disparate backups scattered over different media, but nothing concrete or systematic.) What's sad is that I know how important such backups are, and yet I still had the hubris to believe that my little Linux system in the basement would live forever. Or perhaps it was simply my busy life as a husband and father that shifted my priorities.

Could I live without the data on those two hard drives downstairs? A few years ago, I probably would have become a hermit in that basement while trying to recover the old vestiges. Now, I realize I have a little more time.

So, what are plans then for the Wookimus network? The Buffalo NAS device is aging and the firmware buggy. Although Meghan still backs up data to the mirrored drives there, these drives themselves are not backed up anywhere. We've paid for CrashPlan, and I'm actively backing up Meghan's iMac with it. I'm tempted to purchase a RaspberryPi and build an OpenMediaVault host and replace the Buffalo, then install Bittorrent Sync.

I think it's high-time for a new personal Debian laptop. The ASUS UX51Vz-XH71 15.6" Ultrabook Silver Aluminum has caught my eye. It doesn't have as much memory capacity as the MacBook, but 8 Gig is plenty for my own use. It's powerful, light, and I've found evidence of successful Linux use. I know that it contains proprietary hardware, but what doesn't these days. I wish I could be more idealistic these days, but not everyone can be Richard Stallman and still make a living; Yoolong is a bit short on power.

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