Diary of a Dead Computer

My primary desktop, an Athlon running Kubuntu, died last night. Specifically, I was in the middle of doing something, when all of sudden everything froze up. I could CTRL-ALT to other terminals, so I did. The password prompt took longer than usual. “Uh oh,” I thought to myself, “that looks like the kernel is having a difficult time accessing the disk.”

I spoke too soon. Mere seconds later, the terminal was flooded with disk IO errors, which is not a pretty sight to see. I tried to CTRL-ALT-F7 back to KDE and X, but it was ugly. I could work with running apps (albeit slowly), but they kept complaining about no write access. Hmm. I switched back to the terminal and decided it was time for a restart.

philip@philip~$ sudo shutdown -r now
IO Error
By the way, I hate YOU!

So I hit the reset button. Now, I was obviously expecting that fsck would have to do its thing because I did a dirty boot. Fsck complained, and hell began to break loose. I rebooted again, and this time GRUB wouldn’t load. All I got was an “error 17.” After trying several things in vain, I called my dad to get back the Ubuntu Live CD I had given him a few weeks before.

Booting into Ubuntu Live was interesting. I had never seen Gnome run on that computer. It was alright. I went to gparted, and “oh crap. Why does it say it doesn’t recognize /dev/hdb1?” (/dev/hdb1 is the problem disk). It couldn’t read the filesystem but could tell how large the volume was. I opened a terminal:

ubuntu@ubuntu~$ fsck -cy /dev/hdb1
Bad superblock on hdb1
Warning: ext3 journal is corrupt, clear (Y)? Y
ext3 journal cleared; filesystem is now ext2.

(I paraphrased this one because I couldn’t remember the exact wording.)

Basically, my disk was fsck’d. I tried mounting it to no avail, even after virtual mounts, forced mounts and wrongly declared filesystem mounts. So I decided to see if formatting would work (By this point I had accepted that my data was long gone). Using mkfs, I was able to format hdb1 back to ext3. I mounted it and… it worked.

So I had an empty drive and it was just hours away from the Ubuntu release announcement, which would surely entertain Slashdot media, meaning that the apt servers were going to be hurting. My only connection to this machine is a Linksys WUSB11 Wireless Adapter. Needless to say, things are going to be slow going.

Revival is approaching. I’m making this entry from Konqueror 3.4.2, because the release candidate CD missed the KDE 3.4.3 upgrade. The final release CD is finally in the drive, and Adept is working like a hog to install all my universe packages, plus the upgrades from the release CD.

See what packages I install from the apt repositories.

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Philip Cain

Ninja Master of the Series of Tubes, musician, audio engineer and geek. More about Philip...