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Computers & Software

The Great Sluggo Crash of 2007

Computing is Hell. Everyone who works with computers knows this, but when our computers are working well, we tend to forget it, just like we tend to put out of our minds on Friday night that Monday morning is just a little over 2 days away. When everything is working well, we put off making backups, or just investing the time to understand how our systems really work — you know, little things that could just prevent a disaster from turning into the apocalypse.

A few days ago diaster struck. Sluggo, the $100, incredibly slow and powerless computer on which runs this website, crashed. I’m not sure of the exact cause, but probably it had something to do with accidentally turning off the power and then trying to upgrade it with a new motherboard and slightly less slow processor. In any case, the new motherboard didn’t work and when I went back to the original I found that Sluggo would no longer boot. In the middle of the boot sequence, as far as I can tell, a defective file system was detected and I would be dropped into a diagnostic mode. However, in this mode, there was no evidence of any defective file system. Yet, rebooting always gave the same result. I finally determined (rightly or wrongly, I’m not sure) that the boot scripts had been corrupted somehow, and the only possible fix would have to be reinstallation.

I dug up my Suse 9.2 DVD and worked with it, trying different ways to fix the problem. Whatever was wrong with Sluggo, even trying to reinstall Suse 9.2 did not fix the problem. Basically the reinstallation would fail each time.

So I dug up a Suse 10.1 DVD and did an update, and it worked, sort of. I didn’t want to do a fresh install and lose all the tweaks I had done in my system. Sure I had backed up the data, but anyone who uses a Linux system knows that there are dozens of little tweaks and customizations that you would hate to lose. So, now I could boot up into Suse 10.1. But…

[To be continued…]

By mannd

I am a retired cardiac electrophysiologist who has worked both in private practice in Louisville, Kentucky and as a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. I am interested not only in medicine, but also in computer programming, music, science fiction, fantasy, 30s pulp literature, and a whole lot more.

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