A few months ago, my computer sort-of-hung as it was booting into the windows partition. I watched the hard drive LED stay on continuously for some 10 minutes, after which it continued to boot seemingly normally. Once I logged in though, things weren’t so normal any more. It had “reset” its state back to a factory fresh state. The data and programs on the hard drive weren’t too messed, but the operating system, as a whole, seemed to not be able to see them properly.
This was a horrible pain, because though critical work-like data existed more so in the GNU/Linux partitions, there was still a lot of arbitrary junk (but my junk, you know, photos, ogg vorbis files …) sitting on the windows partitions. The primary reason for this being one OS could read the other’s partitions, but the other way around was not so seamless. Anywho, I grudgingly decided to find the original HP discs, only to remember the freaking things totally wipe out the hard drive before reinstalling 4 year old buggy software — not particularly useful, or fun. So, I painstakingly moved relevant data out of this machine to others with large drives (scp is your friend) at work, went out and bought an OS disc, redid things from scratch, mostly, and slowly moved the data back in.
All was well, except, yesterday, a few months later, the exact same thing started to happen on bootup. Of course, this time I hit the power button after it stalled for a little while. The end result? it’s “reset” itself to somewhere midway. Some things work, most do not. (And by “stuff not working” I mean fundamental things — like the address bar, or the rest of explorer). Reconciling to the prospect that I might have to do this once in a few months, I decided to at least reduce my pain and ordered myself an external hard drive last evening. The plan now is to clearly separate data from the OSs and programs, and store them outside. This way, any time things begin to go awry again, I can do the seriously hard-core step of wiping out and reseting from scratch, without too much of a bother.
Oh, but I don’t think there will be a next time. There is a good chance I will be nuking the windows partitions and resizing the GNU/Linux ones to use the entire hard disk.
The reasons I kept the windows partition around (I payed for it (twice), my random wireless card, Mathematica, less of a bother with overhead projectors when I am giving one of my talks, Visual Studio’s debugger) are now slowly becoming mostly moot. I have written off the windows costs as a loss, my wireless card now works flawlessly, I have gotten proficient enough with GiNaC (I always was, just lazy) and if I need it there’s always Maxima, and I can handle the projector issues when the crop up.
The only thing I will probably miss is Visual Studio’s debugger. Though I am a Free Software zealot, I don’t think there is a better software development platform than Visual Studio, on any architecture. Not one that I’ve seen anyway. And the crazy part is I don’t even use it as an IDE. I do all code writing in Emacs, because there is no better editor, period. If, and this often happens, things don’t work and I don’t see what’s going on, I give up rather soon on gdb and end up with Visual Studio — It’s just that good.
Yes, and I’m yellowbellied*.
(*I wanted to use another word here, which conveniently double entendres with young cat, but that’s apparently derogatory toward women. So, yellow bellied it is.)