Taking the Plunge

My hard drive crashed this weekend. Or, I should say, one of my hard drives crashed. You see, for several years now, I’ve been dual-booting Windows and Kubuntu Linux. My Windows drive was the one that crashed (I did recover the data, see after the cut), and… I’m thinking of not going back. Right now my system is booting only Linux, and it feels nice. Read on for crash experiences, my joy that my favorite windows programs run in Linux, and thoughts on computing.

Sordid crash details: Abbreviated version of my drive crash: it was old. Slightly less abbreviated version: my drive was worn down (it’s something like 7 years old), and had started giving Buffer I/O errors, and sometimes randomly causing a stop error (i.e. the computer randomly shut off). Still, I was oblivious and busy, so I kept putting off changing it. Oops! One morning, it just wouldn’t boot– it said the bootloader was missing. So I use a Kubuntu CD to boot up, and write a new boot section for GRUB on my Linux disk. Problem was, Linux wouldn’t even mount the crashed drive anymore, and it was making ominous noises and heating up fast. Fast-forward hours of researching and discussions with friends. I took the windows drive out, put it in an external USB enclosure, cooled it in the freezer for an hour (it works, don’t knock it), and hooked it up to a Windows PC. Windows saw the USB device, but said the drive had no volumes (partitions, for those of us outside of windows lingo-land), and if you tried to read the volume info– errored out the whole computer. But I found a great little utility called testdisk which was able to see the drive and rebuild the bugged partition table. I could then mount the hard drive under Linux and copy files across– still getting horrible I/O errors, but Linux is good at recovering around that. So, my data is saved, but the drive is kaput.

The Plunge: So now, my computer is running great, I have all my data, but I don’t have Windows on my computer at all. I have an install CD for Windows XP Pro, but… I’m not that eager to try installing it just yet. Linux is doing everything I need– in fact, it does most things better than windows (it loads faster, it’s easier to update and manage, it has a much more organized interface, it has free access to lots and lots and lots of quality programs, etc). What it didn’t have was MS Office or my favorite computer games. But wait! There’s a linux programming effort called Wine that lets you run some windows programs on linux. Would it work for me? Yes. Yes, it would. Using a special, paid version of Wine called Crossover Office (I bought it a year ago, so I don’t even have the latest version), MS Office XP installed and works without a hitch. Heck, it loads large documents faster than under windows. And games? My current favorite game is Oblivion. Wine (just the normal one) worked for it, though it did take more work than just putting in the CD and pressing play. Now, I just need to see if I can get HalfLife working, and I’ll be golden.

What isn’t Linux doing for me? For some reason, I’m having trouble getting Teisha’s windows computer to access the printer hooked up to my computer. This isn’t really a problem, as I wanted to buy a print server anyway… but it is weird, since over Samba (the Linux version of the windows file sharing protocol), she can access my files. Huh. Beyond that, the last big sticking point is… iTunes. I’ve bought quite a few CDs over iTunes, I think it’s a neat program (though the similar linux program Amarok is almost as good) and service. But iTunes doesn’t work under Linux, and so neither do the songs I bought on iTunes. I’ll have to look into this more. But I knew iTunes was a Linux-unfriendly program when I made the decision to use it. Oh well.

3 Responses to “Taking the Plunge”

You poor kid! How traumatic!

Sounds like you’ve learned a lot though. A crash course? hehe 😛

Mallorn - March 7th, 2007 at 2:40 pm

Ah, punny goodness. 😀

I’m still in Linux only-land. I’m really liking it so far. In fact, I’m 90% weaned off the Windows teat. What’s left? (To expand on my original post)
* iTunes It was my foolish choice, but the convenience factor eventually won me out and I’ve bought about 100 songs on iTunes. Songs which I can no longer play on my computer. Annoying.
* Photoshop As someone who does a lot of graphics work (free time web design, cartoons for work, and even some actual data analysis), I can confidently say that GIMP is not Photoshop. I’ll have to see how well Wine can run Photoshop CS2 (or 5, if I must regress).

That’s actually about it. Mmm… Linux. Linux 2.6.17 Kubuntu Edgy using Beryl. Mmm.

Paradoxdruid - March 13th, 2007 at 9:32 pm

Just an update, so the story is complete when, years later, I look back through these archives.

I installed VMWare Server, and I now have a virtual copy of Windows XP Pro that I can use whenever I need access to windows (iTunes works in virtual, though it can’t actually burn CDs yet, and I haven’t tried connecting the iPod).

I also installed Photoshop using Crossover Office’s Wine again, and it works perfectly.

So… I still need to convert my protected music to normal mp3s, but other than that, I’m up and running. Yay!

Paradoxdruid - March 18th, 2007 at 3:26 pm

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