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.comment: Brain-Munching Insects and SuSE 7.3 - page 2

Two Headaches

  • October 31, 2001
  • By Dennis E. Powell

An unclean shutdown, of course, brings us our old friend e2fsck when one has not had access to Ext3. Though my 20-meg drive is small by current standards, it takes awhile. As it started, I noticed an error -- "Spurious 8259A interrupt: IRQ7" -- which I pondered until I saw that e2fsck wanted to be run manually on hda4, the residence of my home directory.

E2fsck was not kind to my home directory. When the smoke had cleared, it had moved a total of 475 megs of stuff, in two files, to lost+found. When it was all over and I was at a prompt, I SUed root and restored my backed up KDE and Qt. KDE started uneventfully, this time with my configuration entirely intact. Anti-aliasing was still but a dim and crippled shadow of its former self.

And when I opened KMail, I was singularly undelighted to discover that my Inbox, which contained about 1,500 messages, had disappeared. I have not yet discovered what else found its way into the 475 megs of stuff uselessly dumped into lost+found (the sheer size of which makes it all but impossible to sort out, too).

To top it all off, KDE shuts down just fine but something prevents my getting to a prompt -- and that same something keeps keyboard input from being heard by the machine -- meaning that I am at the mercy of uptime unless I want to give this bright and shiny new distribution another bite at my ~/. This is, um, unacceptable. No, it flat-out sucks.

I've looked at the SuSE users mailing list and I find, now, numerous reports of failed "updates." Some have argued that one should never do an "update." To which I have a question -- why the hell include it if it doesn't work, if you're not supposed to use it? It is like putting a spigot that dispenses bourbon in the middle of the steering wheel and then presuming that the driver will figure out that there will be bad results if he uses it. No, actually, it's worse -- it's possible to learn independent of a particular automobile that drunken driving is often fatal.

But in any event, it does not matter whether or not SuSE 7.3 is the greatest thing in the world if it destroys my data. I appreciate the perceived need for distributions to be as Microsoft-like as possible, but this is a little too close.

SuSE is a generally good distributor. I like and use its products and think that it's important that SuSE stay in business if for no other reason than to compete against the Red Hat hegemon. That having been said, I've never had a more disastrous experience in installing any operating system than the one I had with "updating" to 7.3. This time yesterday, my 7.2 install worked perfectly or as close to it as makes no difference. Now I have a machine that cannot be said to work properly at all. Which means that I'll have to take a day and burn eight or nine CDs of what's left of my home directory, plus such configuration files as I'd just as soon not reconstruct, then wipe the whole thing and reinstall. I'll give 7.3 another shot, rather than going straight back to 7.2 -- but the fact that it's an issue at all is troubling. And you can bet I'll put it on the lab rat and give it a good hammering before I give it a second chance on the production machine. (And, as I said, I'll tell you how it works out.)

There is some good news. Halfway through writing this, I paused to visit the physician, who informed me that sumitriptan is available as a nasal spray -- no needles necessary. So far, though, there's no such easy cure for the other headache.

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