Its been while since I’ve been online. There is a real good reason for that. I recently had a few issues with Kubuntu. Basically I started modding my setup a good bit. Things basically started not working, and I couldn’t get the system to work as I hoped to. So I attempted to reinstall Kubuntu, and thats when things went from bad to worse. Really worse.

Instead of doing something productive, I had to deal with worst case scenario reinstall. Yes worst case, without hardware failure. The past few days have been mostly picking up pieces and rebuilding my computer into a Gentoo Linux box. For those interested with the itsy-bitsy, tech-linux-geek details read on. As a sidenote after noticing other bloggers, I have decided upon writing shorter blogs. Each entry will a particular theme, not just a massive mixed stream like my previous entries.

The devil is in the details they say. Its true. Before I started to do anything to my setup I should of backed everything up using my DVD-R drive. This would of made things simpler and faster. Needless to say, I didn’t actually take my own advice, which lead to a series of nasty events…

I had read up on XFS during an Operating Systems assignment, how cool it was and everything. So I decided to use it. I was previously using Ext-3 which is the slow, but steady standard filesystem of Linux. Having a separate partition for / and /home I really wasn’t worried. So I installed Kubuntu 5.10 with an XFS root. I ignored the warning about GRUB and XFS not playing well together. (GRUB being a bootloader) The installer had wisely chosen LILO (an older bootloader), but I though nothing off switching it to GRUB being a fan of that particular program. The new system wouldn’t boot. I was stuck without a way into my Linux or my Windows partitions.

A few things I learned MUCH, MUCH later, is that XFS is meant exclusively for massive, high through-put servers. Also that older versions of GRUB would simply die when dealing with XFS. Hey, and I verified that.

So I tried a number of things. Reinstalling Kubuntu 5.10, leading to GRUB errors. Installing the funky new Ubuntu 6.06 with graphical installer. The installer took one look at my messed up partitions (compliments of Dell for being too kind and adding two extra restore partitions, then mucking them up too). So I tried going back to Gentoo. I tried the brand new Gentoo graphical installer, which died out like Ubuntu’s. I decided upon using the console installer for Gentoo. After it died, I realized to my horror that I had or it had wiped out all my partitions. Panic!!! My precious files… gone… nooooooooooooooooo…

I was honestly truely panicking. I looked for a way to boot into Windows and using a partition restorer. No luck. Now I was really in a tight spot. Most of my data was not backed up. And now I couldn’t access it. Then I read a post somewhere, that it was possible to recover it in Linux.

I used gdisk to find the last known parameters of the partitions. Then I guessimated them using fdisk. I then crossed my fingers and installed Gentoo the old fashioned way, by hand. Not extremely fun, but at the end of it I had a working Linux system. After adding GRUB back into its rightful spot, I could now boot into Windows and Linux. After getting into Linux, I learnt that my partitioning was off by a little bit. After coping over the data into the working root partition, I found that only some non-essential files didn’t make it. The next few days were rebuilding, reconfiguring and yes, backing up my data onto DVD.

So the story ends happily with mostly safe data, a working Gentoo system, and I almost have it configured to my desire. Needless to say, that was a close one. Phew!

Morals: Never give up, even the seemingly irreversable is possible. And BACKUP BEFORE DOING ANYTHING SLIGHTLY INSANE!!!!