oops I did it again!

March 14, 2006

Full moon nights are known to make wolves, werewolves, spirits etc. ecstatic. It sure made me mad. Today, it is full-moon-night. And I screwed up my laptop.

I was simply browsing ubuntuforums (why, of all why) and saw a post in customizing section about installing E17 (Enlightenment window manager ver. 17). I was impressed with E16 and installed it, integrated it with Gnome. I should have been satisfied with that. But no. I saw the screenshots of E17 and got carried away like a kid in a candy shop (please dont remind me of the 50 cents song, I have lost interest in candies since then). So, here I am going through the instructions religiously for getting E17, keeping my more important work aside.

Fast forward to 5 minutes later.

I was giving CPR to my laptop. It kept giving the error message, which put in simple words said: "You screwed your xorg server! haha take that". I did every possible thing to revocer my imporant data (songs, videos, customization, booksmakrs, and yeah thesis and conference files too). I tried LiveCD, I tried ftping it. But, I had cinema-problems (not like a blind roomie, handicapped landlord..): my internet didnt work, I couldnt mount the LiveCD from failsafe terminal, I couldnt start any Desktop manager, I couldnt detect an external HD nor could I mount it. I lost hope on recovering my data. Though I have a month old backup, and ususally I work from department (which means I havent lost much, because that system is, touchwood, working fine). This reminds me to back that system up.

Lesson(s) learnt? When the wise people in forums say "I would not recommend E17 for n00bs, but I would try it", read ONLY the first part. DONT be tempted to risk playing with the unstable version. If you really want to, do at your own risk.. after you backed up your data, and talked to your parents on phone for the last time. This post is a reminder for myself to be careful in the future, and laugh at self later.

So, please dont try such acts yourself, but I would try it. 😀

frankly, I was prepared to take risk. When it is about customization, and I have total control over my OS, shouldnt I dare to. I dared, and had the fruits too.

I was more concerned and saddened for having lost all the customization. I love my laptop and decorate it with the best wallpapers, gdm, logins, splashs, etc.. (like girls do for their barbie dolls). I customized my opera sessions, my firefox plugins, damn even my early morning news feed (I wrote a shell script that took RSS feeds from BBC and read out the news every morning at 6:30 am using festival text2speech. That weirdly made me feel like US prez, who gets early morning CIA briefings, though in a diferent way). So, it took me a couple of hours getting those apps back. But, one good thing that happened: I gave it a mac look this time. It is totally a mac-clone now, except for the shadows and windows opening-closing-wave-like look. I have gdesklets, skippy, panther gdm, etc. to get it pretty close to mac.

Things I learnt:

1) Automatix is a boon. I thank all the people behind automatix. If it werent for their script, I would have lost a couple of more hours trying to find the apps/codecs/etc. Links/Info: for Automatix, visit here for more info and there is a script better than this, but less famous, called easy Ubuntu which I would highly recommend.

2) The above point reminded me to:

  • To schedule a kron job which runs a script to back-up my data (atleast imp configuration data and other files/folders/scripts). Tar them and keep it in other partition which wont get affected with a system crash, or ftp it to the department server).
  • To write a small script which installs all the apps you use in one go. To upload that script somewhere so that it reduces your manual labor and staring at the screen to get the installation complete.

3) And partition your HD properly. I split it as follows (credit: Prash):

  • /swap for faster laptop : 2GB (twice the RAM prefered), something like paging in Windows XP
  • / : root where apps are stored, reasonable space, (primary)
  • /home: for the oops-I-did-it-again kinda scenario, where my IMP data resides
  • /boot: where my GRUB resides, and even if it tries to blackmail me, I could still recover my system without having to pay a huge ransom.

man, that was a night.. and I am exhausted. Am I enlightened or what?


"I gotta go. There's a dude next to me and he's watching me type, which is sort of starting to creep me out. Yes dude next to me, I mean you."


4 Responses to “oops I did it again!”

  1. gorrepati Says:

    Pavan, take heart of the fact that you have’nt absolutely lost any of your data. It may be that during the installation of E17, it has updated the xorg server. I presume you are using ubuntu, in which case, just say:
    apt-get remove e17
    apt-get remove xorg (probably removes gnome too, but Im not sure)
    apt-get install xorg

    Try and let me know if it does not work.

  2. Pavan Says:

    Ravi, the biggest problem was that the drivers were screwed. It did not detect wireless card and network card also (in Ubuntu, I wonder why). But it worked (they were detected) for LiveCD, where the HD was not detected (was unable to mount). So, I guess it was a catch-22 situation. Any suggestions?

    I was told that having a local repository of deb files is helpful in such situations (like Windows recovery function?). But, unluckily, I could not find any recovery CD/option neither for Ubuntu nor Debian. 😦 And I had deleted the local cache too!

  3. gorrepati Says:

    Hmmm.. I think you are using some wireless applet to locate the wireless routers around. If that is the case, then it should be simple to re-establish the net connection.
    Anyway, just check the wireless status with iwconfig.
    Also you can check the wirless routers around by
    iwlist eth scanning

  4. Pavan Says:

    Ravi, none of the ifup or ifconfig commands seemed to work. The eth devices werent detected, so I could not configure them with command prompt (my only way of accessing the system).

    Actually, I went ahead and cleaned my system yesterday night itself, but please let me know how to act “wisely” in such situations, when say, I have some really important data.

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