Crashing Down to Earth…

Posted on Thursday 12 March 2009

So, I’ve been flying pretty high lately. My Ubuntu 8.04 install has been running like a charm and I’ve been adding more tools and aids without a problem. I’ve even gotten Wine ( a Windows Emulator for those Windows apps you just can’t replace ) to run my Quickbooks accounting software (more on that in another post I hope!) Things couldn’t be better as more and more functionality was switched from my Windows Desktop, to my Linux (Ubuntu) environment.

So, maybe I was a bit lazy, or maybe I just had a brain cramp last week, don’t know, but it’s still hurting…. I had discovered this wonderful little tool that would allow me to convert just about any type of audio file into any other type. It sounded too good to be true. It even installed without too much difficulty.

It was actually a Debian Linux program, and since Ubuntu was a very close relative of Debian, it should have worked. Unfortunately, whenever I tried to convert a file, it popped up with an error code of 512. Which wasn’t much help… and unfortunately circumstances took over before I could investigate anything further…

Now to get this package (which was not part of the original Ubuntu library of tools and applications) I had to add the location where to get the package to my list of  software sources. For those in the know that meant adding the line:

deb http://debian.lcs.mit.edu/debian sid main

To my /etc/apt/sources.list file.

Where I really fell asleep at the switch, was when my automatic software upgrade program (which checks all files as per the list above for upgrades) reported that there were 50 upgrades that needed to be done and I without paying much attention authorized it. Major NO NO and Ouch.

The upgrade then reported that there were a “whole bunch” of files that were no longer relevant and started deleting them and then reported that these 50 files needed another 120 upgrades to other files and away my computer went. At this point I had the choice of canceling and hoping that not too much was broken, or hope that this was just part of a massive security upgrade (all coming from MIT…) So I let it run to the bitter end.

When the upgrade was done, my computer was quite sluggish, and started doing odd little things, or not doing anything at all (when it should have ) and was acting more and more like a Windows machine instead of a Linux one. Eventually it just locked up and wouldn’t do anything (which is what my Windows desktop used to do and which is why I was moving to Linux.) So I had not choice but to hit the reset button….

Unfortunately when my machine finally booted into what I thought was Ubuntu, I got a flashing Debian welcome screen and nothing else. The upgrade had tried (unsuccessfully ) to move me over from Ubuntu to Debian – AND NOW NOTHING WORKED!

After extensive investigation and major decision making, my only option (if I wanted to stay with Ubuntu) was to download the latest version, put it on an install disk, and reinstall Ubuntu. The happy part of this story is that it worked flawlessly and all my “personal” information (that residing in my home directory ) was still there untouched.

The really unhappy part of this story, is that all my extra packages and installations were removed as not being part of  the original install. Anything that Ubuntu didn’t recognize as coming from Ubuntu was removed…

So now, I once again have an Ubuntu desktop that runs like a dream, but will unfortunately need all those great tools and add ons that I had once before reinstalled… which I am in the process of doing…. Lesson learned.

When doing Systems Admin work (or for that matter any other changes ) to your computer or anyone elses, keep at least one foot on the planet and question and challenge any automatic changes before they happen AND be especially circumspect of any extra sources or directories added to your sources.list, because some of them may not play fair…

End Article

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