Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Debian may be stable, but that doesn't mean I have to be. "touch /forcefsck" will help.

I started the day the way I ended the last one, cursing at a laptop.

You see, If you are running Windows on your personal computer, a lot of the control has been slowly taken from you until Microsoft has turned something that was once a long time ago a hobby machine, into an appliance.

The Mac never really was anything but an appliance.  Do as we say, stay in our little walled garden, and walk in lock step while pretending you have freedom.  Draw your pictures and enjoy.

I run Linux.  There really are no rules.  You have a computer, in my case an older one that is a hand me down from corporate life.  You push the Windows install away, and you take the control back. 

The design philosophy is drastically different.  You have control.  Free will, really.  So you find an acceptable level of risk that fits your capabilities, your knowledge, and you make your own decisions.  This implies you will make mistakes along the way.  You will break things.  It's not always a comfortable ride, although it can be.

I use a version of the operating system called Debian.  In its Stable form, it is one of the most comfortable and competent pieces of software you will ever experience.  It is the warm comforter on a cold night with a nice mug of hot chocolate and a Labrador retriever sitting by your side.  It simply does not break.  Oh sure, it is known to be a bit older, but that software being older has its benefits.  Stability. 

It's the air cooled VW Beetle of your dreams, or in my case that 2002 Jeep Wrangler that is sitting in the driveway with no rust and no check engine light.  I'm proud of that, really.  I mean who has a 22 year old car that is worth $15K without really trying?

On the other hand, I've turned this island of stability into a rowdy puppy.  With the Zoomies.  Colliding into the china cabinet and breaking dishes.

How?  I turned it into "Testing Debian".  Now keep in mind, Debian anything is more stable than most.  There are companies that have based their entire existence on running something that is called "Testing" by one of the most careful and conservative organizations in the Linux world. 

Where Windows and the Mac are all hush-hush and closed source, if I had a mind to, I could get the actual code that built the software my computer runs on and build my own version.  Create my own distribution.  There are a large number of computer companies that do just that.

But, things sometimes go awry.  Hence my bad night and day.  Something has been lingering and I tried to force it.  I ended up in a "Dependency Hell" where one piece of software was depending on another to run at a low level within the computer's library of software. 

Didn't work.  I gave up just after breakfast and did something I did not want to do - I restored the computer from a backup.

And that's the moral of the story.   Always have a complete back up of your computer.  I did.  A clone of my hard drive.  Why not?  Memory is cheap these days, and I set the machine to do a full and complete backup on Sunday night so on Monday morning, I can update the thing on my own time.

Yes, Windows users, I can tell my machine to do things on my own schedule even if the thing is not going to work right once I am done. 

Windows Update be damned, I'm flying by the seat of my pants.

That is how my Jeep got its wheels cleaned.  Start the restore, then get bored.  I went outside and cleaned the car while the "dd" copy was working.

"dd"?  Originally meant Disk Dump, but I have used it like Disk Destroyer before.

Jeep has the wheels cleaned, windows washed, and I have a 22 year old car that the check engine light is now turned off.  Not every Jeep Wrangler (2002 TJ) Owner can say that.

The Computer?  I'm back on it, as you can see.  Feet up on the couch creating a divot on the arm just like always.

On the other hand the version of Debian will tick over so the Testing version I am on becomes "Stable" in summer.  Until then, I just run in parallel like I am here.  Encrypted hard drive, testing operating system, and all.

Had I had any sort of a command prompt I'd look for the following:

From the command prompt, make sure your encrypted disk is at least readable.  Mine was not, it booted directly into the Bios which meant I was stuffed.

In /dev/mapper there are files pointing to your encrypted hard disks. 

fsck -y /dev/mapper/ (your disk names)

Then try a reboot.  If you are successful you will end up at your normal desktop.  If not, find your back up drive and do a restore.

You did do a backup right?

Ok, now that you are back, this command will force a fsck (file system check) on your hard drives when you reboot next time. 

sudo touch /forcefsck

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