Joel's Blog

I have no idea what im doing

12/12/2005

 
The Most Expensive $600 machine I have ever bought (this is a long boaring story mainly to document my stupidity so I wont do it again) Its funny how one thing leads to another.... I had been trying for years to port Gallery (my picture web page manager program) from windows to Linux, so I could stop running windows as a server and just have my Linux box as the server for external stuff. They finally came out with a version that has MySQL backend and is reasonably easy to port to Linux. This was a major effort that took many long hours and late nights, but I finally got it to work. Then I realized that old Pentium 400mzh with 392m of memory and 40 gig hard drive just wasn't good enough. With fedora core 4 installed and running apache & MySQL, there was little room for performance of my 3000 picture gallery. So I convinced my wife that it was time to buy yet another machine (I already have 1 Mac mini in the basement on the big screen, 1 new Pentium in my office, 1 new laptop in the kitchen, 2 older boxes running win98 for the kids, and the old Linux box described above). My brother and I went to the computer show in Chantilly and I bought a cool AMD box with a very fast 64 bit processor, a gig of ram, 200 gig hard drive and video, sound and network cards all for $600 bucks. So anyway, now to the fun story....... I installed fedora core 4 without any issues and started up apache & MySQL. Then I exported my old gallery dB and tarred and copied all the files over (this took 2 late nights). I noticed Linux had restarted once (didn't bother to look at this system messages) and went on with my life. I then tried to get my new gallery install working and with much drama it kept breaking while on the final step. I posted several times to the gallery forums and got much help from the nice folks there and tried just about everything I could imagine (another 5 late nights). Then I asked my good neighbor John for some help since I was getting some weird file system errors that said file system was read only on part of the drive. He looked at and suggested possibly and issue with the disk as these types of issues don't typically happen on Linux with the file system I had used. So best buy is up the street, and I went and bought a 300 gig hard drive (for $69 after rebates but $169 cash). I put in the new drive and thought now the answer to all my troubles, lets reinstall fedora core 4 and life will be good. But the install for fedora core 4 kept crashing 1/2 way through. I tried this 5 times or so and then my neighbor suggested testing the media or using his. I tried both, and later learned that testing the media on fedora hardly ever works. I also tried installing from CD instead of DVD. No luck and almost 20 attempts at install. I also was in a rush to instlal the drive and cable select didnt work, nor did master on the cable that was there, so I put in a 2nd cable and used cable select on that. Thinking this could be confusing fedora, I put it back on the other cable and as slave it worked. The cable had labels for master and slave and they were backwards, the DVD was labeled slave, but was the master and the hard drive was labled master but was the slaved. Anwway the bios was cool with it, so I thought what the heck. But that didnt work either, so I played guessing games with the $39 undocumented DVD drive jumpers until I made it cable select and put the hard drive on cable select, now finally the bios matched the little labels on the cable and everything was on the one orginal cable. Well suprise that still didnt work (another 2 or 3 late nights). I was beginning to give up when I stumbled on memtest86 which is a nifty little tool that tests your memory. I ran it and it quickly identified numerous errors. I was a little nervous, so I went and got the latest version and tried again and it still found a ton of errors. So it recommended pulling the memory module's one at a time and seeing what happened. Of course I pulled the 1st module and there were still errors, then I pulled the 2nd one and put the other back in the first slot, and wala no errors. So then my 21st install of fedora worked on the 1st try (or 21st try) and everything else worked like a charm (Still another full day of work on and off). I called the vendor and they said I could send the $50 module back to them and they would send me a new one, hardly any consolation after all this. So the moral of the story is..... a.) Im a sofware guy and should leave the hardware issues to big brother (the EE) b.) I should start buying pre-installed linux ready boxes from the web that have all this crap already setup and send it back when it doesnt work. c.) I should keep learning by screwing things up and keep a sense of humor about myself. d.) all of the above

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