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Sorry to hear

So, it looks like I’ve rendered two computers unusable in five days.

On the plus side, I have a reasonable hope that I’ll be able to send in the old motherboard (which I’ve determined was the point of failure) and have it replaced under warrantee. It’ll only cost $60, plus shipping both ways. Now, this “paying to have a defective product fixed under warrantee” bit pisses me off–but even though the expected cost after shipping is around $100, it’s still less than half the cost of just buying a new one.

On the minus side, I was playing with sound options on the Linux box because there was no software mixer. This meant that while I could play music (via XMMS), and I could watch videos (with MPlayer), if I wanted sound in my videos I had to shut down XMMS, spin around three times, and chant voodoo incantations in order to get it to release its lock on the sound card. When the video was done, I had to do the exact same process in perfect reverse to be able to play music again. Do you have any idea how hard it is to chant voodoo incantations backwards?

Given that this is a stupid state for things to be in, I was trying to work out some way to arrange for various sound-producing programs to acquire feeds into a mixer, instead of locking down the sound card. Unfortunately, my tweaks somehow meant that I could no longer log into my account. Don’t ask me how that happened (I was only playing around with a text configuration file in my home directory called something like .alsarc) because I don’t know. Normally, this would be no big deal: I’d log in as root, delete or move the configuration file I had modified, and then log in as myself again.

Only, you can’t log in as root on Ubuntu. Even if you’ve set a password, the security manager just doesn’t let you log in.

So I get to install a whole new operating system again. I think I’m going back to FreeBSD; at least I have manuals for that. Not everything is lost; I booted a Knoppix CD I happened to have lying around (they’re handy for emergencies) and managed to copy the contents of my home directory to the external hard drive, from which location I expect to be able to get to them later. Still, my computers have apparantly decided that this is the week to piss me off.

(I realize that I could just delete the offending file from within Knoppix and continue using Ubuntu, but I’ve become rather disenchanted with that distro after using it exclusively for the last few days. Its major downside is that, though many things Just Work, the way in which they work tends to suck.)

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