Thursday, December 5, 2013

LiveCD project - part 3

I thought I'd give you another update on the LiveCD project, and teach you an important lesson in Unix/Linux Systems Administration.

Sometimes it's not the work you did!  Sometimes it's the hardware!  Always check!

Remember in my last posting I told you the boss had a kernel panic on his second laptop, necessitating my foray into older versions of Ubuntu to use as the basis for my LiveCD?  Well, he's out this week, so I went into his office to try it for myself.  I saw nothing but the splash screen. Never did it reach a standard black screen with white font telling me there was a kernel panic!  It just hung and never moved forward.

With that information in hand, I burned a copy of the original Ubuntu 11.10 Desktop i386 LiveCD and tested it on the same laptop.  Again it hung.

At this point I began to suspect that the CD drive was dirty or very near broken.  It was reading well enough to access the boot sector, and bring up the splash screen and menu, but could not do anything more.  I heard a lot of  "seek" noise from the CD drive, like it was having trouble reading the disk.  I took the unit down the hall to the Help Desk personnel (God bless them!! Their jobs are often far harder than mine!  I've done that job!) and asked if they had another CD drive that would fit into that laptop.  Since it is modular and just slides into and out of the left bay, they were able to give me another to test.  It worked!!  Problem solved!!

Now I take responsibility for this.  I should have gone in and grabbed the laptop from my boss and put it at my desk and tested it myself as soon as he said kernel panic, instead of assuming.  That's another lesson in Unix/Linux Systems Administration for you, folks!  Laziness costs more than being willing to do the hard work sometimes.  My reason for not getting the laptop was very simple.  I'm tall, and getting that laptop meant I'd have to unplug the power brick in the boss' office, bring it back to my desk, and crawl around on my hands and knees under my desk to plug it in and get it ready for testing.  I don't LIKE crawling on my hands and knees.  The floor is a loooooong way away when you're as tall as I am, and I hate having to get under my desk like that.  My reason was lame, and it cost me several days work, a lot of frustration, and caused self-doubt that wasn't warranted.

The second - non-pae based - LiveCD I had created had worked perfectly, and the boss was already irritated at Ubuntu for having caused the pae problem in the first place rather than being irritated at me for the first LiveCD not working.  I ended up looking inept on the second LiveCD because I was too lazy to crawl under my desk for a minute or two.

Learn from my mistakes, folks.  A wise man learns from the mistakes of others, but a fool has to make his own.

So now I'm off to finish documenting the process.  I've altered the process several times, and now I'm to the point where I've taken Firefox out, installed Chrome instead (Firefox demanded that I log in two times to the same site each time I logged in, while Chrome did not; user friendliness is important on this project), updated everything using 'apt-get update; apt-get upgrade', and still managed to trim it down small enough to fit onto a 700MB CD.  I'm proud of what I've created.  I've learned a lot during this project.  I've been a Unix SysAdmin for "many" years, and I still learn every day.  So this project was not wasted time.  It was actually enjoyable!  It was just frustrating because I got lazy at a crucial juncture and as a result wound up doing unnecessary work.

The step by step document I crafted so that I, or anyone else here, could easily recreate a LiveCD is 20 pages long!  Maybe one day I'll post it to save someone else the trouble of learning the hard way like I did.

Benny Helms Registered & Protected

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