Rip it up and Start Zen

Hi Folks

If you follow my Twitch activities you may have noticed I am not streaming much this week. 

There are a few reasons for this, including spending some time with family visiting from Scotland this week, but the main reasons are computer related.

On Sunday night I finished my stream a little early after completing Waking Mars. I was a bit tired and not feeling 100% healthy (hayfever, complete with sneezing fits and streaming eyes) but I decided to do some updates to the system before I went to bed. Now it is worth noting that everything was working very well at this point. I had a stable install of Arch Linux with the sound settings exactly how I wanted them and I was running KDE Plasma with all the native apps going fine. Two things went wrong: an update failed and broke a package (nothing major or urgent) and, unbeknown to me at the time, another HDD started failing.

The sensible thing would have been to go to bed and sort it all in the morning but Hamish and patience are not known to associate under stressful situations. I fiddled around and made the package issue worse and when I rebooted my sound system went to buggery again. I swear that KDE and/or Pulseaudio just randomise sound settings every reboot.

The sensible thing to do at this point would have been to go to bed and sort it all in the morning but…

Short version of the next couple of hours, I ended up reinstalling the system (several times) using Fedora, several flavours of Manjaro and I even considered KXStudio at one point. After a lot of frustration and impatience I finally had to give up and sleep.

When I returned next day (Monday) I had a running install of Manjaro with KDE/Plasma as the desktop. The sound seemed to be working great and installs and configurations were going swimmingly. Or so I thought. First of all, the random breakage of the sound system happened again after a reboot. Then, later on while I was trying to get that working again, I finally realised that on top of it all another HDD was failing.

I found a spare – which will not last either but that is a problem of finance that I can’t solve for the moment. The idea was simple: clone the failing HDD to the spare one, physically swap the drives with the PC and then do a few small config tweaks to make sure the OS sees the correct drive.

The cloning went fine.

The physical swap was a bit fiddly due to a lack of space to manoeuvre around cables and the PSU but I got there.

The PC would not power up.

After some choice, Scottish swearing I basically dismantled and rebuilt the PC to make sure everything was seated and at about the tenth attempt at this we had life again.

So here I was, back in Manjaro (which I have to admit was a very nice and for 99% of users it would be great) with KDE but still my unusual audio set up was causing problems. Finally giving up for the night but with a 90% working system and just the sound to sort I went to sleep.

Tuesday: after much ado and frustrated chaos I gave up, took a step back and cleared my head. Later in the evening I made an executive decision and decide to rebuild the system, from the ground up (using Arch Linux although I did consider Gentoo).

I took my time and carefully checked everything, avoided frustration and impatience and the base install went well (with a few false starts setting up the boot loader but it wasn’t my first time at that party so I kept calm and eventually sorted it out). I then added a basic graphical system and a few applications (including web browser) and let it rest again for the day. There is a great deal of satisfaction in going from a blank PC to a console-only base system to a graphical user interface just by typing commands and I actually enjoyed computers again for the first time in a few days.

Today I will be spending more time with family so nothing much else will be happening until at least the evening but I am in a better place and the next step is to set up the sound system exactly how I want it and I am actually looking forward to that.

Rather amusingly, when I quickly checked my messages I spotted this on discord:

Very true.

Also – make good data backups kids and when you have a working system, back that up as well!

Streaming will resume soon, with a few changes to the schedule and content now that I have had 6 plus weeks to analyse what is working and what isn’t.