diagnose/fix boot/software issue: (e.g.) linuxmafia.com host

Rick Moen rick at deirdre.net
Sun Jan 4 01:11:41 PST 2015

Hi, Michael.  Are you saying you-personally or you-plural wish to come
over and work through debugging?  Your mail left that unclear.

To be quite frank, I've been on extended vacation, i.e., slacking off,
and also a bit deterred by the very cold weather.  Thus the lack of
any hurry doing investigation.  If I'd been determined to deal with
the problem, it would have been gone long before now, either by
working through the annoying apparent combination of hardware and
software problems on the current machine, or by saying the hell with
antiquated 2001-era PIII hardware, building a from-scratch Debian
installation, restoring data files from my backup, and grinding
through the really time-consuming task of rebuilding all the services
needed.  No question about my ability to do that; I've been able to do
it several times on an emergency basis since the '80s when I started
having my own Unix hosts.  I've just been a slacker about dealing with
this problem.  Sorry to have to admit that, but it's the truth.

If you are offering in-person resources that you seriously hope to
bring net resources to the table (and I do absolutely respect you, to
be clear), then thank you, and give me at call at 650-283-7902
(cellular) to say when you hope to visit.  There was a friend who
visited to help during my initial round of investigations, where I
diagnosed the initial problem as an apparent motherboard failure,
moved the hard drives to a spare VA Linux 2230 box, to my great relief
verified that all my filesystems were intact, updated my backups, and
tried and failed to fix the boot configuration before running out of
patience.  (This was just before I left the country, then came back
and found that now the _newer_ model 2230 now also produced no video
and gave the appearance of having suffered motherboard failure.)

My point about the friend (whom I won't name because i don't want to
embarrass him):  He really did want to help, and I bless him for
generously donating a Saturday, but in the end all he did was chew up
my time asking me questions and making incredibly bad suggestions.  On
the plus side, he was good company, _but_ the work would in all
honesty have gone more quickly if he hadn't visited at all.  I'm glad
he came, because I like the guy and do not begrudge the couple of
hours of my time that he wasted, but -- man! -- wanting to help and
actually providing help are sometimes _so_ totally different things.
For example, I'd be concentrating on working through the suspect list
and my friend would suddenly break my concentration with an
unbelievably clueless question that relied on a bunch of wrong
assumptions - and I'd have to then spend half an hour working through
his misunderstandings to get to the point where he could understand
why his question hadn't even been relevant or useful, and then
painfully attempt to return to the original problem I'd been
considering when he broke my concentration.  The whole day was like

If your idea is to not visit but rather offer remote assistance, then,
no thank you.

A couple of you visiting who have relevant experience diagnosing and
fixing boot configs would be most welcome.  I make really good coffee.

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