netcurmudgeon (netcurmudgeon) wrote,

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Open Source software racked up two saves in the past two days...

matociquala had sent me her ailing Win2k PC to see what I could do with it. The root cause of the problem appears to be a bad motherboard. But, a secondary problem is that the NTFS file system on the C: drive is corrupt (an effect of the PC crashing in mid-stride). The disk drive is in fine shape, it's just the data that has something wrong with it. It's bad enough that the PC won't boot at all; it throws a BSOD with "inaccessible boot device". It's also bad enough that when I slaved the disk to my own Win2k PC, my PC wouldn't boot, giving a BSOD saying that the NTFS driver failed when Win2k tried to load it. I even tried booting from the Win2k install CD (to use the recovery console) to no avail (same NTFS driver BSOD).

After thinking that the file system was pretty much done for, I had an "aha!" Ubuntu Linux (and presumably most contemporary Linux distributions) will mount NTFS partitions as read-only file systems. So, I slaved the disk to one of my Ubuntu boxes. The Linux automounter wouldn't have anything to do with it, but the system did recognize that the drive had an NTFS partition (reporting it as 'inaccessible'). So, as root I told the system to just go ahead and mount it anyway ... Viola! It came up properly read-only, and I was able to copy the files off of it.

Mark-my-unidicted-co-conspriator had a suggestion about twiddling the registry on my Win2k PC to force it to check the bad disk on bootup (e.g. change the registry, shut down the PC, add in the problem disk and reboot). It's academic now, but I will give it a try: it's always good to know more than one way to un-cook a cooked goose.

And open source had another save today. Asha came back from her advisor's place with a Word doc that they'd been working on for hours, and the thing was corrupt. Word just threw up its hands and died when you tried to 'save' or 'save as'. I opened it with OpenOffice, saved it as a "Word 97/Word 2000" document and passed it back to Asha. Again, viola! Whatever trivial-but-fatal thing that was wrong inside the file was fixed.

To paraphrase Einstein (or was it Oppenheimer?): You cannot always fix a problem with the same kind of tools you used to create the problem!

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