Compulsions and Consequences

With some people, it’s Val-U-Rite Vodka. Let ’em get into a bottle and the local hobo population starts to decline. For me, it’s computers. Every so often, despite my best intentions, I go on a geek binge. I forget to eat and sleep, housework is ignored, and I frequently unplug my phone to keep from being torn away from my keyboard. And the Windoze boxes: they start to disappear.

My current binge started last weekend, when I got the bright idea that I could just sort of start to install the Gentoo Linux distribution on the 40GB hard drive I took out of my old W98 box. (“I can have just one and stop.”)

I’ve tried and failed to install Gentoo in the past. I tried it with an old, slow Pentium III over a dialup connection; that one was doomed to failure from the start. More recently, I downloaded several live cds, with evolving versions of the graphical installer. Those were all disasters. The first one toasted the Windoze partitions on a box that was supposed to be a dual-boot machine. It took me six hours with a disaster-recovery set to fix that. The last two installed and ran ok, but failed to boot after updating.

This time I installed Gentoo the way God intended: a minimal install, downloading and compiling everything from scratch, including the kernel. It’s taken me six days to get here, but I’m posting this from my shiny new Gentoo box.


Gentoo Linux

Not that everything’s all lollipops and rainbows now (darn you, Nice Deb!). After spending all day on Flash and sound issues in the GUI, I barely have a usable computer. I still have to add an office suite, music player/manager, image viewing and manipulating programs and utilities and a whole lotta other stuff that I use on a daily basis. But now I’m getting impatient to make the move from the old Mandriva box. I won’t do that until I get most everything else installed and I’m ready to start using this box to manage my email. I can see the end, though, and it’s gonna happen soon.

Drugs and alcohol used to go straight to my brain, directly activating my pleasure circuitry. A little felt good, and produced a compulsion for a lot more. I get a similar feeling these days from working through a geek problem and learning something. I get a tickle deep in my brain that compels me to seek more! more! more! until I collapse in a sweat-drenched heap beside my desk and wake up the next day with a horrible geek-fueled hangover.

And I don’t know what happened to those Windoze boxes. What? Just ignore the beeping noises you think you hear coming from the crawl space; there’s nothing there at all.

One Response to “Compulsions and Consequences”

  1. S. Weasel Says:

    Oh, man, I get that Linux itch. I last got it about six weeks ago. Tried to do a dual boot on my Thinkpad and really got wadded up. I could get to Linux, but not Windows.

    I would’ve stuck with it anyway if I could have gotten a) wifi and b) my DVD player to work, but I failed on both counts. I guess wifi under Linux is notoriously hard on a Thinkpad.

    When I tried to back out, GRUB screwed me over good. GRUB has screwed me over several times before…ganking it so I couldn’t boot either one. I had to fish out my old Windows disk and restore the boot partition. I mean, once I’d Googled around and figured out that’s what I needed to do.

    How anybody computes without a spare machine to get on the internet, I do not know.

    They say LILO is deprecated now, but I’m dipped if I know why. It might not have been elegant, but it never reached in and scrambled my boot partition like GRUB will :(

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