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.


gentoo1024×768.jpg

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.

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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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