Back in Linux Gentoo Business

After disaster struck I’m finally back in business. My system is reinstalled to the point, where it crashed. Apparently only the /bin directory was mostly wiped, when the crash happened. I was able to salvage all personal and system configuration data. In particular the database of installed packages under /var/db/pkg was complete.

The system was reinstalled by running Ubuntu 6.10 and using a recent Stage 3 Gentoo tarball in a chroot environment. During this process I recreated the root-fs as an Ext3 file system as this now appears to be the defacto standard file system. After that the “big” packages like KDE, Gnome, OpenOffice, Firefox etc were reinstalled from binary packages. The remaining difference were fixed by comparing the old /var/db/pkg contents with the new. The listing of the old contents was created by executing:

# cd <backup location>/var/db/pkg
# find . -maxdepth 2 |sort > /tmp/old.txt

Within XEmacs I compare the backup database and the new one by executing

(cd /var/db/pkg/ ; find . -maxdepth 2)|sort| diff -u /tmp/old.txt -

This gave me an overview about the differences. I installed the missing packages, copied the system configuration data back over as well as the user home directories. And that was basically it.

Gentoo Housekeeping

You should occasionally execute this command pipe and review the ouput. On my box I see something like this:

# equery -N l | egrep ' \[M'
[I--] [M ] app-crypt/gpgme-0.4.0 (0.4)
[I--] [M ] app-editors/emacs-21.4-r1 (21)
[I--] [M ] app-editors/xemacs-21.4.12 ()
[I--] [M ] app-text/docbook-sgml-dtd-4.2-r1 (4.2)
[I--] [M ] app-text/xmlstarlet-0.9.1 (0)
[I--] [M ] dev-lang/php-4.4.2-r6 (4)
[I--] [M ] dev-perl/Audio-Wav-0.02 (0)
[I--] [M ] dev-perl/Class-MethodMaker-2.07-r2 (0)
[I--] [M ] dev-perl/Data-Dumper-2.101 (0) 
[I--] [M ] gnome-extra/at-spi-1.1.8 (0)
[I--] [M ] gnome-extra/libgail-gnome-1.0.2 (0)
[I--] [M ] media-sound/mp3splt-1.9 (0)
[I--] [M ] sys-apps/fileutils-4.1.11-r1 (0)
[I--] [M ] sys-apps/setserial-2.17-r2 (0)
[I--] [M ] sys-apps/sh-utils-2.0.15 (0)
[I--] [M ] sys-libs/gpm-1.20.1 (0)

This usually is the result of some package not being recorded the “world” file for whatever reasons and during the runtime of the system hasn’t received any updates or have been declared obsolete in the portage tree. For instance dev-perl/Data-dumper has been completely removed from the portage tree. The php version in the listing is obsolete and for other packages there are updated versions available.

Another good idea might be to run the pipeline and review the output as well

equery -N  l | egrep '~\] '

This would list the packages you have installed which were installed when they were in the state of “testing” in the portage tree. In the meantime, a particular package might have been declared “stable” or you actually don’t want to install any newer “testing” versions for that package. This would allow for some cleanup of the /etc/portage/package.keywords file.

Disaster Struck

Right in the middle of updating my Gentoo Linux to the latest portage tree in the background and just wanting to watch a daily critique from the Radiant Vista the PC came to complete halt, display completely garbled. Something which I experienced very rarely, in particular with Linux. But it happens. I’m wondering, if the kernel 2.6.19, which I’m running, has something to do with it. I think I already experience some problems in the NFS department on the systems in my company, where I’m running this kernel.

Unfortunately the system won’t boot any more. Sometime after the initrd is process and just after udev initialization has been completed, the boot process stopps because some essentials programs like /bin/touch are not found. Something screwed up the hard disk to a certain extend. So, I think a reinstall in order. Luckily I have enough removable storage, to salvage as much data as I can and I think I have been 100% successful with the really private data like pictures, documents and so on. BTW I’m doing the backup under control of a recent Ubuntu 6.10 Live DVD.

A fresh Gentoo Live Installer CD is already downloaded and burned onto CD. Once I copied the remaining data, which can salvaged, the reinstall can start.

Examination Day

Today I’m taking the exams for the Cambridge University Business English Certificate Vantage. Reading, writing and listening tests are finished. Speaking test will be in about 3 hours time.

Overall there were about 20 participants in this session. I was definitely the oldest one. Three other participants were about thirtyish, while the majority was in their beginning twenties. I’m fairly confident, that I’m going to pass the exams. The mark needs to be seen. During practice tests I think I’ve achieved better results, then this test will be. Anyway let’s see, when the results are announced, which will be in about 6 weeks time.

Update: Speaking test is now finished as well. However my confidence in passing has somewhat faded away.