When An Ubuntu Workstation Goes Bad

I am a big fan of Linux, and particularly a big fan of the Ubuntu distribution. But sometimes things go wrong even with Linux. First, my System76 ( http://system76.com) Ratel had a disk drive act oddly. The hard drive did not crash. It just behaved symptomatically.

The drive’s behavior showed itself as Ubuntu saying it could not mount a partition, on almost every re-boot. Then, within a few seconds the partition mounted. A couple of times I had to go to a shell, type exit; the partition mounted; and the boot completed successfully.

System76 initially thought something was wrong with the file system and suggested reformatting the disk. This behavior did not affect anything else, so by mutual agreement the warranty call was left open but not acted on.

Then, suddenly one day, logging into gnome caused gnome to crash. No graphical logins were possible. At the same time, the hard drive started showing it was filled to 100%, when in fact it wasn’t. System76 replaced the drive.

Putting in a new drive meant rebuilding the system, and yesterday I rebuilt my Ubuntu workstation; added back all the users; installed Informix SE and all its database development and connectivity tools. Then at some point yesterday afternoon, my primary user could not log in properly. Upon logging in, only a tiny x-term in the upper left hand corner of the screen. No panels or any other part of the desktop would show.

I deleted and re-created my user, and still would up with the same problem. As part of the original workstation rebuild, I had installed konsole, LAMP, and Konqueror. I cannot see how installing those would goof up one user and not all. Why my user could not log in properly, even after deleting the user and that user’s directories is still a mystery.

I am rebuilding the workstation today. It will be interesting to see if anything else happens.

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