Monday, July 05, 2004

Today's Linux Blunder

Okie dokie, had my first significant Linux blunder this afternoon.

I'm kind of a neat freak when it comes to data organization. (My house, that's another story). I'm a data packrat, but I do like to keep things nice and orderly. So I was becoming unsettled about my new home directory in Linux. It was getting out of hand - no organizational scheme. So I started making some new directories, moving stuff around, deleting stuff I didn't need. I was using the GUI interface, Konquorer in KDE.

Well, I got a little delete-happy and the next thing you know, I'd deleted my entire home directory, including all of the configuration files for my email, desktop, etc. that resided there. DOH! Something that I deleted also caused KDE to go haywire on me, and I couldn't run any apps or view my trash bin. I was in a near state of panic! "Oh, what did I dooooo? What did I doooooooooooooooo??!!"

I posted on, and within minutes had a handful of replies. Special thanks goes out to Dark_Helmet on those forums! I learned that the Trash icon on the desktop is really just a front-end to a hidden directory in my home directory. Sure enough, I could get to the hidden Trash directory from a command prompt. I then copied the contents back to my home directory, and logged out and back in again to (hopefully) re-initialize KDE with my newly replaced configuration files.

For the most part, it worked. KDE asked me to run through the welcome wizard again to configure the most basic settings, and I had to re-setup my email accounts in evolution, but all of my old mail survived, and most of my desktop settings survived as well.

Hoorah! All is working again!

That's one thing you don't get from Windows - that feeling of satisfaction after fixing a problem; the sense that you actually understand your system better than you did before the problem. The notion that you actually LEARNED something, and not just hacked your way around yet another "known issue" that hasn't been resolved by Microsoft.

So that's my story for the day. I also learned how to backup my home directory, thanks to Dark_Helmet's suggestion, a little research on the net, and my O'Reilly "Running Linux" book. I wrote my first shell script, a little bash script to create a tarball of my home directory and move it to a separate partition where I'm storing backups. Now I see that I need an even better organizational scheme in my home directory, because the backup was huge! But that's OK - I'll get to it :)

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