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Why I sometimes hate to be in the IT line

· 3 min read

The server holding the project files for the e-learning application that I’m developing just died on me today. The cause of the server dying is the insertion of a faulty RAM chip. What flabbergasted me was that the chip was idenfitied as faulty before. Why my colleague knowingly placed the RAM into the server I don’t know. I haven’t gotten a chance to ask.

The result of that action was that the server could not boot up. In fact, the problem was so different from what I’ve encountered before that it didn’t even occur to me that RAM could be the problem. The CPU was supposed to be a headless node that our developers access over the network to the repository and the wiki. What tipped me off was that the CPU was not reachable even after turning on. Network cable seems fine, and are connected at both ends properly. The system was working fine the Friday last week. Then I connected a monitor to the server to try to resolve the issue. Strangely, what came up on the monitor is an image that is akin to static noise you see on TV (during the analog days).

After a call, I managed to find out that the cause was the faulty RAM chip. So the first action was to take that out, and swap it with a working one. No go.

So I took out the RAM chip from the slot, leaving only the working one in the machine. No go.

As the machine is needed for the developers, I had to spend time to fix it. We didn’t have a backup server as the size of our outfit didn’t give us the luxury of a backup working server. We have the backup of the data though. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the latest one – the one before the server went out. So we took the hard disk out and put into one of the machines of our developers.

The server holding the files was running openSUSE. The developer machine is running Ubuntu. There were a few sites that I had to create – the SVN repository served over Apache, the wiki, and the bug reporting site. These three were the minimum that I need to get up in order for us to work.

It was exasperating getting the Web apps working correctly on a different platform. I spent over half the day, skipping lunch, to get the database from the old hard disk working on the new, and configuring the platform for the applications to work.

As the machines our developers were working on were new, we had to create the developer environment on the machines to work as well. That took another half a day.

What frustrated me in this second part of the day was Ubuntu. I’m using Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackelope) on my laptop. On the new machines is Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala). I never imagined upgrading the platform in Ubuntu was so much pain. First and foremost is the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE); it works so easily on Jaunty yet it just doesn’t run in Karmic. Tried Ganymede but what came up was an empty window with nothing but the close button – which doesn’t work! Tried Gallileo, seems to work fine but I was unable to install Subclipse on it.

Needless to say, this was a frustrating and unproductive day. Hope the next few days will be better as we work towards launching the alpha version of our LMS.