No matter how many times you fall down…

By   2015-08-16

On Friday, a week ago, tragedy struck: my openSUSE 13.2 chocked on something and died beyond repair (not to say my repair skills are so good, they’re not ATM).

This happened during an update: the system was installing packages and suddenly Plasma died with KWin in a really ugly manner. After a hard reset I couldn’t log into the system: I would see the boot screen, the OS couldn’t display the login prompt however.

The repair mode uncovered some possible issues with the mobile broadband so I removed the SIM card and retried. After that I saw something I could name as “progress”, this time the system was upset about some volume not having enough free space. I checked and this wasn’t the case. I would love to stick around and check for the root cause, but I was in a hurry and needed a working system, so…

Getting up

I popped the DVD and started the reinstall. I’m a bit experienced Linux user (maybe not console guru, but not afraid of partitioning). I’ve selected the former system partition to get formatted, checked the mount points (the yast installer didn’t mount my separate drive by default) and about 30 minutes later I had a “working system”.

Lets now define “working system”:

  1. I could log into my account!
  2. ALL my settings were preserved, openSUSE and other *nix systems have no “registry” to get screwed up when the system crashes;
    1. My mail client was working and didn’t need a “profile rebuild” as with MS Winows/Outlook;
    2. My browser worked and had all my settings, history etc.;
    3. My desktop, applets, plasmoids, decorations, panel settings were preserved – even my wallpaper greeted me 🙂
  3. I had most of the programs I need and use;
    1. Reinstalling the missing ones was easy thanks to yast;
    2. Every reinstalled program (one exception) worked after the install;
  4. It all took less than an hour!

The black sheep among the geekos

I’ve mentioned one exception and here it is: KWallet. For those who are unaware/use other distros/don’t use Linux a word of explanation. You can input your passwords everytime you need them or use a credentials manager, to store the password and login information. Windows calls this feature, not suprisingly, Credentials Manager. The Linux world also has solutions like this; like Gnome’s Keyring. The KDE Software / Desktop Enviornment has KWallet. Difference between these two? Keyring works, KWallet not as well.

Aaaand KMail stopped talking to the mail server, because the credentials went to limbo…

And yes, a security measure that annoys you so much you disable it, is not a security measure. Thankfully, things are going to be improved and eventually replaced.

/root cause analysis?

Maybe because of the horrible heat waves the compositor had given up and my forced reboot just messed up something that was being updated. Who knows? Things like this happen sometimes.

There will be no RCA therefore, but there will be a conclusion: no matter how many times you fall (OK, it matters) but you need to get up every time. And openSUSE did the job right, with acceptable downtime.


Hard to believe: this is almost exactly how a completely crashed system greeted me.