I might know a thing or two about handling servers, configs, deployments and cloud architecture. But when it comes to hardware failure on my own workstation, I become a complete layman.
It’s the first time my Lenovo R61 failed me. It’s running a mighty Ubuntu 8.04, with all the components a hacker needs (from a complete LAMP stack, through PDT and a customized version of svn 1.5.1, to InkScape and xvidcap…), and it’s the first time that after the system froze and I rebooted, I just gazed at the terminal at startup and shrieked:
Kernel panic – not syncing: Attempted to kill init!
And a whole other bunch of error messages, every time at a different stage in the boot sequence. This behavior, combined with the fact that the system just froze and I didn’t do any dramatic changes, makes me think it’s bad RAM or other hardware components (like here, and disk is of course a candidate), but sometimes it seems like people get over it by re-installing a kernel.
I don’t know what I prefer, hardware or software failure. I guess that RAM failure is the best, just swap it with new RAM. Disk failure might mean data loss, which I am sure I don’t want to handle, and recompiling the kernel can be a tedious task, but preferable than losing data and having to re-install the whole system again.
And what I asked myself, when I rode my bike back home today, is “why can’t I just instantiate a new instance in the cloud with the newest working snapshot of my system? Why hardware failure in the cloud is so easy to deal with, and hardware failure in the office isn’t?”. And I had a vision of all the people working on machines similar to mainframe terminals, running only the basic things and having the OS and all the data just sit in the cloud.
This day isn’t far. But tomorrow it’s back to the lab to (hopefully) have my RAM replaced.