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Monday, January 15, 2007

Step 1: Backup, backup, backup!

So, here is the first of the series of posts chronicling my adventure of installing Edgy Eft and Windows XP as a dual-boot system on my Acer Aspire 1640 laptop. I specifically ensured that my machine would have plenty of hard drive space, as I anticipated dual-booting, so I've got 160GB to play with - not too shabby for a notebook.

Now, as I am planning on wiping my hard drive and reinstalling from scratch, the first step is backup. A lot. Last time, I ended up backing up my entire Windows partition (some 20-something GB) to 4 DVD's, with a little help from 7-zip and some file splitter, which proved to be unnecessary. So, after going through great lengths to reunite my file from 4 DVD's, using a Windows-only program, and save it to my Linux partition (Ext2 IFS was of incalculable help in this process, allowing me to access my linux partition from Windows), I decided to do it better this time around.

The first time, it was only after I had spent 24 hours straight compressing my files, and some more time splitting them, that I noticed that 7-zip had file-splitting built in - and it would work across operating systems. So this time, I took my reunited backup file (a 15GB 7z file), and zipped it using 7-zip, in "Store" mode for speed (compressing the already-compressed file wouldn't gain enough to matter anyway), with the option to split it into 4GB chunks. That worked great, and would work across operating systems.

So I went to burn my DVDs. And things went badly. The CD burner built into Nautilus (Windows Explorer of Gnome) refused to write at any speed other than 24x, and I only had 16x DVDs. So I found GnomeBaker. It allowed me to burn at slower speeds, but refused to add any files to my DVD project. After trying to get it to work, I relented, and installed k3b, which is built for KDE, but still works under Gnome, via Synaptic. And it was good. I definitely reccomend it, even if you're running Gnome like in my case. It worked flawlessly, and gave me all the options I would expect, in a very easy-to-use interface. It even gives me a little progress indicator on all four of my screens that I can switch through very fancily using Beryl. Really. Well, almost flawlessly. For some reason, it wouldn't let me add files over 4GB, which my files were (slightly). But no problem, I just re-zipped my backup, and split it into 2GB chunks. Problem solved.

As I type, the first DVD (of four) has finished burning, and the second is working on it. I set it to verify, but the first one didn't, and the person who decided that the spacebar should push the "OK" button, just like the enter key, should be slapped. Preferably with a smelly trout. Because it told me something, but I was typing, and so I spacebar-ed out of it. It gracefully said "Error!" and made a fun noise. After evaluating the situation, I realized it just hadn't validated - nothing too critical. I gathered that the box I OK'd out of had said to put the DVD back in so it could test it. So next time, I'll be more careful when I'm typing and burning at the same time. For now, I've got some burning to do yet.

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