Friday, April 10, 2009

It Hit the Fan, part I (or: How to Move My Documents)

My wife's laptop broke down. It was sudden and unprovoked. I found it idly blinking its LEDs one evening, completely non responsive.

I tried turning it off and on, removing the battery and putting it back again, and a few other voodoo tricks. But I got the same result each time: the fan started, the LEDs turned on, but the screen remained black, and after a while the fan stopped, the LEDs turned off and after a second the fan started again, and the LEDs turned on, and after a while turned off, and ... well, you get the picture.

One of the wisest decisions I took regarding this laptop, was to pay for a 3-year extended warranty - this is the second time it paid off - much too frequent for my taste.

The other wise decision was to setup a real backup solution. Thank you Bacula.

It took several minutes to restore my wife's files from backup to a directory in my home directory on my Debian box. I then fired up virtualbox ose, running the virtual Window$ machine I've setup the last time her laptop broke down. My objective was to allow my wife to work on my machine, with her documents directory fully available, as if nothing has happened.

Here's how to replace the original "My Documents" folder with a shared virtualbox directory:
  1. open the vitualbox menu Devices->Shared Folders...
  2. add the directory to the list of directories shared with the virtual machine
  3. in Window$ - start the file explorer, and open the menu Tools->Map Network Drive...
  4. map the shared documents folder to some drive letter (I used Z:), and make sure that the option "Reconnect at logon" is tick-marked
  5. now right-click the "My Documents" folder, select the "Properties" menu item from the pop-up menu
  6. select the "Target" tab and enter the drive letter of the mapped network drive
  7. hit OK etc. until you exit all menus

I disabled the nightly backup job by adding Enabled = no to the relevant job section in /etc/bacula/bacula-dir.conf and restarting the backup server:
invoke-rc.d bacula-director restart
and then disconnected the machine and packed it for delivery to the repair lab.

And now we wait.

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