Friday was definitely the worst Friday ever. I wandered in to the office with my coffee, and discovered that my main work laptop—an IBM ThinkPad, obviously—had mysteriously powered itself off overnight, instead of merely going to sleep. I booted it, only to get the dreaded Fan error message. (If you’re falling asleep already, skip down to the moral of the story.) A fan error is pretty much the kiss of death for a recent laptop.
The excitement started a week or two ago when I discovered that my ThinkPad laptop’s internal cooling fan had stopped working. As soon as I did something graphically intense for more than a minute or two, the system would overheat and perform an emergency shutdown. Fortunately, I have a backup laptop. Unfortunately, the backup ThinkPad laptop had also developed a fault. The fluorescent backlight for the display was failing. The screen was a curious reddish-purple color, and very dim—unless I turned the brightness up, in which case the backlight stopped working entirely, and everything went black.
I’ve been happily running Debian on my ThinkPad for over a year, probably the longest time I’ve ever kept a single OS on the thing. Or rather, I had been until Saturday. Saturday is when I decided to update my X.org. I’d had some problems with X.org before. Debian Testing upgraded to X.org 7.0, and it turned out the ATI FireGL T2 drivers in that were broken. So, no fancy new X.
I’ve switched my ThinkPad to Debian, along with my desktop machine. I did it to get off the upgrade treadmill. I was using a well-known Linux distribution, as customized for IBM use, but a second forced reinstall in under a year made me snap. I don’t want to reinstall my OS. I don’t mind it so much with OS X, because Apple make it such a trivial task—you archive and install, and your user data and applications stay there, along with all the necessary configuration, and the new OS is installed cleanly.
My router decided to crap out. It’s an SMC. It was over $200 when I bought it, back in the mists of time, but a few years later you can pick them up for $30. Mine suddenly decided that it would be a good idea to lock up (a) every time there was an incoming SSH connection, and (b) any time I attempted to log in to change its settings or reboot it.
I have the IBM VPN client working across my home firewall and cable modem connection, without interfering with the Macs. Now I can work at full speed at home, wirelessly from the laptop. Come springtime, I’ll be able to sit on the back porch… I am 31337 h4x0r.