This Monday I decided to upgrade my system to a newer version of Ubuntu Linux which has just arrived — Ubuntu 5.10 Breezy. In my past, I had hundreds of system upgrades and installations so that I clearly knew what to do.

On my laptop I host both Windows and Linux systems. Windows system I use majorly for games and various graphics stuff, whereas Linux is my primary development platform where I spend almost 90% of my time.

My migration procedures are always very simple. They are mostly down to the copying home directory to the safe place on another partition occupied by Windows. After that I’m free to replace the OS and put everything back in place when finished. We all know that FAT and NTFS systems used in Windows aren’t capable of holding all information about permissions and ownership the Unix filesystem has. That’s why I tend to use TAR to pack the whole home directory into a single file and put this file to the Windows disk.

Before this last time, my home folder was relatively small. Maybe couple of Gigs, never more. This time, mostly due to my addiction to photography, it was 7.5 Gigs and promised to take a while being packing into TAR. So I issued a command and went for a cup of tea. Later, when I got back, I noticed that the command had been successfully finished. The archive was where it should and everything looked just great. I gave it a quick look just to make sure that it has some familiar files in it and started system reinstallation sequence.

When the OS reinstallation came to the end I took the backup TAR and found that 3.5 Gigs of stuff were missing. I can’t describe my astonishment when I found that all my e-mail backup, software archive, IM logs and the like are all gone. It was the BIGGEST OOPS I’ve probably ever experienced.

I figured out that TAR command had created an archive file of 4 Gig size, which is some physical limitation for FAT32 file system, if I recall it correctly. That’s OK, but why, for all on Earth, it didn’t tell me about a problem with filesystem? How come that it failed to complete operation and reported the success? I guess, no one will give the answers on these and after what has happened I’m not keen investigating the issue, sorry. I just wished to get back to work in no time and that’s what I have done.

Well, that was my little failure story for today. It was a little technical, but I hope it contains at least two things to keep in mind: never obey the computers and always check what they do.

Have a good time! As for me, looking on the bright side of things, I can say authoritatively — it’s a NEW LIFE. ;)