For those of you following me on twitter, you'll have heard the summary already, but here it is for easier access.
It's been a harrowing day. I got up this morning at 8:something and found Yoki, my desktop, crashed badly, at 6:something, judging by when he disconnected from IRC.
He would not boot. Sometimes he would not even get past POST. I was, however, sometimes
able to boot from CD, and could verify that my harddrive was okay, all my files were there, I just couldn't boot from it.
After niichan got up, we did lots of troubleshooting together, eventually coming to the conclusion that the PSU was dying. (For a while, it looked like it was the motherboard. So glad that was not the case, as I don't have spare motherboards.)
Luckily I had a spare power supply; Lorelai's (or was it Matsuri's?) old one that I replaced because it was so noisy. After I had switched power supplies, Yoki acted a lot better, but still would not boot from the harddrive. I guessed that it meant the boot sector was damaged, and eventually found the right slipstreamed XP install CD that I had added SATA support to (Yoki's only harddrive is a SATA drive; the motherboard does not have native SATA support, so I have a SATA PCI card in there.) Ran the fixboot utility, which pretended to do what it is meant to, but did not help one bit. Nothing had changed. I could still only boot from CDs.
I had the idea of putting in a spare harddrive and making a new boot sector there, hopefully getting it to somehow point at the SATA drive, but before going that far, was going to try using TestDisk
, the same wonderful utility that saved me about a year ago when I screwed up something. I got the System Rescue CD
, installed it to a USB key, and found out that Yoki is unable to boot from those. Burned it as a CD instead, that worked. (earlier today, tried to burn out a live CD of a more recent version of Ubuntu and it failed, twice, so I was worried that Chiron [laptop] could no longer write CDs properly.)
TestDisk was able to re-write the Master Boot Record, and finally, I could boot. Surveying the damage, I see the NIC was ruined too, but onboard still works, so I'm okay. And the PSU stopped being super-noisy after a while.
It took pretty much all day to get it sorted out. (Not much happened before niichan got up, though)
I feel mentally and emotionally drained from the ordeal. Niichan, I can't thank you enough for holding my hand, offering moral support and ideas to get me through this. Alone, I would have despaired. I might
have been able to fix it alone, but probably not tonight.