Linux Saves its Neighboring Windows – Twice This Week

Several times this season, we have had record-breaking blizzards. And, nearly every time, my efforts to deal with them have been thwarted due to failures of the brand new snow-throwing equipment I’ve purchased. Fortunately, my neighbor has come to our aid several times and, thanks to his tractor, our driveway remains clear and we can get to and from our house.

A similar thing happened to a client of mine wn Wednesday afternoon. They called to report that their MS SQL Server was reporting errors. Specifically, the master database had decided to spontaneously grow to fill all available disk space. Given that we had operated for almost a year on 1.5GB of free space, I never envisioned it growing to take up what was left overnight, but that’s just what happened.

Since the server’s drives were configured as RAID 1 with a hot spare, we decided the best thing to to was convert the array to RAID 5 and add a new spare once a new drive was available. After several hours, the drive array had doubled in size, but we still had a problem: the data partition was still too small to hold all the data. At first, we thought we’d convert the disk to a Dynamic Disk, but Dell tech support recommended against this because the boot/system partition was on the same physical drive (as far as Windows was concerned) and they don’t recommend making your boot drives dynamic because you can no longer boot from a recovery disk and access the drive.

Given that, I resorted to my trusty gParted Live CD, which, in a matter of seconds, booted, recognized the Dell PERC array controller, and expanded the data drive by an additional 33GB. We rebooted into Windows and presto! Problem solved. gParted was able to plow a nice clean space for the data to expand into, just like our neighbor’s tractor did for our driveway!

Today, another client called, reporting that their laptop had stopped working. My tech went on site and reported, in addition to errors that the client stated, the unit smelled like something was burning – not good.

Fortunately the hard drive was intact, so we were able to mount it externally on another computer. However, when we attempted to access the user’s home folder, we were thwarted by Windows permissions. Since the unit was pulled from an Active Directory domain that we weren’t connected to, we didn’t have any access. While I figured I could probably take ownership of the files, the process might take a long time, given that he had gigs and gigs of (work-unrelated) music and other files on the machine. Instead, we simply booted into Ubuntu, and navigated right to the home folders, without the slightest hint of a permissions hurdle. Once again, like a tractor on a mission, Linux plowed through the snowbank that stood between me and my client’s data.

I certainly am grateful for my neighbor (and his tractor). I hope Windows also realizes just how good it has things, and how fortunate it is to have a neighbor like Linux around.

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