Last Thursday night there was a power outage, following which my PC was unbootable. This is not necessarily a good thing.
It turns out the motherboard is cactus, which is a technical term meaning FUBAR, which is a technical term meaning that the item in question has failed. This will require the replacement of motherboard, RAM, CPU, case, and possibly the video card. I am hopeful that it will be covered by insurance.
Now as sysadmin I understand the vital importance of maintaining regular backups, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that I have none whatsoever, in accordance with the Cobbler's Children law.
Somehow the hard drive survived, which is odd, considering my lack of backups. I mean, you know, Murphy's Law, and all that. Something is indeed wrong in the universe.
So, I removed the 80GB drive and placed it in my spare machine as a slave. The perceptive among you may notice at this point that I have backups of my hardware, but not of my data. This is perfectly ok, really. Anyway, this machine is the one I used some time ago for distro testing - see, for example, Henry's Damn Ubuntu Review (part 1, part 2) - and it still has Ubuntu 5.10 installed.
I downloaded firefox 1.5 from mozilla.org, and installnewfirefox.sh from some other place that I didn't save the URL for, installed the new firefox, and copied my firefox and thunderbird profiles from the old drive. There were a few more things I needed to get, or rather apt-get - w32codecs, nvidia-legacy, totem-xine, GCC, a feed reader - and I also had to compile the Ralink rt61drivers and move the wireless PCI card from the busted machine. All pretty trivial.
I can tell this is getting boring because my computer keeps hibernating on me. Sorry.
Anyway, it appears that for the moment I am an Ubuntu user. There may soon appear here something comparing the Ubuntu/GNOME experience with my Debian/KDE desktop, if I can be bothered. Don't hold your breath.