Okay, so I grew up on Linux - grew up in the sense that it was my OS of choice up until a few years ago. For work I have a Dell (TRWTF?) laptop that's been happily running Ubuntu 10.04 since before I started work here back in May. Last week I had an issue shutting down the laptop which forced me to power off the machine before it could be shut down properly. It should also be noted that I have a 3TB external plugged in that is used for backups of both the laptop and our servers. Ever since that hard power off, my laptop would not shutdown properly - always having to resort to a hard power off. Yesterday I got to work and powered up my machine, and to my surprise my wireless didn't work. The kernel modules were being loaded, and dmesg offered very little as to why the driver was being marked "disabled" by the network applet. I did some googling, and followed many suggestions, and eventually I realized that dpkg was hanging (wouldn't even respond to a kill -9 - for those not in the immediate "know", a -9 is the terminate with prejudice signal, and the kill command is used to, um, kill a process).
So I did some more googling, and even more googling. I finally found that the unattended-updates init script was hanging on the shutdown - but not specifically why (at least, not immediately). I assume that the unattended-updates script utilizes dpkg, or some facility of, and there was some vague correlation between the two. It should also be noted that I have been able to fix my wireless because I have been unable to update the wireless driver/firmware - which I still do not know why it mysteriously stopped working. Finally, I stumbled across this post, which got me to thinking... mostly about my USB drive that sat quietly in the corner. I opened up the file manager, and to my disgust I couldn't get a directory listing of the device. I dropped down to the terminal (think DOS shell for you Windows guys), and found that the drive was not even mounted. I took another look at dmesg (btw, dmesg is a utility that displays OS messages, mostly during boot, but not exclusively) and found that the filesystem was corrupted. Apparently it was so bad that just unplugging the device did not release the OS's hold on it (to free up the sync call), so I had to reboot (without it being plugged in).
My recourse? Upgrading the OS and hoping that whatever was broken gets magically fixed. As for the external? I haven't gotten to a point where I can try anything - because I'm waiting on the 1,670 packages to download for the OS upgrade - but I fear that I'm going to have to re-format (losing all prior backups) and start over again. My gripe? Linux boasts being such a superior OS, yet something as simple as a corrupted external hard drive can bork a system up so bad that the wireless driver stops working (yes, that's an assumption, but I have little else to go on).
Sigh. I miss my Macbook.