Down(time) in Flames

It wasn’t a long uptime; as we’d just moved into this new house in January. But after over seven months of uptime (and about two years before that), I am saddened to report that my main work computer went down in a sea of ozone-laced smoke this afternoon.

It was the smell of ozone that warned me.

It started late yesterday, and seemed to be coming from new lamps in my office ceiling. It was actually because the invisible smoke was rising to the roof of the room, and (I discovered this afternoon) every part of the room near the ceiling smelled bad.

At about 4:30, the smell got worse and more localized at the same time. There was no doubt; something inside the PC was too hot. I shut it down, opened the case, and blew a lot of dust out. Thinking that was it, I restarted the machine.

The smell came back with a vengeance. I plugged in my portable hard drive and started syncing the contents of my /home directory as fast as I could. It got to 88% and then… snap!

The PC blinked. Hard. While the boot process restarted, I looked up to see real smoke coming out of the back. Data recovery time was over. Now it was time to save the house from burning down, too. I unplugged everything and ran up the stairs to the back door, yelling at my oldest to turn off the fire alarm that was now going off. The case of the now-dead Dell Inspiron 340 was not hot at all, but smoke was coming out of the power supply vent like crazy.

Outside, I set the computer down well away from the house on the stone patio and waited. When the smoke stopped a few minutes later, I cracked open the case to see a still-smouldering power supply. I could not remove it, as all of the supply wires were latched into the chassis. So I settled for the next best thing; I pulled the hard drive.

And now it sits on the patio, cooling down and airing out. I have requisitioned a new system from the Powers that Be, and they have granted me my boon. Until said machine arrives, I will toil away on my Kubuntu laptop, which has all my tools and 88% of my files.

Linux Today, as always, marches on.