21 March 2007

Another geek point for Jean

Usually when I run into something I don't understand about Linux or computers or other gadgets, I yelp for help, but today I had the time and energy to try to solve a problem on my own—and succeeded! It was, of course, easy to solve, once I figured out a few of the non-obvious (to me) steps along the way. Warning to Windows users: unfamiliar terminology ahead. Eric gave me an old 30GB USB hard drive to use for storing my digital photos. The problem: the drive was formatted for some Mac drive format. Ubuntu could see the drive, and the directory names, but it couldn't do anything with it (even read the contents). Eric said "you'll have to reformat it". "Ummm", said I, "how? I can't see any commands for formatting disks." "Use fdisk", said Eric, who then ducked and ran for cover. Well, I am totally enthusiastic about command-line stuff, so I did some searching on the Ubuntu forums to see if there was another way. Found it: Gparted (Gnome partition editor). Cool! So I installed Gparted, which let me see the partitions on the USB drive but not do anything with it ("Format" was greyed out). Then I looked up Gparted's website and found a note that I had to unmount the partition first. Okay, that makes sense (it never occurred to me, because I haven't done enough mount-unmount type stuff to remember it). I found the menu command for that, after which reformatting was straightforward and easy. Unplugged the drive, plugged it in again; it remounted automatically, and away we go. I copied my whole shared partition onto it, and checked on the other laptop that it could be read (yes).