One of the more surreal things about computers is the way they come together sometimes. I'm putting together 2 Linux (see below) servers for DNS/DHCP work. The first one took me 3 days to put together. Lots of "try this, reboot, try that, reboot, etc."
My brother is famous for his "nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure" attitude. Any time any computer does anything wierd, his advice is "fdisk and reformat". By doing this you not only erase the contents of the hard drive, you also erase the structure of the hard drive itself. Reformatting is like getting all new furniture for an office and re-arranging everything. Fdisking is sort of like gutting the building and putting in new insides.
Well, while banging my head bloody trying to get IDE Mirroring (a way to make two hard drives act like one, so if one dies the whole thing doesn't stop) working, I decided I'd screwed it up so bad I needed to nuke it from orbit and start all over. So I pulled out my trusty DOS boot disk (the sonic screwdriver of sysadmin tools), fdisked and formatted both disks (one at a time), and then re-started it.
This is when a really frustrating situation turned into a really wierd situation. Imagine my surprise when, after this re-start, the goddamned thing booted up. Well, sort of. The linux install was so badly frelled at that point that it got about 1/3rd of the way through and croaked. It was doing that before. But it shouldn't have been doing it at all. I'd erased all that stuff! Twice!
Now I'm sure all the *nix gurus out there are thinking "MORON" and "OF COURSE IT DID THAT", but to someone who grew up using DOS, Windows 2.x, 3.x, and 9x, this was bizzare beyond belief. Fdisk is the tac-nuke in the PC hardware guy's arsenal. Nothing is supposed to survive it.
Imagine you're a king (or queen) back in the middle ages. Someone makes you so mad you take a sword and lop off their head just to get them to shut up. What was happening here was sort of like having that person proceed to get up, pick up their head, tuck it under their arm, and start beating you with a stick. It's just not natural!
I did eventually get it working.
The first system took three days to build. The second will take three hours. Computers are wierd.