Drive Operation

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I’ve been an admirer on the Linux sidelines for a long time now — many years, in fact. I think my first brush with Linux was in the dense text listings of Amiga PD (Public Domain) software magazine ads, where a single item often read “Unix-like operating system for the Amiga”. I even came across a very early version of Red Hat in its infancy, on some magazine cover CD that a friend gave me. At the time I didn’t even own a PC. Once I moved over to PC land, and became familiar with the internet I came to know Linux well, at least by reputation. And since then I have slowly but surely moved towards open source software, culminating in the present time when all my professional design, illustration, video, and web development work is carried out purely using OSS.

A CD drive disassembledCircuit board inside the driveThe only hold back in this migration is Windows which I still use, but after some recent glitches and file losses, I have finally begun looking towards Linux for an eventual shift. Before I left for my vacation in January, I started downloading and trying out a whole slew of Live CD Linux distros, to get the hang of it and also the find the one that suits my needs best. Since I got back I continued my downloading spree but found to my dismay that my computer refused to boot from the CD any more. That certainly put a damper on my playful experimenting so I set out to find the culprit.

The drive motorIt wasn’t the BIOS as I first thought, but instead it seemed to be a dirty lens in the CD drive which just didn’t allow for a quick pickup on the bootable discs at startup. The normal way of doing this is the much hyped “CD cleaner” discs which come with a special CD that has a cleaning brush on it and some special solution for the cleaning, but I’ve not had much luck with those in the past and my drive is quite old. I though perhaps it was in need for a fuller treatment. So I took it apart for a thorough cleaning, and these photos resulted.

The prognosis isn’t good however. While I might have managed to clean the lens, this drive has had other problems before, including a drive mechanism which sometimes gets stuck. Once it was all opened out, these problems are appearing again and I can see that there are obviously some mechanical issues with the gear system in there which makes the opening and closing mechanism and the one that raises and lowers the drive head not co-ordinate as they are supposed to.

So for now I have moved on to a spare drive I had lying around, and this patient will have to wait for some future leisure time when I can tinker, decipher and understand.

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  1. Why Drive Errors Lead to Cleaner Computers and Better Photos | Samir Bharadwaj dot Com

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