Too Much Cruft

My life contains too much cruft, not to be confused with ‘stuff’. For those of you not familiar with the term cruft, I will refer to google:

In hacker jargon, cruft is redundant, old or improperly written code which needs to be fixed, but tends to stick around. Large software projects invariably accumulate cruft. The concept can be compared to Philip K. Dick’s idea of kipple. Cruft is sometimes said to be the software equivalent of dust bunnies.

If you follow the link to google, you’ll see that this was plucked from the also-all-knowing Wikipedia. Anyway, there’s a lot of computer related junk collecting here and there, as well as a lot of automated backing up and cleaning that I would like for my computer(s) to do. I have several machines to take care of.

  • Nenya: My desktop system at home. It’s had the current operating system installed without a break since about January 2004. It would have had it installed since around July 2003 but I ran into a hard drive problem and had to switch things around. It’s a Gentoo Linux system, so it’s relatively easy to maintain, but I have about 360 GB worth of storage available for collecting gunk. Attached to this system most of the time is an additional 500 GB of storage via USB 2, in the form of a LaCie 500 GB ‘Big Disk’ which is actually two hard drives in a RAID configuration. It currently has only 128 GB free.
  • Galadriel: Once my desktop, then my lab workhorse, this is now my dedicated MythTV box. It records and plays shows, and drives the sound and video capabilities of my TV, which is actually a 31″ monitor from an old Gateway Destination system.
  • Arwen: Recently given a fresh install of Panther, this is my first laptop, and my first mac. It’s a 500 MHz PowerBook Titanium. It doesn’t really have any cruft to speak of, but it does need an upgrade to Tiger.
  • Lalwende: My 17″ Aluminum PowerBook, currently my workstation at work/lab. In fact, it’s owned by the lab. Since it’s been upgraded to Tiger recently via a wipe and clean install, it has very little cruft. I doesn’t run most of my lab software, which ran fine on Panther. This is an ongoing problem.
  • Not a physical computer, but actually a linode and the host for this website ( as well. This one’s actually in pretty good shape, as it’s a server, and it doesn’t accumulate much cruft.

The machine really in need of work in Nenya. There’s only 3.51 GB of free space on the root filesystem, which is a problem. The home partition, on the other hand, has plenty of space. I’m sure there are some temporary files hanging around somewhere that can be cleaned out. Finally, I need to tweak my automated backups, sync my multiple similar-but-not-identical music and photo collections somehow, and consolidate my lab data.

The school year is too hectic to allow time for this, but fortunately my summer research affords me some flexibility. This is not a leisure-time activity. It’s an investment which allows me to run smoothly when classes are in session, and it’s necessary. It’s not really enjoyable either, except in the way that having a nice, clean result is enjoyable, kind of like cleaning the bathroom.

I’m starting tonight as I wait for our Opteron cluster to churn out some new data.