Laptop Failure Playbook


Something in my laptop died a few days ago. I’m hoping it’s a simple change and it’s back to its (very) old self. Thank God I was able to get my hands on an alternate machine to use in the interim.

While the scary prospect of not having a machine to work from was avoided, I had to go from a fresh installation of Windows 7 to something that resembled my work environment. No easy feat since this particular machine is a culmination of software and configurations from the last six years.

I’m prepared for some levels of failure in my setup. I have two monitors, two laptop batteries, two keyboards, two mice and three laptop chargers. When any of those fail, it’s pretty straightforward to replace.

The laptop itself is not a drop-in replacement. It has implicit state that makes it my environment. Being able to run npm init or git clone from cmd.exe is a result of installed software and path configurations.

While I figure out a more efficient way to easily replicate that state in a new machine, I’ll document how to get the more complicated pieces set up to make it much easier the next time I have to do this. There will be a next time and it would be helpful to have a playbook to make the steps more clear.

I’ll write them in here for now, but I’ll break them out into their own detailed write-ups.

Required Software
1. Google Chrome
2. Git
4. Node.js
5. Dropbox
6. Heroku Toolbelt

Configure SSH
1. Generate a keypair with Puttygen.
2. Save the .ppk at c://Users/akamaozu/.ssh
3. Save the public key as in the same folder.
4. Save the private key as id_rsa in the same folder. No pass phrase.

Updates – Feb 15, 2017
– Moved a Putty, Puttygen and Sublime Text into Dropbox
– Added Heroku Toolbelt

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  • Adim Ofunne

    I have been in your situation a bunch of times actually and it sucks, one particular time my laptop was stolen. That was in 2007. It was a disaster,I lost files, pictures, music, things I can never get back and also getting a new computer did not even feel right (even though it was a significantly better machine) because of what you listed above. I have thought about the app list you mention and making mine, I even wished I had it whenever I got a new job and was given a fresh machine. What I am about to say next is not a troll, I know I troll you all the time but this is not one of them.

    About half of your list there is not needed if you run a Mac. No need for putty and puttygen or XAMPP (mac has an inbuilt webserver). Running a Mac here has already reduced the things you have to install by half. Also Macs have a Time Machine that is a robust backup tool. This saved me the last time my machine died. I bought a new machine and connected my external (Where I had been backing up) and after I restored my backup to the new machine I was literally using the machine that died.Every configuration, setting and wallpaper was on the new one. Now I am not gonna start a war about Macs are better than PC cause that is subjective, but for a web developer this is true.

    I am sure you are wondering the day I am gonna let you rest about this, but as I write this I realize I never will, LOL, as in for me it is like watching a friend cut themselves over and over again, I cannot allow it. I am qualified to tell you this because I have used ALL windows OS’ since 1992 till windows 7 for a significant amount of time (Months or Years depending on the OS) You have not given OSX a similar shake, I beg you to try it with an open heart. Please do not be a stubborn somebody! LOL

    • I wanna make the argument that no machine comes configured the way you need it for work.

      One-time setup isn’t bad as long as you have a reliable way of reproducing the state.

      My list isn’t complete. Also your own full Mac setup is way more steps than this list.

      The main takeaway here is “make a list”, not “whose list is shorter”. The shorter list isn’t necessarily better or worse.