Ken's House Cleanup


Warren, Bohdi, Scott, and DonnieWarren, Bohdi, Scott, and DonnieDonnie Lunder and Warren Sanders (both from the BillingsLUG) picked me up about noon on their way to Helena. The reason we went so early, given the fact that the service wasn't until 6:30PM, was because we had a mission: 1) Gain access to all of Ken's computers, see what they are running, and save anything that needed to be saved, and 2) Go through all of Ken's computer related stuff and help get rid of everything so the family doesn't have to.

We arrived in Helena and visited Judy and Lynn (Ken's mother) at Ken's house. They showed us Ken's computer, Judy's computer, Ken's books and data CDs/DVDs, and eleven server machines in the basement.

Working with the computers

Ken's computer was dual-boot (Fedora Core 6 and Windows XP). Judy's computer was Fedora Core 6. The eleven servers were mostly coreOS which is a distro Ken built himself after mastering the Linux From Scratch project. As best as I could tell, coreOS is an extremely stripped down system with not much more than you need to get the job done. Most of the systems were running 2.4.x kernels... and many of them were multi-boot with a combination of versions of coreOS, Slackware, and even CentOS. Two of the eleven servers were set up to be routers / firewalls for his network. Most of the computers were a bit dated but since they were running the lightweight coreOS system and no GUI was present, they were more than sufficient.

Warren Works on Judy's Computer

Judy said that she had tried to use Linux but really wanted her computer to be converted to a Windows only system that she could give to her son. We found a Windows XP install CD with license key and Warren got busy installing it. I'm sure most of us are familiar with the process... install windows, update windows, reboot, update windows, reboot.

Donnie Gets Busy with the Network

Donnie took on the project of looking through Ken's computer for account information for Godaddy and another registrar I forgot the name of. We wanted to find a way to get the and domain names transfered out of Ken's name. Donnie found most of what he needed. Donnie also started tracing down all of the network cables that were running throughout the house in an effort to figure out how it was setup so he could possibly simplify it. Given the fact that there were thirteen computers on his network as well as a wireless access point all getting a feed from a satalite on the roof... it was quite a big task.

Scott Gets Busy with the Servers

We were given a few sheets of paper with usernames and passwords on them but none of them seemed to match up with the machines at his house... so for the Fedora based machines, we just rebooted them in single user mode and changed the root password. For all of the coreOS systems it was quite a different matter. I tried rebooting them and putting them in single user mode (most were running LILO) but it would present a "password needed for maintenance" type prompt. Luckily I had brought a copy of the SystemRescueCD which I was able to boot from as a LiveCD, mount the root partition of each machine, chroot to it, reset the root password, and then boot it up normally to gain access to it. On several of the machines there were several Linux systems to pick from but I assumed the default/first one on the bootloader menu should be the one it was running when we got there. Most of the systems seemed to be testing systems where Ken would build his kernels, assemble coreOS, and do testing. A couple of them ran email for a few domains (,, and One ran the website. After talking to Judy it was determined that all of it was to go although I did rsync the /var/spool/mail dirs and the apache DocumentRoot upto Ken's machine upstairs. I also rsynced the HelenaLUG web content to the MontanaLinux server for archiving.

Bohdi Zazen Helps Move Stuff Out

A fellow from Helena dropped by to give us a hand. He just happens to work with several organizations in the Helena area that refurbs computers and gives them away to people within the community.

Time to Go to the Memorial Service

I plan on writing about the memorial service in a separate post.

After the Memorial Service

Donnie, Warren, Bodhi and I went back to Ken's house after the service was over to finish up. Bodhi and Warren loaded up all but two of the servers and took them over to Bodhi's house.

Warren finished up with Judy's computer. The install media was SP1 so there was quite a bit of work to do. Of course it isn't done until Firefox, Thunderbird and a virus scanner get installed.

Donnie got the router / firewall machines figured out, flashed a Linksys router/AP applicance and got it setup to serve the remaining computers (Ken's and Judy's) and provide DHCP addresses.

The remaining two servers were loaded up into Bodhi's car along with the vast majority of computer books.

Warren helped Judy with Ken's Nokia handheld while Bodhi and Scott cut and pulled the long stretches of no-longer needed CAT-5 cabling that ran across the ceiling of the basement.

We grabbed what was left of the books, CDs, DVDs, and floppy disks. We said our goodbyes to the family... and drove over to Bodhi's to help him unload everything into his garage.

Heading Home

We considered spending the night at Bodhi's house but decided instead just to drive back to Belgrade since it was only about a 90 minute drive. We got to Belgrade about 2AM and went to sleep in short order.

In Conclusion

Bodhi's garage is full of computer stuff, I brought back about twenty books (and a handful of political DVDs) that looked interesting, Donnie had a stack of Linksys router appliances and a 24-port switch and Warren got one book he was interested in. We kind of felt like we had looted a computer store but Judy and Lynn made it clear that we were doing them a big favor by going through everything and getting rid of it for them. I hope that is the case.

The plan is for Bodhi to go through all of the books he has and make a list which will be posted online to let the LUG members lay claim to them. The goal here is to also make donations to the St. Peter's Hospice in Helena in honor of Ken. It will take some time for all of this to happen so stay tuned.

I did take some pictures but they are still in Warren's camera... but once I get a copy of them, I'll post them.

Bodhi's GarageBodhi's Garage

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A very Big Thank you !

Warren, Bohdi, Scott and Donnie,
Lyn and I dont know how to extend our thanks to you for getting things cleaned up for us.
We went from a life expetantcy of 6 months on Thursday the 25th, to 2 weeks to a month on Friday the 26th, to Kens sudden passing on Monday morning. During these quick 4 days, Ken and I were busy saying our good byes to each other, and had not gotten any of his affairs in order. You 4 guys were truly a godsend. Me being basicly a truck driver, I know very little about computers. When I looked at the 11 servers in my basment.. I had no idea what they were running. I found out that there was nothing from Kens employer that I had to worry about, however 1 was possibly the Bozeman Lug,, the rest were and still are a mystery to me.
I know Ken would have agreed and trusted you 4 with this monumental task. As far as the technical books go, I hope they are not too outdated and someone can get good use from them. We had no idea what to do with them and was sure Ken would of liked his fellow Linux friends to have them.
I have came across some more hardware and books that I will be calling Bohdi on, hopefully he and his wife will be able to put it to use it.
I personally cannot express in words my thanks to you gentleman.
Thank you all so very much

Ken's House Cleanup

You folks seemed to be doing a tremendos job for Ken and his family. Bravo! Scott, I am telling my wife Bonnie, that if you are able to please do the same for me.

I only have the one computer, but tons of files, books and discs..


Scott Dowdle's picture


You bet Ed. Hang in there.

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