All may not yet be lost
Due to previous idiocies, I did in fact have several installs of various iterations of Ubuntu on the desktop. One I have brought up from 10.04 to 12.04, and set as my default fallback position; I can work on that. Another I am currently advancing from 12.04 through various leapfrogs to 14.04, the iteration that failed; if I can make that work, then I should be able to move forward, and probably all I will have lost will have been the time it's eaten and the time it's yet to eat. And the frayed temper, and the coolth, and and and.
I am trying to look on it as a learning experience. Certainly I know a few things about Ubuntu now that I didn't know this morning. Tho' mostly it's just a reiteration of what I've always known, that I should've learned what I was doing properly when I started doing it, twelve or fifteen years ago. ('Twas what Geoff said, indeed: "Schedule time," he said, "and spend a hundred hours learning it." Needless to say, I nodded wisely and with good intent and did not do that. And have busked and frauded my way ever since, as I do with everything, hey ho.)
In other news - finally! - be it noted that Gardner Dozois has nice things to say about my first Mars story (including a variation on "I would have bought that") in the latest issue of Locus. I'd link to it, but it's not openly available online. I might prevail upon m'wife (who has the Locus sub in this household) to post a juicy line or two. Then I could link to that.