As a veteran of Operating System experimentation, I can personally vouch that I have flubbed things up more often than I have gotten it right on the first time.Windows XP would crash or my Grub bootloader would fail. Stupid of me, I forgot to set a mount point or I wiped a necessary system file for giggles or error. The true test of skills and test of character in any situation in life comes from how we handle defeat. Do we go down in a burning blaze? Run screaming back to our corners? Or do we fight it out and become the victor of the 8th round against OS Ali?
If you ask your average hardware vendor who simply supplies a Restore disk, they usually say backup, wipe, reinstall. This downfall of system support and shirking of responsibility tends to leave the end user in a realm of lost souls and a feeling of questioned value.
It is to this, I say, “Take up your sword and reclaim your streets!” Empower yourself with the tools. Any good hairstylist knows that better hair care goes beyond “Rinse, Lather, Repeat”.
Is in this situation, I discovered a rather odd tool for the game. The Gentoo Linux installation disk. After attempting a dual boot system on my Powerbook G4 with both Gentoo and Mac OS X, I got sort of burned of the need to compile all my packages. I wanted a second system that was working immediately. So, I began a triple boot system of OS 9, OS X, and Yellowdog. I do not know why, but I kept the Gentoo CDR in my case. Boy, I am glad I did. Somewhere along the line, the boot mechanism of Yellowdog when to heck in a hand basket and the ye old trick of reseting the boot ROM did not work.
I thought about it. What did I have in my arsenal to fix the issue? I glanced at the Gentoo disk and a light went on. Here was a disk that I could boot from, mount existing filesystems, partition, reload a bootloader, and the whole nine yards. And that is exactly what I did. I booted in, killed off the blessed boot partition, reformatted, redid the boot loader and in under 15 minutes I was back in the game.
If I could do that, what else could I do? FAT 16, FAT 32, HFS, HFS+, EXT2, EXT3, ReiserFS … The files were mine to control. I was Geek Almighty with omnipotence. Well almost. I could tackle DOS, Mac OS, and Linux boo boos with the disk, but what about the most widely used OS? Microsoft’s flagship, Windows with its NT filesystem (NTFS)? Support in the Linux realm for NTFS has been kind of lack luster, not by fault. Thanks to some hard work from dedicated people in the Open Source community, we have “read” support in the kernel. Well, at least I can drop right into XP-land and take peek at the neighbor to see what the domestic trouble. But, what good does that do? I have no power to fix it.
Just when I thought I found the miracle pill had its flavour, enter a new player to the game, Captive. This jigsaw of a marriage may make a minister cringe, but to the those of us who waited in line to catch the bouquet and garter, it was a match made in heaven. Captive, in the lightest terms, is a synthesis of developments in ReactOS, Wine, NT know-how, and talent. A child of love, it is true. It plays well with other children in the XP neighborhood, giving Linux users their first shot to both READ/WRITE access to the NTFS. Amazing.
Great! I can hit all the major lands and tour a thousand files all in the comforts of my own desk chair. Theoretically.
So far, it seems that the swiss army knife that began as an Install disk for a distribution I decided against for my laptop, is not complete. There are preparations to be made now. How do we take that CDR image and complete the tune? A kernel recompile to add on the necessary filesystem supports, addition of filesystem modifiers (mkfs.ntfs, permissions, etc), and a nice way to do it all in as few steps as possible. Will we get there? Sure. The battle is almost won. We just have to take the few extra steps to ensure the fortress can hold the new flag of “OS War Hero”.
There is a programmers proverb which says:
‘be prepared to trow away your first version’
Obviously there is the well known LiveCD of GNU/Debian – knoppix http://www.knoppix.net
I haven’t yet gotten around to it but I want to use http://cowww.epfl.ch/~swalter/mbcd/index.php MultiBootCD to make a custom CD with a small knoppix image, winxp pe, and maybe some good anti spy/av/worm apps.
in case something gets fouled up, even if it’s a non-MDK distro.I used it just 2 days ago to fix a screwed-up Xandros install.If you boot up with “linux rescue”, you get the option to re-install the boot loader (not always very useful, re-install the Windows bootloader, or, the most useful option, a recovery console that’s far more capable that the anemic one supplied on Win2K/XP.
The “re-install boot loader” option I’ve found to be unreliable so I usually go straight to the console, mount the partitions, chroot to the appropriate linux installation
and fix GRUB or LILO.
If I’m in the mood to play with operating systems, I have one of those mobile dock drives that will let you pull out one hard drive and stick in another. That way, you don’t have to worry about losing data on your ‘good’ partition.
The downside to this is that having the hard drives in these mobile docks make hard drive while line 10x louder I swear that if any manufacturer were to make a guaranteed ‘quiet’ drive, I’d be willing to pay $300+ for one just to have my sanity back.
Floating around on file sharing networks is an ISO called “Ultimate Admin CD” which is based upon http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/“>Bart , a great tool for creating Windows Boot CDs (that load a minimal XP environment and task manager which can be used to execute other tools). It’s basically a compilation of major boot CD tools (Norton Ghost, Acronis, AV, Winternals, etc.)
You might want to give that a shot to have “true” disaster recovery on an XP/2000 system, or any system that uses NTFS. It gives you tools to fix the registry, perform virus scans, backups, etc. Saved me a few times, especially for friends’ fsck’ed PCs.
But then, remember you’d have to own all the software on the Ultimate Admin CD to legally use it 🙂
(Other than that, using Acronis True Image for backups instead of Windows’ flakey “System Restore” is a great option. True Image does true incremental backups, and has its own bootable CD).
to the article author: IIRC the gentoo cd you are using is based on knoppix. i would do as another gentleman in the thread suggested and get it.
just to show off to some die hard windows fans, i once ran a samba file server off of a knoppix cd. the server never missed a beat.
Darius, what make them so loud when you put a drive in? Is it just all peices of thin metal and no isolators? I suppose if it’s the drive cage, starting with a silent drive to start with would help. Samsung spinpoints are dead quiet. If it’s quiet to start with, maybe it won’t be loud in the rack.
> IIRC the gentoo cd you are using is based on knoppix.
As a diehard gentoo fan I have to ask you how can you even dare to compare gentoo with _k_n_o_p_p_i_x_? 🙂
The only part that might come from knoppix is the hardware detection in the initrd (the slider looks _very_ much like knoppix), but the rest of the live CD is gentoo (compiled by catalyst).
It’s not that they’re loud to start out with, just that all of my hard drives start to scream like banshees after about 3 months of use. I don’t know if I’m just cursed with hard drives that whine or if they all get that way over time.
The reason why the mobile dock makes them louder is that the mobile dock fits into the case like a CD-ROM drive and the drives (which are in a plastic case) slide in like CDs. So the hard drives are fine as long as they’re quiet, but *when* they start to whine, since you don’t have the computer case to help shield the noise, they are that much louder.
Samsung spinpoints are dead quiet
Are they that way by design, or maybe you just haven’t ran into a noisy one yet.
I use a 160gb spinpoint in my external USB-case, and the loudest thing of it is the 40mm fan for the powersupply
When it comes to noise, I can realy recommand this drives.
and they come with 3 years waranty
You are probably going to hate me for mentioning the dead one. But BeOS has saved me so many times when other OS’s has broken down. And even read partitions that was unreadable by the OS it belongs to.
BeOS coupled with a rescue CD is my lifeboat.
Darius, they are quiet by design, fluid bearings. Quietest drive on the market it seams since they don’t make the real quiet seagates anymore. I have a 160 gig SATA models. No issues in 5 months I’ve had it. I have heard the new fluid bearing western digitals are very quiet too, so I may switch back, since they were what I always used till I got a 80gig model that was louder then all hell. I basicly have to put my ear to it to here this samsung.
Sorry this went a bit off topic, but then again HDs are a big part of recovery, since they are often the cause of a problem such as needing to do a recovery when they go bad. Or the noise causes the user to throw the computer into a wall cause the noise sent them bonkers.
i used to run yellow dog and i never had any problems with the installation. i really wonder what went wrong with ydl in this article.
i have never tried gentoo but i would love to try it.
I remember reading on yellowdog linux’s site that there was an issue with firmware upgrades. It appears that in one of the OS X upgrades a firmware patch gets installed and does something funky to the boot sequence. I dont remember if there was a fix or work around. This may or may not be the same issue.
Hope this is somewhat helpful.
In the case of a big corporation… I cannot stress the importance of off-site backups enough! What happens if not only does the hard drive crash, but the room catches on fire, and burns down everything, including your backup tapes? No problem, the office down the street, or even across the country has a backup tape, with an environment setup for disaster recovery.
OT from the main article, but not from the comment stream, and it needs saying.
If your drives get real noisy after a few months, it would behoove you to pay some real attention to airflow in that box.
Hard drive heads are little chunks of ceramic or ferrite. They fly mainly on a film of air, but part of the lubrication, especially at takeoff and landing, is a silicone compound. That lubrication is supposed to last the drive a “lifetime”. The main bearings for the platter spindle also have “lifetime lubrication”.
Excess heat buildup around the hard drives will bake that lubricant, drastically shortening the drive’s life. I once worked at a hard-drive refurbishing facility; I’ve seen what that lubricant looks like when it’s baked. It’s not slick anymore, instead it’s stiff, even abrasive. When the heads take off and land on that, they get sanded until they’re no longer aerodynamic. Meanwhile, the spindle bearings are overheating and warping, if they don’t just crumble and sinter from the heat first.
All of that, just from “baking a drive” — installing it where it gets no cooling airflow, or only gets the waste heat from other hot components.
Next time you’ve got that box up for a while, shut it down, open it up and feel around in there. If your hard drives are too hot to touch comfortably, you’re killing them.
In case of disaster and being in need of disaster recovery i routinely use The CrashRecoveryKit for Linux. This tool can recover your LILO and GRUB boot records, backup your data on both NTFS and ext2/ext3 and other partitions over the network to your master linux server. Or even use a USB2.0 usb-storage device for backup purposes.
About the Captive ntfs read-write filesystem access. It works, but the speed of copying and writing to NTFS lacks seriously. Moreover the Captive tool needs almost a complete GNOME GUI layer, which made me decide not to use it into a thing as the CRK for Linux. If i want a tool which support ntfs in a read-write fashion, i expect it to work from the command line like this :
# modprobe ntfs
# modprobe captive-ntfs
# mount -t ntfs -orw,captive /dev/hda1 /mnt