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Hardware

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 6:01 pm

2005-11-13
6:01 pm

Have I ever mentioned before that I hate hardware ? The only good thing about hardware is that it lets me transfer chunks of creation in my mind to something real. But other than that, I hate it with a passion.

Two weeks ago on Tuesday, there was a day off, which I switched for a Friday because Peter and Tinneke were going to be there on that Friday. So I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to switch out my personal hard drive which was in Fluendo’s router (after last year’s hard drive crash – CUE OMINOUS MUSIC) for a new one I bought. Only Andy and me in the office, so not too much complaining about not having Internet, right ?

So I press the little switchityswitch button on the KVM thingamole to go to the router screen and shut it down. Passing by one of the screens I noticed a lot of “hda”, “{ … }”, “DMA” and “error” bits across one of the screens. Oh, great – clocktime, our 64-bit test machine was having hard drive issues. I restarted it to fsck the machine, but fsck told me the root directory’s inode was lost. So that made most of the files end up in lost+found, without any names (sigh), and fsck complained during checking that lost+found was too small to hold everything… The only thing I had going for me that day was that we happened to have a big enough hard drive lying around being used for a development board that didn’t have that much installed on it.

I dd’d the smaller firewall HD onto the new one, then resized the ext2 partitions (first time, but worked fine), except that GRUB didn’t really work anymore after that.
I couldn’t boot the firewall’s machine off a CD either, so in the end I had to fiddle to get PXE booting going just to be able to start up a rescue environment. grub-install didn’t seem to correct the problem. So I thought I’d run an upgrade with the same distro version (FC3), to fix my bootloader settings, which didn’t happen because that only gets done if it upgrades the kernel. Sigh – would be nice if you could do this somehow from the install CD. Booted again in rescue mode, removed the kernel, rebooted, tried to install again – it still didn’t want to install a kernel.

It took me pretty much the whole day to fix up both machines – big waste of time. It should have been a routine upgrade.

In the same week, my Dave/Dina system at home started mysteriously hanging roughly every six hours. The week before, it was consistently hanging whenever any video had lots of white in it. It kept getting worse, and the hard drive started throwing errors as well. Sigh. It also started hanging a lot faster. By the time Peter and Tinneke arrived, it wouldn’t run for more than an hour.

So, among other things, I bought a new hard drive – and some extra RAM for the home machine, now that I’m running VMWare a lot – to copy Dave/Dina’s music over. Only, sadly, the drive was already too far gone, throwing input/output errors for most directories. Luckily, I had made a copy of everything on it just two weeks before – for Peter’s birthday. See – being a nice person pays off. Peter had brought his USB drive to Barcelona and I ended up with a full restore of the music.


Flat with nine drives
but they’re dead, Jim

We ran memtest on a bunch of memory chips, and it came up with errors, but not the kind we’re used to. Then Peter started to spin an amazing tale about bulging and leaky capacitors. And yes – the capacitors on the board looked a little brownish and bulgy. But I could hardly believe that whole ranges of motherboards were broken because some board maker stole the secret formula for the electrolyte. It sounded like bad James Bond. But Peter was convinced, and showed me some webpages documenting the problem. And a few days a similar story was on SlashDot – so I guess it must be true.

Anyway, long story short – Dave/Dina is currently broken, leaving us without music and series to watch. So, time for some new hardware soon…

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