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dEUS week

Filed under: Music — Thomas @ 16:08


For some reason this week turned out dEUS week at home in Barcelona. Ripping the deluxe edition of Worst Case Scenario that came with the DVD, I finally watched the 'Time is the state of my jeans' documentary about the album.

So I thought, why not go the whole hog, and use some dangerous pirate site to download the Belpop special about dEUS, and get through all of it.

The contrast between these two documentaries was very revealing.

The first one focuses only on the album, with interviews of the band members together, and they turn out very different than in the second where people were interviewed separately. In the joint interviews, you can see how Tom's controlling side comes out and talks over the other people; maybe I'm reading too much into it, but you even see some of the band members bite their tongue and being reminded of why they left the band in the first place. It doesn't paint as nice a picture of Tom.

The second documentary makes him look a lot nicer. They seem to actually show bits of the other interviews to each member, so they can still react, and usually it ends up with loud laughter. The stories are better too, the second documentary goes more in-depth. The international stars make a comeback experience, which I guess is unavoidable.

It's fun to see the history from before the first album, and it reminded me of the first time I saw them - a little festival 20 km from my house in the sports room of a school, where they were the last band before headliner Nemo (who had just released their debut). dEUS in its early days was sloppy but dangerous - when you see the live recordings of that period of Suds & Soda for example, they mess up one of the two notes in the riff, mess up the rhythm and the phrasing, and so on.

The second documentary is full of funny moments. My favorite is when Rudy Trouvé talks about the EP after the debut:
"Tommy thinks that my sister = my clock really (long pause) made sure that a part of the audience tuned out. I think so too (starts giggling evily)".

The Belpop documentary is definitely the better one of the two.

The bonus disc for the WCS deluxe edition is a nice collection of stuff I painstakingly collected at the time, just in time for our current music consumption culture. Kinderballade, their only dutch-spoken song (and one of my favourite tracks they ever did) was on a hard-to-find tribute album, probably made around my sister = my clock because the sounds are so similar, but beautifully done. Their b-sides from that album are plentiful and excellent.

The one answer neither documentary answers is the question I've always had about the debut album - why did the English version have a different tracklist ? For me, Via will always be followed by Let Go. Yeah, maybe Right as Rain is a better song, but it's not right in the flow of the album. Same for Great American Nude - an amazing song, but after the 50 second splinter bomb of shake your hip (the real ending of the album to me), the only thing that fits is the completely atypical dive bomb djingle. Great American Nude brings the energy back up instead of doing something out of character to go back to the opening track. I just have no idea what was wrong with the original release.

I hope to get off planet dEUS by next week, but an album like this that hit when I turned 18 is going to be in my head forever. They were, and still are, an excellent band.

Here's hoping that two years from now the WCS gang gets together again to play the album together. Come on Rudy and Klaas, give it a think.

After so many years, I also finally appreciate a track like WCS (First Draft). I used to hate that song, but today it's one of my favorites. Time is the state of my jeans is as good a definition of time as time is what turns kitten into cats.

399 days without hard drive failures

Filed under: Fedora,sysadmin — Thomas @ 20:36


Well, it's been a record 399 days, but they have come to an end. Last weekend, a drive in my home desktop started failing. I had noticed some spurious SATA errors in dmesg before, and load times were rising (although lately in the 3.4/5/6 kernels I've been running I've actually seen that happen more and more, so it wasn't a clear clue).

Then things really started slowing down, and a little later I noticed the telltale clicking sound a drive can make when it's about to give up.

Luckily life has taught me many valuable lessons when it comes to dealing with hard drives. The failing drive was a 1TB drive in a RAID-1 software raid setup, so fixing it would be simple - buy a new 1TB drive and put it in the RAID, and just wait for hours on end (or, go to sleep) as the RAID rebuilds.

A few years ago I started keeping track of my drives in a spreadsheet, labeling each drive with a simple four digit code - the first two digits the year I bought the drive in, and the second two digits just a sequence (and before you ask, the highest those two digits got so far is 07 - both in '11 and '12). The particular drive failing was 0906, so the drive was about 3 years old - reasonable when it comes to failure (given that it has been running pretty much 24/7), but possibly still under warranty, and I've never had the opportunity to try and get a disk back under warranty, although this particular one was bought in Belgium.

But I digress.

Of course, I seldom take the simple route. When buying hard drives, I basically only follow one rule - buy the biggest drive with the cheapest unit price. And at last, Barcelona stores have gotten to the 3TB drives being at that sweet spot. So, why buy a comparatively expensive 1 TB drive and not get to have any fun with complicated drive migration?

So I settled on a 3TB Seagate Red drive (this is a new range specifically for NAS systems, although I'm not convinced they're worth the 6% extra cost, but let's give it a try) so I could replace the penultimate 2TB drive in my ReadyNAS, get 1TB of extra capacity on that, and then just use the newly freed 2TB drive in my desktop computer.

Of course, that's when I ended up with two problems.

Problem 1 was the NAS. The ReadyNAS was at 10TB already, having 4 3TB drives and 2 2TB drives with dual redundancy. I took out a tray, replaced the drive, put it back in, and then waited a good 18 hours for the array to rebuild. (The ReadyNAS has something they call XRaid2 which really is just a fancy way of creating software raids and grouping them with LVM, but in practice it usually works really well - figuring out a number of raid devices it should create using the mix of physical drives).

This time, it had correctly done the raid shuffle, but then gave me an error message saying it couldn't actually grow the ext4 filesystem on it because it ran out of free inodes. Ouch. A lot of googling told me that I should try to do an offline resize, so I stopped all services using the file system, killed all apple servers that somehow don't shut down, and did the offline resize. And then I rebooted.

The ReadyNAS seemed to be happy with that at first, saying it now had more space (although depending on the tool you use, it still says 10TB, because of the 2 to the 10/10 to the 3rd number differences adding up). But soon after that it gave me ext3 errrors. Uh oh.

With sweaty palms, I stopped all services again, unmounted the file system, and fsck'd it. And almost immediately it gave me a bunch of warnings about wrong superblocks, wrong inodes, all in the first 2048 sectors. Sure I have backups, but I wasn't looking forward to figuring out how up-to-date they were and restoring up to 10 TB from them.

I gasped for air and soldiered on, answering yes to all questions, until it churned away, and I went to sleep. The next morning, a few more yeses, and the file system seemed to have been checked. Another reboot, and everything seemed to be there... Phew, bullet 1 dodged.

On to problem number 2 - the desktop. The first bit was easy enough - although I've never been able to use gdisk to copy over partition tables like I used to with fdisk - it seems to say it did it, but it never actually updates the partition table. Anyway, I created it by hand copying the exact numbers, then added the partitions to the software raid one by one, and again waited a good 6 hours.

And looking at my drive spreadsheet, I noticed I had a spare 2TB drive lying around that I was keeping in case one of the NAS drives would fail - but given that most of them are 3TB right now, that wouldn't be very useful. So, after the software raid rebuilt in my desktop, I switched out the working 1 TB drive as well, and repeated the whole dance.

So now I had 2 2TB drives, 1 TB of which was correctly used. At this point I would normally figure out how to grow the partitions, then the md device, then the LVM on it, and then finally grow my ext4 /home partition. But since it's using LVM and I never played with it much, this time I wanted to experiment.

I still had the working 1TB drive which I could use as a backup in case everything would fail, so I was safe as houses.

At first I was hoping to do this with gparted live, but it seems gparted doesn't understand either software raid or lvm natively, so it's back to the command line.
Create two linux raid partitions on the two 2TB drives, assemble a new md device, and spend a lot of time reading the LVM howto.

In the end it was pretty simple; step 1 was to use vgextend to add the new md to the volume group, and then lvextend -l 100%FREE -r to grow the logical volume and resize the file system all at once. That automatically fsck's (which you can follow progress of by sending USR1) and then resize2fs (which you can't really check progress of once it's started)

(By now, we're over a week into the whole disk dance, in case you were wondering - doing anything with TB-sized disks takes a good night for each operation).

Except that now rebooting for some reason didn't work - grub complained that it didn't know the filesystems it needed - /boot is on a software raid too, and even though I don't recall running anything grub-related in this whole process, I had swapped out a few disks and may have botched something up when transferring boot records.

At the same time, I was also experimenting with Matthias's excellent new GLIM boot usb project (where you finally just drop in .iso files if you want to have multiple bootable systems on your usb key, without too much fidgeting), so I tried doing this in system rescue cd.

Boot into that, manually mount the right partitions, chroot into that, and then grub2-install /dev/sda.

Except that grub complained saying

Path `/boot/grub2' is not readable by GRUB on boot. Installation is impossible. Aborting.

Most likely this was due to it being on a software raid. Lots of people seemed to run into that, but no clear solutions, so I went the dirty way. I stopped the raid device, mounted one half of it as a normal ext file system (tried read-only first, but grub2-install actually needs to write to it), ran grub2-install, unmounted again. Then I recreated the software raid device for /boot again by reassembling, and that somehow seemed to work.

Reboot again, and this time past GRUB, but dropped in a rescue shell. My mdadm.conf didn't list the new raid device, so the whole volume group failed to start. Use blkid to identify the UUID, add that to /etc/mdadm.conf (changing the way it's formatted, those pesky dashes and colons in different places), verify that it can start it, and reboot.

And finally, the reboot seems to work. Except, it needs to do an SELinux relabel for some reason! And in the time it took me to write this way-too-long blogpost, it only managed to get up to 54%.

And I was hoping to write some code tonight...

Oh well, it looks like I will have 1TB free again on my NAS, and 1TB of free space on my home desktop.

There is never enough space for all of the internet to go on your drives...

UPDATE: SELinux relabeling is now at 124%. I have no idea what to expect.