Machine Failure - 22/12/05
I've had another hardware failure.
When my main Windows computer's disk died (see below) I did a spot of surgery. I actually bought a whole new machine. I then swapped the broken disk in the old machine with 2 IDE drives in RAID 1 formation and turned the old machine into my new Linux box. It seems the whole experience was too much for it. It started to get unreliable last month, with a couple of spontaneous reboots happening every day in some cases. Then a couple of nights ago there was a crackle and a smell of burning and nothing more from the CPU. At first I thought it was the CPU itself, but conventional wisdom tells me that it's more likely to be a capacitor in the PSU which has blown and taken out the 5v power rail. So maybe the box is repairable, but a new one was long overdue.
So, a quick visit to Dabs resulted in the delivery of a new Shuttle case with an Athlon64 3700 and a couple of gigs of RAM to go into it. I wanted to reuse the almost-new IDE drives from the old box, so went with an older Shuttle design which has IDE headers (as opposed to SATA, which actually this box also has). I put it all together and apart from a small aberation from the graphics card it all seemed to work first time. Except Linux.
I'd fully expected the Linux system on the 2 drives to boot quite happily on the new machine. The hardware is very similar to the box they came out of. But no, it didn't want to play. The kernel paniced when it tried to find the root filesystem on RAID1 /dev/md0. I didn't, and still don't, understand why. The disks were in the same logical places, and as far as I can see nothing significant had changed. I could still boot a rescue disk and mount the /dev/md0 filesystem. I suspect the old machine being a 32 bit Athlon CPU, and the new one being a 64 bit Athlon CPU might have something to do with it, but I'm not sure. Weird.
Anyway, a reinstall wasn't a great hardship, and all my data was sitting on the still functioning RAID array, so now that's done and I'm back online again. I now have 2 dinky Shuttles, more space and a lot less noise and heat being generated. These boxes will happily accompany me back to Australia in the new year!
Disk Failure - 1/11/05
It all went quiet for a short while there, didn't it? For good reason - I had a disk failure in my Windows computer. Being the Windows machine, it didn't have anything of great importance on it, but it did leave me without Photoshop and the other tools I use to do my photos. Fortunately I had a back up of my USA images, so normal service will be resumed soon.
I tried to rescue the disk, of course. I put it in the freezer, whacked it with a hammer, and various other tricks that might encourage it to spin up, but it wasn't having it. It's dead. Less than 2 years old too, and the second of the 3 Western Digital disks I bought in Perth to have died on me. Come to think of it, the third, which is still going, was a replacement for the first to have died, so maybe that one's time is due soon. I don't think Western Digital will be getting any more sales from me any time soon.
The quickest route back to normality would have been for me to buy a new hard disk, reinstall my software and data on it, and start using it. I could have been back up and running within a couple of days. But I chose to use this opportunity to overhaul my machines, which I'd been planning on doing since I left Australia.
I gave my Linux machine to Clive before we left, since it was ancient and not worth storing or shipping. I did ship the Windows machine back to the UK since that was only about 3 years old and still had enough life left in it to justify moving it around the world. That meant when we got here I didn't have a proper Linux machine, so my old PIII-500 laptop has been doing my web, email, aMule, and other Linux stuff, plus it runs the DHCP, BIND, SOCKS5 and other servers for the other machines I have on the network. It was a tad sluggish, to put it mildly.
So I decided to make the old Windows machine, with the dead disk, into a Linux machine, and buy a new Windows machine for Photoshop, games and other other Windows related, erm, work. Bitten by data loss from this disk dying I decided on mirrored pairs of disks in case one fails again, so I bought 4 250GB drives - that's a terrabyte of storage for 300 quid!
Setting up RAID 1 on Linux was pretty easy and I did all that over last weekend. In an effort to get the noise of the machine down I did the old "suspend the disks on elastic" trick, which, it turns out, does actually work. But the case has 4 fans in it, so it didn't make a whole lot of difference in the end! I then installed SUSE Linux 10.0 on the machine, and now have a fairly decent desktop Linux box once again. An Athlon 1700XP might be pretty slow by today's standards, but after a PIII-500 laptop it feels like it goes like the blazes!
Which leaves the new Windows machine to put together. I got a Shuttle case and a pile of bits - Athlon 64, another 2 250GB drives, 2GB of RAM, and so on, and that's all still sitting on the floor waiting to be assembled into something more useful. Which hopefully I'll get around to this weekend...
The next batch of photos are, if I recall correctly, from the drive from Escalante to the Rocky Mountains. It was all snowy and very pretty, and since Tina did a good part of the driving I got a few photos taken. Those will hopefully be up within a couple of weeks, but I suspect that depends on how the assembly of the new machine goes together...
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