Thursday, 8 September 2011

By on September 8th, 2011 in computing, personal, technology

09:47 – My main office system started making a bad sound yesterday afternoon. I hoped it was a fan bearing failing, but I feared it was one of the hard drives. This system is a quad-core that we built a few years ago, and it still has the original main hard drive, a 750 GB Seagate Barracuda. It also has two other hard drives that we installed later, both 1.5 TB Barracudas. Those drives were installed before the 1.5 TB Barracuda was officially released, which should give you some idea of the age of this system.

At any rate, it turned out it was one of the hard drives, of course. It was one of the 1.5 TB drives, which I use for on-line backup. Here’s what happened when I unmounted it and ran jfs_fsck on it.

thompson@darwin:~$ sudo jfs_fsck -a /dev/sdb5
jfs_fsck version 1.1.12, 24-Aug-2007
processing started: 9/8/2011 8.58.17
The current device is: /dev/sdb5
ujfs_rw_diskblocks: read 0 of 4096 bytes at offset 32768
ujfs_rw_diskblocks: read 0 of 4096 bytes at offset 61440
Superblock is corrupt and cannot be repaired
since both primary and secondary copies are corrupt.


Fortunately, the entire contents of the failed hard drive are replicated on the other 1.5 TB drive. I didn’t want to tear down this system to replace the drive, so I stuck a new 2 TB Barracuda in an external USB drive frame and formatted it jfs. I’m now copying about a third of a million files totaling about 1,300 GB from the working 1.5 TB drive to the external 2 TB drive. At USB 2.0 speeds of about 25 MB/s, that’s going to take 13 or 14 hours to complete.

I really do need to take the time to get our computer situation straightened out. Right now, Barbara has a 6-core Core i7 system with 6 TB of disk space in her office, which is gross overkill. She has that system, which was to be my new desktop system, because it was the only one ready to hand when her old system started having problems. She uses her system only for email, web browsing, and so on, so I think what I’ll do is build her a new system around an Intel Atom motherboard much like the one I’m currently using in my den system. Or I may just swap my den system into her office and replace it with another Atom system. At that point, I can strip down and discard my current main office system, which is nearing the end of its design life. Heck, I’m still running Ubuntu 9.04 on it, which has been unsupported for a year now. But all of that takes time, which is in very short supply right now.

20 Comments and discussion on "Thursday, 8 September 2011"

  1. dkreck says:

    If you’re going to have to similar disks like that why not have them on a RAID controller?

  2. Alberto S. Lopez says:


    It’s nice and refreshing to have you actually post something having to do strictly with Computers.

    It seems like forever since you’ve talked about computers the weay you used to years ago. Do you think you’ll ever get back to writing about PC’s and operating systems on a regular basis again?

    One can always hope. That would be awesome.

  3. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I did actually think about setting up a RAID, but of course that protects only against drive failures. If the system crashes, for example, both drives in a mirror could be corrupted. The current setup is actually backup. It’s easy enough to mount and unmount volumes as needed.

    I think what I’ll do is dig out an external SATA frame that I haven’t been using. That gives me the best of both worlds. Throughput is ~ 100 MB/s and the external drives are easy to take with me when I leave the house or to disconnect if there’s a bad storm.

    Incidentally, the 2 TB Barracuda has been writing ever since I made that post, and it’s still just warm to the touch.

  4. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I wrote about PCs mainly because people bought books about them. With that market having shrunk a lot, it’s no longer a good use of my time to write about PCs. The truth is, I’ve never been a PC “enthusiast”. I’ve always considered them tools, and never paid any attention to the hype. First and foremost, I consider myself to be a scientist and an educator, and that’s where I’m devoting my time nowadays.

  5. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Computing has matured to the point that many of us who were trained by you, are still current, as things have not changed that much since then.

    I am still working on getting the radio automation in place, which requires Linux. One of the guys I look to for information, has said that when a Linux system starts to go wonky, *do not* shut down, reboot, or unmount anything. Try starting a backup immediately. Unlike Windows, he says, disconnecting in Linux can be fatal. Even if parts of the copy are corrupt, you have more than nothing. Of course, you are well backed-up, but not everyone is.

    I need a server for the audio store of the radio automation, and am looking to the HP Proliant Microserver.

    They are practically giving those away in the UK for some reason, but prices in the US still do not match the discounted UK prices of under US$200 after currency conversion. There are a couple of enthusiasts forums that show how to make it quieter–it is about 30db before messing with it, and one guy got it under 15db. I am a quiet freak, so it has to be quieter than 30db before it can run 24/7 in my house.

    Fifteen watts at idle, and just over 100 watts going full tilt. A 200 watt power supply is provided.

    HP says it is not hot-swap capable, but several experimenters have tested and say that is not true, if certain configurations are implemented.

    I would expect Fry’s to have a good price, but unfortunately, they do not carry it. I am not desperate for it yet, and hope the price will come down before I am.

  6. OFD says:

    Chuck makes a good point above; may of us WERE trained by you, Robert, in some way, shape or form, whether it was NT, TCP/IP, or the myriad of posts on computer topics over the years. And a bunch more went over to Linux as a result, too. I have played with it since Red Hat 6.2 on a desktop from Costco back circa 2000/2001 and now have Ubuntu 11.04 on an old state gummint laptop that used to run XP, Scientific Linux 6.0 on a new 8GB 1.5TB machine that came with Windows 7, and at work we run hundreds and hundreds of Red Hat and CentOS blades and nodes in large high-performance IBM clusters. I should probably add that some folks might also have got trained in conservatism, libertarianism, astronomy, and now, of course, chemistry and biology.

    Good job, Bob! You have made a tremendous difference in many lives, many more than you think, probably.

  7. BGrigg says:

    Bob’s head will swell so big, it won’t fit in the internet!

    It’s true, all of it, but now HE knows! 😀

    I don’t know if people have been trained in Libertarianism, but some where taught regardless!

  8. CowboySlim says:

    “I don’t know if people have been trained in Libertarianism, but some where taught regardless!”

    Actually, I came to it independently back in the early and mid ’70s. Fortunate enough to have attended a live lecture series from Andrew J. Galambos:

    He put it all together, von Mises, Paine, Bastiat, Smith, et. al, better than anybody in IM(not so)HO.

  9. Stu Nicol says:

    Oh yeah, I forgot this:

  10. Miles_Teg says:

    Yeah, I’ve become an almost-libertarian because of this site. But I draw the line at anarchism. I’ll become one of them about the same time hell freezes over.

  11. Dave B. says:

    Yeah, I’ve become an almost-libertarian because of this site. But I draw the line at anarchism. I’ll become one of them about the same time hell freezes over.

    Over the time I’ve been reading this site, my views have shifted toward the libertarian as well. Of course there was a shift back toward conservatism the first time I held my daughter.

  12. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Thanks for the kind words, but I guess I should confess that I don’t actually know anything about any of these topics. I just make it all up as I go along.

  13. BGrigg says:

    My suspicions, all along. And why not? Works for me, too!

  14. Dave B. says:

    Another interesting trend in the shift of my views. I’m most definitely not an Atheist, but I’m growing more critical of those who would attribute to miracles what that which has an obvious natural explanation. For example, diabetes and fertility problems run in my wife’s family. There is a link between the fertility problem in question and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is for lack of a better term the early stage of Type 2 diabetes. My sister in law is paying better attention to what she eats than she has in years, therefore she is healthier, and guess what! It’s a miracle, she’s pregnant! Nope, it’s cause and effect.

  15. BGrigg says:

    Well, I’m pretty sure that she didn’t get pregnant by eating. Prez Clinton said that wasn’t sex!

  16. Greg says:

    Every single Seagate drive I’ve purchased in the last few years died with clicks of death. A total of six drives in three years. I’m never buying another Seagate. They have totally thrown away any semblance of quality control.

  17. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    That’s odd. I know there was a problem with Seagate drives purchased from NewEgg for some months a few years ago. They were shipping bare drives without padding, and some of them took a beating. But they addressed that a long time ago. I don’t have a statistically-valid sample personally, but of the hundreds of Seagate hard drives I’ve installed over the years for myself, friends, and clients, I’ve seen very, very few failures.

    I don’t know exactly when I installed these drives, but I’m guessing they probably have maybe 30,000 POH. I should probably see if my contacts at hard drive recovery companies are still working there. The last time I asked them, they all recommended Seagate highly and used Seagates in their personal systems. But it’s probably been a couple years since I surveyed them.

  18. Miles_Teg says:

    BGrigg wrote

    “Well, I’m pretty sure that she didn’t get pregnant by eating. Prez Clinton said that wasn’t sex!”

    He didn’t inhale, and didn’t swallow either, judging by the amount of spunk on Monica’s dress… 🙂

  19. Miles_Teg says:

    I’ve had a Seagate drive die in the last couple of years, but out of 2-3 dozen over the last 10 years that’s not bad.

  20. Miles_Teg says:

    *she didn’t swallow.

    Damn, I wish you could edit posts like you used to be able to.

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