Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pain In The Ubuntu

  • apt-get updateable to 6.06.1 with no boot up problems!
  • mondoarchive / filesystem backup commandline
  • Ubuntu Server 6.06.1 boot problem solved?
I finally got around to upgrading my little home fileserver. I have always wanted to do a software Raid5 setup for my data partitions and after my workstation HDD failed, I thought now was the time.

I have been using Ubuntu server edition for this box and I wanted to stick with it. I downloaded the latest stable version, Ubuntu Server 6.06.1 for this install. I installed the Promise Ultra100TX2 IDE controlled card that I had on hand, and purchase three new 320GB Western Digital drives for the project from ZipZoomFly (on a really good special).

All this HW is going into an old eMachines case (not ideal). I bought 3.5" to 5.25 mounting kits with cover fans to be able to mount two of the drives in the two external 5.25" slots. Out came the DVD & CD-Rom drives--not a big deal, there is an open IDE connection on the mainboard that I hooked the CD-ROM drive up to temporarily (once installed I remove the CD option from the apt sources.list) and all the drives should now stay relatively cool. A couple of new rounded IDE cables and I was ready to go one the HW side.

The last time I installed ubuntu server it was painless. The / partition was hda1 formatted as ReiserFS. The main data partition was RAID1 (mirror), also ReiserFS on two drives (no spare), add a swap partition and another non-RAID data partition and it was good to go. The drive space was somewhat limited--but for slapping together a bunch of "junk" lying around the house, it worked flawlessly (aside from the mainboard voltage problems--it got replaced).

This time I would do things a little differently:

PartitionhdahdehdgRAID LevelRAID DeviceTotal Useable
/8.1GB8.1GB8.1GB (S)
1 /md08.1GB
/home61.7GB61.7GB61.7GB5 /md1123.4GB

Pretty simple configuration. If one drive fails, I can continue on my way until a replacement is procured while maximizing my available usable space on the data partitions. The setup during the installation for this configuration was very easy. Instead of marking a filesystem for the partitions to be used in the RAID arrays you mark them as devices for RAID. Once completed you scroll to the top and use the configure software RAID option to set up the arrays. When that is done, you scroll down and find your arrays ready to be modified with filesystem options, mount points, etc. Nothing to it.

Unfortunately though, no matter what I did, no matter how I configured things--once the installation was completed the system would go to GRUB and start loading the kernel and then it would just reboot at that point. Endlessly until I turned it off. I can't begin to describe all of the attempts I made to get it to work over the last few days. I can't say why it won't work. Even when I set up the root partition as a non-RAID device, it would still do the same thing.

I conclude (and this is borne out in numerous posts around the net) that ubuntu-server 6.06.1 is broken when it comes to software RAID.

I simply ended up downloading ubuntu-server 5.10 and all is well. My setup is running exactly as I intended it to. I will wait until I am certain the software RAID conflicts in the later versions are fixed before upgrading.

What a total pain. I almost went with a completely different distro but as my little box here uses a lame VIA C3 processor that distro wouldn't even boot.

Update: Once installed as indicated above, I tar'd up the / filesystem into a file on /data and made the following changes to see if an upgrade vs. a clean install would get me into Dapper (6.06.1) without kill my boot up:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

The file now reads:
#changed all the breezy references to dapper & comment out the cdrom entry:
# deb cdrom:[Ubuntu-Server 5.10 _Breezy Badger_ - Release i386 (20051013)]/ breezy main restricted

deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper main restricted
deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper main restricted

## Major bug fix updates produced after the final release of the
## distribution.
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-updates main restricted
deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-updates main restricted

## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from the 'universe'
## repository.
## N.B. software from this repository is ENTIRELY UNSUPPORTED by the Ubuntu
## team, and may not be under a free licence. Please satisfy yourself as to
## your rights to use the software. Also, please note that software in
## universe WILL NOT receive any review or updates from the Ubuntu security
## team.
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper universe
deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper universe

## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from the 'backports'
## repository.
## N.B. software from this repository may not have been tested as
## extensively as that contained in the main release, although it includes
## newer versions of some applications which may provide useful features.
## Also, please note that software in backports WILL NOT receive any review
## or updates from the Ubuntu security team.
#deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-backports main restricted universe multiverse
#deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-backports main restricted universe multiverse

deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-security main restricted
deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-security main restricted

deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-security universe
deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-security universe

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo telinit 6

That's all there was to it. Why a clean install would not work with my software RAID configurations, I still cannot say but the upgrade is done, and I am where I wanted to be in the first place...

I need to find the camera. The cobbled-together HW doesn't look too bad. I think the only original parts from the eMachine that it was originally is the case and a cable or two.

Update: mondorescue is my backup utility of choice to go from bare metal to full restore. After the upgrade above I did an apt-get install mondo and used it to build a root filesystem restore disk for the box with the following command line:

mondoarchive -Oi -d /data/mondo -s 4580m -E "/home /data"\ -0 -F -T /data/mondo/temp -S /data/mondo/scratch
  • -Oi Backup to .iso file(s)
  • -d dir or device to backup to--in this case, write the iso file(s) to /data/mondo
  • -s max size for the .iso files (it came out to 530MB so setting it for DVD was a little excessive)
  • -E Exclude. Exclude the /home & /data partitions--I just wanted a backup of the OS, not the user data.
  • -0 No compression (Default is 3)
  • -F Don't offer to make boot floppies
  • -T Path to temp directory
  • -S Path to scratch directory
I knew that an 8GB root partition was way overkill. 530MB of uncompressed backup proves that point! LOL

Update: Inspecting the kernel source .config file for the Ubuntu 6.06.1 server kernel I see that it is compiled for the Pentium Pro. No wonder it would just continuously reboot on my VIA C3 box!


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