Grrrr, broken fileserver (by )


I fitted a nice Maxtor OneTouch 250GB USB/Firewire disk onto my fileserver - to back its contents up onto, as well as a few other machines, the USB-ness giving it the "cheap, random access" goodness of a disk with the "removeable and lockable up, moveable between machines and sites" goodness of tape.

Plugged it into the machine - which runs NetBSD - and it said it detected a USB mass storage device (umass0) and reported that the device was SCSI tunnelled over USB - but then didn't seem to detect the resulting SCSI bus, unlike as shown here.

I eventually found somebody else with the problem here, and a solution here.

So I rebooted the server... and it didn't come back up. The boot loader ran, but the kernel didn't run - I don't even get the copyright message, just DDB's message stating how many bytes big the symbol table is, then it freezes.

MUCH experimentation later has revealed:

  • It can boot off a floppy, but the floppy boot loader that loads the kernel from floppy fine still can't load the kernel off of the disk, so it's not the boot loader
  • Compiling a new kernel or downloading and using a GENERIC kernel don't fix it either
  • Blanking the disk (don't worry, I put all the data onto a second disk first!) and reinstalling onto a totally fresh filesystem still doesn't fix it
  • Unplugging the USB disk doesn't help (that's the only hardware change I've made that could have brought this on, within memory)

What I'm going to do next is to try a fresh new hard disk and install onto that, just in case there's a subtle problem with my hard disk somewhere. But if that doesn't work, then it's going to be time to boot from the install floppy and get a shell up, mount the USB disk and the local hard disks, and transfer everything across and then set up a new server from scratch, which will cost me money, but I need my NFS server back!

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