A Knoppix Rescue

Where I work, we’re just a bit paranoid, so it’s not enough to just mirror your bootdisk and have it backed up to tape, we also create an extra bootable volume, just in case. The extra bootdisk comes in very handy for doing OS upgrades, allowing us to install a new OS on the extra bootdisk with a very easy fallback to the original OS.

I’d been running one server on the (former) extra bootdisk and it was time to restart the cron job that keeps the extra bootdisk up-to-date. The cron job ran fine and I checked out the disk, everything looked fine. It was then time to check out the (new) extra bootdisk, so I picked a slow time, hopped on the console and issued the shutdown. BIOS checks went as expected, the screen cleared and I waited for the grub menu to appear. And I waited and all it said was “GRUB GRUB”. Ahhhhh what is happening?

What I’d forgotten was that the new extra bootdisk was actually the first disk in the system and it had the bootable partition on it. And it had the grub bootloader on it. And that the cron job recreated the ext3 filesystem using mke2fs, which ended up trashing the bootloader.

I ended up grabbing a Knoppix CD that I had at the house and ran into the office so I could attempt to recover. Knoppix can boot up the Compaq ML-380 my system is on, but for some reason, it didn’t automatically make the devices for the CCISS drives. Looking at the lsmod output, I found that it did contain the cciss.o module, so I just had to figure out what the major and minor numbers and do the appropriate mknod commands. (The cciss devices are major number 104 and c0d0 has minor number 0, c0d0p1 minor 1, c0d0p2 minor 2, c0d1 minor 16, c0d1p1 minor 17, etc.) I could then mount the partition, do a grub-install and reboot successfully.

A couple of Knoppix cheat codes also came in handy, booting with knoppix-txt instead of knoppix (to keep from going into graphics mode, just in case the kvm setup can’t handle it) and using ‘2’ so that it just drops straight to a root bash prompt (no need to go fully graphical when the command line is all you need).

I’ve also updated the cron job so that it always puts the grub bootloader on the extra bootdisk, no matter if it’s the first disk in the system or not :-)

Friday December 10, 2004   ·   Permalink

You know you're a geek parent...

...when you decide to write a Perl script to query the library’s web-based catalog to check and see if the new movie your kids want to see is currently checked in and have it page you when it shows up instead of just going and getting a video club membership.

The best part is when you get home and the kids give you a hug for writing such a cool script and getting the movie.

Wednesday December 8, 2004   ·   Permalink

Cool Use for Legos

Mark Simonson shows off how he used Legos to hold film for scanning while working on scanning old typeface films.

Very neat idea. He even made up little one way stops so he could keep the film in tension.

(via Kottke)

Thursday October 14, 2004   ·   Permalink

4383 Days and Counting

Happy Anniversary dear. Doesn’t feel like a day over 4000.

Sunday October 10, 2004   ·   Permalink

Great Resource for Church Websites

HealYourChurchWebsite pointed to the CPC Website Ministry FAQ as a great resource for thinking about and implementing a church website.

Tuesday September 14, 2004   ·   Permalink

More Tricks of the Trade!

Matthew Baldwin author of the Morning News article Tricks of the Trade article mentioned below had more tricks than what he could print in the article and has been receiving more. He’s decided to start a Tricks of the Trade Weblog to publish more tricks and possibly compile them for a book. Wonderful!

Saturday September 11, 2004   ·   Permalink

Tricks of the Trade

The Morning News has a fun list of Tricks of the Trade from different occupations. I hope they continue to collect more of them.


Patients will occasionally pretend to be unconscious. A surefire way to find them out is to pick up their hand, hold it above their face, and let go. If they smack themselves, they’re most likely unconscious; if not, they’re faking.

(via Kottke)

Wednesday August 25, 2004   ·   Permalink

Setting interface speeds on Gigaswift ce interfaces with ce.conf

There is (unfortunately) not much information about correctly setting interface speeds on Solaris systems with their Gigaswift (ce) cards using the ce.conf file instead of using ndd commands after the interface has been brought up. Even some of the documentation on the Gigaswift device driver was incomplete/incorrect (don’t ask me how I know this).

The one page that seems to be complete and correct is their free infodoc 72033: Correct Use of the Driver Configuration File to Force the Sun™ GigaSwift Ethernet Adapter’s Operational Parameters. Hopefully a few more links to the page will help make it just a little easier to find.

Friday August 13, 2004   ·   Permalink

Removing IE from Windows

Crackbaby.com has posted detailed instructions on how to remove IE from Windows. Seems that the author did such a good job, even a MS engineer contacted him about how he did it though they’ll not actually help folks to remove IE.

Pretty funny stuff.

Thanks BoingBoing for the pointer.

Thursday July 29, 2004   ·   Permalink

Beer from your Coffeemaker

A friend pointed me to an article from All About Beer showing how to demonstrate beer making with a coffe pot

Now how many coffee makers will I need to make a case of beer?

Thanks TeamLarry.

Monday July 26, 2004   ·   Permalink

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