punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

"Ryoko" died... plus my dryer...

[Ryoko the Gentoo server, not the Tenchi Miyu character, although, that may depend on which OAV you go by]

I am beginning to think larger capacity drives just aren't built very tough. I have had several drives die on me in the last year or so, and all of them have been 20gb +. I still have working 1.2gb drives that are over 8 years old that run daily (like my Linux gateway). So, this system was part of a prototype "demo" built right after the HP/Compaq merger. They gave it to the wardialing team to try it out as a replacement for the HP EPCs, and it sucked donkey balls. We sent them back, they sent us replacements that were much better. One demo sat in the lab for a while, and when we moved to the larger data center, I ended up inheriting this thing. Finally, one day, I tinkered with it.

It's a 2.4ghz box in a tight Micro-ATX form factor body. Ugly silver and gray that used to have a green sticker that said, "Demo for vendors only - not for resale!!" The main problem was this: this was the first box that was all USB. No serial or parallel ports, no PS/2, just USB, video, and audio. Trouble was, they forgot to tell the motherboard this. So when you boot into windows, it hangs for 5 minutes, and then boots normally. This was a problem with wardialers that needed to be rebooted about once an hour. We couldn't load Red Hat on them, and no one bothered to find out why. It was only where I tried different distros of Linux that I figured out what the problem was: the controller is hung on "can't find PS/2 ports at this I/O address..." Finally, it gives up and goes on. But this causes a strange IRQ problem, and so all kinds of weird things happen. Audio flat doesn't work. The IDE controller is also bungled, and that's why Red Hat wouldn't load: it's not Red Hat that can't figure out the MBR at the address, it's GRUB.

LILO, oddly enough, is too dumb to know the difference. So I put Slackware on it.

Nobody wanted this thing, though, because it was an ugly prototype and had all these problems. I contacted our HP rep, and he said, "Ugh, toss that POS out. Take it home. We do NOT want those embarrassing demos back." So...

I took it home, and installed Gentoo on it. It ran as a SETI machine for a while, but then it developed this nasty habit or not being able to boot without manual intervention. It would stop at an error that the hard drive had a bad block, but you could go right past it by hitting "Control-D". This was part of the controller problem, since it always passed fsck.xfs and the hard drive always tested clean. Last year, I made this box a "gateway" to my inner network, figuring if anyone hacked it and tried to reboot it to spread spam or whatever... hahaha...! This was an annoying "feature" when the power went out, though.

Until this morning.

For the last few days, there were read/write "issues" with samba. A reboot fixed it, and on a hunch, I backed up some things. Good thing: this morning, there was a BIOS error that the drive failed its SMART. Doh. The drive? A Maxtor 40gb. DOH!

Cowboys: Max-tor Hard drive???
Cowboy1: ... get a rope...

I wish I had backed up more things. On the scale of disasters, and keeping the RAID5 failure I had a few months ago in perspective, from 1 to 10 where 10 is total carnage and flames, this is about a 4. All my Linux ISO and install files were there, which can all be re-downloaded. I have another hard drive somewhere, so I I'll just put Slackware back on there, because I don't want to recompile Gentoo all over again.

I also ordered a new dryer. Actually, takayla did it for me, but I did all the measurements and selecting the model. The old one is dying; it takes two spins to dry the clothes now. Of course, when she ordered it, it was like "do you have a 30amp plug or a 50amp?" God, I don't know. They say to look at the plug. I never unplugged it. I know it's one of those big dryer/oven circular plugs, but 30 vs 50 is what kings of prongs it has; slanted or straight? I guess we'll find out when we have them install it. I am betting we have the wrong kind because that's been my luck with this house. Even though the laundry room is less than 10 years old, the dryer is at least from the 1980s, and that's pretty old. We find out Friday if we have to have an electrician come in.
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