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Knoppix to the rescue

(Summary: If your Reiser file system is corrupt, a Knoppix CD is more useful for rescuing it than a (K)Ubuntu CD. If you're not either me six months from now or someone with a badly messed up hard drive with a Reiser file system, you probably won't find the rest of the post at all interesting.)

I've finally been able to recover the data from the hard drives that crapped out on me early in December. Well, one of them, at least, but it's the one my SuSE linux install lives on and the one that had my most up-to-date financial stuff. I'll still need to work on the other one, but, apart from possibly the greater difficulty of getting it out of the computer case, that shouldn't be so hard now.

I got my data back by sticking the drive in one of those IDE-to-USB devices and hooking it up to the studio machine running Knoppix from a LiveCD. Being a Reiser file system, I couldn't open the drive running Windows or OSX, and an earlier attempt using Kubuntu LiveCD showed that the data on the drive were pretty screwed up. In Kubuntu, I couldn't copy the financial documents that I needed the most (indeed, but for my outgoing invoices, which I'm going to need come tax time, I'd happily have waited another few months to try to recover the drives), except, interestingly, for a few PDFs that I'd made of some of them. I think the difference between the PDFs and the OpenOffice documents they were exported from was that I'd opened the OpenOffice documents since copying them to the new drive, to use as templates for new invoices, and I hadn't done the same with the PDFs. So until the file system's integrity had been checked, the OpenOffice files were corrupted.

Kubuntu didn't make it easy for me to restore the file system's integrity. I'm not exactly a hardcore linux geek - I don't use the command line enough to remember all the commands - and while I have figured out how to mount drives through Kubuntu's Mac-like control panel, if it doesn't automatically perform the required integrity checks, I'm going to be as likely to break stuff in my bumbling attempts to do it manually as I am to fix it. Also, because of what Xepher wrote in response to a question from me, I'd become rather suspicious of Kubuntu's ability to play nice with Reiser. I figured that if it matters which kernel version you use, it just might be possible that Kubuntu had the wrong one.

The version of Knoppix that I used on my second attempt is one I burned early last year, so it's not the latest, greatest kernel, probably a 2.4 one. Knoppix automatically displays all drives connected to the system on your desktop for you to mount and when I did so, it showed all my data and let me copy them. Hurray!

I'll take one last look at the drive in Kubuntu, to see if Kubuntu can see things properly now that the file system has been un-corrupted. Then I'll move on to the other drive. I find actually handling hardware with my hands and my screwdriver an unpleasant and somewhat scary activity, but I'm getting used to it.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 4, 2007 5:43 PM.

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