Debian etch: HD dying, trying to recover one file

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Debian etch: HD dying, trying to recover one file

Postposted on Sat Jul 12, 2008 8:22 pm

I've got an installation of Debian etch on a very old PC (circa 1996). I had a power outage recently, and now I'm having problems with the hard drive. It tries to run **** when it boots, but it encounters some errors and then kicks me into "maintenance mode", where the filesystem is mounted read-only, and my network is not loaded. There is one small file that I would like to recover -- I can cat the file succesfully, so I know that particular portion of the disk is ok. I would like to try to get the file off the machine somehow. It has no USB port, but it does have a working floppy drive. However, when I try to mount the floppy, I get some weird errors (mount: /media/floppy is not a block device, and stat fails?).

Any ideas how I can get this file off the drive? It's only 25KB.
nerdrage
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Re: Debian etch: HD dying, trying to recover one file

Postposted on Sat Jul 12, 2008 8:37 pm

If you've got another machine handy, I'd pull the drive out and hook it to the other one, then (if it's a Linux machine) **** and mount, and if it's Windows or otherwise boot from a Live CD like Knoppix and try to recover it from there.

If you don't have another machine, you might try booting your ailing one with a Damn Small Linux LiveCD (get the syslinux version) and copying the file to a floppy from there. Your floppy problem could be caused by your Debian install being damaged, maybe. Does /dev/fd0 exist?
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bthylafh
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Re: Debian etch: HD dying, trying to recover one file

Postposted on Sat Jul 12, 2008 8:56 pm

There is no /dev/fd0, but there is a /dev/fd which contains links named 0,1,2,255 which all point to /dev/console.

The dying machine does not have a CD-ROM drive, just a floppy. Would I be able to boot it from a Linux floppy and then access the hard drive from there (and then copy the file I need to the floppy)??

EDIT: I think I will see if I can scrounge up an IDE CD-ROM drive and install it temporarily so I can rescue the file with the Damn Small LInux LiveCD or System Rescue CD. Thanks for your help bthylafh :)

UPDATE: I found a CD-ROM and booted off a System Rescue CD. That allowed me to mount both the floppy and the dying hard drive, and copy what I needed.
nerdrage
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Re: Debian etch: HD dying, trying to recover one file

Postposted on Sun Jul 13, 2008 3:04 pm

Glad to hear you got the file copied off. One thought for future if you or anyone else run in to a similar situation is that many PCs these days have the ability to network boot. Debian distribute a network boot installer that you can just boot in to and then stop at the first chance and switch to an emergency console to copy the file. You still need another PC on the LAN to act as a DHCP and TFTP server and then you can PXE boot. I've got some pages on setting up PXE boot on my diskless folding site for doing a network boot folding farm but the idea is the same, just use the installer kernel and initrd files.
notfred
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Re: Debian etch: HD dying, trying to recover one file

Postposted on Sun Jul 13, 2008 3:47 pm

Thanks notfred. Network booting is one of those things on my list of "gee, I should find out about that someday". I had used it back in the day at my first tech job, where we had thin-client 286 machines with Arcnet NICs with boot ROMs that would allow you to boot a DOS floppy image off the Netware server. I'm assuming the concept is similar, just with updated tech. I'll check it out :)
nerdrage
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