Bad day (not Enterprise)

I'm having a bad computer day.

On Friday, SWMBO's work laptop (Dell D600, just like mine) started reporting "Primary Hard disk not found". Naturally, this is the system where we've been keeping a lot of our personal data while she's been on leave, and it's the one she's been using to surf the web all day... So I'm going to try to (hopefully) recover some of the data off it.

So I went out to Microcenter, bought a USB-IDE adapter (cable, really cool) and am trying to get it working. Nope. Just a little clicking sound, and the drive doesn't spin up. Damn it.

The other problem is with the home PC upstairs... Since I don't have a network cable run there, I figured it'd work to use the wireless network. I've had a D-Link DWL-122 USB wireless (802.1g) adapter (bought it a while ago for this purpose) but when I leave it plugged in, the system locks up solid. No mouse movement, no keyboard, nothing. If I don't have the wireless adapter plugged in, the system'll be fine for days. There're some net references to USB-related lockups with AMD processors and Via chipsets, some of which may be resolved by switching out the USB controller for a PCI one.

So while I'm at Microcenter, I figured I'll get a 2-port USB card to see if this'll fix the problem (assuming that I won't be able to get SWMBO's HDD back to life) so that she can be online during the day. But just as I walked in, there's a sale on PCI 802.1g wireless cards, so I pick one of those up too. I figure if the USB thing doesn't work out, the PCI card should work.

Nope. When I installed the USB card, it was recognized fine, but the DWL-122 "Cannot start. code 10". And that's the case any time it's plugged into the new card, but it works fine with the onboard ports. After a couple of retry, refresh, reinstall, reboot, reboot, reboot, reboot, I gave up. Of course the PCI card will work...

Or maybe not. About 1 minute after the I installed the card & booted, the damn thing locked up again.

And SWMBO's HDD still won't spin up.



Oh how I hate DLTs

So we have a long history of hating DLT drives here, beginning back before I had anything to do with backups when $COSA[0] would get paged almost every night because of a jukebox failure (which boiled down to the op not closing the jukebox door) going on through 3 more generations of DLT technology (7k, 8k, and now SDLT600) It seems that DLT is keeping up with its heritage.

A previous DLT8000 library had lots of problems, which we theorized was because of dust & environmental contaminants, so we switched to Qualstar libraries. These have the best dust filters in the industry. For this particular replacement, we switched to LTO-2, and have had virtually no problems.

On the other hand, $THEY, when it came time to replace their aging DLT libraries (8k 2/20, 7k 4/48, 4k 2/28) decided that they didn't want to follow our success, but would rather venture off into the brave new world of SDLT. And since the SDLT600s were current, that's what they'd get (despite the fact that these are the only drives in the company that can read this media)

So that's the background... recently, I've had to kick this particular library at least twice per week, with other interventions required (not by me) probably more often. Sometimes the drive has the 3 blinking lights, sometimes not. Usually, the drive reports that there's no tape loaded. Sometimes the library agrees. Even more rarely, Networker agrees.

Sometimes pulling & reinstalling the drive fixes the problem. Today we had to unload the drive, reseat the drive, (watch Networker load a tape before we could stop it), try to unload the drive (it couldn't), reseat the drive, then got an error message of "logical unit communication failure". So we bounced the library, and now it's working (for now)

And of course, the web interface for this library is just barely functional, so in order to actually do anything, I have to walk to the datacenter. With $COSA[1] following.

All this so that $COSA[1] can dump 250GB of filer data off to tape before he deletes it.


First Post! What's it all about anyway?

I'm going to try this blog thing again... The past (couple) of times I've created a website with the intention of updating it regularly haven't worked very well, mostly because I think I don't journal well.

Also because I haven't had a particular focus for the sites, they end up as just a buncha random crap that I don't bother to update, yet for some reason I keep migrating from one site to another. Maybe this will be different.

So here's my focus for this site: "Collect my thoughts about Enterprise System Administration". What does that mean? Well, this is a space for:
  • Ideas about server management (configuration management)
  • Ideas about application infrastructure (applitecture)
  • The interrelation between office politics, policies, and technology
  • Wouldn't it be cool if...
  • Problem solving
  • And ideally, if I ever get around to actually implementing some of these great ideas, they'd be here too.
Please note that these are my opinions, which are not endorsed or sponsored by my employer. There may be information that is specific to my employer's systems and landscape, and your mileage may vary.