Posts Tagged ‘fdisk’

How to check any filesystem for bad blocks using GNU / Linux or FreeBSD with dd

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Check any filesystem partition for BAD BLOCKS with DD on GNU Linux and FreeBSD

Have you looked for a universal physical check up tool to check up any filesystem type existing on your hard drive partitions?
I did! and was more than happy to just recently find out that the small UNIX program dd is capable to check any file system which is red by the Linux or *BSD kernel.

I’ll give an example, I have few partitions on my laptop computer with linux ext3 filesystem and NTFS partition.
My partitions looks like so:

noah:/home/hipo# fdisk -l
Disk /dev/sda: 160.0 GB, 160041885696 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 19457 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x2d92834c
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 1 721 5786624 27 Unknown
Partition 1 does not end on cylinder boundary.
/dev/sda2 * 721 9839 73237024 7 HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda3 9839 19457 77263200 5 Extended
/dev/sda5 9839 12474 21167968+ 83 Linux
/dev/sda6 12474 16407 31593208+ 83 Linux
/dev/sda7 16407 16650 1950448+ 82 Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda8 16650 19457 22551448+ 83 Linux

For all those unfamiliar with dddd – convert and copy a file this tiny program is capable of copying data from (if) input file to an output file as in UNIX , the basic philosophy is that everything is a file partitions themselves are also files.
The most common use of dd is to make image copies of a partition with any type of filesystem on it and move it to another system
Looking from a Windows user perspective dd is the command line Norton Ghost equivalent for Linux and BSD systems.
The classic way dd is used to copy let’s say my /dev/sda1 partition to another hard drive /dev/hdc1 is by cmds:

noah:/home/hipo# dd if=/dev/sda1 of=/dev/hdc1 bs=16065b

Even though the basic use of dd is to copy files, its flexibility allows a “trick” through which dd can be used to check any partition readable by the operating system kernel for bad blocks

In order to check any of the partitions listed, let’s say the one listed with filesystem HPFS/NTFS on /dev/sda2 using dd

noah:/home/hipo# dd if=/dev/sda2 of=/dev/null bs=1M

As you can see the of (output file) for dd is set to /dev/null in order to prevent dd to write out any output red by /dev/sda2 partition. bs=1M instructs dd to read from /dev/sda2 by chunks of 1 Megabyte in order to accelerate the speed of checking the whole drive.
Decreasing the bs=1M to less will take more time but will make the bad block checking be more precise.
Anyhow in most cases bs of 1 Megabyte will be a good value.

After some minutes (depending on the partition size), dd if, of operations outputs a statistics informing on how dd operations went.
Hence ff some of the blocks on the partition failed to be red by dd this will be shown in the final stats on its operation completion.
The drive, I’m checking does not have any bad blocks and dd statistics for my checked partition does not show any hard drive bad block problems:

71520+1 records in
71520+1 records out
74994712576 bytes (75 GB) copied, 1964.75 s, 38.2 MB/s

The statistics is quite self explanatory my partition of s size 75 GB was scanned for 1964 seconds roughly 32 minutes 46 seconds. The number of records red and written are 71520+1 e.g. (records in / records out). This means that all the records were properly red and wrote to /dev/null and therefore no BAD blocks on my NTFS partition 😉

How to reboot remotely Linux server if reboot, shutdown and init commands are not working (/sbin/reboot: Input/output error) – Reboot Linux in emergency using MagicSysRQ kernel sysctl variable

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

SysRQ an alternative way to restart unrestartable Linux server

I’ve been in a situation today, where one Linux server’s hard drive SCSI driver or the physical drive is starting to break off where in dmesg kernel log, I can see a lot of errors like:

[178071.998440] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] Result: hostbyte=DID_BAD_TARGET driverbyte=DRIVER_OK,SUGGEST_OK
[178071.998440] end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 89615868

I tried a number of things to remount the hdd which was throwing out errors in read only mode, but almost all commands I typed on the server were either shown as missng or returning an error:
Input/output error

Just ot give you an idea what I mean, here is a paste from the shell:

linux-server:/# vim /etc/fstab
-bash: vim: command not found
linux-server:/# vi /etc/fstab
-bash: vi: command not found
linux-server:/# mcedit /etc/fstab
-bash: /usr/bin/mcedit: Input/output error
linux-server:/# fdisk -l
-bash: /sbin/fdisk: Input/output error

After I’ve tried all kind of things to try to diagnose the server and all seemed failing, I thought next a reboot might help as on server boot the filesystems will get checked with fsck and fsck might be able to fix (at least temporary) the mess.

I went on and tried to restart the system, and guess what? I got:

/sbin/reboot init Input/output error

I hoped that at least /sbin/shutdown or /sbin/init commands might work out and since I couldn’t use the reboot command I tried this two as well just to get once again:

linux-server:/# shutdown -r now
bash: /sbin/shutdown: Input/output error
linux-server:/# init 6
bash: /sbin/init: Input/output error

You see now the situation was not pinky, it seemed there was no way to reboot the system …
Moreover the server is located in remote Data Center and I the tech support there is conducting assigned task with the speed of a turtle.
The server had no remote reboot, web front end or anything and thefore I needed desperately a way to be able to restart the machine.

A bit of research on the issue has led me to other people who experienced the /sbin/reboot init Input/output error error mostly caused by servers with failing hard drives as well as due to HDD control driver bugs in the Linux kernel.

As I was looking for another alternative way to reboot my Linux machine in hope this would help. I came across a blog post Rebooting the Magic Way

As it was suggested in Cory’s blog a nice alternative way to restart a Linux machine without using reboot, shutdown or init cmds is through a reboot with the Magic SysRQ key combination

The only condition for the Magic SysRQ key to work is to have enabled the SysRQ – CONFIG_MAGIC_SYSRQ in Kernel compile time.
As of today luckily SysRQ Magic key is compiled and enabled by default in almost all modern day Linux distributions in this numbers Debian, Fedora and their derivative distributions.

To use the sysrq kernel capabilities as a mean to restart the server, it’s necessery first to activate the sysrq through sysctl, like so:

linux-server:~# sysctl -w kernel.sysrq=1
kernel.sysrq = 1

I found enabling the kernel.sysrq = 1 permanently in the kernel is also quite a good idea, to achieve that I used:

echo 'kernel.sysrq = 1' >> /etc/sysctl.conf

Next it’s wise to use the sync command to sync any opened files on the server as well stopping as much of the server active running services (MySQL, Apache etc.).

linux-server:~# sync

Now to reboot the Linux server, I used the /proc Linux virtual filesystem by issuing:

linux-server:~# echo b > /proc/sysrq-trigger

Using the echo b > /proc/sysrq-trigger simulates a keyboard key press which does invoke the Magic SysRQ kernel capabilities and hence instructs the kernel to immediately reboot the system.
However one should be careful with using the sysrq-trigger because it’s not a complete substitute for /sbin/reboot or /sbin/shutdown -r commands.
One major difference between the standard way to reboot via /sbin/reboot is that reboot kills all the running processes on the Linux machine and attempts to unmount all filesystems, before it proceeds to sending the kernel reboot instruction.

Using echo b > /proc/sysrq-trigger, however neither tries to umount mounted filesystems nor tries to kill all processes and sync the filesystem, so on a heavy loaded (SQL data critical) server, its use might create enormous problems and lead to severe data loss!

SO BEWARE be sure you know what you’re doing before you proceed using /proc/sysrq-trigger as a way to reboot ;).

Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty on Toshiba L300 PLSBGE Laptop

Sunday, September 20th, 2009


Today I had the task to Install Ubuntu GNU / Linux on Toshiba L300 PLSBGE Laptop.

I had already installed Windows Vista Enterprise on the notebook. Thus I used Acronis Disk Directory Suite to partition the harddrive for Ubuntu even though I could have used the gparted included on Ubuntu’s installation CD. I’ve asked specificly if
I could use the Ubuntu CD to repartition my hard drive in #ubuntu in
The answer was positive it’s absolutely safe to resize an NTFS partition using Ubuntu’s installation LiveCD and gparted.That seems like a good news for all of us the free software users / enthusiasts / hobbyists etc.
I hated the default Ubuntu behaviour it automatically decided to install itself on a automatically created 2.5 GB partition.
I thought it won’t be so dumb to install itself on such a tiny partition. Well guess what I was wrong IT WAS SO DUMB!
Even though I had already 80 GB ext3 partition. Ubuntu’s default behaviour was to install on an automatically created 2.5GB partition.
Right after the installation I was stunned just to realize there was no free space on the drive where the dumbass installed itself.
After that I had some issues deleting the already cretead partitions, which for some reason messed up. Luckily the good old fdisk fixed the situation so I could easily delete all the partitions except the vista and recreate them again using gparted with Ubuntu’s install LiveCD. The install was completely flawless. Everything worked out of the box, no external efforts to fix broken stuff like usually happens in Linux fantastic! The only broken thing was that switching to plain console with ctrl+alt+f1 would visualize a non working display output and I couldn’t see the ttys at all. That wasn’t such a hassle since the system is planned to work only in GUI mode. I guess Ubuntu is going through a real development with a positive end results. Even external USB printer Canon PIXMA IP3300 worked by simply plugging it in. For some weird reason to make the printer work correctly I had to use driver for Canon PIXMA IP3000. Anyways it worked with it and the printer started printing correctly even though officially on some of the linux printers databases it’s reported the printer won’t work correctly never ever.END—–