I hate it when crap like this happens.

A few months ago, I built a new server (with hardware from ASA Computers, highly recommended--I own three of their boxes) to serve as a backup/spare for family.zawodny.com (the machine that hosts my blog and about 40 domains). The new machine was called friends.zawodny.com and had similar but slightly newer hardware (1GHz CPU, 512MB RAM, 2 80GB Maxtor disks in a RAID-1 setup).

Well, yesterday things went all bad. One of the disks appears to have died (or is dying). Several services died, including SSH, so I couldn't get in. Luckily it sits in a WCNet rack.

So I called to see what they could do. Couldn't get a console login. Damn. The only other option is to reboot. So we tried that. It didn't come up.

To make a long story short, the machine has two IDE cables. Each is the primary (master) and has one of the drives on it. However, after fiddling around, we determined that it won't boot from either one. This really sucks.

With one of the drives, it does the "01 01 01 01 01 ..." at bootup. With the other, it boots to "LI" and stops.

The reason this really bothers me is that I tested all the failure modes before I shipped it off to get racked. I could have sworn that is should still be working--unless both disks happened to magically die at the same time.

Now I either need to pul the spare 30GB disk off my shelf, build an OS and ship it out. Or I need to get the whole machine shipped back here. I have time for neither right now.

Anyway, the lesson is simple. Next time around I'll just spend the extra bucks and get a 3Ware controller and be done with it.

Damn you, Murphy! This couldn't have happned to the machine that is just a few miles away from me in California? Noooo. It had to be one of the machines I have in Ohio.

Posted by jzawodn at January 29, 2003 09:09 PM

Reader Comments
# funjon said:

Ouch. That -really- sucks.

That said, I can wholeheartedly recommend the 3Ware Escalades. They are -so- wonderful.

I just wish I could afford one for -my- box :/

on January 29, 2003 09:25 PM
# Dan Isaacs said:

Or go SCSI. :)

Luckily this wasn't Family. It hurts to lose friends, but it's better than losing Family.

on January 30, 2003 07:18 AM
# John Stanforth said:

The 3ware Escalade controllers have generally been quite good for several years now, but in the past month or so, I've been having some bad luck with them. Maybe it's just me... don't know. I have an Escalade 7xxx series 8-port card with 160GB drives on it, and I noticed yesterday that it's degraded and shows one drive not being used. Problem is, there's a hot-spare there that it also didn't use. Shouldn't this kick in in such a situation? It worries me that it doesn't/hasn't.

Also noticed today that the firmware upgrades for some of our older cards seem to be very cumbersome. One card (which I believe is a 6xxx series 2-port card) has no markings on it, no info in the bios, nothing to show a model number. And firmware drives for the 5xxx, 6xxx, and 7xxx series all don't work. Bizarre.

This is not meant to disparage 3ware cards, because as I've said, I've had great luck with them. I'm just getting the feeling these days that nothing's perfect and putting too much trust in these systems (as I've done with the 8x160GB system) is probably a really bad idea.

on January 30, 2003 07:56 PM
# Kenneth said:

I was looking into Terabyte systems, and decided on IDE and 3Ware as a viable solution. The link is to my blog entry on Linux Terabyte solutions. I'm curious which motherboard you put in your server. SuperMicro? I'd like some more info on the system, memory, processor etc if you have a second. I haven't bought anything but Maxtor for the last 2 years. I haven't had any problems, (cross fingers). Were the drives the newer ones with Fluid Bearings?

Is it possible to diagnose this without shipping hardware? Bootable ISO CD image or something?

on January 31, 2003 06:12 AM
# Scott said:

I am still amazed that more people (especially the old school crowd) do not consider IDE up to the task of running a server. The disks are so cheap now. Thanks for the link to ASA Computers! I have 3 IBM Netfinity servers here running RH 7.2 and they come to a grinding halt when you copy a single file.

on February 10, 2003 06:39 AM
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