Velo, Rapido | This is about a few different things.
I had this fantasy (oh, what a fantasy) that puzzles like this were behind me, but I found myself, once again, staring at a wackadoo screen that was decidedly not Windows launching. Something about a boot disk and not being able to find one.
For what it is worth, I’d seen this screen on this machine (we’ll call ‘im Dusty; up until now he’d been named for his last owner, a woman who has nothing to do with the demise of Dusty) before and the last time I saw this screen, I took Dusty apart, plugged everything in tight and tried again. When he launched I said something vague and non-commital like “got it running, but I can’t promise I’ll ever be able to do that again. You should make sure you have whatever backups you need and we should replace this computer.” My esteemed colleague apparently heard “don’t turn it off and you’ll be fine.”
Lesson 1: Clarity is not as easy as you think it is.
I’ve been through the computer-wants-to-die before, so I turned it off, requisitioned a new machine, and went home to ask my friends what the hell I was supposed to do.
You don’t really want the narrative (I hope, cuz I don’t want to write it) but here is what i did, on DKG’s advice. The short version is “RIP Linux, sshfs, ddrescue” — those were the notes I had from DKG. Here is what I did with those notes:
dhcpdto get onto the network. RIP Linux runs as root, so if you are trying to interpret this for your own use in some other context, you may need to insert a
sudo apt-get install ssh(it took me longer than it should have to figure out what the package was called. I was looking for a package called sshd not ssh.
mkdir /mnt/beastie(I know that makes things confusing, but it made perfect sense to me)
sshfs firstname.lastname@example.org:/mnt/backupdir /mnt/beastie. If you need that decoded:
ifconfigif you need that info and you are too tired to remember how to find it)
ddrescue /dev/sda1 /mnt/beastie/dusty_hd— that took the whole partition (/dev/sda1 — try
fdisk -lif you want to find available drives) and copied it to a file named “dusty_hd” on Beastie. From Beastie I could access the same file at /mnt/backupdr/dusty_hd. That didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would and I didn’t get any errors. Whew.
Here is where it all started to get sticky and I stopped being able to just read man pages and plug on. What the heck can I do with this thing, this “dusty_hd” file? Because I’m smart like that, I tried …
sudo mount -v -o loop,ro /mnt/backupdr/dusty_hd /mnt/dusty_hd -t vfat (first I created the mountpoint …) which didn’t work. Something about a bad superblock. I tried a bunch of other things, including a lot of google searching and then another friend (who’d done a fair bit of handholding already. Thanks!) suggested fsck:
fsck.vfat -a /mnt/backupdr/dusty_hd
That made some noise, logged some errors (that I didn’t write down …) and ultimately worked. After fsck I was able to mount “dusty_hd” and do whatever with its contents.
I could ramble about what I learned in all of this, but I don’t really remember learning much besides “riplinux, sshfs, ddrescue”. By the I’d restored our accounting files, I couldn’t begin to remember how to run the smartmon tools to satisfy my curiosity about the demise of Dusty. He’s been sent to his final resting place now, so there is no turning back. We may never know.