Off to NZ for a week!

Having successfully recovered from all the RAID pain we’ve gone through recently at work (lesson: do not trust HW RAID and have good backups – which we did) I’m off to New Zealand for a week with Donna courtesy of my time off in lieu – sweet as! 😉

When I’m back I’ll write up what happened with the RAID, honest..

Bushfire on Mount Dandenong

We’ve been watching smoke up on Mt Dandenong for a few hours now, apparently the result of a grass fire over Tecoma/Belgrave way. We’re fine, but keeping a weather eye on things and gathering our important possessions and documents in case we need to evacuate.

Update: it’s now under control according to the CFA site.

To all CFA people – thank you (updated)

Donna’s cousin was at work, but her husband, their kids and his mother were at home in Humeville when they smelled smoke. Going outside they were greeted by flames coming down the drive towards them, forcing them back inside the house and closing the only route out. Somehow the local CFA managed to get into the property and thankfully got them out safely with just minor injuries.

We have no idea who you were, but thank you so very much.

Most of us have no idea what the CFA go through but these photos on the OverClockers site, left by someone who is in the CFA, give a taste of the danger they face – the final one gives the most graphic idea, it’s the view from inside a CFA truck looking at flames outside.

Found this “thank you” video on the CFA website.

Grub in Lenny won’t boot when the kernel is on disk 26 or more

Will hopefully get to report this tomorrow to the Grub folks and the Debian maintainer, but basically it looks like the grub in Lenny can’t cope with systems with lots of disks. We have two storage systems that we use software RAID on and seem to have hit a few problems with grub.

  1. grub-mkdevicelist only iterates over the first 16 SCSI drives, so if your boot partition is beyond /dev/sdp then you’ll get an error about it not being able to find the boot partition. This is hard coded into a loop in grub-mkdevicelist.c so you can tweak that up to 25 disks safely.
  2. if you have more than 25 drives (as we do on one system) you’ll hit the next problem as your devices start getting called /dev/sdaa, /dev/sdab, etc.. grub-mkdevicelist doesn’t handle that correctly. If you bump the number in that loop beyond 25 as it will start trying to find /dev/sd{ , /dev/sd| , etc, which it then rejects as they don’t exist. Again that’s fairly easy to work around with a conditional check in get_scsi_disk_name() to at least cope with the sd?? pattern (Reported as bug #514967). This then leads to the last problem of..
  3. Even having the correct device map when your boot device is on /dev/sdab1 still results in Grub in Lenny not being able to locate the boot partition, and we’ve not had time to chase that down any further (reported as bug #514976).

Comments of the type “serve you right for having too many disks” will be ignored.. 😉

Bushfires (updated)

Pretty scary listening to ABC 774:

  • At least 181 166 135 84 25 14 people have been killed according to police, with fears that it might be as many as 200 100 40
  • Over 700 80 homes lost around the state
  • According to the ABC the town of Marysville (where we used to have a house) has been wiped out with as many as 50-100 fatalities according to some sources. (video) only one building is left standing.
  • 7 acute patients were evactuated from Beechworth hospital, but the power issue has now been solved. Beechworth hospital may need to be evacuated as the power is now off there, they’re trying to get generators on
  • Concerns for the communications tower on Mt Stanley
  • Unconfirmed fatalities reported by CFA and the ambulance service, Victoria Police are apparently about to do a press release

ABC Aerial photo of what's left of Marysville
“ABC Aerial photo of what’s left of Marysville

Useful links:

View of bushfires from Doncaster in the north of Melbourne, submitted by Chris Mulherin
View of bushfires from Doncaster in the north of Melbourne, submitted by Chris Mulherin