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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 6:07 pm 
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Posts: 26
I just got a new machine to replace my old P4-based Knoppmyth 5.5 backend, and thought it'd be a pretty easy swap. Unfortunately it's turned into a disaster.

The new machine is nominally a Gateway; the motherboard says "MCP61PM-AM". It's an nForce-based AMD compatible board, with onboard SATA.

I took the HD, which is a big WD PATA, out of the old machine and put it into the new one using a Sonnet PATA to SATA adapter. (I'm putting this in mainly for completeness; I don't think it matters.) When I boot the machine, the BIOS sees the drive without problems.

When I attempt to boot from the HD, LILO comes up, the kernel decompresses, and then there's a LONG delay (5+ minutes probably) at "Ok, booting the kernel." If I let it run, eventually the following messages pop up:

/linuxrc: Out of file descriptors
/etc/init: Out of file descriptors
Kernel panic - not syncing: Attempted to kill init!

And everything halts there. At first I thought maybe this was being caused by my configuration change from PATA in the old machine to SATA in the new one, so I tried to boot up from the Knoppmyth 5.5 install disc ... but the normal install just hangs with a black screen after the boot prompt.

If I boot from the disc and choose the "failsafe" option, I get a lot of errors similar to the following:

ata1: SRST failed (errno=-19)
ata1: reset failed (errno=-19), retrying in 35 secs
...
ata1: reset failed, giving up

These repeat, taking a minute or two each time, at least 4 times or so. (So it's a good 5-10 minute delay.) Eventually I am able to get to a prompt in the failsafe mode (though it continues to spew error messages at me periodically), but once I'm there I can't mount the SATA drive. The device in /dev, which ought to be /sda1 I think, just doesn't exist.

I also tried booting from a "Universal Recovery CD" (Gentoo based) and got very similar results.

I'm at the end of the line of everything that I can think of here, so I'm hoping maybe somebody has had this problem before and can think of a solution. I've done a lot of Googling and apparently there are reports of problems like this related to specific kernel versions, but it's not clear which ones are good or bad, and even if I knew I'm not sure how I could get in to fix the kernel that's installed on my boot volume anyway.

I'm wide open to suggestions at this point. I really need to get this machine working ASAP; returning it for a different one is not an option and rolling back to the old one would be a lot of work and difficulty.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 4:48 am 
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Do you have another large HDD? If it were me, I'd put a new HDD in the new machine, install R5.5 on it as if it were a brand-new install, then follow tjc's advice in the thread I linked.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 3:22 pm 
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No, I don't have any extra SATA drives ... I have spare PATA ones but only one PATA/SATA adaptor, so they wouldn't really help.

I'm not sure how a spare drive would help though even if I had one ... the problem doesn't seem to be with the drive, the problem seems to be with the SATA controller.

If I boot up using the Knoppmyth R5.5 LiveCD, it tosses tons of errors related to the SATA controller and doesn't even see the drive, so if I had a different drive I don't think it would be possible to install onto it.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 4:03 pm 
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Sorry, as I read your original post (hastily admittedly), I thought you were trying to use an 'old' machine's HDD w/ fully functional KM on a new machine. If your problem lies in the hardware, perhaps others in here are better suited to help.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 4:52 pm 
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Well, I think there's definitely a hardware issue with the onboard SATA. I actually threw in the towel on that whole business, though; I had a spare PCI SATA card that I put in there, and it works well enough to let me at least see the disk when I boot from a recovery CD. So I think that the MCP61 motherboard's SATA is flat-out incompatible with Linux, at least the kernel version used by Knoppmyth. (I also tried it with the latest Ubuntu LiveCD and it didn't work there -- I think the driver is just borked in the upstream kernel.)

So now that I've got that out of the way I'll start working on the software problem, and I may end up taking the route of getting another hard drive and trying to migrate the /myth partition over rather than trying to make the existing Knoppmyth disk work in the new machine.

I had no idea this was going to end up being a whole-weekend project when I started it ... I thought it would just be a simple disk swap.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 10:12 pm 
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The only other thought I have off the top of my head is have you tried running the SATA port in a mode other than SATA? Say AHCI or Compatible via the BIOS?


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 10:35 pm 
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The BIOS on this machine doesn't have a lot of options, so I couldn't really configure anything related to the SATA controller. The only options it provided was to enable or disable each port. It's kind of a crummy motherboard. :(

Anyway, I was able to get things going with a relatively inexpensive PCI SATA card, although that was a trial in itself. (I bought a SIL-3114 and in order to get it working I had to flash its BIOS to take it out of "RAID mode," which is a real trick on a machine without a FDD.)

When I finally got the drive recognized and bootable, it was back to the same error that I had initially, the kernel panic during boot. Since there's apparently no good, nondestructive/reconfiguration solution to fix this (I spent a long time messing around in lilo.conf and fstab trying, too), I ended up performing an automatic upgrade on both machines. Since I *thought* I had done a backup on both of them before starting out, I thought this would be a pretty slick solution -- just blow away /, save /myth, and solve all the issues related to swapping drives.

Unfortunately, something didn't work right during the auto-upgrade and the end result was that I lost all my saved recordings. I thought I had run an auto-backup on the BE machine, but either it didn't take or something about it didn't work. (It said the backup restored correctly, and I couldn't find a newer backup file on the machine ... so I'm left to believe either I hallucinated doing the backup or something happened to it.) The machines are working, but I have a directory full of video recordings that aren't in the database, and a database full of stuff that when I try to play it, claims the video can't be found. I've looked in the DB and it's correct that the filenames don't match up, so I don't think there's anything that can be done at this point ... the damage has happened. It restored from the newest file it had, which was about 3 months old ... just old enough that all the DB entries and video files don't match up.

So that's where I am right now. So much for what I thought would be an easy hardware upgrade...

Now that things seem to be working, I guess I'm off to download the episodes of my family's shows that got deleted, before they realize what happened and murder me.


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