Flakey Hardware

I hate x86 Hardware.

At home, x86 has a MTBF of 6 months. Things work perfectly, then some hard drive errors and unexplained reboots, then reboots fail.

Last time, NT got hosed on a 6 month old machine, then wouldn’t re-install. Three months later, linux wouldn’t run either. The shell of that machine is now my firewall, booting off of a cd. No hard drive, no floppy, two cheap pci network cards. It’s been stable for a week or two, but I don’t really trust it. But hell, it’s running off of a cd/ramdisk, so if something gets screwed up, one reboot and 20 seconds later, it’s back up.

The previous firewall lasted 18 months. It was a donated pentium, full on AT case, weighing 20 pounds. It had a 395 day uptime till something fried, then it went 5 days, then 3 reboots a day.

This time, the machine ran for 3 months (well, uptime was 120 days: I had the machine for 125 days), then lost a hard drive. (Hardware, nasty clunking noises when accessing certain sectors) Now about 4 months later (just after installing a nice monitor), it starts with hard drive errors. X dies, and won’t restart. Then I can’t login because some of the binaries are corrupted. Not I can’t boot off of floppy or the Red Hat install cdroms. The install cdroms die with a crc error trying to mount the ramdisk. The floppy boot dies at freeing unused kernel memory.

My guess is that something is fried. Memory? Drive controller? (There’s onboard ide and a promise card) Who knows. I don’t need this crap now. Lets not even discuss the situation of the backups on this machine. I had plans, ok? A spare hard drive partition, and a spare drive even. Whole lotta good that does when I can’t even boot the bleeding machine.

<update time=’9:15pm’>

It looks like plugging an ata/66 cable into an ata/33 port can cause issues. (that’s the cable that I have, and rdhat 6.2 can’t install onto the promise card) So without the spare drive that I was going to install onto, then bootstrap into saving a bunch of the important files on the big drive was causing part of the problem. So now I’m to the point that I can’t boot, but it’s because of a hard drive partition has issues. (I think it’s /usr) /home appears to be ok, so my lack of backups may not bite me that badly. I’m betting that if I plug this drive into another machine, I can probably pull the data off, then figure out what to do later.

Oh yeah, that means that updates.wiredfool.com is down, as are my manila, lrp, and scriptmeridian-community mailing list archives, my rss aggregator, and my radio userland aggregator. No mp3’s for home.


I was going to write some neat little picture gallery stuff today, so that some of the pics that I took at the arboretum over the weekend would be easier to display. Hope you get to see the picures, eventually. Hope I get to see my pictures again too.

I’d like to point out that the iMac that I’m working on has been running for a year. My g4 is solid. My imac at work has been running for a year and a half, with only a loose ide connector as an issue.

I also haven’t had quite these issues with hardware quality at work, as there is a near clone of this machine that has been running 24/7 for over a year now. Maybe its that there is a ups at work, and a powerstrip at home.

<update time=’3/14 12:30pm’>

Looks like I can’t get anything to boot now. Redhat install, Debian install, Windows98 install (hey, I’m desperate), all fail at one point or another. Redhat can’t get the root device, Debian segfaults, and windows just won’t even start. But on the bright side, the old hard drive is readable on another machine, so I have everything backed up now. Most of the errors were on the /usr partition, which apart from hosing the computer, is a good place for them to be, since that’s all replaceable with a fast net.connection. Var seems fine (all my database stuff), /home seems ok (mp3’s, web root, and other random programming) and /etc appears fine (configuration info).

So I guess I’m going to see how good the warranty is on this box. At least it’s local, so I can deal with them in person.


No comments

No comments yet. Be the first.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.