How to get rid of "RAID tag" on harddrives


D

danielbuus

Hello hello :)

I have a very annoying problem. I used to have four Maxtor drives
running in a hardware RAID-5 array on my Promise Fasttrack SX4000
controller. I now want to use these four drives, plus a fifth using
software RAID-5 on a SUSE Linux server.

Problem is, the Promise controller has added some kind of tag or
"reserved sector" of some kind that SUSE spots as a problem - it can
see that some of these disks used to be part of a hardware RAID array,
and once I start to install onto these disks, the computer hangs. This
is not a SUSE-specific problem, it happens also with Fedora Core 4 and
Knoppix. I have confirmed that this problem is indeed confined to two
of these disks, not to their controllers or cable assignments.

I've tried using PowerMax to (quick) low-level format the drives (all
five), I've tried writing random data to the beginning of the drives
("cp /dev/random /dev/hdb"), but nothing works. This "tag" or whatever
it is just sticks to these drives... I don't know what to do. Please,
please help me get rid of them. I have both Windows, DOS and Linux
functional, so any approach using any of these systems will be useful
to me.

Thanks in advance,
Daniel
 
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A

Arno Wagner

Previously [email protected] said:
Hello hello :)
I have a very annoying problem. I used to have four Maxtor drives
running in a hardware RAID-5 array on my Promise Fasttrack SX4000
controller. I now want to use these four drives, plus a fifth using
software RAID-5 on a SUSE Linux server.
Problem is, the Promise controller has added some kind of tag or
"reserved sector" of some kind that SUSE spots as a problem - it can
see that some of these disks used to be part of a hardware RAID array,
and once I start to install onto these disks, the computer hangs. This
is not a SUSE-specific problem, it happens also with Fedora Core 4 and
Knoppix. I have confirmed that this problem is indeed confined to two
of these disks, not to their controllers or cable assignments.
I've tried using PowerMax to (quick) low-level format the drives (all
five), I've tried writing random data to the beginning of the drives
("cp /dev/random /dev/hdb"),

That does not do much. /dev/random gives you true entropy, i.e.
veru few bytes per seond. May be less than 100. Use /dev/urandom
or even better /dev/zero for overwites. Also 'cp' is not the
right tool to use. 'cat' as in cat /dev/zero > /dev/hdb or
'dd' or better 'dd_rescue' is far better.
but nothing works. This "tag" or whatever
it is just sticks to these drives... I don't know what to do.

The tag may be at the end of the disk. That is were Linux software
RAID places it.
Please,
please help me get rid of them. I have both Windows, DOS and Linux
functional, so any approach using any of these systems will be useful
to me.

Do a full blank with zeros, best with Knoppix:

dd_rescue -w /dev/zero /dev/hdb

May take some time, but gives you a nice progress indicator.
If tis doe snot help, post here again.

Arno
 
D

danielbuus

will try that now and get back to you :) thanks. just tried debian,
btw, same lockup...
 
D

danielbuus

Okay, a small progress report - I did the dd_rescue on hda, it's no
longer causing warnings in SUSE setup! :) Now onto hdh - I think I
might just do them all to make sure! will report back later with more
hopefully success stories.

I also think this might be a combination of things giving me a hard
time... Firstly, starting up Knoppix again in console was disabling the
keyboard a couple of times. Could be the same kind of lock-up as
happens every time I try to install or build the RAID array. Last time
it started spewing up a lot of errors about my ASUS Wifi card (rt2400).
Needless to say, I removed it. Secondly, doing the dd_rescue on the
drives on my HPT370 RAID controller (this is an old Abit KT7-RAID) is
about one third as fast (~11MB/s) as on the non-RAID VIA controller
(~30MB/s). Do you happen to know anything about this particular
controller (the HPT370)? Or maybe that's a question for a different
thread ;)

For now, thanks!

Daniel :)
 
A

Arno Wagner

Previously [email protected] said:
Okay, a small progress report - I did the dd_rescue on hda, it's no
longer causing warnings in SUSE setup! :)

Very good!
Now onto hdh - I think I
might just do them all to make sure! will report back later with more
hopefully success stories.
I also think this might be a combination of things giving me a hard
time... Firstly, starting up Knoppix again in console was disabling the
keyboard a couple of times. Could be the same kind of lock-up as
happens every time I try to install or build the RAID array. Last time
it started spewing up a lot of errors about my ASUS Wifi card (rt2400).
Needless to say, I removed it. Secondly, doing the dd_rescue on the
drives on my HPT370 RAID controller (this is an old Abit KT7-RAID) is
about one third as fast (~11MB/s) as on the non-RAID VIA controller
(~30MB/s). Do you happen to know anything about this particular
controller (the HPT370)? Or maybe that's a question for a different
thread ;)

From the speeds I deduce that you have turned DMA on for both. Hmm.
I suspect the HPT is just slow.
For now, thanks!

You are welcome.

Arno
 
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D

danielbuus

Latest update! :)

The zeroing of the disks took quite awhile, especially because I chose
to zero two drives on one of the HPT370's channels, i.e. master and
slave, simultaneously. So I jumped into bed with my girlfriend before
it got to finishing. Got up this morning, and tried installing Debian.
Hangs. Tried again. Hung another place. Not while creating the array.
Got me wondering. Ripped out my firewire card, too, since I don't
really use it. Tried again. Hangs. Tried kernel 2.4. Hangs. Tried a
number of combinations of kernel parameters (noacpi, nolapic, nodma,
dma=off, noapm, i8042.nomux, etc...). Hangs every time. Different
places.

At one point I noticed that the keyboard went out at a 72% progress bar
while setting up md0 - but the process finishes! Aha, I think, that's
interesting. So my keyboard and mouse dies, but the computer does not.
Tries a number of conservative BIOS settings, underclocking & reducing
voltage in case this is a power problem. Tries a different CD-ROM
drive. Finally, I go up in the attic, pulls out my old PS/2 keyboard,
rips out the USB mouse and keyboard, and starts the install. I'm
currently on my first Debian boot, finalizing the installation. YES! :D
This has taken me three days now, and finally I got the crappy box
running. Really cool with LVM, by the way. RAID-5 underneath for
security, LVM for convenience. Nice :)

Debian is really sweet, by the way, very old skool without graphics,
but the menus are very intuitive and fast. Don't want graphics on this
box anyway, it's a server ;)

Cheers, and thanks for your help!

Daniel :)
 
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D

danielbuus

By the way, I don't think this slow HPT370 issue is really going to be
a problem. I've rearranged it so that my fifth disk is a slave on the
VIA controller instead. With ~30MBps for a master, I don't suspect
simultaneous access to a master and a slave on this controller would
drop below the ~11MBps of the HPT370 disks. And 4*11MBps is plenty, and
probably more than the processor can handle anyway ;)
 

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