Seeking perspective on grub / RAID boot problem

Niftyprose

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Hello guys, my first post in this group. I will commence by saying that, while I've done a fair bit of Linuxing, I have no experience whatsoever with RAID and I'd be grateful for any input. The first para below gives context. Please scan before addressing my specific queries (will likely save you time if you do so...) The second details the problem.

I have on the bench in front of me an older server with a RAID array which ran flawlessly for years and was then mothballed. I've been asked to prepare it for sale. That will mean backing up any information it contains and then wiping the drives. At a pinch I can go straight to wiping the drives -- with a hammer, if necessary -- but I'd rather not.

The device started first time but now fails to boot in a very specific way. The Adaptec SATA RAID configuration software loads; the BIOS loads; grub starts to load and throws up 'Boot from CD / error: file not found'... despite the fact that the server always booted from hard disk. The prompt then goes to 'grub rescue'. Within the limited grub rescue commands, ls confirms the disk array names hd0; hd0,5; hd0,1; and fd0. set confirms that the prefix is pointing at (hd0,1)/boot/grub (and I tried all the others). When I try to switch out of grub rescue using insmod normal I get 'error: the symbol grub_crypto_autoload_hook not found'. I'd guess that a very specific grub component on hd0,1 has failed. I can't boot the server off my Rescatux recovery stick, and I'm further guessing that's because the RAID software doesn't recognize it.

Queries:
i. Is there some way to get the system to read the Rescatux stick before the RAID software loads?
ii. Is there some other recognized way of booting a recovery system under these circs (that I'm unaware of)?
iii. If i. and ii. are impossible, is the 'Initialize drives' option built into the Adaptec SATA RAID Configuration Utility secure, or should I get out the demolition hammer?

TIA, NP
 


TechnoJunky

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I don't have any suggestions for the Raid controller, but I do for the USB stick. Go into your Bios and update the boot order so that USB comes before hard drive or raid. You could also remove the raid controller and plug each disk into the MB, boot to the stick, then format each drive that way. Unfortunately that doesn't help with the backup part.
 

Niftyprose

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Hello Technojunky, many thanks for a pragmatic response. I would have thought of the remove-the-RAID-controller trick, to which I may well have recourse before the end of this. The following isn't a call for replies but I'll share it on the off-chance that it's useful for someone.

I managed to boot successfully overnight, having spotted that the grub error messages were changing with each reboot. There was a presumably a specific disk corruption which was affecting startup. I ran the Adaptec disk utility to automatically check and repair the disks overnight and found the following morning that the system would now attempt to boot off Rescatux. Unfortunately, the boot disk wouldn't start the server. My working assumption is that the BIOS is machine specific and that Rescatux can't hack it. I'm fiddling with the CMOS settings, having got the machine to a point where it endlessly cycles through BIOS-RAID-shutdown, and am further fiddling. It looks like the sledgehammer, or the remove-the-RAID-controller trick.

Best, NP
 


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