RebuildStarted event detected on md device /dev/md0

Logging into one of my systems, I saw the following in /proc/mdstat this morning.
Personalities : [raid1]
md0 : active raid1 sdc1[0] sdb1[1]
976559104 blocks [2/2] [UU]
[=========>...........] resync = 45.7% (446333440/976559104) finish=489.8min speed=18037K/sec

Unaware of a power failure or disk failure (these are pretty new disks) I did some digging. Looking through /var/log/daemon.log, I found these entries:
Mar 1 01:06:02 chewbacca mdadm: RebuildStarted event detected on md device /dev/md0
Mar 1 04:49:03 chewbacca mdadm: Rebuild20 event detected on md device /dev/md0
Mar 1 08:43:03 chewbacca mdadm: Rebuild40 event detected on md device /dev/md0

After some googling around, I found that on the first Sunday of every month at 1:06am, an array check (/usr/share/mdadm/checkarray) is run on Debian and Ubuntu systems. (see /etc/cron.d/mdadm)

For some reason it is listed in /proc/mdstat as a rebuild even though it is really a read-only operation to check the health of the array. Whew! Now I can go get ready for church.

Why you should hug your Geek

Ever wonder why tech geeks are so valuable? Here’s a short story of why. This is story starts on a Thursday night.
My wife was having trouble uploading images to her blog (running on WordPress 2.5.x) from her macbook (Problem #1.) When composing a post and trying to add an image, she’d get an unhelpful error, “HTTP error” and nothing else. I tried it on my Kubuntu laptop and it worked fine. Through further investigation, I found that I had a newer version of Flash installed on my system. I’m guessing that will fix it. “No problem”, you may say.
I downloaded the latest version of flash and ran the installer. The installer hangs at, “Items remaining to be installed: 4” and it says it’s “Searching: Macintosh HD” (Problem #2) Great. I seem to remember seeing this before. Some quick online research says to try a few things, none of which work. Finally, I find a suggestion to fire up Mac’s “Disk Utility” and run “Repair Disk Permissions” I do so and it fixes some stuff that it finds. I retry the Flash install but get the same result. So I go back to the Disk Utility and run “Verify Disk” This tells me, “Invalid node structure The volume Macintosh HD needs to be repaired” (Problem #3) Since this disk is the one the system is running off, I can’t run “Repair Disk” while I’m logged in.
Time to boot into single user mode (command+s while booting) so I can fsck it (chkdsk or scandisk for you windows folk.) Once at my oh so familiar and beloved root command prompt, I run /sbin/fsck -fy. This gives me a new error: disk0s2: 0xe0030005 (UNDEFINED). Invalid node structure (4,2387) ** Volume check failed. Great, either I’m dealing with a very corrupt filesystem or the hard drive is failing (Problem #4.)
I check to make sure my backups are up to date and boot from a Linux CD to check the health of the hard drive. It turns out I’m unable to boot from a CD due to a bad/dead drive (Problem #5.) I pull out my external Firewire burner and try to boot off the Linux CD there, no luck. I concede and just boot off the Mac OS Install CD in the firewire drive, reformat, reinstall. At this point, I’m just crossing my fingers that I don’t have a dying hard drive too. I formatted the drive after writing all 0’s to it. No errors so far.

Treo 755p battery draining fast (fixed)

valley viewA couple of months ago, I realized that the battery in my Palm Treo 755p would only last about a day. I had installed a few new programs on it at the time, but didn’t think much about it. The strange thing was it would be fine for a few days, then the battery would drain in what seems like a few hours.

Finally, I figured out what it was… I had installed Chatter email because the default email client that came with my Treo wouldn’t work with Gmail. Chatter will run in the background and frequently ping your email server checking for new messages.

The fix was easy; in Chatter, go to the Sys menu and select ‘Shutdown ChatterEmail’ This shuts the program all the way down and so it isn’t running in the background. Yay! I have my battery life back!

Laptop “Do Over”

asus eeeIf I could have a “do over” on my laptop purchase from last November, I would have gotten one of these Asus Eee laptops.

Here’s why:

  1. I don’t need a totally powerful machine – 98% of my work is done in a command line, firefox or thunderbird. If I’m going to do work in Photoshop, I’ll borrow my wife’s laptop (I can’t afford more than one copy of it anyway!)
  2. I want my laptop to be portable – I’m willing to sacrifice a faster processor for a small laptop. When it comes to laptops, my opinion is smaller is better. If I could have multiple command line windows open on my Treo, I’d just use that as my portable computer. At 6.3 x 8.9 x 0.8 inches & 2 pounds, the Asus Eee laptop seems pretty sweet.
  3. I put Linux on all my computers anyway (my wife’s MacBook doesn’t qualify as one of my computers)

I’m pleased about how many reviewers of this laptop on Amazon are happy with Linux on this laptop and never install Windows.

Well, our last laptop lasted 6 years, so I’ll probably be shopping around again in 2014 for another laptop.

MacBook 2GB memory upgrade prices

IciclesLately, my wife’s been doing a lot of stuff in photoshop on her MacBook which only has 1GB of RAM which gets eaten up so quickly and the system starts getting quite slow. I decided it was time to break down and buy some more RAM for her MacBook.

So, I’m shopping for a memory upgrade for my wife’s MacBook and as I look around…WOAH…$300 from the Apple store. I don’t really want to pay that much. It seems quite expensive. I figure it’s gotta be cheaper than that so I start looking around.

I found this, the same memory upgrade (2GB) for $65. I can’t believe Apple charges so much for it. And I can’t believe they get away with either.

New desktop for $399

I often have people ask me if I know of any good deals on computers and it seems like they change so frequently that I rarely have an answer.

Today I have an answer:
Save $250! Get the VOSTRO™ 200 MINI TOWER for $399!

I recommend bumping up to at least a 160GB hard drive and getting a DVD burner (16X DVD+/-RW Drive) so the real total would be $459. Not too bad for a computer with a 19″ flat panel screen.

You probably can’t get it in time for Christmas, but it might make a good New Year’s gift for your family.

Ubuntu AMI for Amazon EC2 large & xlarge instances

TunnelI just released another Ubuntu public AMI for Amazon EC2. This one is nearly identical to the first one I released except it can be used with large and extra large instances.

Here are the current tech specs and costs for the different instance sizes:

Small Instance (Default) – $0.10/hr
1.7 GB of memory, 1 EC2 Compute Unit (1 virtual core with 1 EC2 Compute Unit), 160 GB of instance storage, 32-bit platform
Large Instance – $0.40/hr
7.5 GB of memory, 4 EC2 Compute Units (2 virtual cores with 2 EC2 Compute Units each), 850 GB of instance storage, 64-bit platform
Extra Large Instance – $0.80/hr
15 GB of memory, 8 EC2 Compute Units (4 virtual cores with 2 EC2 Compute Units each), 1690 GB of instance storage, 64-bit platform

One Laptop per Child

OLPC systemDo you want to buy a cool laptop for less than $400? This thing is durable, easy to use and can be charged with a hand crank or solar panel (it also looks kinda cute.)

The One Laptop per Child project is one that has interested me for a while. Not only have they worked hard to make these laptops inexpensive and durable, but they run Linux and are easy to use!

There is a ton of stuff that is cool about how these laptops can interact with each other. They seem to be ideal for any classroom environment. Currently, they have a special “Give One. Get One.” program running. Between now and November 26, you can donate $399 to the program ($200 of which is tax-deductible) and they will send you a laptop as well as send one laptop to help children in a developing country. As an added bonus, “For all U.S. donors who participate in the Give One Get One program, T-Mobile is offering one year of complimentary HotSpot access” (normally $39.99/mo.)