Ubuntu 12.04, Amahi, and Linux Not Detecting Hard Disks

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve had this much trouble with Linux detecting a hard drive.  It brought me back to Ye Olde Linux days when 14 floppy disks housed your distribution and more times than not you didn’t have compatible hardware and had to find out via BBS what modem worked with what kernel…sometimes, it was a major pain…and that was the fun in it 🙂

In today’s installation of Linux…I thought I’d left those days behind.  I was wrong, unfortunately.

I downloaded Ubuntu 12.04 to install so that I could put Amahi on my video/picture/file/tv/movie share Linux machine.  Amahi is pretty much the best program on the face of the planet to use for this purpose…I’d put it up against any ‘samba-like’ distribution of Linux out there and I think it would come out on top.  Anyway, I went to install Ubuntu 12.04 and I immediately hit a problem:  it wasn’t detecting my hard drive.  I got out my notes for when I last installed an operating system on this server and it happened to be the last release of Amahi on Fedora…which was Fedora 14.  In that instance, I had to pass the nodmraid option in order for my hard drive to detect.

Easy enough.  I went into the Ubuntu options for booting.  Chose F6 and then selected nodmraid.  It booted fine and I went to a desktop.  Once there, I clicked the install icon.  Things were looking good until I went to the part of the installer where you choose a hard disk…which didn’t give me any hard disks.  I tried this process again and again…often times putting in other options such as noapic, nolapic and other awesome boot parameters using the F6 portion of the boot prompt.  No joy on any of these tries.  What could it be?

After a few minutes of brainstorming, I realized that Ubuntu wasn’t actually honoring the boot parameter for nodmraid.  Since this was the case, the hard drive wasn’t detecting.  In order to get the hard drive detecting, I should remove the dmraid information from my hard drive and see if this made a difference.  So, here’s how I fixed this problem:

  1. Instead of booting to install Ubuntu, select the option to Try it first
  2. Once there, hit up the dashboard, click on all applications, and search through all 78 until you find Terminal
  3. Once the terminal is up, type sudo su and hit enter.  You’re now root.
  4. type fdisk -l and take note of the letter designation of your hard drive that is having problems detecting (sda in my case).
  5. type dmraid -E -r /dev/sdX where ‘X’ is the letter designation of your hard drive.
  6. Answer yes to the question it asks of if you wish to remove the dmraid information on the drive.
  7. Reboot and Install Ubuntu.  It should now detect.

Not a hard thing to figure out…but it might be for some new users…and I’m almost certain Amahi users will run across this…because many of them are converts from Windows Home Server.  In this case, they’d probably be pretty freaked out having to drop down to a command line and issue commands.  Hopefully, this article will be a handy tool for them to use in order to get Ubuntu and subsequently, Amahi installed on their computer.  Thanks for reading!

Rethinking Home Servers

Since my first home-built server (a PI 75Mhz behemoth) I’ve used Red Hat based distributions as my home server.  This lasted until around 2002-3 when I moved into a 4 bedroom house with 3 of my Air Force buddies and one of them wanted to learn Linux.

I knew from experience in the mid-nineties that Slackware was probably the most Unix-like distribution out there…I felt at home there quite a bit after learning the *nix ropes on Solaris 2.0.  So we configured a Slackware 8.1 dual processor tower server he was lucky enough to acquire as our home firewall-all-around-great-linux box.  He took his beginning steps there and flourished since our Air Force job already had us jumping around in a VAX/VMS mainframe.  We had many late night hacking sessions attempting to get things to work or compile there.  We also had a multi GB shared hard disk (unheard of at the time!) shared over samba.

After I got moved out, I continued to keep the Slackware box up to date.  I moved onward to Slackware 9.  Samba operated like a champ and Slackware was a great routing system and dhcp server.  Then I discovered ClarkConnect and loved the web interface.  I could do things in half the time!  I could do them over the web from work without SSH tunneling!  All this appealed to me at the time.

I continued to run ClarkConnect from that point on and have continued to all the way up to when it changed to ClearOS this past year.  Indeed, I have ClearOS now as my central server.

The only problem is that I’ve suffered 2 of the most catastrophic losses of files in my samba shares when running ClarkConnect/ClearOS…and I didn’t draw the lines together  on these separate incidents until just recently.

The first loss came when an entire samba share was completely eradicated…13GB of music was just gone.  The second loss happened just the other day when tons of scanned pictures just VANISHED into thin air.  Each time these happened, I was using ClarkConnect/ClearOS.  Each time it happened a few users reported instability in the forums of those distributions.  I am not sure how it could have happened and I was caught completely off guard on the second time…my backups were not yet configured since it was a new server.  The first time it happened…I didn’t know the value of having a good backup routine.  So each time, no backups 🙁  Lesson learned the hard way but learned nonetheless.

I recall running Slackware on my server and NEVER having the problems I have had with ClarkConnect/ClearOS.  This got me rethinking my home server design.  Servers should be the epitome of stability.  One should be able to migrate from one version of the operating system to the next with few hiccups.  When considering each of these it is very apparent that I should be running Slackware core on my main samba server.

I will be making that transition in the next week or two and moving to a Slackware core based server.  I’m not sure what to use for backups across the network (I usually mirror the drive to an NTFS drive in my Windows based multimedia server) nor backups locally to other hard drives.  If you have any suggestions, I’d really like to hear them.  Also, I’d like to know what readers consider using for a server.  Please vote for your favorite below and drop me a comment letting me know specifics and thanks for your help!

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