Sunday, October 19, 2014

Refreshing My Slackware Box

I have been trying to refresh my lab a bit.  My Slackware machine hasn't been used in a few years and has 4 older hard drives.  I decided to replace the older drives (4 drives - 60-, 80-, 160-, and 60-GB, 3 IDE drives and one SATA drive) and invest in 4 newer drives (4 x 500-GB SATA III).

I want to set up 2 x 500-GB in RAID 0, if possible (software RAID, if possible, hardware RAID if not).  I've never set up a RAID array before, and if I can set up 2 x 500-GB in RAID 0, I'll essentially have a 1-TB drive.

I ran into a problem, though.  My system seems to not want to always detect the CD drive anymore.  Initially, it did, but stopped when I tried to install Slackware 14.1 last night.  I got as far as selection of the source drive, even though it detected the CD drive when booting the install CD.  I changed the jumper on the back of the drive but it did nothing, and now it won't see the install CD at all.  So I decided to try using a USB flash drive as an install source.  I also just now noticed that the .iso I'm trying to use is 64-bit, which is the wrong arch.  :(  I'll download the proper image right now.

I tried using my Alienware system to set up a Slackware install USB flash drive...it was a mess!  I ended up just going to my Ubuntu machine and giving it a shot...it is far less confusing.  Part of the confusion is that I don't see flushed-out documentation on how to do this in Windows.  Most people are either using Unetbootin but the Windows tool for that wasn't detecting the USB flash drive, for some reason.  Then, when I tried to use manual instructions, most of the HOWTOs I found weren't clear enough and were a bit vague (trust me...I know how to follow instructions and I've written HOWTOs before).

Hopefully, I can get this working so I can push myself into using Slackware again.

UPDATE --

Just as I finished this post, 'dd' finished.  Here's what I did:

ron@Ubuntu1:~$ isohybrid slackware64-14.1-install-dvd.iso
isohybrid: Warning: more than 1024 cylinders: 2326
isohybrid: Not all BIOSes will be able to boot this device
ron@Ubuntu1:~$

ron@Ubuntu1:~$
ron@Ubuntu1:~$ sudo dd if=slackware64-14.1-install-dvd.iso of=/dev/sdb
4763648+0 records in
4763648+0 records out
2438987776 bytes (2.4 GB) copied, 1150.13 s, 2.1 MB/s

This took maybe 10 minutes to do.  Again, I have the wrong image, so I'll have to do this all over again...shouldn't be an issue, though.

UPDATE 2 --

Annnnddd...after 2 days of trying getting CDs to be read by the CD reader, I swapped it out with a known working reader.  It worked and I threw out the non-working reader.  The swapped reader  worked for a bit then stopped working too.  I then swapped out the IDE cable (yep...no SATA reader in this particular system).  It started working again.  So, it was the cable and not the readers.  Oh, and I went to the trash can and reclaimed the trashed CD reader.  :)  Slackware 14.1 is now installing, although I still need to read the RAID HOWTO to see what's needed to set that up.

UPDATE 3 --

About that CD reader...it ain't the reader(s).  The one I swapped in is intermittent as well, even when paired with known working cabling.  It has to be the motherboard that's acting flakey.  As well, LILO won't install on my RAID 5 setup...it keeps erroring out and telling me to use another bootup method or to fix the issue (issue has to do with using  "--metadata=0.90" on my boot partition setup...I've tried it without setting this particular metadata configuration and it flat-out won't boot).  I'd use an alternative boot-up method but the damned motherboard is so old that it doesn't support removable drives such as flash drives as boot-up options.  And since the BIOS update utility for this motherboard requires a Windows OS to be installed (and I'm not going to install Windows on this system just to update the BIOS, which might not even fix what I'm complaining about).  I'm thinking of just upgrading the motherboard, but if I do that, I'm going to upgrade the CPU as well...gonna go Intel Core i5 and Gigabyte GA-Z87-HD3, more than likely...and if I do that, I'm just going to use it as my main desktop gaming rig, which means I won't be using it as a Linux machine.  That might be ideal, since I've a gaming rig that is acting up (its a 6-core AMD CPU system that keeps powering down)...I can relegate that machine to Linux duty after also upgrading it's motherboard and CPU (going Intel i5 as well).  I have some decisions to make, I guess.
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