New server online…

I’m very tired atm but here is a brief summery of the headache this was, with a little geek humor added for those who can appreciate it…

I spent 1.5 weeks developing and testing a new linux OS for it, compiled from scratch. Works fine in vmware, and works fine on my i7, lots of testing, so I know it works beautifully.

After testing was completed and I was sure that everything would run smoothly I spent an afternoon tearing apart my old server, cleaning and building the new one.

This is when the true pain started…

Smack in the face #1: Bios revision was F5 – F6 added x6 cpu support. I had to wait overnight, and then ventured out this morning to borrow a single core semperon 140 (am3) to use to flash it. So I get home, swap out cpu’s, flash the bios, swap back and YAY it works now! That’s when I noticed…

Smack in the face #2: New bios revision (F9 now) totally fubared the ability to use a USB keyboard attached to a hub (prior to F7, my keyboard worked fine)… Since my keyboard happens to have a USB hub integrated into it, I was trapped, unable to enter bios setup to select the boot device, which in this case was going to be a small USB stick I had prepared and already attached to the system. So after stewing a bit, I ventured out yet again to a little office supply store across the street. They charged me $20 for what should have been $10 – the most basic and uncomfortable USB keyboard. So I get home, plug in the new keyboard and YAY it works now! That’s when I noticed…

Kick in the balls #1: Motherboard WILL NOT boot from usb stick. Gives an annoying little grumble about it not being a valid boot device, please insert a floppy, yadda yadda… Oh wait a minute, this IS a valid boot device tested on a virtual machine and a physical machine. FFFFUUUUUU computer, FFFFFUUUU whoever wrote this bios rom. So I decide to plug in some optical drives I had in the closet, and burn an ISOLINUX cd that will chainboot usb devices on pretty much any system (tested the iso in vmware, works lovely)… First disk burned made a coaster out of a DVD-RW. Second burn completed successfully, but whats this… Stuck at loading the preboot bin after ISOLINUX loaded…. FFFFFFUUUUUUU

So finally I surrendered and just burned my entire OS to the optical disk, and it booted…

So this is running for now, I wanted to get the site back up to avoid anymore downtime… I may exchange this motherboard for one that actually supports booting from a USB stick like it should. I will be fine tuning things over the next few days, but I will try to keep the downtime to a minimum…

16 thoughts on “New server online…

    • @cluster Get an IRC client like Xchat and then join the server and channel, there are guides on the basics of how to use IRC all over the internet if you get stuck.

  1. Hello. I am not sure if I am posting this in the correct forum. I am running a hackintosh with an i7 processor, using the newest myhack. I am pretty sure that only 4 cores of my 8 core processor are working? any ideas?

    • @Ben i7’s are only 4 core processors. They do have hyperthreading which adds 4 ‘virtual cores’ that does help with multi-tasking and SMP in general. I assure you, all your cores are functioning the way that they were designed to.

  2. >The $10 USB enclosure would have the same issue the usb stick has, it simply won’t boot USB.
    As far as I know, USB storage devices identify themselves in 2 different ways: whether a Removable storage device or an External storage device. For instance, Windows distinguishes between the two and treats them differently. It might turn out your firware refuses to boot from the former, but agrees to boot from the latter.
    In your case it’s best to boot from a USB stick, of course.

    Regards

    • Tangerine: I actually finally worked out the problem – the new board had the same issue.

      Here is a summery that I posted on another forum I frequent:

      Someone in an IRC channel mentioned that some bios’es are trying to validate partition tables and filesystems now – rather than letting the bootloader handle it on it’s own, I guess this is partially to try and eliminate some bugs that have been encountered in the past, like infinite reboots on some firmware if you plug in a usb storage device that doesn’t have a bootloader on it or a bad MBR, stuff like that.

      Aaanyway, pretty much every last one of these configuration options work across every other system I have access too – qemu, vmware, my i7, a half dozen systems I tried around town, etc. There really is no reason it shouldn’t work.

      But at about 05:00 a light went off in my head… What if this motherboard is checking for a bootloader it *knows* and then is looking for a “valid” (or what it thinks is valid) partition for it before allowing it to do it’s thing? Is it trying to be “smart”?

      Turns out this is EXACTLY what it is doing. It wouldn’t allow a grub mbr to load, if it only detects FAT16 or FAT32 partitions on the stick. How do I know this for sure even though they work on every other system I’ve ever used? – Because when I finally put an ext2 partition on there for the /boot and used FAT32 for the rest of the data – it showed up in HDD boot menu in bios and BOOTED THE SYSTEM.

      Now you may ask why didn’t I try this sooner… Well – because grub /boot can reside on FAT16, FAT32, ext2, ext3, and a dozen other filesystems. It should NOT be a problem and it IS an issue with the firmware but it isn’t that it doesn’t like the grub bootloader or wants a windows/dos MBR – it is that it wants a corresponding partition with a filesystem that it “knows” it can boot to allow it to work.

      So much for “smart” bios… This is yet another example of hardware/software vendors trying to ‘n00b proof’ their products at the expense of reduced functionality for more advanced users. I wanted to use FAT16 or FAT32 for the entire device so that I could edit the files even in /boot cross-platform but now I will have no choice but to edit /boot & the kernel/initrd from within linux only. Not a big deal, but I do wish this was documented in bold print somewhere so I didn’t spend countless hours driving myself and everyone else crazy.

  3. As soon I have a backup HD I will install 10.6.5 on a EP43-DS3L Board. So far it runs fine with 10.6.4.

  4. Hi Conti, thanks for your great work!

    Why not use an oldie HD? Your motherboard must have a SATA interface! If you need it mobile, maybe your motherboard will accept a simple $10 USB enclosure… Or eSata. Or firewire… There are plenty of options.

    • tangerine: The $10 USB enclosure would have the same issue the usb stick has, it simply won’t boot USB. And I need all of my internal SATA devices for storage devices. The nature of the linux OS I compiled/configured means it basically just runs out of system memory, there is only a small (~350MB) read only compressed image that it needs to load at boot time so the cheap $10 2GB USB stick is the best solution. I actually ordered a replacement motherboard and I am going to attempt to sell the old one (since nothing is really wrong with it hardware wise all gigabyte offered me was a replacement for the same board, which of course would have the same problem since it is a firmware issue). Hopefully the new board works the way it should, on the bright side it IS a better motherboard (GA-880GA-UD3H) which has more onboard SATA devices, 2x PCI-E 16x slots, SATA3+USB3 support and a better chipset – if I can sell the old motherboard for close to what I paid for it I will only be out an additional $40 or $50.

  5. Dear friends, yesterday I updated to 10.6.5 and all worked properly. I’m using myHack 1.1 the only thing what happened after the update was the lose of the sound. Just add it again. Dear Conti, many thanks for your priceless work!

    • Jason: Ya well sort of, now I’m running off a rewritable disk and I have to burn a new one every time I want to update the OS or boot scripts – which is going to be a pain in the ass.

      I tried everything I could think of today, I re-flashed the bios several times to several previous revisions as well as a beta revision, the oldest one that supports my CPU at least recognize the USB as a boot device – but it got stuck in an infinate loop error when it tried to boot it… No Joy :(

      I’m going to see if I can swap this board out for another of equal or better quality that will actually boot from USB, but I can’t afford to spend any more money on this upgrade so if they won’t swap it out I guess I am outta luck…

  6. Will myhack be updated? Mac OS X 10.6.5 should be out anytime now and I wanted to make sure not to encounter any problems with my hackintosh. Keep up the good work!