Actually it was more like I was losing my mind, not my Ubuntu…
But let’s start from the beginning… I have two identical 250GB hard disks so I’ve decided to create a RAID array out of them. Not a system (bootable) one as I had too much trouble setting it up (I’ve set it up but
dist-upgrade broke it all too nicely; kernel panic, etc.). I’ve set up a separate 5GB system partition on the first drive, leaving the rest for RAID. This left me with 5GB of free space to spare on the second drive. Smart as I was, I decided to clone the system partition from first drive to the second one, using
dd, so I’d still be able to boot if either of the drives crashed. I called it semi-RAID built-by-hand and, well, I was quite proud of it. All seemed fine as months passed (and remember, that this was a server and as such almost did not require any reboots). But time passed and suddenly there was the new Ubuntu out, the Feisty one, so I decided it was time to upgrade. As I had some minor troubles during the upgrade (obsolete packages, invalid config files that I ordered to keep, etc.), I was rebooting every few minutes. And this is where fun comes in…
After a successful upgrade to 7.04 the screen greeted me with a 6.04 prompt. Hmm… strange. Let’s see what’s going on. Okey, so this upgrade actually did go so well. No problem, let’s do it again. This time I did not reboot, but kept making other changes. At some point I had to reboot, though. Now I was scratching my head really hard. Some packages, I knew I had uninstalled previously, kept coming back. I was making changes to various config files only to see those changes not being written to the disk after rebooting. Like, WTF? Now I was rebooting like crazy… losing my mind more with every reboot. I was making directories like THIS-IS-FIRST-HARD-DISK-FOR-SURE only to see them disappear and reappear a couple of reboots later. I was almost crying with despair. I’ve came up with the idea to compare
/dev/sdb1. Funny thing, they turned out to be the same. Who knew, maybe my RAID-by-hand automatically turned into a real one?
I had dark thoughts. I was thinking about giving up on having two identical hard disks inside one PC and maybe about downgrading to Edgy, not even knowing whether that was possible. I was even thinking about giving up on those two 250GB disks. I was really desperate. I knew, I needed a break.
10 minutes and one glass of cold water later I was on the mission to find out what is exactly wrong with my Ubuntu. Or my PC. Or my hard disks. Or the world around me.
It wasn’t easy. The
df command reported my system being on
/dev/sdb1 did not help as it has been showing me the same partition. But then came the bright idea to try and mount
/dev/sda1, despite it being already mounted. To my surprise it turned out to be a completely another partition! The lost one! The one I missed so much. I was in heaven, so I started googling, because by that time I just knew it had something to do with those weird UUIDs. And I’d found out that I was not alone. I was so happy…
Now I know that my mistake was to make the exact clone of the system partition and have those two partitions (with the same UUIDs, yeah, unique ids my ass) available at the same time. No wonder my Ubuntu felt schizophrenic, but it still does not justify all of this weird behavior I was greeted with. Some error, some syslog entry, anything would be helpful… is that too much to ask?
What I was left with after I’ve figured it all out was this nice free disk space report (notice the double
$ df Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Monuted on /dev/sda1 5162796 1650512 3250028 34% / (..) /dev/sda1 5162796 1558632 3341908 33% /mnt/disk-a
The root of the problem is that I base most of my core linux knowledge on the RedHat from the 90s when
/dev/hda1 was saint and meant exactly what it represented, namely the first partition of the first hard disk (presumably connected using the first cable and set as master). With UUIDs all this has changed. Apparently for the better, but leaving some folks like me scratching their heads with disbelief.
Yes, Ubuntu is Linux for human beings. Apparently not for all…
PS: For future reference, remember to set the UUID after doing any partition duplication using
dd. You do it like this:
tune2fs -U random /dev/sdb1