"Maybe we should plug the guitars in"

Armijn Hemel, May 30, 2009, 7733 views.

Sometimes the solution to a big problem can be as small as changing a few jumper settings.

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About 1.5 years ago one of our hosting servers all of a sudden fell off the net. After we had gotten it from the data center it turned out that the power supply had burned out. There were some nice burnmarks inside the case. This explosion had taken out the two disks as well, which were giving lots of disk errors. We did not want the system rot away somewhere, since it is still perfect for doing things like off site backups.

So we bought two new disks and installed the system. It installed perfectly, but refused to boot. We did not see an obvious solution at the time and didn't look at it for a few weeks. Yesterday we looked at it again and still: no boot. We swapped the disks: no boot. It then occured that one of the harddisk lights was blinking when the CD-player was accessed. The machine was bought before SATA disks were everywhere and the machine still has ATA disks. The blinking set us thinking "maybe we have not connected the cables right". Although this seemed really unlikely we wanted to rule out the possibility we did. When we opened the machine and saw everything was fine it dawned upon us: maybe the disks were in "cable select" mode, instead of configured as master or slave. We took out the disks and indeed they were set to "cable select". We set them to the settings we wanted to have (attached to two controllers, so we set both disks to master) and booted the machine again, which worked like a charm.

Hours and hours of work could have been saved by just moving a little piece of plastic on the back of the disks. D'oh!

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Re: "Maybe we should plug the guitars in" (Jos Visser, 2009-05-31 22:30 CEST)
I got a machine in a colo in Amsterdam. A couple of weeks ago it dropped off the net as well. Since I live in Switzerland it is sort of hard for me to go the machine itself, so I asked the colo admins to connect a console and tell me what the deal was. They told me the system was showing a login prompt and seemed fine. I asked them if they could login but they refused since their policy did not allow for them hacking around on customer machines (apparently not even when the customer asks for it). I mailed a friend and he kindly stopped by at the colo facility. Root cause of the problem: The network cable had come undone. Bit of a pity that the colo guys had not seen it!