Use of Backup in Anger!

I lost my entire RAID10 array yesterday. In a fit of “too much noise in office” I removed the hot swap SCSI array box from my workstation box, attached it to a wooden platform, and suspended it in a large plastic box using an old inner tube from my bike. This really reduced the noise, however, like a moron, I did not attach the scsi cable properly and 2 drives got kicked from the array. That was not a problem. However, what was, is when I tried to re-assemble the array without checking the cable. I ended up wiping one of the raid partitions. Still not a major issue, except I subsequently zeroed out the superblock of the missing drive in order to add it back in. Anyway, that was my array lost!

As a main backup strategy I use an homebrewed incremental Rsync script to back up my Linux workstation everynight to a 2Tb ReadyNas+ box (Macs are backed up with a combination of Time Machine and Super Duper). So now I had a chance to test it out. So after recreating the array and copying the data across the network I was back up and running!

mdadm --create /dev/md1 --chunk=256 -R  -l 10 -n 4 -p f2 /dev/sd[abcd]3 
echo 300000 >> /sys/block/md1/md/sync_speed_max 
watch cat /proc/mdstat 
mkfs.xfs /dev/md1
mount /home
rsync -avP /mnt/backup/SCOTGATEHome/current/ /home/

It took about 1 hour to sync, and then 3 hours to copy across the 156Gb of files over the network.

It all worked great, and I’m very pleased to know that my backup strategy is working!

Now back to complete the “silent and suspended hard drive array!”

My cactus lives!!

In my first week of coming to Cambridge, or rather the first week of living in my flat, I spent a good deal of time in Garden centres buying enough greenery to hide the fact I had no furniture. One little purchase was a silly cactus in a small Glass pot with coloured sand. Well this little plant survived very well. It outgrow the very small pot it came in, and about 4 months ago I decided it really deserved a proper pot. This proved more difficult than I initially thought as first I had to literally smash the glass pot to remove the plant, and the sand inside was so hard, that I needed a chisel to remove most of it. I replanted it with a layer of gravel, pure soil with a bit of compost (from the garden composter), a 50:50 mix of sand and soil, and finally a layer of sand.

So far so good, except following this pretty rough treatment the cactus did not fair well at all. Initially it was in the kitchen, but I eventually moved it into my office which gets more sun. However, it continued to deteriorate. The stems drooped enough to hit the floor, and were were covered in brown rot. Ouch, the poor thing. I finally moved it downstairs into the warmest spot in the house, and then went away for three weeks. Well I’m happy to say that it’s recovered, and is looking the best it’s ever done.


The stems are very upright, and there’s a lot of new growth! Excellent. Let’s hope it lives for another five years!