Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (1473 mails)

< Previous Next >
[opensuse] dmraid partitions Lost & Found - howto
  • From: "David C. Rankin" <drankinatty@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 23:44:11 -0500
  • Message-id: <200906252344.12242.drankinatty@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

I had not had the opportunity to deal with a complete loss of all
partition information before and had to do a quick bit of learning on how to
recover them (the long way because I was too dumb to move my "fdisk -l" saved
information to a remote disk before beginning to beta test dmraid releases).
Anyway, this information applies to all partition recovery and I stumbled
across several tools I hadn't known of before so I thought I would pass the fun
along. Also included is the information to recover your grub installation that
is always a fairly hot topic, so this just might help some other lucky soul
down the road.

dmraid Partition Loss with dmraid-1.0.0rc15

Testing dmraid-1.0.0rc15 on a box with two separate dmraid arrays, I
experienced the total loss of all partitions on the second dmraid array. The
first array held an openSuSE install running dmraid-1.0.0rc14 while the second
held Archlinux with dmraid-1.0.0rc15 where testing was being done. All testing
of dmraid-1.0.0rc15 on Archlinux went fine, the problem occurred when the
machine was boot back into openSuSE. There was a kenel update involved at the
time that just might have created the perfect storm of differing dmraid
metadata formats across OS's and a kernel update that the partitioning just
couldn't handle. Regardless of the situation, whether using a raid setup or
not, partition loss is serious business and hopefully this will help get you
going again.

dmraid Partition Recovery

Recovery of dmraid partitions proceed in the same manner as recovering
partitions from a singe drive. if you haven't destroyed the information on the
array, you should be able to put the pieces of the puzzle back together again.
The basic outline for the process is to locate and restore the partitions on
the array and then reinstall the boot loader so your box is functional again.
(Note: if you were smart enough to save the "fdisk -l" information for your
drives, you can simply fdisk your array and be done)

Tools Required

A. Partition location and recovery software (I used testdisk) (main site) (download
(prebuilt for 2.6 kernels)

B. Rescue CD for your OS (generally your install CD/DVD, or knoppix, etc.)

Using testdisk

testdisk is a great piece of GPL code written by Christophe Grenier.
testdisk can be used with most operating systems and will scan you disk or
array and locate partition boundaries and give you the opportunity to recover
them. I had 4 partitions dedicated to my Archlinux install totaling roughly 70G
on a 750G raid array. To start testdisk, for Linux26, you will untar the bzip
archive and then cd into the linux subdirectory. The prebuilt binary is:


The first thing you will need to do is set the correct disk geometry.
In my case the disk reported 254 heads and needed to be changed to 255 heads to
work properly. (This is recommended if the first Quick Scan doesn't find your
partitions and should be true of most 500G-1T drives on the market).

After setting the geometry, just choose "Analyze" and "Quick Scan" and
go get a coffee or something. In my case since the 70G I was using was at the
front of the 750G array, it had found my partitions within 5 minutes or so.
Once all of your partitions are found you can "Stop" the scan by hitting the
return key.

You are then presented with the list of found partitions. You may only
want to recover some of the partitions found. They will be initially labeled
"D" for deleted and you simply toggle on the partitions you need to recover by
selecting ("P" Primary, "*" Primary Boot, "L" Logical or leave as "D" for
Deleted). You are provided with the CHS information on the screen so you can
map out what parts do and do not belong. testdisk will check your selections
for partition overlap and give you confirmation in green if your partition
layout is OK. Just hit return to continue. Don't worry about the extended
partition boundary, it will be provided. Review the partitions to be recovered
and choose "Write" and your are done. (a reboot is required to activate the

If no partitions were found during the "Quick Scan", then (1) check
your drive geometry setting; and (2) you will be given the option to do an "In
Depth Scan" (go get 4 cups of coffee, walk the dog, etc...)

Have Your Rescue CD Handy

Once the partition information has been recovered and the partition
table changed, there is a near 100% chance your boot loader configuration will
be messed up. Don't worry, everything is still there, you just have to
reinstall grub or lilo into the boot record to recover from the situation. The
following grub recipe will apply regardless of whether you are working with
dmraid or mdraid or just a plain single drive. Just use md-X for mdraid and use
the normal sda, sdb, etc. for individual disks. dmraid was the example here
because that just happened to be my lock set of disks for the day.

Reinstalling Grub

Here you will be booting from your CD or DVD into rescue mode, using
dmraid to activate the arrays, and then using the information about the dm
nodes in /dev/mapper and /dev/dm-X and the partition information in from "cat
/proc/partitions" to create a chroot of your install to repair the boot loader:

(1) boot from the install DVD

(2) choose "Rescue System", login as "root" (no password needed)

(3) activate the dmraid arrays with "dmraid -ay"

(4) check which device nodes to use to create the chroot with "ls -al /dev/dm*"
or "ls -al /dev/mapper". I was dealing with 2 separate arrays, 9 partitions
(duplicated by having both dmraid-1.0.0rc14 and dmraid-1.0.0rc15 metadata) that
left me with dm-0 to dm-20 to deal with. Compare the size shown for dm-X,
/dev/mapper/raiddevice_name and the size shown from "cat /proc/partitions" to
determine your "/", "/home", and "/boot" and any other partitions you need to
setup in your chroot environment.

(5) mount all dm-X devices or /dev/mapper devices under /mnt to create your
actual filesystem, and then bind /dev/, /proc/ and /sys/ to their respective
mount points under /mnt and chroot.

**Note, you need to mount the device containing the / (root) filesystem
first before mounting /boot and /home. Otherwise, the /boot and /home mount
points will not exist:


mount /dev/dm-5 /mnt
mount /dev/dm-7 /mnt/boot
mount /dev/dm-6 /mnt/home
mount -o bind /dev /mnt/dev
mount -o bind /proc /mnt/proc
mount -o bind /sys /mnt/sys
cd /mnt
chroot /mnt

(6) Reinstall grub to fix the mbr on your raid discs (mine were hd0 and hd1).
for my notes on getting the (hdX,Y) numbers right. When you start grub, you get
a small ">" prompt, just use the following as a guide. If you only have a
single array, you will only need to worry about setting up hd0:

>root (hd0,4)
>setup (hd0)
>*** few lines of grub output ***
>root (hd1,5)
>setup (hd1)
>*** more lines of grub output ***

(7) check your /etc/grub.conf to make sure it agrees with the way you have just
configured grub. For the example above, it should look like this for hd0 (I
boot to hd0 and then chainload to get to hd1 and the second array)

setup --stage2=/boot/grub/stage2 (hd0) (hd0,4)

(8) exit (to exit chroot) and reboot, and if you were successful (or just damn
lucky), your system will be 100% again. Now immediately do "fdisk -l >" on each of your arrays and drives and save that information
remotely so if this happens again, you have a shortcut;-)

This stuff was always painful, so I just took a moment to write it down
so I would have it for the next go-round;-)

David C. Rankin, J.D.,P.E.
Rankin Law Firm, PLLC
510 Ochiltree Street
Nacogdoches, Texas 75961
Telephone: (936) 715-9333
Facsimile: (936) 715-9339
To unsubscribe, e-mail: opensuse+unsubscribe@xxxxxxxxxxxx
For additional commands, e-mail: opensuse+help@xxxxxxxxxxxx

< Previous Next >