Now Pinch-Hitting for the x40: Nokia 770

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You’d think that sooner or later I’d be due for some good luck on the hardware front, but hot on the heels of our hosted server disaster, I seem to have corrupted the reiserfs partition on my x40. If you’re a little fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing technically speaking, this can safely be classified as bad. My Linux instance is no longer bootable.

Here’s what happened. Friday evening, I checked out the latest subversion copy of Xgl to see if the performance had improved at all, and set them to compile. Yesterday evening, I finally got around to turning them on. Unfortunately, the performance was worse than before, and I was only able to restore the settings that would load regular X before the entire UI locked up on me. As I’ve done literally hundreds of times before, I hard rebooted the machine. I’ve done this in Windows XP when a suspend hung or the UI froze up, and I’ve done it in Linux when things went terribly awry as I was experimenting with newer packages – as they did last night. On the x40, and most of the other laptops I’ve used over the years, you hard reboot the machine by simply holding the power switch down for 20 or 30 seconds. That will shut it down, then you hit the power button to restart. No problem, usually.

This time, however, I got a message I’ve never seen before:

/etc/init.d/bootmisc: line 61: 3752 segmentation fault rm -f “${x}”

This was not good, and after trying to reboot once more and getting the same message I turned to the Gentoo community for help. I was somewhat convinced that this was just a software problem because the XP partition on the machine still booted fine, and this morning I tried at the suggestion of one of the Gentoo users to first check and then rebuild my reiserfs tree. As you might have guessed by now, that effort failed. Running reiserfsck –rebuild-tree /dev/hda4 fixed a variety of minor errors, then started spitting out “unrecoverable” errors followed by this message:

The problem has occured looks like a hardware problem. If you have bad blocks, we advise you to get a new hard drive, because once you get one bad block that the disk drive internals cannot hide from your sight, the chances of getting more are generally said to become much higher…

If you don’t want to follow that follow that advice then if you have just a few bad blocks, try writing to the bad blocks and see if the drive remaps the bad blocks 9that means it takes a block that it has in reserve and allocates it for use for of that bluck number). If it cannot remap the block, use badblock option (-B) with reiserfs utils to handle this block correctly.

bread: Cannot read the block (5549459): (Input/Output error).

According to reiserfsck then, my problem is not a software one but hardware related, in which case I’m more or less screwed. I could order a replacement drive, I suppose, and I might still have to but it’s certainly not going to arrive before this evening when I travel out to Boston. And following the rebuild, I can no longer mount and chroot into my environment, so my backups at rsync.net are a.) incomplete and b.) a week old. Workwise it won’t matter much, but I’ll lose quite a bit of personal stuff that is less well looked after.

Hopefully someone on the Gentoo forums or reading this will be able to give me some idea of how to get around the bad block or blocks, so that I can at least retrieve the uncorrupted information to store on a new hard drive. But in the meantime, I need something to work off until that happens. The XP partition on here will be ok for a couple of days until I figure out what to do, but isn’t suitable for my absurd travel schedule this week while travelling because it won’t suspend, hangs frequently, and the partition it sits on is very limited as far as storage space.

As a result, I decided to get something I’ve been meaning to buy for several months now – a Nokia 770 internet tablet. The deciding factor in this decision were the very positive reviews from Christian and Jeff of the new 2006 firmware beta – the one that provides the framework for the Google Talk functionality. I think this will end up being a very useful device for me, even after I resolve my laptop situation. The device is easy to use and configure (at least after I returned the original unit CompUSA tried to sell me which was a demo model sold as new), and the only thing I can’t figure out how to do is install the aforementioned firmware beta. It’s too big for the 64MB card the unit ships with, and I can’t seem to get the 770 to see a version I’ve downloaded onto the PC’s drives – USB cable or no.

Will have more on the Nokia 770 as I use it more, and any help at all from the hard drive experts out there is hugely appreciated.


  1. I love my 770. If you can still boot into Windows, the easiest thing is the go here


    and grab the update wizard as well as the 4/18 image (the latest 2005OS update). Connect the 770 via the USB cable (but leave it off) and walk through the wizard. I found that I had to disable the Windows XP firewall or the update process hung at 10%. Other than that, it’s pretty easy.

    Of course, to get the beta of the 2006 OS, you’ll need to go here:

    But then you knew that I’ll bet…

  2. got the update done. downloaded the Flasher-2.0 for Linux from maemo.org, along with the flash .bin image.

    dropping those into a single directory, i then ran:

    sudo ./flasher-2.0 –fiasco BETA.SU-18_2006SE_0.2006.22-21_PR_F5_MR0_ARM.bin –flash –reboot

    and voila, i’m done.

  3. Hardware failures suck.

    Unrelated FYI, the “remember personal info” option doesn’t seem to work anymore here.

  4. Yet more of the many reasons I always use ext3 — less failures on abrupt power loss, more recovery tools.

  5. Alex: hardware failures suck terribly. it’s killing me.

    Donnie: yeah, i’m thinking my next drive will be straight up ext3. Reiser’s journaling is good, however.

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