strange badblocks problem

marnixk lfs at
Wed Jan 14 23:26:45 PST 2004

Bill's LFS Login wrote:

> This is *correct* operation. Badblocks and the dd as you should be using
> it *will* read the whole partition (or regular file if that was
> specified). Dd can be limited by adding "count=<some number>". If you
> don't do this, its job is to read until end of file (which in this case
> is the whole partition).

Where does dd get its information about the size of the partition from? The
kernel or the FS? I ask this because I have discovered something strange.
My home system (also Gentoo based) shows the exact same behaviour. This
kinda rules out hardware problems i guess, but I suspect the gentoo livecd
that I have used on both machines even more. I have a theory that this only
happens on partitions that have once been mounted when booting from this
CD. I will go to work later and boot from a knoppix cd or something, create
partitions and FS, mount, unmount, reboot, mount, ... and so on. Then I
will reboot with some other boot disk and keep running badblocks and dd in
between all steps. Then if no errors occur I will reboot with the liveCD
and mount/unmount and check if the problem re-appeares and persists...

> I have no theory on why that is happening. It would sound as if the
> update of the meta-data got some bad info from somewhere. When you do an
> unmount, certain info about the file system is updated.
> Did you right down the alternate super-blocks when you made the file
> system? If so, we can specify one of the alternates and run the fsck.
> Normally this alternate will not have been updated and should have the
> info as originally transcribed when the FS was created. This could be
> compared with the default super-block that was modified at unmount time.

I tried dumpe2fs to dump the super-block, but I am not sure how I can dump
the backup super-block (which is located at 32768, 98306,...) However when
I run e2fsck -f /dev/hda9 it says all is OK, but when I do e2fsck -b 98304
it says FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED, even if I do this repeatedly. But they
both report the same line at the end: /dev/hda6: 11/141696 files (0.0%
non-contiguous), 12663/283137 blocks

So I suspect there indeed *is* a difference between those two super-blocks,
but I do not now how to "dump" the backup blocks to compare them to the
first one.
> Then I *have* to ask this (don't take offense, I feel we are at the
> stage of "what have we overlooked here"). Are you *sure* that the FS is
> *not* mounted when you are running the fsck? An FS can be mounted
> multiple times at the same time. E.g. two mount statements in
> /etc/fstab.

I am very sure that the FS is not mounted when running the fsck, but it is
not fsck-ing that gives me problems. Filesystems are reported as being
clean, although I have had the expirience on my home system that everytime
when it was time to check the rootFS it said: FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED and
something about a reboot needed. So maybe this has to do something with it
as well...
> Cat /proc/mounts to be sure that the partition is not referenced twice.
> Be sure it is not mounted under another directory with a "mount --bind"
> (this is harder to see because the secondary mounts don show the
> partition. Here's an example of things mounted with bind (from "mount").
> /dev/sr0 on /mnt/SourcesCD type ext2 (ro)
> /mnt/workspac/New650MbFs on /mnt/Sources2 type ext2 (rw,loop=/dev/loop0)
> /mnt/SourcesCD on /mnt/archives/Lfs_Sources/Sources1 type none (rw,bind)
> /mnt/SourcesCD on /mnt/archives/Blfs_Sources/Sources1 type none (rw,bind)
> Note the secondary mounts show in place of the device the path of the
> mounted device instead.
> Here's the same from cat /proc/mounts
> /dev/sr0 /mnt/SourcesCD ext2 ro 0 0
> /dev/loop0 /mnt/Sources2 ext2 rw 0 0
> /dev/sr0 /mnt/archives/Lfs_Sources/Sources1 ext2 ro 0 0
> /dev/sr0 /mnt/archives/Blfs_Sources/Sources1 ext2 ro 0 0
> Note that here it does show the base device for the secondary mounts.

checked al this, not mounted.

> Ugh! This puts a crimp on what I was hoping might be the problem. The
> further we go, the less hope I have that I can ask the right questions
> to help locate the problem. This because of the "remote" nature, I can't
> get the normal "visual" clues that spark a thought, etc.

I will try the approach that I have described above and try to find out if
the mounting with the gentoo CD (it has a 2.4.21 kernel btw) writes
something bad somewhere. And believe me I would not have had this idea
without your questions and advice so far!

> Right file system type specified everywhere? Ext2 or reiserfs?

yup, pretty sure
> I hope that's it. Do you have enough of an LFS system to test it?
See above. Actually my LFS systems are my firewall and mailserver, so I
really do not want to test anything on those machines...

> That's making me *guess* that the FS is still mounted somewhere because
> I think an in-core copy of the super-block (and other meta-data) is
> being used, based on your earlier description that it goes away when you
> reboot.

So dd and badblocks get their info from the super-block or from this other
meta-data? Is there someway to dump this meta-data when I don't have the
problem and compare it with the case when I do have the problem?

> This is especially pernicious if, as you suspect, it is something wrong
> in the OS that is being run.


> Sounds more and more like something flaky in the OS if it's not related
> to dupe mounts.

I hope too find out soon (see above)

> Have you checked to see that all the cables are in good condition and
> *well* seated? I know sometimes intermittent hardware problems (like a
> cable *almost* making solid contact) can cause erratic results.
> Temperature changes of just a few degrees can cause it to appear and
> disappear.
> Shoot. I beginning to feel like I've been no help. I would first confirm
> the cabling (data and power) are all good. Look for any nicks in the
> data cables too (a break can be almost invisible).
> If you can carry the drive to a known-good hardware and OS and test
> there, that would be a big plus.

Although I do not suspect hardware problems anymore, based on the above I
will check all this and let you know. And again, your help has been most
> BTW, what's the size of the drive? Any chance (part of) hda9 is beyond
> some upper limit of the OS or bios or something (I don't think BIOS
> normally affects this, but...).
work drive is about 30Gb and at home is about 40Gb. Both are maxtor btw...

Ok, again many thanks, will report back to you later!


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