Monthly Archives: May 2012

Install VmWare tools on Debian 6

Debian comes with VmWare tools. Dont bother installing/compiling the version that comes with VmWare.

First you need to activate the “contrib” packages in Debian.

$ sudo vi /etc/apt/sources.list

Add “contrib” to each line beginning with “deb”.

Now installing VmWare tools is as simple as

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install open-vm-tools

Done! No restart needed.

Death of my SSD

My new SSD drive lasted about 6 weeks. It is the first one I ever bought (not counting the built-in one in my Eee 701). And I thought I had taken extra good care of it, not even using it for the pagefile.

If you run Windows 7, I recommend making a System Image Backup (Control Panel -> System and Security -> Backup And Restore) to a spare drive. When I did that I got the following error message:

The Backup Failed. New bad clusters were found on the source volume. These clusters were not backed up.

Before I ran the backup, I had noticed nothing suspicious about the drive. Now I checked the Windows Event log (System Log), and found Errors from Source=Disk, with ID=7.

Trying to fix
I tried to run chkdsk over and over again. First via right-clicking on c:, clicking Properties, Tools, and checking/fixing errors. I also tried running chkdsk /b from the command line. This reduced the number of errors in the event log down to one (when the computer started), but I could not get rid of the last error. The Image Backup kept failing. Days later I had several errors again. This made me definitely give up on the drive.

The Windows Backup Image
The Windows Backup Image feature is simple and nice. But as usual with Microsoft it is after all a half-crappy tool that works if you are lucky. I don’t like:

  • When the backup above failed, the tool anyway created a backup image. How am I supposed to know if I can use that backup or not?
  • When running the backup again, the tool obviously just read files/data that had changed, effectively avoiding the bad blocks. So when running again I did not even get an error, making me even more uncertain about the usability of the backup.
  • The recovery CD can only recover to a hard drive that is not smaller than the original hard drive. This applies even if the original backed-up Windows partition is smaller than the new drive. (I was afraid replacing my 128GB SSD with another brand/model 128GB SSD, because the new drive could very possibly be a few blocks smaller than the original one).

I recovered the system to an old non-SSD drive with success, but performance was so depressing.

New Drive
In the end I replaced my broken 128 GB OCZ Octane S2 with a 60GB Intel Series 520 drive. They were almost exactly the same price. I re-installed Windows from scratch. Online Windows Activation was OK this second time I used the same key – I did not have to call Microsoft and explain anything.

The performance of SSD on the system/root drive is fantastic. Booting and starting programs is so fast. I just could not go back to a normal drive. But I hesitate to store my own files on SSD, and I will think twice before getting a budget SSD drive again.

Recover scenarios to the new smaller drive
I will be honest and admit I never tried to restore the old system to my 60GB drive. My experience with not being able to restore to a smaller hard drive comes from another computer.

Intel has an SSD Toolbox, and I think it contains migration tools. Perhaps those tools could have handled the smaller (albeit large enough) destination Intel SSD drive.

There are ways to resize partitions, backup and restore them and make them bootable. But I did not trust the quality of my backup 100% (after all Windows said it failed). And I hesitate to use dd to write images to SSD drives.

Fixing the bad blocks?
Bad blocks are supposed to be more common on SSD drives than traditional drives, but firmware should handle it. I found no useful tools from the drive manufacturer, OCZ. My nice dealer allowed me to replace the drive after I explained that Windows failed to backup it, and chkdsk didn’t fix it.

Indications in Linux
I booted the Ubuntu 12.04 CD, and ran the following commands:

$ sudo md5sum /dev/sda
md5sum: /dev/sda: Input/output error
$ sudo badblocks -b 4096 -c 1024 -e 10 /dev/sdg
(and another 8 lines with bad blocks)

The system log or dmesg command gave more details.