FLOSS PC Repair Shop

Jason Sauders jasauders at gmail.com
Fri Jan 2 19:08:05 UTC 2015


This link here is how I discovered gddrescue. As I read through the
differences I just decided to side with gddrescue (which uses the ddrescue
command) as opposed to ddrescue (which uses the dd_rescue command). It
seemed as if gddrescue uses a more advanced algorithm which is more of a
match when attempting to recover installs on problematic drives.

http://www.kossboss.com/linux---dd_rescue-vs-ddrescue

In short (if my understanding is right)

Package Name = gddrescue
Command = ddrescue

Package Name = ddrescue
Command = dd_rescue


Confusing, I know. In my notes I keep a command I frequently use. I'm
pasting it exactly as I have it typed in my "Linux Notes" text file...
(keeping notes for things like this is an awesome idea. Previously I stored
notes in evernote, then later txt files on Dropbox, and now simply txt
files on my ownCloud server that syncs to all of my devices. Very handy)

gddrescue
> (enable universe repos, update, and install gddrescue)
> ddrescue -r3 /dev/sda /dev/sdb /root/logfile
> (often seems to need --force to run, i.e.:)
> ddrescue -r3 --force /dev/sda /dev/sdb /root/logfile
> ***the above is assuming bad disk is sda, and the new disk is sdb***
>

Extra emphasis on the sda vs sdb thing. I personally put the *new* drive in
the system and with a USB/SATA/IDE adapter, plug in the old drive. I also
wait until the system boots up to the Live USB session before plugging in
the problematic drive over USB. That way I can verify the serial number on
the brand new drive (which is likely 'sda') and know which drive is my
destination with *nothing* else plugged in to the system to cause any sort
of confusion, then I plug in the problematic drive over USB and structure
my command accordingly. While my notes have sda and sdb in that order, due
to what I just said above (putting good drive in, booting up, then after
plugging in problematic drive over a USB adapter), the command is typically
sdb first, sda second instead. In short, just make sure you know which
drive is which. Super sure. Positively sure. :)

It's also worth noting that while I have had great success with gddrescue,
it's still always a gamble. I'm not going to put a half-recovered install
on somebody's system. If I can recover the install with minimal errors,
I'll do it, but if gddrescue is flagging tons of read errors left right and
center and booting up shows some weirdness, then I'll rebuild it from
ground up. Given that I copy over as much data as I can from a live USB
session to a file server first and foremost (even before attempting
gddrescue), I can at least model a new install and import their previous
data. I don't like copying data afterwards, as the stress from running
gddrescue might eliminate any chances to recover the data that I may have
had if I had backed up the data from the very beginning. Don't mess with
problematic drives. Go in order and make slow, calculated decisions, with
data recovery being the number one priority. If a full install recovery is
possible *afterwards*, that's simply a really excellent bonus. ;) It's also
worth noting that a drive recovery isn't a quick process. I did one with a
500 GB HDD last week. It took about 26 hours. The nice thing is, it works
while I'm at work, asleep, playing with my daughter, etc., but just be
aware it's not a "hey come back in an hour and I'll have it done" type of
scenario. Make sure your clients are aware of that. ;)

As far as a post install script, I just have a massive apt-get install
command that I use. Each time I find an application I like, I add it to the
command. That way if I spin up a new install I just run that apt-get
command and in one shot ~30 applications get auto downloaded/installed.
It's a simple command. Something like...

sudo apt-get install audacity blender cheese clementine inkscape gimp vlc
kazam openshot  (etc etc etc...)

I keep one command for *my* installs and one command for the installs I set
up for your average user. Things like handbrake and whatnot are nice, but I
hesitate when it comes to installing "too much" on a system that might
further confuse them. Only thing I do after that is grab the .deb packages
for a few select applications that aren't in the repos, which are basically
TeamViewer, Skype, Dropbox, and Chrome.

My very honest and rather firm recommendation is to take a test system, or
two test systems, and see if you can break/fix them with the above ideas.
I'm not talking virtual machines, but physical hardware. Find two drives of
similar size. Do a full install on one. Create a bunch of documents, text
files, and other random bits of info. Format the 2nd drive entirely. Then,
do gddrescue to see if you can recover the install on the 1st drive to the
newly formatted 2nd drive. Likewise, in a similar test environment, delete
a bunch of that random nonsense data you created. Empty your recycle bin or
shift/delete the items. Write down what files you created and where they
resided. Then, fire up testdisk and photorec. See what you can recover.

That's exactly what I did. Nothing sucks more than having a prime system
ready to be opened up only to realize your confidence level in these
utilities is not as high as you'd like when working on *somebody else's*
computer that contains *somebody else's* data that's important to them.

Hope this helps. Have a great day!
-J

On Fri, Jan 2, 2015 at 12:53 PM, Amichai Rotman <amichai at iglu.org.il> wrote:

> Thanks Jason - for your comprehensive reply!
>
> I'd appreciate some more specific scrips and/or CLI examples for gddrescue
> and post-install bash scripts that make the necessary changes to the
> vanilla stock Ubuntu installation.
>
> Thanks!
>
> Amichai.
>
> On Thu, Jan 1, 2015 at 6:51 AM, Jason Sauders <jasauders at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> This is a great idea, but I would advise that a few things are kept in
>> mind. Windows users will still likely be the majority of a potential
>> customer base. That said, it doesn't detract from the roots and the real
>> point of a FLOSS related computer shop. After all, part of the point of
>> open source is to be open minded. Alternatives exist, and embracing that
>> open minded stance on accepting customers of all walks will only help you
>> from a reputation standpoint. I do tech work on the side, and on my web
>> site clear as day I have a dedicated page for Windows, Apple, and Linux.
>>
>> Another thing I do is I have a PDF I wrote up in LibreOffice Writer. It
>> has a list of the common programs installed on the computer with a short
>> 2-3 line description of each. That way people can use it as a quick
>> reference file to see what the Ubuntu equivalent for say "Windows Movie
>> Maker" is. I put this PDF in /etc/skel in the Desktop folder, so that way
>> new user accounts that get created also get the same file on their Desktop.
>> Of course, they can delete it if they wish, but I figured this was a nice
>> touch as it helps bridge the gap of what the heck Brasero is, or
>> Clementine, etc.
>>
>> As far as tools and utilities, there are some I highly recommend.
>> TestDisk and PhotoRec are obvious ones. Sometimes people are careless about
>> their data, or perhaps they had an accidental whatever-it-was that caused a
>> major partition/file loss issue. Of course, I say up front there are
>> *absolutely* zero guarantees with any sort of data recovery work, but I'll
>> always try as much as I can for the customer. Recently I worked with a
>> former co-worker to get some pictures recovered. They thought they were
>> missing about 100 photos, but I found nearly 3,500 that they were missing.
>> That was quite an emotional happy-moment for her. ;)
>>
>> Gddrescue is a life saver as well. When a system boots up slow, before I
>> even bother troubleshooting it, I boot to an Ubuntu Live USB/CD and check
>> the drive with the Disks utility first. At a somewhat alarming rate, often
>> times the hard drives are failing, hence the slowness of the OS. I'll
>> purchase (after discussing options with the owner, of course) a drive of
>> matching/larger size, and do a gddrescue of the drive. Gddrescue works by
>> retrying bad sectors any number of times you specify (i.e. the -r3 flag
>> will try 3 times, if all 3 reads fail, it writes a 0 and moves on) in an
>> attempt to rescue the drive. Again, no guarantees, as sometimes the drive
>> is too far gone to recover, but sometimes this is the golden ticket. Make
>> sure you have data backed up before attempting this (I just copy the data
>> while in the live session if at all possible) and you quadruple check (via
>> serial numbers, etc) what is sda, sdb, etc. Gddrescue is in the universe
>> repo.
>>
>> Clonezilla is pretty self explanatory as well. Sometimes it's necessary
>> to clone a system, whether they want to migrate their system to a larger
>> hard drive or whatever the case may be. GParted is likely to get lumped in
>> here as well if you need to do any partition based work. But of course,
>> ensure data is backed up before-hand. You never know when something is
>> going to throw a fit, especially when working with the heart of where the
>> data lies; the storage drive.
>>
>> I'd also familiarize yourself with different products out there as much
>> as possible. Recently I added home backup/file servers to my list of
>> services. While dozens exist, it's kind of hard to deny that Synology is a
>> very attractive option. Likewise, I also have OpenMediaVault in my arsenal
>> of recommendations. OMV is rather FreeNAS-ish, but Debian based with an
>> exceptional web based UI and it works wonderfully on older hardware. That
>> way I can offer a pre-boxed solution or more of a DIY (but I'd happily set
>> it up for them) solution, provided they either agree to a custom build that
>> I can spec for them or have an available tower to utilize. I frequently
>> spec out systems on NewEgg so I have an idea offhand of what a custom built
>> NAS would run them if they were interested.
>>
>> It's understandable for people to be a bit hesitant about having a
>> totally new operating system (to them) installed on their computer. As
>> Scott mentioned, being able to provide them with resources to getting help,
>> such as the forums, is key. That way people don't feel alone when it comes
>> to dealing with issues. The last thing anybody in their right mind would
>> like is an operating system on their computer where, in their world, only
>> one person can help; you. Of course, we all know that's not true as
>> multitudes of resources exist online for assistance, but they don't know
>> that. This is new to them. I think it's important to not push alternative
>> resources in a way that makes them feel like once you're done with the job,
>> all ties between you+customer are cut. I more-so push online resources as
>> an aide since I don't want people to get the wrong impression that I just
>> want their business one time and won't care about them whatsoever into the
>> future, but at the same token, deep down, I also don't want a flooded inbox
>> first thing Saturday morning either. ;)
>>
>> Making a decision about what specific distribution/desktop environment
>> you want to utilize is also key. I quite like using stock Ubuntu, but let's
>> face it, Unity is not the lightest kid on the block. Sometimes people are
>> wondering how they can re-utilize their old XP box. If they don't want
>> their main system touched, but are curious about Linux for their old system
>> to check out, what will you use? Me personally, I use Ubuntu and Xubuntu
>> nearly exclusively (though Ubuntu MATE certainly has my interest, but I'm
>> hanging on to Xubuntu for those lighter tasks for the time being). Of
>> course, some people may prefer the idea/looks/feel of Mint, elementary OS,
>> or insert-30-other-distros-here, and if that's the case go with what they
>> prefer. I would be careful about going too deep into the distro exploration
>> world of things though as it can very easily seem overwhelming to a new
>> user. Keep it simple until *they* specify otherwise. After all, you're
>> going to be a FLOSS shop, right? It's not just a Windows world out there,
>> and likewise, it's not just an Ubuntu world out there either. ;)
>>
>> Hope this helps!
>> -J
>>
>> On Wed, Dec 31, 2014 at 3:01 PM, Amichai Rotman <amichai at iglu.org.il>
>> wrote:
>>
>>> Hi All,
>>>
>>> I am about to open my own PC Repair Shop in my neighborhood and I'd like
>>> to use FLOSS as much as possible.
>>>
>>> I will repair PCs and Laptops and I intend to promote FLOSS to my
>>> customers (GNU/Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular).
>>>
>>> I would like to hear your thoughts / ideas / advice etc.:
>>>
>>>
>>>    - Tools to use
>>>    - What to install on the server
>>>    - Which programs and apps to promote to new Linux user for faster
>>>    adaptation
>>>    - Resources I could use: Wikis, Knowledge Bases etc.
>>>    - Where to get Posters, stickers, stuffed Tuxes and the like to put
>>>    on display and sell
>>>
>>> You get the idea....
>>>
>>> Thanks!
>>>
>>> Amichai.
>>>
>>>
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