Posts Tagged ‘Open Source’

Open Source and System Rescue CD: Really Cool

1 November 2009

I have written before about how cool it is to use Open Source software to Get Stuff Done. This is somewhat related to a couple other things I have written about, namely my quest to replace my computer-based DVR function.

I have a 250GB disk that came out of a Dish Network DVR that had been used for recording (but not paying for) movies. I wiped it and used it in the school server for file serving, but I was the only one who ever used it, and the roughly 10GB of space I had on the main server disk was only 20% full. So I pulled the 250GB device.

The computer I want to use for my DVR has an 80GB primary disk with Windows on it. I have a 20GB disk that came out of a failed laptop a couple years ago; it has a GRUB boot partition and a Linux partition on it. I had recently upgraded the Linux partition from Fedora 5 to Fedora 10; all my personal files I have on DVD from the backup that I did before the installation.

My idea was to put the 250GB disk into the computer, and image the 20GB over to it, then stretch the Linux partition out to 40GB just for some extra room (the 20GB Linux partition is only about 25% full, but you can never have too much disk space, right?). Then I would take all the extra space on the 250GB, make a partition, and format it for NTFS (the theory here being that Fedora talks to NTFS, and Windows talks to NTFS, but Windows can’t talk to a Linux ext partition). This way, both Windows and Fedora can share the big space.

So I put the 250GB drive in, pop in System Rescue CD 1.4, do an fdisk -l to make sure it sees all the disks, and then use dd (Disk Duplicator) to copy everything on /dev/sdc to /dev/sdb. dd runs in about 20 min, and for the first time since I started using it, I had some errors reported during the copy process. Hmmm, thought I.

I shut down, pulled the System Rescue CD from the drive, pulled the 20GB drive, and moved the 250GB drive to that slot on the IDE bus. Booted both Windows and Linux, so good there. No problems from the reported errors.

A short detour: When I upgraded my Linux partition to Fedora 10 from Fedora 5, all of a sudden I could not boot ANYTHING. I used System Rescue CD to boot the system, mount the Linux partition, and change the boot drive from the default of (0,0) to (1,0). This allowed GRUB to find the operating system commands. But for some reason, the OS selector menu wouldn’t show. If I hit the up arrow key a number of times, then enter, then Linux would boot. Down arrow (or let it just set throught the default timeout), and XP would boot. I looked online a bit, but this evening I figured it out: the “splashimage” command was pointing to disk (0,0) also. I changed it to (1,0) and we were off again. Whatever was setting GRUB up in the Fedora 10 installation was figuring out where the various OS’s were, but didn’t put them back into the right place in grub.conf.

So now I have a 250GB disk with a 20GB Fedora 10 Linux installation. I go back to System Rescue CD, and fire it up. I go into the Linux GUI and start Gnu Partition Editor (GPartEd). It sees the two disks, but it does not recognize the OS on the 250GB drive. Hmmm. I check the version number. I then reboot to the Fedora, and load the latest version of GPartEd using Yum, and run it. It reports that the parition type is Linux LVM, which is correct, but it also informs me that LVM isn’t supported yet.

So I create a new partition in all that free space, and format it as FAT32, so both Windows and Linux can read and write it safely. I was planning to do this as NTFS, I seemed to remember that FAT32 would not support more than something like 120GB, but when I identified the space for formatting, FAT32 was an option, and the process was successful.

I booted into both the Windows and Linux partitions, and they worked, and could read and write to the FAT32 partition, so overall success.

So my basic requirement is accomplished: I imaged my existing Fedora 10 and boot partitions from a 20GB to a 250GB disk. I have a HUGE amount of space to store DVR data. I was not able to stretch my Fedora partition, but I will go and see if there is a schedule for GPartEd or some other Open Source tool to support LVM.

Open Source wins again: Linux/Fedora, GPartEd, Grand Unified Bootloader (GRUB).

NSIS (Nullsoft Scriptable Install System) and VB6-NSIS Converter

15 September 2009

I just love Open Source software. I have a number of Visual Basic 6 projects that I use quite often for work and school. I move them to different computers.

I usually use the VB6 Package and Deployment Wizard to build an install package for these. However, at least three of these VB6 packages have cratered while trying to get them to install on the target system. One time, the target system was a computer on the E-4B, and I was trying to help a guy get it to install, with little luck. The errors being reported were (1) random and not consistent, and (2) cryptic, to say the least.

I can hand-install most any Windoze program with a little patience, but in that case I was 1400 miles away, and it needed to be installed that day!

I searched around on the web and found NSIS. Just a bit more searching and I found a companion to NSIS that acted as a VB6-NSIS Converter. The way it works, you run the VB6 Package and Deployment Wizard. If the installer fails, then run the VB6-NSIS converter, point it at the VB6 “SETUP.LST”, and it creates a script for NSIS. Then run NSIS, point it at the converted script, and it builds a nice setup.exe file. Burn it to CD or email it to it’s destination, or copy it to a flash drive, and you are on your way.

In every case where the built-in VB6 tool at trouble, NSIS/VB6 converter got the job done. Great stuff.

Almost forgot: