Friday afternoon I decided to install a package on one of my OpenBSD servers,
but it was from a recent snapshot and the snapshot I was running on the server
was too old to run it.
No problem, I'll just upgrade the server. a usually quick task; just drop a new
/, reboot, untar the new disk sets over
Remotely rebooting servers that are 350 miles away is always a nerve racking experience. You reboot it, your SSH connection drops, you start a ping waiting for it to reply as you visualize it booting up and thinking about how long each piece usually takes. Occasionally something takes longer than normal and you start to panic, but before you reach whoever you need to reach, it starts responding and suddenly a wave of relief comes over you and you resume your work.
But such was not the case on Friday. After 10 minutes, my server had still not come back up.
A frustrating 8 hours later, I finally had remote access to the server's console through the HP LOM interface to see why it wasn't coming back up. (Why it took 8 hours to get access to a leased server's embedded remote management console in a supposedly manned datacenter on a Friday afternoon is another story.) The machine was suddenly stalling booting at an ominous "No O/S" error. I assumed that the partition table or boot loader had somehow been corrupted, but not being able to boot to a CD or floppy on a server 350 miles away, I couldn't do much through the remote console.
Luckily a PXE boot server was available on the server's network, so I could at
least try to boot to a
bsd.rd image and try to fix the disk.
Unluckily though, the LOM console suddenly decided to call it quits at that
moment and was no longer responding on the network.
Another 16 hours later (!) someone finally reconfigured the LOM and I had the server booted to a ramdisk image to try to rescue the data on the server. During the downtime I had eventually migrated some down services to other servers from backup data, but I prefer spending the time getting the original system back up than restoring a few-days-old backup on a new machine.
A quick look at the partition table and
disklabel showed the problem; a
mysteriously re-initialized disklabel:
# fdisk sd0 Disk: sd0 geometry: 9728/255/63 [156280320 Sectors] Offset: 0 Signature: 0xAA55 Starting Ending LBA Info: #: id C H S - C H S [ start: size ] ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 0: 00 0 0 0 - 0 0 0 [ 0: 0 ] unused 1: 00 0 0 0 - 0 0 0 [ 0: 0 ] unused 2: 00 0 0 0 - 0 0 0 [ 0: 0 ] unused *3: A6 0 1 1 - 9727 254 63 [ 63: 156280257 ] OpenBSD # disklabel sd0 # Inside MBR partition 3: type A6 start 63 size 156280257 [ ... ] 16 partitions: # size offset fstype [fsize bsize cpg] a: 156280257 63 unused 0 0 # Cyl 0*- 76308* c: 156291072 0 unused 0 0 # Cyl 0 - 76313
Normally I would have just restored the disklabel from an off-site backup of the
/var/backups/disklabel.sd0.current file, but just to make things more
interesting, I had no backup of
Having been in a similar situation with my laptop years back, I remembered using
utility to rebuild the disklabel manually.
scan_ffs scans the raw filesystem (
/dev/rsd0c) looking for ffs partition
info and spits out the block numbers as it progresses.
scan_ffs isn't on the installation ramdisk and since the system disk
is not accessible, it can't just be run from a mounted partition.
But alas, it's an installation ramdisk, so it does have
ftp, and with some manual ethernet interface configuration and deletion of
some large files on the ramdisk's in-memory filesystem,
scan_ffs joined the
# ftp -o - ftp://220.127.116.11/pub/OpenBSD/4.1/amd64/base41.tgz | \ tar xvzf - ./sbin/scan_ffs # /sbin/scan_ffs -l /dev/rsd0c X: 4194240 47 4.2BSD 2048 16384 323 # / X: 4194240 63 4.2BSD 2048 16384 323 # / X: 1048576 5242880 4.2BSD 2048 16384 323 # /tmp X: 4194304 6291456 4.2BSD 2048 16384 323 # /var X: 8388608 10485760 4.2BSD 2048 16384 323 # /usr X: 8388608 18874368 4.2BSD 2048 16384 323 # /home X: 5760 25313664 4.2BSD 512 4096 80 # /mnt X: 2880 25453408 4.2BSD 512 4096 80 # /mnt X: 129017344 27262976 4.2BSD 2048 16384 323 # /d
And with those numbers, I recreated the disklabel:
[ ... ] # size offset fstype [fsize bsize cpg] a: 4194240 63 4.2BSD 2048 16384 16 # Cyl 0*- 2047* b: 1048577 4194303 swap # Cyl 2047*- 2559 c: 156291072 0 unused 0 0 # Cyl 0 - 76313 d: 1048576 5242880 4.2BSD 2048 16384 16 # Cyl 2560 - 3071 e: 4194304 6291456 4.2BSD 2048 16384 16 # Cyl 3072 - 5119 f: 8388608 10485760 4.2BSD 2048 16384 16 # Cyl 5120 - 9215 g: 8388608 18874368 4.2BSD 2048 16384 16 # Cyl 9216 - 13311 h: 129017344 27262976 4.2BSD 2048 16384 16 # Cyl 13312 - 76308*
I reinstalled the boot blocks for good measure, rebooted, and was back in business after almost 30 hours of downtime. I'm still not sure how the on-disk disklabel vanished, though.
So the morals of the story are:
- When leasing a server from or co-locating with a 3rd party, make sure that the datacenter the server is in is actually staffed 24/7 even if the 3rd party company claims to be able to get access on-demand. If the 3rd party company can't get to the datacenter quickly, at least they can call in a reboot or remote hands request to the 24/7 datacenter staff.
- Before remotely rebooting a server, make sure that its remote console is actually reachable and usable. Or even check it at random since you might need it after an unexpected crash.
Always have a backup of
/var/backupsavailable (for OpenBSD machines, anyway) even if the rest of the system isn't worth backing up. Hell, put
shar /var/backups/\*.current | mail -s backups rootin
/etc/weekly.localand just archive the e-mails.
The man page for
scan_ffsdoes not lie:
It is not perfect, and could do a lot more things with date/time information in the superblocks it finds, but this program has saved more than one butt, more than once.