Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Architecture Consultant specializing in open source frameworks.

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Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

How I recovered data from my failed Linux box

Yesterday, I decided to quit procrastinating and finish up my 2007 taxes once and for all. When I booted up QuickBooks on my XP box, it said it couldn't connect to drive Q. Drive Q is on my Linux box, which I discovered wasn't on. When I booted it, the screen showed an "Error 18" after the GRUB loading message. The resulted in several hours of grub-install and many other commands to no avail.

Since I hadn't messed with the box in almost a year, I didn't even know if it had Fedora or Suse installed on it. I had both disks lying around, so I tried the good ol' linux rescue with my Fedora disks. I was able to access the data, but had no luck in getting network connectivity or copying files to a USB drive.

Today I hoped for a different route: Live CDs. Yesterday, I discovered I was running Suse 10, so I downloaded a Suse 11 Live CD, burned it and booted. It worked, but I didn't have access to my hard drives and wasn't able to mount anything. Next up, I tried Knoppix, which allowed me to boot and access my hard drives. Unfortunately, I still didn't have any network access and my 2GB thumb drive didn't hold enough data.

Next, I pulled out a 250GB USB drive I had lying around. Knoppix recognized it, but was unable to format it for some reason. I plugged it into my XP box, used fat32format to format the drive as FAT32, and plugged it back into my Linux box. Success! I was able to copy all the data I needed and now I have the USB drive plugged into my Airport Extreme.

Hopefully if someone else runs into similar issues, they can use this post to find their path to success.

Posted in Open Source at Dec 11 2008, 02:02:29 PM MST 6 Comments

I recently tried installing 64 bit ubuntu on a spare partition on my laptop - it already had Vista and 32 bit Ubuntu dual booted with Grub. For some reason the install wouldn't complete and left grub broken so I couldn't boot into any OS.

Easy solution - I used the 32 bit Ubuntu alternative disk which has a re-install grub option. This worked a treat.

Posted by Paul on December 11, 2008 at 06:59 PM MST #


Went through a similar painful, lengthy scenario last year. The Windows PC that I'd been running QuickBooks on for years up and died - fried motherboard. The hard drive was still operable, but I was going to have to either rebuild the PC (which can be a real headache getting the hard drive recognized by a much newer BIOS), or go another direction. This was my last non-OSX machine in the house, and I was really not interested in what it was going to take to keep one foot in the Windows World.

So I went to a local gadget store, paid $20 for a set of cables that would let me plug my hard drive into the USB port on one of my Macs, and sucked off the QB files. I shot them to my CPA, who converted them from Windows QB to QB for Mac. I had to buy QB for Mac, but I was due for an upgrade. It took a couple of iterations to get the right settings on the export from the CPA, but in general it was less of a headache than sticking with Windows, and now I'm 100% converted.

HTH, Derek

Posted by Derek on December 11, 2008 at 09:23 PM MST #

Derek - I agree that getting off Windows is a good idea. At the very least, make sure all the software you need to run your business runs on the platform you do your development on. I too converted 100% - my 2008 records are all in QuickBooks for the Mac. My 1998-2007 records were in Windows QuickBooks and I didn't feel like converting.

Posted by Matt Raible on December 11, 2008 at 09:57 PM MST #

Or simply use the excellent System Rescue CD, which is based on on the Gentoo Linux distribution. SystemRescueCd

Posted by gd on December 12, 2008 at 05:35 AM MST #

This one was hilarious, LOL. I remember not too long ago asking you about taxes and accounting stuff. I'm glad I know now where to not go for advice LOL. My taxes cost more for the accountant than the taxes, but I did get them done. This year, I'm in the shed with a really wide columnar pad "trying" to put something together for a new CPA. Anyhow, our accountant in Oklahoma messed up a little and we're trying to get all that straight.

I have to say it makes me feel good to know someone else is sweating this stuff. I knew I wasn't alone. And, that $200 quickbooks license didn't get used. After the third time they wanted me to sign up for payroll processing or some other service I was done with them. I started a very simple double entry system using Cocoa on my mac. I haven't finished it but I can bet you I won't get advertising when I'm trying to do something I hate to do anyhow.

Good luck. Here would be my advice, hire someone and mail them receipts and email purchase confirmations.

Your understanding friend


Posted by David Whitehurst on December 13, 2008 at 06:33 PM MST #

Didn't you have to worry about both file permissions and file ownership details being lost by using FAT32 on your recovery disk, not to mention the 65k maximum number of files in a directory and the 255 character limit on filenames (which includes the characters in the full path to the file)? Would recovering them onto an HFS+ formatted disk have been possible, I'm pretty sure the Linux live CDs would have modular support for HFS+ and the Airport Extreme supports it for disks attached via USB too.

Posted by Tom on December 17, 2008 at 03:50 AM MST #

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