[conspire] Utility to rescue formatted EXT3 partition &, distribution choice?

Edmund J. Biow biow at sbcglobal.net
Fri Mar 9 18:05:53 PST 2007

Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2007 20:35:48 -0800
> From: "David E. Fox" <dfox at m206-157.dsl.tsoft.com>
> Subject: Re: [conspire] Utility to rescue formatted EXT3 partition &
> 	distribution choice?
> To: conspire at linuxmafia.com
> Message-ID: <20070308203548.60f68fd6.dfox at m206-157.dsl.tsoft.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
> On Thu, 08 Mar 2007 18:57:50 -0800
> Edmund Joseph Biow <biow at bigfoot.com> wrote:
>> Hi folks,
>> I'm looking for a utility to recover a formatted EXT3 partition. 
>> Here's the gory details: I built a nice new box, AMD X2 5000 on an ECS
>> Nvidia chipset board with a 400 GB SATA HD, a DVD burner, 2 GB of
>> Kingston PC5300, onboard Geforce 6100 graphics, and a Antec Minuet 300
>> case, about $490, plus tax.  Far and away the nicest machine I've ever
> wow... I'd sure like something like that :) where did you go shopping?
Arbeit macht Fry's, mostly.  I monitor their advertisements on line at
these sites:
(Make sure you white list the site if you use some stripe of Adblock
with Firefox/Iceweasel).

I live in Oakland, and for some brain-dead reason Fry's has 5 stores in
the South Bay within about 10 minutes of each other, but no stores in
the East or North Bay or SF except one in Concord (which isn't much
closer to me than southern Fremont or Blacow).  I'll try to put off a
visit to friends/relatives in the South Bay until Fry's has several good
deals at once.
The deals vary in quality quite a bit.  Holidays are a good bet, so I
dropped by a sick friend's house to fix his Windows install on
President's Day last month.

Basically, Fry's combo deals on ECS motherboards and CPUs are really
great, they basically throw in the motherboard for free. ECS is the
elite division of justly reviled PCCHIPS, but really, I've had as good
look with their products as with better-regarded Asus or Epox.

So I got a retail AMD X2 5000 AM2 CPU (90 nm) and an ECS GeForce6100SM-M
board for $200.  The combo would have run $286.50 on Pricewatch, $215
for the CPU alone.  The board is micro-ATX and has only 1 IDE controller
(but they still retain the floppy controller), 2 DDR2 slots, and the
nice onboard graphics. 
The 2 GB of Valueram were $120 after a $20 MIR. 
The Seagate 400 GB SATA was actually $110 straight up (when I mentally
added up the system cost in my post I tallied it as $90, which is what I
paid for a 300 GB USB 2.0 external hard drive after $30 MIR, so my
actual system price was $510). 
The Antec Minuet 300 just happened to be on sale for $50 that day.  It
is a snappy little case but only low profile cards will fit:
If you monitor www.techbargains.com it isn't hard to find a OEM DVD
burner for $30 delivered. Actually, if you just go to Newegg you can
genrerally find a decent deal, e.g.:
Burner With LightScribe Technology $32.99)
I happened to have a DVD burner lying around that I got for $20 after
MIR some place.

I got decent deals, but really nothing that fabulous.  Today I could
waltz in to Fry's and get something similar.
2 x 1 GB Corsair PC5300 DDR2 RAM $130 after $30 MIR:
Core Duo E4300 CPU and Via chipset ECS board (probably a little faster
than my rig, also dual core with virtualization support) $160:
You'd need a video card but you can find a PCI-E Geforce 6200 on
pricewatch with 256 MB for under $40 ($36, actually, from some place in
Seagate 400 GB SATA drive, retail, $120:
18x DVD-RW, $25 after $15 MIR:
That leaves the case, which as I recall was an unadvertised special,
just a chance find.  Heck, you can probably scrounge an old ATX case for
free somewhere and put in a nice, new Antec 430 Truepower Trio watt
power supply for $50:

Total price after MIR & before tax:  $521, plus maybe $10-15 for a fan
if the combo isn't retail.

Of course all of this is a lot more of a PITA than plopping down $420
with free shipping for a new Dell E521 Athlon 64 X2 3800+ with 1 GB of
DDR2, 160 GB HD, a DVD-ROM drive, and Geforce 6150 LE graphics, plus a
legal copy of Vista Home Basic, which you can beat in to a corner or
remove.  Not quite as capable as my system (1 GB vs. 2 GB DDR2, 3800+
vs. 5000+, DVD vs. DVD-RW, 160 GB HD vs. 400 GB HD), but with the $100
you save you could add a DVD burner and another 1 GB of DDR2.  But what
would be the fun of that?
> I've been looking a bit at upgrading my box (an old Athlon, still has
> *some* spunk though) but don't have a great deal of $$ to plunk down on
> it. Maybe if I keep waiting - the prices will keep coming down, or I'll
> get more bang for my buck. I do a fair amount of avi->mpeg encoding and
> disk mastering, and for that stuff my box is a bit on the underpowered
> side, but still manages to get the job done without falling over :).
Since I don't run Gentoo I don't really need all the extra power.  If I
want to encode video I just let the machine run all night or in the
background while I'm doing something else.  Honestly, I don't do much of
that.  I just wanted to play around with a dual CPU system and it was
actually cheaper to build a new X2 5000 system than it would have been
to find a motherboard and registered DDR for the two Opteron CPUs my
cousin's kid gave me (anybody need 'em?)

Last night I set up a machine for Casa Cuba over at the Niebyl-Proctor
Library in Berkeley with a 800 MHz PIII and 256 MB of RAM and was
surprised how nice it was with Dreamlinux, a Brazilian version of Etch
with XFCE & the neat Engage panel that looks a lot like the Apple OSX
launcher.  I even did a little light video editing (cut the size of an
AVI file).
> Disclaimer: I know of no way to 'unformat' an ext3 partition, but I have
> other comments :).
I didn't think there was such a beast.  It is remarkable how much damage
you can do to a system in about 3 seconds.
>> I figured I'd dual boot 32 bit and 64 bit using the same home partition
>> and user.  SIDUX-64 was blazingly fast scrolling through images on my
> I've heard good things about sidux - I managed to d/l and test-drive the
> latest release. It was fairly nice, actually. But I'm not in the
> "amrket" for distro's right now.
>> computer, with the NV driver, no less, and it rendered local directories
>> with a lot of files (like /usr/bin) in record time.  But 64 bit has some
> How is the 3D acceleration? Have you tested anything like beryl or
> compiz (they are not on the sidux distribution CD, but Knoppix has
> them.) I take it that all that comes with the installation CD is the
> non-proprietary driver, and you might need the proprietary one. 
Actually, I didn't get very far with the xserver stuff.  When I first
booted up after installation it came up with a command line.  I tried to
edit the xorg.conf and it was borked, it got as far as the mode lines
and then was filled with a many, many lines of G+G+G+ characters (I
think that's what it was, I was going to file a bug report, but the
saved file is on my formatted partition).  So I tried to run the Sidux
Nvidia script, sidux-binary-gfx, and the machine froze on reboot.
Unfortunately my cute new case doesn't have a reset button, so I had to
hold down the power button. 
 Apparently I'm not the only Sidux user who has had this happen:

I edited grub to boot to runlevel 3 and changed 'nvidia' to 'nv', the
open source driver, and was able to boot to X.  Then I proceeded to add
software, hone my user profile, and edit system configuration files.

I would have tried an alternate NVIDIA proprietary installation method
if my Sidux-64 install had survived, but the poor thing died in its
infancy, so I never got a chance to play around with Beryl.  There is a
26 page thread on installing and running Beryl on the forum, and most
folks' experience looked pretty positive, but I just glanced at it
because I hadn't worked out the proprietary driver issue yet. Unlike
some ATI cards, apparently Nvidia really requires the proprietary driver
to do 3D desktops. 

> But
> I've got a MGA, so I'll just stick with that for now -- although beryl
> won't run (yet).
I love Matrox cards but they were never for 3D gamers.  I recently set
up a Xinerama Blag (Fedora 6) system for a friend with an old $15 G-45
16 MB card, but these days Matrox has pretty much withdrawn from the
consumer end of the market.  There last release was the Parhelia flop in
2002: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matrox_Parhelia

I'm afraid that open source support for MGA is going to be sketchy in
the future, but who knows?  Maybe some day I'll be able to run AIGLX on
my old Voodoo 3DFX card, as well.  The last time I tried using the tdfx
driver a bug in the version of Xorg used in Edgy Eft forced me to revert
to VESA, so I pulled the card, but I'm not throwing it away!

> Sure, 64-bit does come with difficulties in some areas, but you can
> either dual-boot, or use chroot. But with Xen being in the offing (as
> well as kernel support for HW virtualization) one wonders why you
> couldn't run a i386 program inside of an amd64 kernel (I suppose you
> would just boot the other root partition as a virtual task). I don't
> have the machine oomph to try something like that, though. (kqemu
> works, but kinda slowly)
Wow, that sounds like a great solution.  I'll let someone smart work out
the bugs and wait until it is a nice downloadable package.  I did a
cursory search for such a thing and tripped over this article that
discusses the pros and cons of the major virtualization schemes, VMWARE,
Xen & QEMU.
He tried to boot Fedora-5 64 inside of Fedora-5 32 using non-kernel
enhanced QEMU and it took 3 hours to install and a half hour to boot.  I
think it would be faster to dual boot.

>> 3. 3D desktop.  What the hey, I've got the muscle.  Not too picky
>> between XGL, AIGLX, Beryl, etc.  Really, I just want the mouse
>> scroll/keyboard zoom and translucency effects.
> Knoppix (so far) is the only distro that I've been able to see firsthand
> beryl work straight out of the box, and that was on a couple of laptops
> and a mac mini -- all of which have an i810 chipset. Apart fromt that,
> you can get some translucency effects using xfce4 as your desktop,
> doesn't seem to require compiz. 
I don't want the translucency for the eye candy factor (though that is
nice, too), but because I like to be able to read documents that are
"underneath" a document that I am working on when I don't have a dual
monitor.  I just used this a few minutes ago when I was typing up the
spiel on the Dell deal above. 
> Correct em if I am wrong, but AFAICT, aiglx is something that is built 
> in to X.org and only needs an option line to enable it -- and for me it
> was something I had just stumbled on recently -- I was expecting another
> piece of software (namely aiglx something) to have to be shoehorned in. 
That's my understanding, as well.
>> 4. At some point I'd like to play around with virtualization.  The AMD
>> X2 apparently has some hardware virtualization support.  Wine is a pain
>> and there are some Windows apps I like (curiously, generally NOT
> Again, as far as I can tell - haven't done anything firsthand, yet:
> 1) use Xen, it's part of the kernel - you can install a xen-ified kernel
> 2) use the virtualization (kqemu) - accelerator is now GPLed. Kernel
> support may exist here in more recent (2.6.20+) kernels, but correct me
> if I am wrong, as I may be confusing 1 & 2
> 3) vmware or something similar
The think the 2.6.20 stuff that I've heard buzzing around is in
reference to the hardware based KVM solution that requires Intel VT or
AMD-V hardware support.  Apparently, though, you can compile KVM in to
kernels as old as 2.6.15.  So I guess the fourth choice announced a
couple of weeks ago is kernel based KVM if your hardware supports it. 
Fedora and Ubuntu appear to be the early adopters:

According to the article I mentioned above the kernel accelerator in
QEMU had been proprietary with a restrictive license.  But I read that
the QEMU accelerator module was released under the GPL a few weeks ago,
reputedly because of competition from VirtualBox and KVM.    I gather
that KQEMU is QEMU with the kernel accelerator compiled in.  It seems to
dramatically improve performance:

VirtualBox is yet another alternative released early this year with both
a proprietary and GPL version. 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VirtualBox  From the blurb:
> VirtualBox lacks some features, but in turn provides others. Such
> unique features are running virtual machines remotely over the Remote
> Desktop Protocol (RDP), iSCSI support and USB support with remote
> devices over RDP.
KVM is supposed to match the speeds of KQEMU and VMWARE at some point. 
Since KVM is open source and I've got the hardware to support it I guess
that is the one I should look at first.  I can install a guest operating
system fairly easily:

    qemu-img create hda.img -f qcow 6G
    kvm -no-acpi -m 256 -cdrom winxpsp2.iso -hda hda.img -boot d

However I'm guessing there might be something in the Windows EULA that
tries to discourage that.  But within a year or so with the advance of
technologies like Xen & KVM it will probably be common enough for
distros to set you up with an option to run your installed Windows
virtually with the click of an icon (though I'm guessing future EULAs
will make that illegal, too). 

That may be one of the last barriers to wide spread Linux desktop
adoption.  Folks begin to boot the penguin for all the neat eye candy
provided by Beryl v42 but use their Core VII CPUs to run familiar
version of Outlook Distress or Eudora at hardware and kernel boosted
speeds of upwards of 90% of native, so only a bench mark could tell the
difference.  Eventually folks just forget to start KVM Mark XXIII and
Bill Gates activates a Monster.com account (chemically-induced
psychedelic experience, PTSD flashback, or psychotic hallucination? You

>> commercial ones).  I don't care about using an unsupported version like
>> 98SE, since it wouldn't be used for surfing, other than, say, CDDB
>> access for Exact Audio Copy). 
> Plenty of linux audio apps talk directly to cddb.
True enough, but I've never seen a Linux ripper to compare to EAC.  Very
powerful and error correcting and configurable, much nicer than RipperX,
KAudioCreator or GRIP, IMHO.  It is postcard ware (I sent the guy a
postcard of a sculpture of a huge stack of file cabinets).  The other
Windows free program I really miss is MP3TAG, a German piece of freeware
(when the developer answered a question for me on his forum I sent him a
book on his Amazon.de wish list and keep getting spammed by them to this
day). Again, much nicer than Easytag or KID3. 

 I bought my wife a MP3 player for her birthday and now I am expected to
turn her CD collection in to MP3s.

Also, I've never found a Linux GUI tool that enables me to remove POP3
email from the server like QuickDelete or MailWasher.  There are command
line tools but they are too kludgey for my tastes.   Now that
Thunderbird actually often works when you configure it to remove mail
from the server when you delete or move messages from your Inbox that
one isn't so important.
>> Also, at this point I'm also wondering about my choice of SIDUX.  I'd
>> like to be somewhat closer to the cutting edge than Sarge (which
>> periodically updates me to the latest revision of Firefox 1.0.4).  I
> Agreed, although I wouldn't be one to pan Etch, even though it isn't
> quite 'stable'. Although I haven't run Sidux more than a test-drive, I
> have tried out Ubuntu Edgy Eft (on another borrowed box), but my
> mainstay for at least the past year has been from a snapshot release of
> debian Etch that I keep regularly updated.
>> figured this isn't a great time to install Etch, since it is about to go
>> stable in a couple of months.  At the beginning of the next release
> So, I'd probably disagree with that statement. :) 
Well, that's why I made it.  I was secretly hoping to be disabused of
this notion.  Thank you.
>> cycle Etch will probably become much more like Alpha software, no?  I
>> don't really want to experience major breakage every few weeks.  When
> Actually, Etch becomes the 'stable', what currently is in sid (more or
> less) becomes new 'testing' (name to be determined?) while sid continues
> to break things :).
>> Etch becomes the new Stable I wonder if I could pin my install to stable
>> or would I still be in testing?   Sidux has too short a track record to
> Depends how your sources are defined. If you track 'etch', you'll end up
> with etch, in a stable state (at least theoretically). Once 'etch'
> becomes stable, apt-get update semantically becoems the equivalent of
> it on sarge systems now -- updating bug fixes. If your sources list
> tracks 'testing', you always are using 'testing'. Caveat though if you
> do that when Etch becoms stable - at least for a while (anyone else had
> issues like that during transitions? they seem to come up now and again
> on debian-user).
That is good news.  Just make sure all the repositories say etch instead
of testing and my daily Etch snapshot will become Stable, soon.
> Etch (at least for me) h as proven quite robust over the long haul
> (the real notable exception being the transition from xfree86 to
> x.org, which didn't go *quite* like I wanted, and the up & down
> nature of accelerated X support).
Right, I'll almost certainly be running the proprietary Nvidia driver on
this rig.  I don't want to have to boot to a command prompt and run the
Nvidia shell script every time apt-get update changes updates the kernel
(though in reality, Sarge stable has rarely mucked with the kernel.  I
tend to remember because my sound card stops working afterwards until I
run alsactl, I think).
>> SIDUX be very helpful to the overall community?  I worry that the
>> fragmentation of Linux leads to a lot of duplication of effort.
> This has also been a concern of mine. There are a lot of 'small'
> distros (small in the number of users/developers, not in the sense
> of 'small' footprint) that seemt to just coem and go, cause a flurry
> of attention, and then they're gone. Many don't (unless they're a
> fork of debian) have a clear upgrade path. The support is forum-based,
> which is not strictly a negative thing; I prefer mailing lists to
> forums).
> Be that as it may, though. I have gone through several installs of
> Linux, starting with SLS, then Slackware, Redhat, Mandrake/mandrive for
> quite a while, then Mepis & eventually Debian). 
> But IMHO much of the talent could be put to better use if it were
> 'pooled', rather than 'look here, I just made a new linux distro' :).
At this point I think I'll dual boot Etch 32 and Sidux 32.  I'll use the
NV driver on Etch and let it become Stable.  I'll keep SIDUX current,
use the proprietary driver and use it for things like KVM and Beryl
which evolve rapidly.  When the Etch versions of Firefox & Thunderbird
fall too far behind current, I'll just start installing the latest
Mozilla releases in to /usr/local or /opt and link them in /usr/bin. 
Hopefully I can share the same HOME directory without too many issues
(I'll make sure the UID and GID are the same).  Hopefully, this will
give me the best of both worlds.  When 64 bit becomes a better desktop
option I can reinstall over the SIDUX partition or remove my floppy and
install a second SATA hard drive.  A big barrier 64 bit adoption seems
to be Flash, strangely, but Gnash and 64 bit Flash are slowly
progressing, so I understand. 

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