[conspire] (forw) June 25 MP installfest upgrade RH 7.3 PC to Centos56

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Jun 27 01:56:22 PDT 2011

Eddie Wood wrote:

> Thanks for hosting this past Sat's installFest & the food. Thanks also
> to Daniel's valiant effort install Centos56 to VM, then DD it over to
> Duron 1GhZ PC upgrade RH 7.3 PC to overcome Buslogic FlashPoint SCSI non
> support problem. Can you find out if Daniel meanwhile have found cause
> for PAM related root login problem or not ?
> Next weekend plan to look into upgrade PC with DVD reader plus if can
> find Adaptec SCSI adapter to move forward.  I understand some of listed
> concern that PC with 512MB RAM and 8+18 GB SCSI HD may not be long term
> solution.  Current short term objective is upgrade off RH 7.3 to more
> current RHEL compatible [Centos] Linux. 

To explain, for those who weren't there:

Eddie brought to CABAL a 1 GHz AMD Duron system with 512 MB RAM that had
an installation of Red Hat Linux 7.3 on it.  He wanted to upgrade to
something current, and to install Apache Tomcat.  In e-mail discussion,
I suggested backing up anything he wanted to keep, and then blow away
his antique RHL 7.3 installation and put in CentOS 5.6 for i386.  

In the process of attempting CentOS 5.6, I was suddenly reminded of a
tragedy that occurred almost a decade ago:   Leonard Zubkoff, CTO of VA
Linux Systems, was suddenly killed in a helicopter crash in 2002.  Part
of the collateral damage from that was the Linux kernel driver for
BusLogic (formerly BusTek) SCSI host-bus adapters, maintained solely by
Leonard.  That driver was carried forward in the mainline Linux kernel
for some years after 2002.  Some time around the release of RHEL 4 or 5, 
it was dropped by just about everyone from production kernels, on
grounds of the driver being 'unmaintained upstream'.

Eddie's Duron system had both of its hard drives (SCSI-type) hanging
from his BusLogic SCSI HBA.  Thus, he has a problem, in that, although
the scarily antique RHL 7.3 kernel supports it, as far as we can tell, 
nothing recent does.   Therefore, the direct-approach attempt to install
CentOS 5.6 failed.

Daniel Gimpelevich attempted an incredibly impressive and ambitious
workaround:  He installed CentOS 5.6 into some sort of VM software 
on Eddie's machine (thus relying on the VM's emulated hardware support). 
He then fetched the 'CentOS Plus' kernel, which still includes a version
of the orphaned BusLogic SCSI driver.  He then did some sort of
mass-copy of the installation onto the live filesystem, adjusted
/etc/fstab, adjusted GRUB, and booted.

For one glorious moment, I thought it might actually work.  It was
ambitious; it could have worked.  It was a really great idea.  As it
happens, there was at least one problem with the thus-installed native
CentOS 5.6 system, such that the root user was logged out immediately
upon login attempt for reasons that were still unclear when we ran
completely out of time around 2:30 AM, and had to give up.

My basic assessment of the situation around 10 PM was:  Give up on the
BusLogic, as it's orphaned and unusual hardware for which drivers are
no longer available.  I recommended that Eddie go down to Weird Stuff
Warehouse, Halted Specialties Company, or somewhere like that and buy an
Adaptec AHA-2940 as a replacement.

Eddie asked me a very intelligent question:  'Is an Adaptec AHA-2940 
going to be able to read the filesystems on my hard drive?'  I actually
don't know.  Sometimes changing brands of SCSI HBA works; sometimes, it
doesn't.  The careful approach would involve migrating a copy of all
data to be preserved onto archival media such as one or more DVD, and
_then_ moving the hard drives to the new HBA.


More information about the conspire mailing list