Simple and cheap data recovery!

My middle step-brother, Mike, recently returned home from Iraq and is now on a month of leave before going back to his base, with the possibility of yet another deployment. Luckily he had an internet connection out there, and I was able to keep in touch with him here and there on Facebook, MySpace, and even AIM.

One day while out there he asked me if I could check out his laptop, because it was having problems booting. About two weeks later, I had his laptop and everything else back, directly from Iraq! I started the machine up, and sure enough it wouldn’t let anyone log in. After trying a few different things, I still could never get the machine to finish booting. Eventually I tried ‘chkdsk’, which failed at 50% checking the disk.

I assumed a failing hard drive, which proved to be the problem when starting to recover some of the data. But how should I go about getting this data back off? I don’t have any programs to help me with this or to help repair the drive. He has 30+ gigs of valuable documents, pictures, videos, and music.

In my previous work, I was a sysadmin, so some valuable knowledge sat in, and I got to work. I downloaded the newest version of Ubuntu. This should have NTFS read/write built into the LiveCD. Next, reformatted my iPod to Windows, and hooked everything up.

I booted the laptop the fist time hooked up to network, but for some reason, none of the LiveCD’s (Ubuntu and some others) would not recognize his network interface. So I rebooted, this time plugging in the iPod, and it mounted on the first try!

After many HOURS of copying data off, having to hit ‘skip’ to the ‘I/O failure’ prompts, I was able to recover 99% of all of his data, and now on the road to recovery with a brand new Hard Drive! I would recommend this method to anyone to save a few bucks and some time on what can usually be a very difficult process.

Listening To: ‘Secret Machines’ – Lightning Blue Eyes

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How to update your Ubuntu Server through the command line

So, before I go and wipe my Ubuntu server to switch over to Fedora or the like, I decided to try to run some updates to see if that helped anything. To my surprise, I was running Ubuntu 5.10. To my luck, 6.10 came out yesterday!

With this machine being an older Celeron, its near impossible to get anything to work in the GUI. So most of the time I just use Terminal.app on my Mac or PuTTY on my Windows machine. I do all of my updates with ‘apt-get‘, the fun and easy to use Debian package manager. I wanted to do a little writeup on how to do operating system updates for anyone that is interested. Once the update is done, ill check out some of this samba stuff and see if it helped at all!

  1. First you need to update /etc/apt/sources.list. Just open it up with your favorite editor
    sudo vi /etc/apt/sources.list
  2. Since I was using 5.10, at the end of all the URL’s it should say ‘breezy’. You need to change all of these to ‘edgy’. Write the file out and quit.
  3. Next, we need to update the source list by using the following command
    sudo apt-get update
  4. To upgrade to the new distro, just enter dist-upgrade!
    sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
  5. It will ask you if you want to update all of these packages, just say yes. Also, I had a few times that I had to hit ‘OK’ to confirm some postfix stuff. Since im not running any mail services, I dont need to set this up. Just keep an eye on the update since these messages delay the update.
  6. You may have to force some installs/updates. If so (I had to do this), just enter
    sudo apt-get -F install
  7. Once the upgrade is complete (it took mine forever since I was also downloading a trial game AND cygwin), restart your machine
    sudo shutdown -r now
  8. Done!

Listening To: ‘Stirb nicht vor mir (dont die before I do)’ by Rammstein