64-bits of zero disk space


On my Athlon 64 PC this morning I decided I need to burn another DVD of the film I made over Christmas for work (more about this in my next post).

Whilst K3b was burning the DVD, Mandriva decided it wanted to update itself so I let it. All was going well until it complained it could not install two packages. After checking the available disk space using KDiskFree, it turns out that the system partition (/dev/sda5) had run out of disk space!!

Now when I installed Mandriva 2009 from DVD, I decided to let the OS partition the 60Gb disk automatically, after all how do I know how much disk space it needs. So it partitioned the disk with a 7.8Gb system partition, a 3.8Gb swap partition and the rest was left for data. I also decided to let the installation copy the contents of the DVD to the hard disk, avoiding the need of having to find and reinsert the DVD every time I wanted to install an application.

Looks like this was not a good idea and possibly a bug in the Mandriva installation guided partitioner. I decided to shut down the system and sort it out this evening……..

On booting up I discovered that I could not login. The OS reported that there was no disk space available to create temporary files and sent me back to the login screen.

One of the software tools I also keep at hand, both for Windows PC and Linux is the excellent GParted Live CD. GParted http://gparted.sourceforge.net/index.php is the Gnome partition editor. It’s a very powerful tool equal to Partition Magic with a very similar GUI interface, the difference is it is free. It supports lots of different Linux file systems as well as Windows NTFS and FAT32 and assuming you have free space in another disk partition on the same physical drive, is a good way to get out of a hole!

On the subject of tools, three other bootable CDs I keep at hand in cased of an emergency are:

Darik’s Boot and Nuke – http://www.dban.org/

If you want to ensure your hard disk is scrubbed clean of any valuable data before disposing of it then this is the tool to do it. It’s a bootable Linux distribution which will scrub the disk to US DOD standards and used by many commercial computer recycling and governments around the world.

System Rescue CD – http://www.sysresccd.org

If your system goes down, you can use this live Linux CD to try to recover your data if not repair the system. I can’t say I’ve ever had the need to use it but a very useful addition to the toolkit.

SeaTools – http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/support/downloads/seatools

Whilst not a Linux Live CD, this excellent hard disk diagnostic tool (works on non Seagate disks equally well) will help you establish whether your hard disk is responsible for your OS/ data problems. It does a track by track non-destructive test, if it finds any errors it will tell you and if there are an unacceptable numbers of errors it will fail the disk. Very useful if you buy second hand disks off eBay sold in “perfect condition”! I use the DOS bootable CD version as this is the most universal being OS independent.

Back to GParted.

Once re-partitioned (this took an hour and a half), I rebooted and successfully logged into the Mandriva, desktop. Ran the update manager and it picked up from where it left off and installed the outstanding packages.

Whilst a bit of a pain, it’s reassuring that Linux is robust enough to recover where other operating systems would have thrown up the “blue screen of death”!

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