Because computers don't fix themselves

Archive for June, 2009

Getting data off of a crashed FreeBSD server

This was a challenging project.

I had a client with a server running FreeBSD with a lot of shared data on it.  The motherboard died.

I had a few different options, I figured. 

1). Build a new FreeBSD machine, add the drives in as slaves, install Samba, re-share the data, and voila.
2). Replace the motherboard with one and then re-load drivers so the existing FreeBSD would be able to run on the re-vamped machine; or
3). Get the data off, and put it on a Windows machine, to match up with all the Windows PC’s that accessed the server.

I tried all 3 methods.  Since I’m no expert at FreeBSD, I failed miserably at the first two options.  Granted, I learned a lot about how to load FreeBSD and configure it.  But, I dumped way too many hours into that, and never even got Samba fully installed, not to mention setting up multiple user accounts, before I quit. 

I couldn’t find a motherboard at Fry’s with two IDE channels anymore.  What’s the world coming to?  So, I nixxed that idea. 

And, I realized after trying, that you need a user name / password (preferably a root one) to run sysinstall and re-load network drivers.  Which was something I did not have.  So:


First, I had to learn that FreeBSD uses a file system called UFS.  Which, of course, Windows doesn’t recognize, and immediately wants to format.  Eek!  “No!”

Then, I found this AWESOME little piece of software called Raise Data Recovery for UFS.  I mounted the two FreeBSD drives as slaves to my Windows 2000 server, ran the software, and copied everything out of the samba directories. 

Then, by renaming the new windows box to have the same network name as the old BSD one, and sharing the folders with the same names, it was a plug-and-play server replacement.  Goodbye Linux, hello Windows. 

Plus, so much easier for me to troubleshoot in the future, since I actually know how to deal with Windows.

I’m sure the hard-core Linux people will be crying that I actually gave up a Linux Server in favor of Windows.  But, hey, gotta do what you know.  Especially when the guy who set up the linux server is long gone, and I’m still here.


Office 2007 documents open SUPER slow

I’ve run into an interesting issue.  It seems to only affect newer machines that are running Windows XP SP3.  In my case, they were both brand new Dell Vostros. 

With a fresh load of Windows, and a fresh install of Microsoft Office 2007 professional, the computer seemed very fast.  Word and Excel would even open extremely fast.  But, if I tried to open an existing document by double clicking on the document, it would take close to 3 minutes to open Word/Excel and then open the document.

I tried EVERYthing I could think of to discover the root of this problem, to no avail.  I even re-formatted one of them, and reloaded everything from scratch:  same problem.


Well, in my opinion not quite a solution, because I never found the original problem.  But, by doing this, it gets Office to open quickly, and that’s what’s important to my clients.

I had to disable DDE when opening all .doc, .docx, .xls, and .xlsx files.

To do so:

  • Open My Computer
  • Click on Tools / Folder options
  • Click on the File Types tab
  • Select .doc file type
  • Click the “advanced” button at the bottom
  • Select “Open” (which should be in bold)
  • Click the “edit” button
  • In the field labeled “Application used to perform action:” scroll to the end of the text in there
  • Erase the “/dde”
  • Type in “%1″ (yes, with the quotes) in its place
  • Uncheck the box that says “Use DDE”
  • Click ok
  • Click ok

Repeat the exact same thing for .docx files

Then, repeat again for .xls and .xlsx files.  (Note, there’s a slight difference in Excel.  You still must add the “%1″ to the end of the string, but there is probably no “/dde” to erase.)

That seemed to do the trick.  Documents opened nice and fast like they’re supposed to.

I’m still curious what actually causes this problem, rather than turning off a native part of windows’ functionality, but, hey, whatever works, right?