Because computers don't fix themselves

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:

Solution:

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.

Enjoy!