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TechNotes: Fixing SuSE 7.3 - page 4

When Little Problems Get Big

  • November 2, 2001
  • By Dennis E. Powell

New installations of SuSE Linux 7.3 default to the Reiser journaling filesystem. The advantage of this kind of system is that it protects your data and provides for a quicker reboot in the event a disorderly shutdown comes to pass, because it does not do an fsck scan of every partition mounted at the time of the interruption. The disadvantage in the case of the Reiser filesystem is that there is no way to apply it to a partition without a reformat, and wise users keep /home on a separate partition to avoid the need of reformatting and thereby losing all the data there.

Ext3, one of the alternatives offered by SuSE (and the default in the new Red Hat 7.2) offers journaling but can be applied to an existing partition. The problem is, SuSE offers no easy way of doing this. And the command prompt way of doing it doesn't appear to work.

What should work, which is a single command per partition plus some minor editing of /etc/fstab, doesn't work, either. It should be a matter, in a console as root, of doing this:

# tune2fs -j /dev/hdXX

[the first X being the drive letter, the second X being the partition number; it needs to be done for each partition you wish to bring to ext3 from ext2]

Then, in /etc/fstab, changing the corresponding filesystem type value from "ext2" to "auto."

Problem is, in SuSE 7.3, the result is this from the /var/log/messages file:

mount: you didn't specify a filesystem type for /dev/hda3
I will try type ext2
/dev/hda3 on /usr type ext2 (rw)
mount: you didn't specify a filesystem type for /dev/hda4
I will try type ext2
/dev/hda4 on /home type ext2 (rw)

(If one specifies ext3 in /etc/fstab, the partitions aren't mounted at all.)

There ought to be a way to add ext3 post-install to SuSE 7.3, but if there is, it is elusive.

Still, two major problems have been solved within a couple days of their being mentioned. I cannot help but think that binary fixes will become available, so that recompiling won't be necessary -- though it's a very good skill to have.

One is hard pressed to imagine fixes being arrived at so quickly with closed-source, commercial operating systems.

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