Tip

Using USB Hard-drives at the Service Console

I’m moving my hardware to a co-location venue near where I live, so soon I won’t have physical access to my equipment except by Citrix and ILOs. Whilst my system will be connected to the internet by a high-speed redundant link – downloading large files from the internet such as DVD isos is not going to be very quick. So I intend to occasionally load-up a removable USB hard-drive with files and pop around to the co-location and copy them disk to disk. It’s not far away and it will be worth it for a few files that are very big. I found initially I had some problems…

Firstly, NTFS drives don’t appear to be mountable at Service Console. Despite the fact that normally Redhat Linux has a R/O driver for NTFS, no matter what I did I couldn’t get the Service Console to recognize the partition. The alternative is to use FAT32. Unfortunately, M$ does not support with their tools a partition size larger than 32GB – and my removable drive is 60GB. Fortunately, there is an easy work around – that allows me to use ALL of the 60GB as single FAT32 drive – and use it both on my Windows XP laptop and at the Service Console. Here’s how its done…

1. Delete any partitions from the removable drive using Disk Management in Windows
2. Right-click the disk and select “New Partition” and follow these steps, clicking “Next” to move on at each stage.
3. Select Primary Partition
4. Enter the maximum

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size for the Partition Size 
6. Choose assign a drive letter. In my case I used F:
7. Select “Do not Format this partition
8. There will be a dialog box, summarizing all the previous stuff.
9. Click Finish

Rather than using M$ format command or tools which limit the format to 32GB, I found a format tool on the internet that allows you to break through the 32GB barrier. It’s called fat32format.exe and it can be downloaded from here:

http://www.ridgecrop.demon.co.uk/index.htm?fat32format.htm

The syntax of the fat32format command is very simple – as it's the same as the standard format command namely:

fat32format

So in my case I use fat32format f:

After the format I just changed the volume label in Windows to make it more friendly than just F:

Mounting the drive at the console is very easy. Login to the Service Console as a root and make a mounting point with something like mkdir /mnt/usbdisk. Plug-in the drive and read the info on the screen to see the device name for the drive such as /dev/sdk. Then mount it to the usbdisk with mount /dev/sdk1 /usbdisk.

This was first published in July 2007

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