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(?) The Answer Guy (!)

By James T. Dennis, answerguy@ssc.com
LinuxCare, http://www.linuxcare.com/

(?) Tape Drive Errors

From M Wyn on Thu, 20 Jan 2000

Please also send me a copy of your answer if you got one. Many thanks.

Michael Wyn

I've just bought a Dell 1300 server with factory-installed RedHat 6.1. The machine was ordered with an internal Seagate DAT tape drive. It is a SCSI, DDS-3 24G, STD124000N (3.5") internal unit. The /var/log/dmesg file identifies the drive: "Detected scsi tape st0 at scsi0, channel 0, id 6, lun 0".

Issuing command (as root):

'mt -f /dev/st0 status' with a DAT in, returns

     "SCSI 2 tape drive:
     File number= -1, block number=-1, partition=0
     Tape block size 0 bytes. Ddensity code 0x0 (default).
     Soft error count since last status =0
     General status bits on (10000):

and the tape access lite blinks indicating error reading the tape. Ejected tape then re-inserted it to clear the blinking lite then issuing command (as root):

     'mt -f /dev/st0 rewind'

returns: "/dev/st0: Input/output error"

Doing a 'tar cvf /dev/st0 .' will return I/O errors. In short, the tape drive is not useable.

RedHat folks suggested to install the 'mt-st0.5b-4.i386.rpm'. Issuing 'rpm -iq mt-st' returns a message saying that it is installed. Trying to 'rpm -Uvh mt-st-0.5b-4.i386.rpm' and got the "package installed" message. Tried to de-install using 'rpm -e mt-st-0.5b-4.i386.rpm' and got 'package not installed'

(!) They definitely don't understand your question!

(?) Dell told me to call Linuxcare. No answer just yet. Any idea? Private email would be highly appreciated. Thanks. Michael Wyn

(!) Oddly enough I work for Linuxcare.
On most 4mm DAT drives the "blinking" LED error is an indication that the drive needs to be cleaned. I'd run a cleaning tape into the drive and let it run.
I highly recommend running your data through Lee McLoughlin's 'buffer' program. That should be included with your distribution or find it at Freshmeat (http://www.freshmeat.net) or RPM Find (http://www.rpmfind.net). 'buffer' will smooth the system's access to the tape drive, ensure steady flow and good "streaming." Search the back issues of my column for the gory details.
Other than that I'd suggest having the drive serviced. It wouldn't hurt to upgrade your kernel (if you're still running 2.2.5, which shipped with the most recent Red Hat). However, I've never heard of any software/driver problems with the Linux st (SCSI tape) drivers.

(?) Seagate SCSI tape problem

From M Wyn on Fri, 21 Jan 2000

(!) I hate suggesting hardware RMA (return merchandise authorization) --- but this does sound very hardware-ish

(?)Thanks for your note.
I cleaned the drive using a brand new cleaning tape from Dell. No success. Additional info:

when I tried issuing 'mt -f /dev/st0 load', I got "st0: error with sense data: [valid=0] Info fld=0x0, current st09:001 sense key Hardware error. /dev/st0: Input/Output error"

You may be right that I have a defective tape drive unit (even it was received in Dec. 99). Incidentally, I erased a voice message from a Dell representative saying that after the unit was shipped, they found out that DAT tape drive was not "certified" yet [.. with linux 6.1 and Dell 1300 server..].

I'll be contacting them this morning. If you have additional comments/suggestions, please email them to me.

Michael Wyn

(?) Tape Drive Errors

From M Wyn on Sun, 30 Jan 2000

Thanks for your note. It turns out that the tape driver terminator came loose during shipping. Pressed it in firmly (a sweet click was heard!) and the tape is running AOK now.


Michael Wyn

Copyright © 2000, James T. Dennis
Published in The Linux Gazette Issue 50 February 2000
HTML transformation by Heather Stern of Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

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