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Old 07-21-2006, 01:44 PM   #1
jern
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bootup questions


Hi... I've just arrived. I have a newbie question.

I'm trying to get "up-to-speed" on Linux by reading an old book (1998) that states a
computer should not be turned off during boot because it "can cause serious damage to
your Linux filesystem!" It also states that Linux should be shutdown properly for the
same reason.

Is this still important in 2006? Playing with a Suse installation I've reset during bootup
and Suse didn't even blink. It seemed to boot perfectly the next time around.

We get occasional power outages here. What happens then? Does Linux require a
backup power supply?

For Windows I use a backup program and copy my boot drive to another hard drive so that
it can be easily restored (data is maintained separately from the boot drive). Are there
back up programs for Linux that do the same thing (or is my newbiness showing)?

Thanks for any help.

Last edited by jern; 07-21-2006 at 01:46 PM.
 
Old 07-21-2006, 03:48 PM   #2
bigjohn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jern
Hi... I've just arrived. I have a newbie question.

I'm trying to get "up-to-speed" on Linux by reading an old book (1998) that states a
computer should not be turned off during boot because it "can cause serious damage to
your Linux filesystem!" It also states that Linux should be shutdown properly for the
same reason.

Is this still important in 2006? Playing with a Suse installation I've reset during bootup
and Suse didn't even blink. It seemed to boot perfectly the next time around.

We get occasional power outages here. What happens then? Does Linux require a
backup power supply?

For Windows I use a backup program and copy my boot drive to another hard drive so that
it can be easily restored (data is maintained separately from the boot drive). Are there
back up programs for Linux that do the same thing (or is my newbiness showing)?

Thanks for any help.
Well I don't quite know why you might want to stop the system "mid-boot", but on the odd occassions that I have had snags, the only addtitional thing I've noticed is that when it is showing the boot sequence dialogue (sometimes shown as "verbose" boot as opposed to just watching a nice, reassuring, progress bar), if I had to "bite the bullet" and "press the tit" (reset button on PC main case) it's usually just said something about checking the file system, requiring a yes or not (y or n) within a certain number of seconds otherwise it just boots as normal (thats with mandriva, SuSE, Knoppix, Gentoo, (K)Ubuntu and a couple of others). You sometimes get a dialogue that "this or that partition has been mounted X number of times without file system checks or since the last fsck" some distros will then do an automatic fsck, others just ask if you want to do one.

Do you need a backup power supply? How longs a piece of string ? Only you can decide if the power outages that you experience in your area are of sufficient concern, to warrant the expenditure (i.e. are you runnning or intending to run "mission critical" apps ???).


System/Data backups etc ???

Linux ain't no windows. I would suggest, that if you run your system with a seperate /home partition, then that removes one of the many possible ways of screwing up any data that you produce i.e. if you killed your file system and had to re-install, if you have all you data in the /home "directory" (as differing from a full /home partition i.e. the /home directory, just being a directory within the root file system) when you re-installed (or installed a different distro) you'd loose all your data.

A seperate /home partition has the luxury of maintaining all the data that you produce including any personal addressbook stuff that you'd hate to loose (plus any other stuff of course). Then when/if a new version if required (dead system or whatever), as long as the new version is only installed to the / partition, and if asked you tell the installer to only format the / (but definitely not the /home - you may well have a /boot to format but thats usually distro dependant - unless you made a /boot for reasons that only you know) then the data etc in the /home isn't touched and as long as you install all the same applications, and make sure it's (the /home) entry in the fstab, then when you log in, everything should " just work " (this might not include any fancy backgrounds/iconsets/that sort of thing because they will often reside in the /usr or somewhere similar - you can of course, make them install to a sub directory in your /home, in which case, they should also work).

There are many, many methods of making backups for your data, if you feel that you wanted to copy it for safety - the obvious being something like a CDRW or DVD?? unless you have better/different facilities. You can, for example, actually copy the whole of your /home using the "tar" command (type in "man tar" - without the quotation marks - into a konsole/terminal window, and then read the "how to read man pages" link in my sig - command line input is the most powerful way of doing stuff, but learning the multitude of commands, arguements and switches, takes dedication).

As to where you wanted to back up too, well again, thats also up to you, depending on what facilities you actually have available.

regards

John
 
Old 07-21-2006, 05:46 PM   #3
jern
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John,

Thank you for the info.

I accepted the SUSE/Novell installer's options. It appears to have installed the root OS file system in a different partition from /home. I haven't tried it yet but I assume it will also allow me to install /home on a different hard drive as well.

I do backups of the boot drive just to save time. A Windows full install can take considerable time. You have to do the initial install and then go back through and reset all of your preferences. A restore from a backup, with all preferences in place, can be done in a few minutes. (One Windows backup that I used backed up a 500+Mb boot drive in under 45 seconds - a full restore from that backup took just a couple of minutes).

The way I look at it, if a power outage (or anything else) scrambles the Linux file system then it would probably be faster to reinstall from a backup of the root OS file system stored on another drive - if that is possible in Linux.

I'm so new to Linux I just don't know what's possible or available.
 
Old 07-21-2006, 08:35 PM   #4
pixellany
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Any OS can get at least temporarily messed up by shutting off power without allowing it to "put things away". If you have frequent outages, then a UPS would be a very good investment.
 
Old 07-22-2006, 02:12 AM   #5
bigjohn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jern
John,

Thank you for the info.

I accepted the SUSE/Novell installer's options. It appears to have installed the root OS file system in a different partition from /home. I haven't tried it yet but I assume it will also allow me to install /home on a different hard drive as well.
Try doing the command
Code:
df
in a konsole/terminal window. That will tell you whats going on with your partitions i.e what you actually have. In my case, I can see /dev/hda1 (which is my /boot), /dev/hda3 (which is my root partition) and /dev/hda4 (my /home). If you don't see a seperate partition for /home (which might be /dev/hd? and a number) then your /home is a directory in the root file system.

I'm getting the impression that you have a reasonable level of windows knowledge - but it's quite important that you follow, that linux isn't windows and the file system structure is very different.

Quote:
I do backups of the boot drive just to save time. A Windows full install can take considerable time. You have to do the initial install and then go back through and reset all of your preferences. A restore from a backup, with all preferences in place, can be done in a few minutes. (One Windows backup that I used backed up a 500+Mb boot drive in under 45 seconds - a full restore from that backup took just a couple of minutes).
Ha! at least you're into making backups properly from the sound of it Personally, I'm not really fussed as to which distro I use (as you can see from my profile, it's Kubuntu at the moment), it's my data/personal stuff that I want to keep - but it's not worth my while making backups (haven't got enough kit to do that properly so hence I just seperate out my /home partition).

As for whether it'd be quicker to restore from a backup or from an install CD (with the additional use of /home partition), I can't really say, because anything thats caused a crash/malfunction has been of my making (i.e. my meddling). Thats in about 4 and a half years. So whenever I've had problems that I don't know how to cure, I've just re-installed the root filesystem and been able to continue.

Of course, it's not the main file system that can take time, but the updates/upgrades that will follow the main install IMO.
Quote:
The way I look at it, if a power outage (or anything else) scrambles the Linux file system then it would probably be faster to reinstall from a backup of the root OS file system stored on another drive - if that is possible in Linux.

I'm so new to Linux I just don't know what's possible or available.
As to your original comment about using an old book, the problem with that, is usually that by the time a book has been published about a specific version of whatever distro, it's often been superceeded by a newer version. Then you may also find that books of a more general nature won't/don't cover any "distro specific" stuff that you may/or not, need to know about.

The linux related links in my sig, are of a more general nature, but should give you a general idea of what's available/how some things are done. The "rute user" link is one that often seems to be quoted "around the bazaars" (Personally, I hate trying to read/comprehend long and involved pieces of text "off screen" and much prefer good old paper copies), but I understand that it is updated reasonably regularly. Books? the ones that I've seen recommended tend to be from O'Really ( thats O'Reilly) - but they also have their "open books" project so you might be able to read some of them online as well.

finally, I would suggest that you might like to have a look into the different versions of linux that are available i.e. what is based on which package manager. Why? well from experience, I originally stuck to mainly Mandrake/Mandriva. Which like SuSE is also "rpm" based (rpm = redhat package manager). I have yet to see any of the rpm based versions that you can continually update/upgrade. You get so far, then you find that to get the better/updated support for stuff, you have to install the new version. Yes, some of them will offer the ability to upgrade, but I never managed to successfully do that. It always seemed to break some things and the wisdom seemed that fresh install was the way to go.

Hence, I've used gentoo (a complete bugger to install, but a dream to manage), debian ("proper" debian can also be a bit of a bugger to install - plus some of it's packages in the "stable" version are rather ancient) is easy to maintain. So this Kubuntu that I'm using now, is a debian derivative - and it's very user friendly (yes it does do a few things that I don't like personally - but I'll have to get over that). Of course, these types don't have the "big business" input/support of SuSE (owned by Novell) or Redhat (their "community" distro being fedora). Though if you're happy with SuSE (which is reasonably cutting edge - have a google about Xgl and Compiz, you'll see what I mean ) I'll tack various links that might be useful on the end.

Good luck

regards

John

www.oreilly.com -- O'Reilly Open Books Project
Linux Newbie Guide
Resources for New SUSE Linux Users
Linux commands
The Jem Report - The differences between GNU/Linux distributions
Linux.com | Dual-booting Windows and Linux the easy way (Linux.com videos)
SuSE Forums
SuSE Linux Forums
How To Ask Questions The Smart Way
 
Old 07-22-2006, 02:29 AM   #6
davcefai
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For what it is worth, my backup strategy is to backup my home partitions and the data directories on the server. That preserves the data, which is all important.

The home directories also hold a lot of configuration files so, in case of a reinstallation, I should be able to get back my settings (I hope)

There is no law that a disc will not fail and destroy the data in /home.

Since I don't have a tape drive, the rest is too much to backup so if my system gets trashed I have to look on the disaster as a chance to tidy up everything.

Having said that I have Debian in one drive and Mandriva on another so I should never be "off the road".
 
Old 07-22-2006, 08:05 AM   #7
jern
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When I joined the forum I expected a quick answer - not such extensive help. Thank you.

John, I appreciate the links - I will use them. I was afraid the book I've been reading might be dated and links to updated info is appreciated.

I tried "df" in Konsole and my /home is mounted as /dev/sda8. From your comments I assume that my /home is in a drive partition that is distinct from boot (udev) and root (/dev/sda7) and not simply a folder in root. Please correct me if I have those wrong.

Davcefai noted that "There is no law that a disc will not fail and destroy the data in /home." That bit of wisdom applies to all computers - regardless of installed OS.

Pixellany... I've cheated death several times by having everything backed up. If I can make a restorable drive "image" of my Linux boot and root then I won't worry about UPS. If I can't back them up then I will definitely purchase a UPS.

Is there a way to make a restorable "image" of boot and root?

I hope you all have a nice weekend. Thanks.
 
Old 07-22-2006, 08:53 AM   #8
bigjohn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jern
When I joined the forum I expected a quick answer - not such extensive help. Thank you.

John, I appreciate the links - I will use them. I was afraid the book I've been reading might be dated and links to updated info is appreciated.

I tried "df" in Konsole and my /home is mounted as /dev/sda8. From your comments I assume that my /home is in a drive partition that is distinct from boot (udev) and root (/dev/sda7) and not simply a folder in root. Please correct me if I have those wrong.
Yes it would appear to be the case - Oh, and also notice that my hard drive is a straight IDE one, hence the /dev/hdx nomclamenture - whereas yours (/dev/sdx) is either scsi or SATA. If you look at your /etc/fstab file, the /dev/sda8 should have a seperate entry i.e. it's own line with something like mine

Quote:

# <file system> <mount point> <type> <options> <dump> <pass>
/dev/hda4 /home reiserfs defaults 0 2
Quote:
Originally Posted by jern
Is there a way to make a restorable "image" of boot and root?
There are a number of ways to copy the parts that you would need - though not to cause any confusion between what happens with windows and a linux install - the kernel and surrounding applications would be in the root partition, so backing that up would be like making your own distro - which is a rather un-necessary complication. You would already have a backup in the install disc(s) for that.

So that means that the other bits you might need are in the /home (as you mention SuSE, which uses KDE by default, open konqueror and at /home/user (jern or whatever the user name is) and under view, tick the "show hidden files" and you'll see just how many config files live there).

By making a backup of the /home you should be as safe as is practical/sensible. I'm not sure if you will have info pages installed by default under SuSE (the man pages almost definitely were). Open a Konsole/terminal and look at
Code:
man tar
though that may need a little decyphering (see link in my sig) or you could also try
Code:
info tar
which, if available in your system, is somewhat easier to follow than the man page.

Or maybe, if you have DVDRW, you could just copy the /home over to a disc weekly or even daily - you'd have to experiment a little with one of the apps (in KDE, the k3b app for copying/burning discs is an ideal candidate), then see if you can see a copy of something from your /home on the disc - if it's there, bingo. A nice easily accessed copy of your /home.

It can also be done with CLI (in a terminal/konsole) using the tar command and then you can copy that somewhere safe (cd or dvd ???).

KDE usually has the "Ark" archiving tool, you can probably use that - I've never tried that though, only to extract stuff from already compressed format files/packages. You'd have to check out what you can find either from the help files or via google.

Of course, you can probably create a complete mirror of the hard drive. RAID??? Dunno, haven't got the kit. Headless server system on a seperate box?? Dunno, again, haven't got the kit.

copying the /home is probably the most efficient and straight forward while you're learning your way round linux.

regards

John
 
Old 07-22-2006, 12:53 PM   #9
jern
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John,

Let me see if I understand...

While Windows puts OS, Apps, and data in the same space (i.e. hard C) Linux (SuSE at least) installs them into different partitions (i.e. different drives to Windows). That makes a reinstallation of the Linux OS a simple matter of copying the OS files to root from installation CD's or files saved to a hard drive.

If that is correct then you are right about Windows and Linux being very different. I can see why Unix and its derivatives are said to be safer than Windows.

Is the Windows/DOS "Master Boot Record" or MBR the functional equivalent of Linux' "boot"? Does it have to be backed up?


It seems I have alot to read, study and try this weekend!

_*_*_*_*_*

I've just been introduced to GRUB (the GRand Unified Bootloader) and I THINK I've already found the answer to my last question (Though at this stage of paddling around in the deep-end it's hard to tell).

http://www.faqs.org/docs/Linux-HOWTO...rub-HOWTO.html

There is a good explanation of the MBR, boot sectors and partitions at:
http://www.linuxhq.com/guides/SAG/x885.html

And, a clear explanation of how to repair a corrupted MBR at:
http://linuxhelp.blogspot.com/2005/1...-and-boot.html

Last edited by jern; 07-22-2006 at 02:57 PM.
 
Old 07-22-2006, 02:57 PM   #10
tcv
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Please note that I might be a tad wrong in some of the stuff below, so I hope someone more knowledgeable can step in. But here's how I see it:

Back when DOS was the main O/S in Microsoft, one could move programs easily between disks without issue. Most applications were installed in a single directory. You may have needed to tweak Autoexec.bat or Config.sys, but it was pretty easy to move data.

Now consider that many Windows applications:

1. Place files in several directories (Program Files, Common Files, System32, %userprofile%/Application Data/Common Files, etc.)
2. Register DLLs with the system.
3. Install a whole lotta stuff in the Registry.

You can easily see why copying an application between Windows systems is a non-trivial matter.

Now, it's not completely accurate to say that you can easily move applications between Linux systems, it's mostly true. If you manage to move an application that has a dependency that's not on the new system, then it's not going to work. However, the majority of things will move over quite easily. DATA partitions, like Big John is talking about above, can be completely backed up and moved around, too.

Have fun!!
 
Old 07-22-2006, 06:24 PM   #11
bigjohn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jern
John,

Let me see if I understand...

While Windows puts OS, Apps, and data in the same space (i.e. hard C) Linux (SuSE at least) installs them into different partitions (i.e. different drives to Windows). That makes a reinstallation of the Linux OS a simple matter of copying the OS files to root from installation CD's or files saved to a hard drive.

If that is correct then you are right about Windows and Linux being very different. I can see why Unix and its derivatives are said to be safer than Windows.
Yes, that pretty much it. The apps are kept away from data (not always, but mostly).
Quote:
Originally Posted by jern
Is the Windows/DOS "Master Boot Record" or MBR the functional equivalent of Linux' "boot"? Does it have to be backed up?
No, that wouldn't be correct. The MBR is the MBR. You can install the bootloader (usually either Grub or Lilo - SuSE by default uses Grub. I originally preferred Lilo, but have got used to Grub and now that's my bootloader of choice). When you do an install, whether it's dual boot or not, I've found (with lots of advice from others), that the best place to put it, is on the first part of the first hard drive (well that's with multi HDD systems of course). The idea being, that it WILL overwrite the windows MBR (a windows MBR can be made to see a linux install, but thats quite involved) it can then see all installed OS and the vast majority will then offer the choice of OS too boot. Some distros, you have to add the line for windows manually, but most will sort that automatically.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jern
It seems I have alot to read, study and try this weekend!
If you aren't scared off by the differences etc, then you'll need a hell of a lot more than just this weekend. I found that it's vvv addictive. The extra learning isn't so much a "learning curve", more of a "learning mountain". Luckily, you're getting into it when a shitload of things have been done to make it considerably more user friendly.

Every new app has differences. Fortunately, lots of them also have considerable familiarity to their windows equivalent. So you can usually pick up the basics stuff without much extra assistance - things like firefox under linux, well the differences are there but they're quite subtle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jern
I've just been introduced to GRUB (the GRand Unified Bootloader) and I THINK I've already found the answer to my last question (Though at this stage of paddling around in the deep-end it's hard to tell).

http://www.faqs.org/docs/Linux-HOWTO...rub-HOWTO.html

There is a good explanation of the MBR, boot sectors and partitions at:
http://www.linuxhq.com/guides/SAG/x885.html

And, a clear explanation of how to repair a corrupted MBR at:
http://linuxhelp.blogspot.com/2005/1...-and-boot.html
If it is any help, I can send you all of the links I've collected and keep in firefox. Some of them will be helpful, some will be over your head until you gain a bit more understanding. Thats not me being critical, it's just the way things are.

You already got the answer as to why linux is intrinsically safer than windows. It wasn't until the advent of XP that the home version was available as a multi-user setup. Users who buy new PC's still don't understand that they should be making a "limited user" account and only using the one with full sys admin priviledges for installing and management. Hence they pick up and spread virii/trojans etc with great alacrity. Though the message is slowly getting round.

The commercial/professional versions (NT/XP pro) pretty much always were set up correctly - they invariably have a sys admin professional on the end of them when set up!

In truth, my linux knowledge could be written on the back of a very small postage stamp. I still suffer from having too much residual windows crap sloshing around in my head - thats four and a half years after starting with it (linux that is).

You'd be suprised how many good linux links crop up on digg I just book mark them and try to get back to them later. Plus you've already found just about the biggest of the Q & A forums for linux.

regards

John

p.s. Oh and one of the additional luxuries (distro specific unfortunately) is that if you mess the bootloader on a dual boot (linux bootloader that is), you can stick the install disc back in and restore the windows bootloader (SuSE and Mandriva come to mind here). Then at least you can access the net to get help etc to sort yourself out.
 
Old 07-22-2006, 07:28 PM   #12
jern
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjohn
If you aren't scared off by the differences etc, then you'll need a hell of a lot more than just this weekend.
I believe you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjohn
If it is any help, I can send you all of the links I've collected and keep in firefox. Some of them will be helpful, some will be over your head until you gain a bit more understanding. Thats not me being critical, it's just the way things are.
Wait until I'm a little higher up the "learning mountain".


Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjohn
In truth, my linux knowledge could be written on the back of a very small postage stamp. I still suffer from having too much residual windows crap sloshing around in my head - thats four and a half years after starting with it (linux that is).
That may be but you are still teaching me alot. I appreciate it!
 
Old 07-22-2006, 11:10 PM   #13
davcefai
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Quote:
Users who buy new PC's still don't understand that they should be making a "limited user" account and only using the one with full sys admin priviledges for installing and management. Hence they pick up and spread virii/trojans etc with great alacrity. Though the message is slowly getting round.
Fair enough, but have you ever tried it? Windows doesn't have an su command so if you need to install something (or remove it or whatever) you have to log out. Which means losing your session.

I remember setting up a PC which accessed two networks, the company LAN and a small control system. It acted as the foreman's terminal to the Control System and as a bridge to make data visualisation and reporting available to remote desktops.

This was the first time that the company supplying the plant had done this - the software was pretty new, ours was maybe the 4th installation they had done. We just about wore out the PC with all the reboots until we had it running properly.

Same goes for routine maintainance or modification. You have to keep changing sessions to apply the fix, then test it , then repeat until it works properly.
 
Old 07-23-2006, 11:23 AM   #14
jern
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I’ve just been checking the SuSE/Novell documentation. In the section on updating, Novell recommends, “copying the old configuration files to a separate medium...”

To quote:
“This primarily applies to files stored in /etc as well as some of the directories and files in /var and /opt. You may also want to write the user data in /home (the HOME directories) to a backup medium. Back up this data as root. Only root has read permission for all local files.

Novell also recommends checking /etc/passwd and /etc/group for syntax errors using “pwck” and “grpck”

Would it be a good idea to back-up all of these areas on a regular basis in case of a crashed system?
 
Old 07-23-2006, 06:00 PM   #15
bigjohn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davcefai
Fair enough, but have you ever tried it? Windows doesn't have an su command so if you need to install something (or remove it or whatever) you have to log out. Which means losing your session.

I remember setting up a PC which accessed two networks, the company LAN and a small control system. It acted as the foreman's terminal to the Control System and as a bridge to make data visualisation and reporting available to remote desktops.

This was the first time that the company supplying the plant had done this - the software was pretty new, ours was maybe the 4th installation they had done. We just about wore out the PC with all the reboots until we had it running properly.

Same goes for routine maintainance or modification. You have to keep changing sessions to apply the fix, then test it , then repeat until it works properly.
Yes, I'm familiar with that problem. Though you'd have to do it if you had an older NT system. That doesn't have su either. The whole idea being that it's "their" interpretation of multiuser!

As for reboots being excessive, this afternoon I had to re-install W98SE on one of my partners "work" pc's, and no it's not "mission critical", she works as the early years teacher in a nursery/kindergarten, so it's only used so that the kids have access to those kind of games with speaking animated animals doing numbers/alphabet stuff etc etc. So thanks to the other nursery staff, who just let the kids beat the hell out of the keyboard and click the hell out of random stuff with the mouse I had to literally "trawl" my memory (again) to completely reformat and reinstall which equalled about 20 reboots by the time I'd got all the 3rd party drivers etc installed and running.

regards

John
 
  


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Bootup Mikewitt DamnSmallLinux 4 01-24-2004 09:49 AM
DHCP at bootup, and a few other newb questions Oooska Linux - Networking 1 01-25-2002 09:44 PM


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