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Old 03-19-2018, 03:40 PM   #1
scareduck
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Ancient data recovery on SCSI tape/controller


Trying to figure out even where I should be looking for a viable approach to recovering some data from very old SCSI hard disks and tapes. I’ve got an old machine (a Compaq box that’s probably 15 years old) with a PCI bus inside, and an Advansys ABP940-UW. Attached to it is a Tandberg TDC 3600 QIC tape drive. My suspicions are that the drivers are long gone from any standard kernels, but I was hoping there might be some generic drivers that might stand a chance. It’s been a decade or so since I’ve looked at the SCSI interface for Linux, and it’s changed dramatically since then. Also, it appears that the Linux Documentation Project has gone silent, so it is now no longer a source of any value for current releases. Can anybody point me to current sources for documentation, at least?

Last edited by scareduck; 03-20-2018 at 08:23 AM.
 
Old 03-19-2018, 05:07 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scareduck View Post
Trying to figure out even where I should be looking for a viable approach to recovering some data from a very old SCSI hard disks and tapes. Iíve got an old machine (a Compaq box thatís probably 15 years old) with a PCI bus inside, and an Advansys ABP940-UW. Attached to it is a Tandberg TDC 3600 QIC tape drive. My suspicions are that the drivers are long gone from any standard kernels, but I was hoping there might be some generic drivers that might stand a chance. Itís been a decade or so since Iíve looked at the SCSI interface for Linux, and itís changed dramatically since then. Also, it appears that the Linux Documentation Project has gone silent, so it is now no longer a source of any value for current releases. Can anybody point me to current sources for documentation, at least?
This is one of those "it depends" questions. Meaning, is this a one-time thing, where you just have to read off some old data, or are you planning on putting this drive back into 'production' of some sort, and doing this often? The tape drive should show up as /dev/mt0 and be workable...providing you have a SCSI card for it. Which you can probably find pretty easily, like $25 for a PCI, higher for PCIe. There are even USB to SCSI things around, for about $80, but have never touched one.

If it's a one-time thing, you may want to ask around at a LUG or a university near you, as some of those folks may have old hardware sitting around for just such a thing. If you're feeling brave, and that old box can boot from USB, you can try an old version of Linux: https://old-linux.com/ and see if you can get things readable.

Although...is that old box still bootable? If it's functioning...you may want to shoehorn some sort of network adapter into it, boot it up, and suck the data down to a modern system that way.
 
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Old 03-19-2018, 05:08 PM   #3
smallpond
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If the tape is written in proprietary format you may be out of luck, but it may just be readable with a combination of dd, tar or mt. You shouldn't need any special drivers, unless the drive is very non-standard.

https://wiki.zmanda.com/index.php/Tape_Driver_Semantics

There's no such thing as an old SCSI disk. If it spins, you should be able to read it. First step is to connect it and see the partition table (cat /proc/partitions). Then try mounting each partition (/dev/sdc1, /dev/sdc2 ...) to see what's on it. If you can't mount whatever filesystem is on it, you should at least be able to use dd to read it.
 
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Old 03-19-2018, 06:09 PM   #4
scareduck
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Hey, thanks, guys. I should also add that

* I have Fedora 27 running on this box (with all the latest revisions of everything), with the server version. So the box itself is working.
* I have all the hardware described in the initial post, so there’s no need to go scrounge for parts. (This is actually good, because I moved from California to Arkansas three years ago and the number of places where I could even hope to find this kind of stuff is getting thin, even back in CA; have you taken a look at Fry’s Electronics lately?)
* The OS does not appear to know it has a SCSI controller attached, though BIOS sees the firmware and runs the preboot control successfully. (It also recognizes that there is a tape drive attached to the SCSI bus.) This is based on taking a look at dmesg and boot logging.
* This is a one-off, a very badly belated recovery. The machine that the tape drive was originally in was two or four computers old (i.e. probably around 2000-ish). When I retired that machine, I vowed I would get that straightened out ASAP, and ... well, here we are about 15 years later.
* I’m not certain what format the tapes are in, but I’m about 90% sure they’re cpio or afio (same thing but with built-in compression).
* The disk is very old HFS, and belonged to my wife. I wanted to get anything off that I could before retiring it for good, and archiving it to DVD-ROM.

Thanks for the link to old-linux.com, TB0ne. I may end up trying that later if the current release won’t play ball with the current versions. I’m thinking something around Fedora Core 4, whenever that was current.
 
Old 03-19-2018, 06:20 PM   #5
scareduck
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One more thing: where is current documentation? It’s pretty clear that the Linux Documentation Project is dead; has anything replaced it?
 
Old 03-19-2018, 07:07 PM   #6
syg00
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Did the advansys module load ?. My FC27 has
Code:
[me@xps ~]$ grep -i advansys /boot/config-$(uname -r)
CONFIG_SCSI_ADVANSYS=m
 
Old 03-19-2018, 08:56 PM   #7
scareduck
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Lemme go check. Was unaware this was an option.
 
Old 03-19-2018, 09:16 PM   #8
scareduck
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Well, indeed it says that exact thing. So there is a sign that the driver exists somewhere in the bowels of the OS.
 
Old 03-19-2018, 09:36 PM   #9
scareduck
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HOWEVER,

$ lsmod | grep -i advansys

Doesn’t yield anything. So, there’s that. I attempted to force the matter:

# modprobe advansys
Modprobe: ERROR: could not insert ‘advansys’: No such device

So it seems like the hardware config doesn’t recognize the ABP940-UW I’ve got in there.

As suggested upthread, one possibility would be to get a modern PCIe SCSI card in my main box (which would probably be supported, as the only manufacturer just about is Adaptec anymore), but I’m leery of the cabling issues, and/or electrical signaling; for some reason I have a half-remembered notion that SCSI started offering differential signaling electrically incompatible with older single-ended parallel hardware, and I’m pretty sure that everything I own is no later than SCSI-2.
 
Old 03-20-2018, 07:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scareduck View Post
HOWEVER,

$ lsmod | grep -i advansys

Doesnít yield anything. So, thereís that. I attempted to force the matter:

# modprobe advansys
Modprobe: ERROR: could not insert Ďadvansysí: No such device

So it seems like the hardware config doesnít recognize the ABP940-UW Iíve got in there.

As suggested upthread, one possibility would be to get a modern PCIe SCSI card in my main box (which would probably be supported, as the only manufacturer just about is Adaptec anymore), but Iím leery of the cabling issues, and/or electrical signaling; for some reason I have a half-remembered notion that SCSI started offering differential signaling electrically incompatible with older single-ended parallel hardware, and Iím pretty sure that everything I own is no later than SCSI-2.
Well...you could try a couple of things, just to see. First, you may need firmware for that device. Go into your repos, and try to install linux-firmware-xxx package. There was one for F25 linux-firmware-20171126-80.git17e62881.fc25.noarch.rpm that had advansys firmware in it, so it's worth a shot.

You can also try to do an lsmod for scsi_mod and st, to see if they're present. The scsi_mod is the mid-level SCSI driver, and st is for SCSI tape devices. If they're not loaded, try to modprobe them.
 
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Old 03-20-2018, 05:15 PM   #11
AwesomeMachine
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I'm pretty sure that scsi card is still supported in the kernel. The tape drive just has to be read in certain sized blocks. You can find the block size on google. Tapes are really made for disk backup and restore. After the files are written to a disk, you can do whatever you want with them. Everything was so small back that it might all fit on a 1.0TB SATA hdd.
 
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Old 03-20-2018, 08:48 PM   #12
scareduck
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AwesomeMachine View Post
I'm pretty sure that scsi card is still supported in the kernel. The tape drive just has to be read in certain sized blocks. You can find the block size on google. Tapes are really made for disk backup and restore. After the files are written to a disk, you can do whatever you want with them. Everything was so small back that it might all fit on a 1.0TB SATA hdd.
All that may be, but for whatever reason I don't see a /dev/mt0 (or a /dev/mt*, for that matter). Also, as mentioned upthread,

$ lsmod | grep -i advansys

yields nothing, which to me indicates that the Advansys kernel module was never loaded. Maybe that's because this particular card wasn't recognized, but that, too, is a bad sign.
 
Old 03-20-2018, 09:01 PM   #13
scareduck
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TB0ne View Post
Well...you could try a couple of things, just to see. First, you may need firmware for that device. Go into your repos, and try to install linux-firmware-xxx package. There was one for F25 linux-firmware-20171126-80.git17e62881.fc25.noarch.rpm that had advansys firmware in it, so it's worth a shot.

You can also try to do an lsmod for scsi_mod and st, to see if they're present. The scsi_mod is the mid-level SCSI driver, and st is for SCSI tape devices. If they're not loaded, try to modprobe them.
scsi_mod and st were not present. modprobe succeeded in adding both, but trying to do a ďmodprobe advansysĒ yielded the same result as above. And I still am not sure how to see what SCSI devices the machine thinks exists, but

$ cat/proc/scsi/scsi
Attached devices:
Host: scsi2 Channel: 00 Id: 00 Lun: 00
Vendor: ATA Model: WDC WD1600AAJS-0 Rev: 1D05
Type: Direct -Access ANSI SCSI revision: 05

That is, it sees the boot disk and nothing else.
 
Old 03-20-2018, 09:03 PM   #14
scareduck
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Well, I should say, “succeeded”. It ran without displaying errors. But an lsmod showed only “st” loaded. That might be enough if the controller would just show up ...
 
Old 03-20-2018, 09:39 PM   #15
michaelk
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The first SCSI tape drive device ID is /dev/st0 and /dev/nst0. All devices regardless of bus type (SCSI, USB, SATA, IDE) use the SCSI subsystem and have SCSI IDs.

Before the system will see the tape drive you need to load the low level SCSI driver for your card. Since modprobe advansys did not work you will need to compile kernel to get it to work.
 
  


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