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Crimson Motherboard Death

One idle day, I attempted to install DragonFlyBSD on to a new 160GB drive on the schizoid server aka crimson. Despite running through the entire install apparently OK, when I came to reboot, bad things happened. The floppy disk appeared to seek repeatedly; no BIOS messages, no beeps (or anything else).

Had DFLYBSD broken the floppy drive? (No, of course not; how could that happen). Pulled power for about 10 minutes. Strangely, the CMOS settings (time/date etc) had been lost. In any event, crimson now booted. DBSD slice was empty. Hmm... Reboot; back to no boot symptoms, floppy drive re-seeks constantly.

Removed floppy drive and rebooted.

System still did not boot, but gave me 8 beeps. Video card failure (it's an old ATI AGP card) according to AMIBIOS info. Replace video card with known good PCI video card. No change, still 8 beeps.

Tried various combinations of power-off, reset and removing CMOS settings, even plugging it into a different ring main. Sometimes booted OK, most times not, with the evil 8 beeps. I checked the voltage on the CMOS battery; seemed OK, but tried another battery. BIOS still lost the settings after removal of mains power for a period.

Conclude MSI motherboard is buggered. Buy new one (Gigabyte GA-8I865GVMK Intel Socket 478 DDR400 SATA Motherboard OEM), which would accept memory and CPU from broken motherboard. Also has four IDE ports and 2 SATA ports. It has an integral video card, so my AGP card was now in the spare parts pile.

New motherboard arrived. Moved CPU and memory from old board to new board. With much trepidation powered on. New board would not boot. Powered up, but no BIOS screen, no beeps. Bugger. Removed memory and CPU. Reseated them and reconnected power. Ah, thank God, it boots.

Two of the existing PATA IDE drives could not be used: the 40GB (for Debian storage) and the 60GB (FreeBSD chrome) due to insufficient controller ports. Tarred off the contents of the chrome disk for restore when I found the cash to purchase a new SATA drive.

Conclusion: that the motherboard was in the process of dying anyway, but the opening of the case, messing around inside when fitting the new drive, was enough to tip it over the edge. That seems a lot more likely than DFLYBSD having anything to do with it. Pretty expensive install, none-the-less.

Addendum 18th June, 2010

I've already added a single SATA drive: here's the current hard drive setup:

Disk Type Grub FreeBSD Linux Usage
WDC WD800BB 80GB hd0 ad0 hda ad0: FreeBSD (crimson)
Maxtor 6L080J4 80GB hd1 ad2 hdc hdc1: Debian Lenny (silver) 40GB
ad2s3a: FreeBSD /tank 40GB
WDC WD1600 160GB hd2 ad3 hdd ad3s1a: /tank1 (for FreeBSD)
Seagate STM3250 250GB hd3 ad4 sda ad4s1: FreeBSD chrome (30GB)
ad4s2: FreeBSD /rep (30GB)
sda3: Linux /tank (40GB)
ad4s4: scratch (140GB)
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