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I have a Dell server on which I have installed Ubuntu Server Edition. I had it running with two arrays (one RAID 1, the other a RAID 5). My system has gone bad due to me not using a power backup combined with a power-surge/power-outage (not sure which). The hardware is fine, my arrays are healthy, and ram has been tested, therefore I believe it is a software problem.

I am not sure whether to re-install vs. try repairing my system. I have tried to repair, however my knowledge of shell commands and usage is extremely limited (to give you an idea, I was able to set up my server utilizing the shell however this is all I could manage). I think it would be easier to simply re-install, however whenever I try to re-install it prompts me to format my RAID 5 array (which has my data). Any ideas/tips/anything would be very much appreciated!

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What do you mean by data? Your files and (most of) your configuration settings should all be in your home folder, backing that up should save all your data. Your installed applications is another matter, but I seem to remember there being a way to export the list of installed packages then use it to reinstall them in the new system. –  adempewolff Aug 21 '12 at 1:36
    
@adempewolff my RAID 1 array is made up of two 36GB drives, wheras my RAID 5 array is made up of four 500GB drives. so my files are split between the two arrays...unfortunatly –  Ben Aug 21 '12 at 15:13
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2 Answers 2

I take it you have a bootable installation disk or USB key. This should be able to discover your root and/or boot partitions. Try running fsck on these partitions when they aren't mounted. This would be my preferred recovery mechanism. Before actually changing the data you may want to use the no-action flag. Once your system is bootable, it should run any appropriate recovery when it reboots.

If you do opt to reinstall, you can overwrite the existing root partition. Back it up before you do so as you may need to recover some of the data that is stored there. Most importantly your mount structure, but likely some other configuration information.

When asking for help it helps to be specific about the problem. Does the system fail to boot at all? Can you bring it up in single user mode? Does it fail to find the root partition? Does it mount the root partition read-only?

EDIT: Ubuntu should give you a startup splash page. If you have an install disk for the version it may have recovery boot option that will allow you to boot into your normal server installation from the disk. I haven't done this in a while, but the help pages are usually bound to Function keys. If that works, you should be able to recover your data, and usually your installation.

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what happens (in this order) 1 - power on 2 - prompts for me to press any key to continue the boot sequence 3 - asks me to choose a OS (i only have Ubuntu installed) 4 - i choose ubuntu and it will continue the startup until it reaches a poit at which it says 'code'one operation could not be completed waiting a maximum of 300 seconds 'code' after it finishes counting down it doesn't do anything. –  Ben Aug 21 '12 at 15:06
    
@Ben Sounds more like a bios / server failure than the installation. If the bios battery has died, it may have lost memory. I usually check the bios date. If it has been reset, then likely your bios setting have been cleared also. Also added to my response. –  BillThor Aug 23 '12 at 1:16
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You can reinstall the system files (while keeping the user files and configs) this way: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuReinstallation (remark: RAID may need to be activated first)

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