Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Firmware update downloads for some Samsung HDDs

Seagate acquired Samsung's HDD business back in 2011, nevertheless the existing firmware updates for some legacy Samsung HDDs are not available for download from the official Seagate site (look here).
So here are some firmware update download links collected from public sources :)

ModelFamilyFirmware version (latest known)Download
HD501LJSpinPoint T166CR100-13Dell / Drivers / R180581

Outdated important software packages in Debian unstable

Debian bug numbers get added if known. The packages are organized in collections by date. Updated ones should get striked out.

HOWTO: upgrade customized version of Micron C400 SSD to generic firmware (DRAFT)

Important notes:
  1. DISCLAIMER: this guide is provided here only "just for fun" for experimental, research and educational purposes without any guarantees (even no repeatability guaranteed, as this guide has been based solely on just one particular specimen device), so use it at your own risk;
  2. ATTENTION: it can result in an irreversible destruction of any data stored on the device (including the loss of important metadata like device usage statistics, but it's not wise to hope it will heal / recover / restore any worn-out memory blocks / chips or make the device good as new in performance);
  3. CAUTION: it may brick your device;
  4. WARNING: it may void the warranty, if any.
Recently I've got a (somewhat previously slighlty used) 128 GB SATA 3.0 (6 Gb/s) compatible 2.5" SSD from the Micron RealSSD C400 series (P/N: MTFDDAK128MAM-1J1, H/W: Rev 3). It looks like a generic equivalent of a more popular SSD brand, the Crucial m4 series.
What's interesting with it: what I've got here is really not a generic, but a Lenovo OEM-branded version, and it has a cut-down set of SMART features: only one SMART attribute ("Power cycle count") is available [4.1, 4.2], though still there's some useful info (power-on hours, total number of logical sectors read / written, uncorrectable errors etc.) in SMART device statistics & SMART error log; fortunately, SMART self-tests are also available. Unfortunately, updating the firmware from the initial "040H" to the latest "070H" Lenovo OEM version [1.4] didn't improve the SMART functionality.

So what are the known differences of this sample, compared to the generic (Micron / Crucial *) versions?
  • Firmware (FW):
    • binary microcode image is slightly smaller than the generic one;
    • reduced SMART functionality.
  • Hardware (HW):
    • unknown.
What to do (simplified):
  1. (forcibly) downgrade the SSD FW to the suitable old generic version (e. g., "0002" from Crucial);
  2. upgrade the SSD FW to the latest generic version ("070H");
  3. (reset the device???)
  4. PROFIT!
* Curious findings about the SSD FW updaters: Micron & Crucial packages contain the same "generic" FW image, but not the same FW updater utility version; meanwhile, the same utility versions are shared by Crucial & Lenovo versions.

// Some text to be written here... to be continued...

Notes (even more):
  1. This SSD supports SATA revisions from 1.0 to 3.0 (1.5, 3 and 6 Gb/s respectively), but as for UDMA it's max. UDMA/100.
  2. Most C400 configurations (including the described one) have no thermal sensor [2.2, look for "C400 SSD SMART Attributes (pdf)"], so SMART reports a zero (Celsius) temperature.
  3. Further debugging and internal SSD operation insights can be hypothetically provided by serial console interface (though currently I have no data on the actual pinout & schematics for the current SSD).
  1. Firmware downloads:
    1. (the most generic one) Software - Solid State Drives - Document Search - Micron Technology
      (look for "C400 Rev. 070H Bootable Media Firmware Update (zip)"; needs registration)
    2. Crucial SSD Firmware Updates
    3. Micron Solid State Drive (SSD) Firmware Update - HP Support Center
    4. Firmware update for 2.5" Micron C400 series Solid State Drives to fix Bluescreens and system hangs - Lenovo
  2. Datasheets:
    1. Data Sheet - Solid State Drives - Document Search - Micron Technology
    2. Technical Note - Solid State Drives - Document Search - Micron Technology
  3. Thanks for suggesting a suitable firmware update package version:
    1. http://www.chiphell.com/thread-300591-1-1.html
    2. http://bbs.pceva.com.cn/thread-28908-1-1.html
  4. Thanks for asking questions:
    1. lenovo - OEM SSD w/ Thinkpad T430 - with only 1 SMART attribute, how should I tell wear? - Super User
    2. T430 SSD SMART attributes not showing - Lenovo Community
    3. Crucial C300 vs. Micron C300 (HP OEM) - Crucial Community
Last updated: 2014-12-12

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

HOWTO: reload mouse driver in Linux

Sometimes your mouse device (it can be even a touchpad) can unexpectedly get stuck [maybe it's a new bug that should be reported?!] in the middle of your work (or maybe it just didn't get recognized after plugging it in).
In such cases, reloading the mouse driver may help (e. g., for PS/2 mouse driver, Linux kernel module is called "psmouse"):
# modprobe -r -v psmouse
# modprobe -v psmouse
You can also get info on any kernel driver modules installed in your system to support different mouse types (e. g., for serial mice, the kernel module is called "sermouse"), and also check if it's currently loaded:
$ ls /lib/modules/$(uname -r)/kernel/drivers/input/mouse
...  sermouse.ko  ...
$ /sbin/modinfo sermouse
$ lsmod | grep sermouse
Note: the trick will fail if the needed module is builtin.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

HOWTO: work around SATA HDD hotplug problem (in Linux)

Sometimes some SATA controllers do not recognize an attached HDD if it was hot-plugged after the Linux system has been booted. Fortunately, there're some simple workarounds (note: it should work for some PATA controllers too).
  1. A standard "soft" solution (should work by default):
    1. Connect the HDD to the SATA controller (and make sure it doesn't get auto-recognized by the system).
    2. Force a rescan of SCSI buses:
      # for h in /sys/class/scsi_host/host*/scan; do echo "- - -" > $h; done
    3. Ensure the drive has been recognized (check the dmesg logs, run lsblk etc.) and enjoy it!
  2. A more "aggressive" method
    (note: some old SATA controller made by VIA Technologies and managed by sata_via kernel driver is used here for sample purposes; should work with any recent 2.6+ Linux kernel versions):
    1. To prevent any data loss, flush caches & unmount all the mounted partitions for all the drives connected to any VIA SATA controller(s) installed on the affected system!
    2. Remove the kernel driver module (verbosity is helpful sometimes):
      # modprobe -v -r sata_via
    3. Physically attach (or detach) any drives to the VIA SATA controller.
    4. Re-insert the kernel module:
      # modprobe -v sata_via
    5. Enjoy!
  1. Scanning Storage Interconnects - RHEL7 Storage Administration Guide
Last updated: 2014-06-20

Monday, January 20, 2014

Nonsensical minor long-running bug in Ubuntu

The file containing a default Ubuntu wallpaper is still named 'warty-final-ubuntu.png' (in honor of the first Ubuntu release, 4.10 "Warty Warthog"), but this PNG image actually became a JPEG one sometime in 2008!
The following "bug" still affects the "ubuntu-wallpapers" package versions found in the current Ubuntu stable (13.10 "Saucy Salamander") and development release (14.04 LTS "Trusty Tahr") repositories:
Nobody cares. Enjoy! :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Cool method to test analog & digital (DVB-T) TV receivers?

There seems to be a cool unconventional method to test your analogue (PAL / SECAM) or digital (DVB-T) TV receiver (set-top box, unit, tuner etc.);
all you need is a PC running Linux with X11 and a video card with analog VGA output (preferably not very old one),
just read the following article (by Fabrice Bellard, 2005):
(I've not tested it personally yet, but it looks promising enough).

Monday, November 25, 2013

dd utility: the rescue versions

Apart from the traditional implementations of a Unix dd utility (e. g., one found in the GNU Core Utilities), there are some special versions of it, dedicated for rescuing the data from damaged (badly readable) disks:
  1. GNU ddrescue (by Antonio Diaz Diaz);
    seems to be the best choice from these two ones [1, 2];
    there's a GUI log viewer for it (ddrescueview), and also some other helper utilities (ddrutility);
  2. dd_rescue (by Kurt Garloff);
    there's also a wrapper script for it called dd_rhelp.
The Debian distribution software archives, starting from version 7.0 ("Wheezy"), have only the GNU ddrescue; you can install it the following way:
# apt-get install gddrescue
The convenient way to use this utility is to make an image (a binary dump) of the whole defective disk (FDD, HDD, CD, DVD etc.) with its help, and then apply data recovery / content extraction programs (e. g., TestDisk) directly to the disk image.

Anyway, regular backups & redundant data storage solutions should save you from data recovery problems :-)

  1. Disk drive recovery: ddrescue, dd_rescue, dd_rhelp - System Administration Bits of Knowledge (by John Gilmore)
  2. Damaged Hard Disk - CGSecurity
Last updated: 2013-12-08

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Seagate: download finder

Just in case you're looking for downloads for your Seagate product (i. e., HDD firmware updates, manuals & software), here's a useful link:

Friday, October 4, 2013