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2022-12-27 📌 Project Zebra: Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc, old bean

Tags 🏷 All 🏷 Linux 🏷 Tech 🏷 Personal

This entry is part of my Project Zebra series covering migration to Linux for personal computing use.

Title reference: cod Latin from the Addams Family (film version). I've recently discovered the Harveste Addams fanfic series.

Time to clear some stuff out of drafts. This time, Crossover, an Xfce 4.18 coda and replacing external storage.

A while back the versions of CrossOver I bought no longer seemed to work with a current Ubuntu based distro, so I thought I'd look at alternatives to the Windows software I keep around on merit (Image Composite Editor, DVD Shrink, S3 Browser). For panoramas, Hugin is available as an AppImage but like before when I tried I couldn't get quick good results with comic scans… I suspect it's more than capable, just not designed for this sort of thing, whereas with ICE you literally add the overlapping images you have and it usually produces perfect stitching first time. With DVD Shrink I've not come across as simple a DVD to DVD-R application, and with S3 Browser I'm surprised there aren't more obvious Linux options out there that can handle ACL settings… I haven't looked into s3cmd or the S3 web interface, but it shouldn't be an unusual basic requirement surely? CrossFTP didn't seem to handle the ACL part.

So, Wine it is. And therefore Office 2007, Lego Digital Designer and VirtualA5000 have returned as well despite little or no usage, although I didn't bother with foobar2000 this time. I opted to create and manage a prefix with Q4Wine rather than the more hand-holding but separate drive oriented PlayOnLinux, specifying the current version of Wine that shipped with Ubuntu 22.04 – Q4Wine also makes it easy to use Winetricks to install necessary versions of .Net, fonts, font smoothing settings etc.

I think I already mentioned some devs have stepped in to undo sweeping changes to Xfce and make CSD optional from 4.18 but this comment hopefully provides sufficient postmortem analysis; "It is difficult not to form the view that the initial decision to go CSD has been a significant waste of time and energy for such a small project. There has been user and developer angst, significant work is now being done to unravel it somewhat, and there were very debatable benefits in the first place. I suspect there is a lesson in all of this."

The first partition on the WD MyBook Duo I'd got had started giving I/O errors, which was verified with "sudo badblocks -v /dev/sd[letter+number]". Amazon tells me the device was a WDBLWE0080JCH-EESN ordered on 22 Apr 2017 which isn't great innings, even for something that's probably been running constantly for a significant part of that time. Unfortunately the Duo shipped as RAID 0, requiring a Windows-only proprietary tool to switch it into JBOD (just a bunch of disks) mode, whereupon both drives rather than just one were found to have physical faults. As is not unusual with the tech designed to warn about failing drives, SMART considered them fine, and helpfully they'd read okay fully whilst rebuilding some other backups recently. The enclosure itself still seemed to work, but getting replacement proprietary drives (you can't drop in others) would have been significantly less cost-effective than a new unit with larger capacity.

The new one's a single drive in a case that feels noticeably cheaper than its predecessor and the reads/writes are quiet but it vibrates loudly if set down on an MDF desk. Sticking stuff underneath it makes a huge difference: I went for an aluminium plate to ensure heat transfer then a couple of rectangles of rubber mouse mat under the plate then a couple of sheets of packing material, but despite all that it's still identifiable in the hum and movement of other devices. I'm not sure if it's the single drive enclosure, the individual drive capacity being three times each of the previous pair, a difference in tech (even though they're produced with WD Red drives they may be SMR rather than CMR) or what, but this isn't something you'd want on a desk surface next to a quiet PC without damping layers. It's directional sound, most noticeable when you're at the height of the drive and perpendicular to the side. I'm wondering if it could go under the desk with a longer USB cable. Amazon reviews are mixed with most not commenting on volume or vibration, which suggests some big differences in user tolerance and/or manufacturing tolerances.

Other things to note are that the drives are apparently hardware encrypted so if the enclosure itself fails you'd need another to transplant into (I probably shouldn't have binned the Duo, not that it would necessarily have taken a single drive of this capacity anyway), people report the new Duo enclosures as overheating, and WD pre-emptive wear leveling technology apparently adds to the resting noise with audible head movements.

You can control the drive parameters such as spin down time, which as suggested by this post you'll need sdparm for rather than hdparm. If you install and run "sudo hdparm -I /dev/sdb" you'll see it doesn't support "hdparm -M" but sdparm works;

sudo sdparm -l --get SCT /dev/sdb
/dev/sdb: WD My Book 25ED 1031
SCT 18000 [cha: y, def:18000, sav:18000] Standby_z condition timer (100 ms)

sudo sdparm -l --get STANDBY /dev/sdb
/dev/sdb: WD My Book 25ED 1031
STANDBY 1 [cha: y, def: 1, sav: 1] Standby_z timer enable

i.e. By default it's set to spin down after 30 minutes of inactivity, which is a long time if you haven't yet padded things sufficiently that the vibrations aren't bothering you. Per this post you can change the spindown time or you can manually tell the drive to sleep with "sudo sdparm --readonly --command=stop /dev/sdb".

Incidentally, doing a bit of research setting a shorter spindown time of say 5 minutes shouldn't inconvenience the average user: "WD rates their Red drives for 600,000 spin up/down cycles on the spec sheet, which over even a 10 year lifespan would be up to 164 cycles per day."

A new drive with new partitions means being confronted with deceptive hard drive manufacturer advertising. A 2TB drive = 2,000,365,289,472 raw kb (or 2,000,362,930,176 formatted as ext4) equaling 1,953,481,728 kib or 1,907,697 gib. Formatting as ext4 will reserve 5% of space for the root user, which you'll want tune2fs to free up on archive drives, and if you've encrypted them with Veracrypt "sudo tune2fs -m 0 /dev/mapper/veracryptX" is the magic invocation.

You'll need to give your user access to the formatted mounted partitions with "chown -R <user> /mnt/point" and if you're using Gparted along the way don't forget the difference between "cleared" (clears existing file systems) and "unformatted" (which will leave the drive reporting as the file system it came as, which can be confusing if you've shrunk the first partition to create additional others).

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