Whether you're just running your own system and want maximum flexibility and performance, or are responsible for delivering a wide variety of applications and capabilities to multiple users, you need a wide variety of skills to maintain a Linux system. One of the annoyances covered in this chapter can help you speed up your system; others prevent serious headaches down the line when users outgrow the disk space you've assigned them or when you have to upgrade software that contains dependencies on other software. Finally, there are solutions to annoyances included that people will remember and thank you for, as when you recover data they thought they'd lost forever from a failing disk.
In this chapter, I illustrate some of the annoyances related to maintaining a Linux system.
There are a number of reasons why partitions become corrupt. You may have lost power. Minor electrical surges can affect what is written to a drive. As hard drives wear out, bad blocks can corrupt your data.
Yes, hard drive specifications suggest that the mean time between failures is several hundred thousand hours, which corresponds to several decades. But that's just an average, under ideal conditions. If all hard drives were that reliable, RAID would not be quite so popular.
If your hard drive is failing, you may not be able to fix the problem. The best that you can do is minimize the corruption until you can create a backup. We'll show ...