HowTo: Setup Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN) to automatically erase storage devices via PXE boot

Tutorials
Darik's Boot and Nuke (abbreviated as DBAN) is a popular tool used by many organisations and individuals to securely erase hard-drives prior to disposal, or perhaps just to fix Windows problems ;) . It typically comprises a small 15MB ISO image that you can burn to CD or make a bootable USB stick from so you can boot up a PC on it and set about erasing all detected storage devices. When you're doing a lot of machines, however, booting a CD is tedious, especially when you accidentally scratch the disc and need to burn a new one. Using a USB stick and either misplacing it, or forgetting to remove it before erasing starts means you lose the content of the boot stick too. Wouldn't it be nice to be able…
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HowTo: Resize an LVM partition on a GPT drive after expanding the underlying array

Tutorials
Scenario: You have an Ubuntu Linux server. The storage system is a large RAID array, partitioned as a GPT disk and it has two partitions on it - a small boot partition and the second partition is setup for use with LVM with one or more Logical Volumes in it. You're starting to run out of space and intend to expand the system by adding one or more disks to the array. Once you've done this, you will obviously need to extend the partition to use the new space, but GPT is a slightly different kettle of fish to regular partitioning, and being a server you don't have a GUI to use traditional tools. So how do you do this? (more…)
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HowTo: Create a Diskless workstation that boots from PXE using Ubuntu

Tutorials
Diskless booting is where a PC starts up purely from a network connection. It does not have a physical hard-drive in it to start from in the traditional manner. Why would you want to do this? Well, say for example you have a MythTV Frontend PC. For the most part, most Frontends are dedicated PC's connected to a TV or projector that are not used for any other purpose, so technically there is really no need to have a hard-drive inside one as nothing new will ever be stored (all the media is streamed from the Backend server). There's also the added bonus of less noise by not having a hard-drive installed. Another good example of using a Diskless boot environment is for performing offline virus scans of Windows based…
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HowTo: Monitor the progress of dd.

Tutorials
The dd command is a tool used to pipe data in from a source to a destination. It has a multitude of uses ranging from creating large dummy files of a specific size to duplicating hard-drives sector by sector to another disk or to a backup file. It's also useful for fixing problems with hard-drives that Windows refuses to deal with. But we're not looking at the virtues of dd here. We're looking at its annoyances and dd has one particularly glaring annoyance - a lack of display of progress. You could tell dd to start imaging your multi-terabyte hard-drive and not have any indication of how far it has gone - you just have to wait until it finishes. The dd command only outputs some information right at the…
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Mini-Review: Generic hot-swap eSATA Docking Bay with Ubuntu

Review
I regularly deal with external hard-drives, be it for data backup or if I'm rescuing a client's hard-drive from uncertain death. Since the idea of opening my PC on a regular basis to connect a drive is a bit of a turn off, I used to use an external USB drive enclosure. This works fine, but it's a bit slow (well, at least until USB 3.0 makes its debut). The eSATA standard allows you to connect external drives at full SATA speed, but it's not cost-effective to buy an enclosure for every external drive you have. Enter the Docking Bay. This is a simple weighed base that allows you to connect a hard-drive in a similar way to how you used to plug in game cartridges into a classic game…
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HowTo: Reclaim reserved disk space on non-system drives taken by the Ext3 filesystem.

Tutorials
I made a rather alarming discovery today, quite by accident. Like most people, I use an external hard-drive to backup data to, or to shift things around if I'm low on space on my PC's internal drive. Well, today that external drive reported that it was full. Damn. So I fire up Ubuntu's Disk Usage Analyser, aka Boabab, to find out what's consuming the most space. I use a 1TB external drive and it's formatted total is about 916GB, which is about right, however Boabab reported that the total consumption of data on the drive only added up to about 860GB - wtf? Even Nautilus's Volume Properties window was reporting that the drive still had 50GB-odd free, so why is the system telling me it's full? I use Ext3 on…
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Mini-Review: The Fujitsu Dynadisq III 320GB USB Portable External HDD

Review
Actually, I tell a lie - the full title for this product is the "Dynadisq III High Speed USB 2.0 Portable Storage & Backup Solution for Fujitsu 2.5" SATA Disk Drives" (say that in one breath 5 times)! Title aside, this is one of yet another series of pre-packaged drive & enclosure solutions being bandied about the market today. These solutions are gaining interest with a lot of consumers because they generally manage to undercut the combined cost of buying the same hard-drive and enclosure separately, so much in fact that many users who only need the drive, buy the solution package, rip out the drive and discard the case because in some cases (pun not intended), it can be cheaper this way. Cost aside, what if you simply need…
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