By all means, Paul, fuck with the hard drives…

I have two Tivos, the one in the family room with one 80Gb drive (it used to have an 80 plus a 30, but the 30 died), and the one in the bedroom with two 30s. I decided it was time to upgrade the one in the bedroom.

The first thing I did was buy a CacheCard – this card gives me a 512Mb database cache which is supposed to speed up database operations like season pass stuff, and ethernet access. I haven’t got the ethernet cable working in the bedroom right now, but once I do I’m looking forward to being able to slurp TV shows off the TiVo to my other computers to burn them to DVD etc, and being able to access the TiVo schedule through a web browers.

Installing the CacheCard was a bit of an adventure of its own, since you had to put the TiVo drives into a Wintel PC to install the drivers. I have a PC that I’ve NEVER managed to get Windows running reliably on it, even after replacing the hard drives and the power supply – the main problem is that sometimes it won’t recognize drives on the primary IDE controller. I recently bought a new Windows PC because there are times when I just need to do Windows stuff. Anyway, I was using the old machine for this, and it was cooperating, strangely enough. The other part of the adventure is that the CacheCard is a very tight fit on the edge connector on the TiVo motherboard. It took me a couple of tries to get it right. But eventually I got to see the CacheCard software on the boot screen. Although, I must confess I don’t see any improvement in things like rearranging the Season Passes, which is what it was supposed to help.

A few days ago I got stage 2, an 80Gb drive. The drive is extremely quiet – it’s wrapped in a rubber sleeve of some sort. I suppose a more normal person would think of it as a sleeve or sock – I ended up thinking of it as a rubber fetish mask for some strange reason.

Anyway, I wanted to put the 80Gb drive as the “A” drive, and leave the existing 30Gb as the “B” drive. And ideally I wanted to not lose any programs on the TiVo. Not a problem, I thought. The CacheCard came with a Linux boot CD that was supposed to have the utilities required. According to the Hinsdale Howto, all I had to do was put the old drives and the new one in a WinTel box, boot with the CD, and ‘dd’ from the old “A” to the new one, and then use “mfsadd” to expand the new one and “marry” it to the old “B” drive. Well, dd-ing took a good 4 hours, and the mfsadd didn’t take long. But by that time it was well past midnight, so I couldn’t test it in the TiVo since Vicki was asleep.

This morning, I tried it, and the damn thing wouldn’t work. Ok, time to try again. I tried a few other options (and each time took 3-4 hours to do the dd command), and nothing seemed to work. So I tried Plan B – using mfsbackup and mfsrestore, which would preserve season passes and other setup, but lose the stored programs. But somewhere along the way I seem to have wrecked the existing TiVo image – every time I tried to do anything, like look at them with mfsinfo, I got tons of errors.

Ok, I’m screwed. Time for Plan C – I did an mfsbackup of the drive from the downstairs TiVo, and attempted to restore it to the drives I wanted for the upstairs TiVo. Around about this time, the old WinTel machine started doing its old trick of not recognizing anything on the primary IDE controller, so I had to switch to the new WinTel machine. The only problem with that is that the Windows drive on this machine was formatted at NTFS, and the Linux boot CD doesn’t handle NTFS. So I had to grab one of the many drives I have kicking around the house – this one was a 20Gb drive I pulled out of the G4 machine yesterday when I upgraded it to 80Gb. I initially made it a master on the second IDE controller, but I could not for the life of me figure out how to make Windows XP recognize it and format it. So I grabbed a boot disk from and made a boot floppy for DOS 6, booted and fdisked it. THEN XP could see it and format it as a FAT drive. I then had a disk for the backup.

So now I put the backup FAT drive as the primary master, the drive from the downstairs TiVo as the secondary master, and the CD drive as the secondary slave. Booted with the Linux CD, mounted the FAT drive, and used mfsbackup to backup the Tivo drive to it. Did a shutdown and put the Tivo drive back in the TiVo. And it worked! So far so good. Now it was time to make the upstairs machine a clone of the downstairs one. Leaving the FAT drive as the primary master, and the CD as the secondary slave, I made the new 80Gb drive the secondary master and one of the old ones a primary slave. I did an mfsrestore and mfsadd to make this a proper pair of drives. I put it in the upstairs TiVo and it booted fine. So I told the TiVo to wipe all the settings (because I didn’t want it to be a clone of the downstairs one), and it said it would take a couple of hours. I came back a few hours later, and it was in a constant rebooting cycle. I took the drives downstairs and I couldn’t get the WinTel machine to see the “B” drive. Ok, that’s par for the course for my luck with hard drives. I happened to have another 30Gb drive that came back from a warranty repair, so I slapped that in.

And God Damn It! The WinTel machine couldn’t recognize that one either. So to try and salvage the whole freaking weekend, I decided to cut my losses, and so I did the mfsrestore to the 80Gb drive only. I put the drive in the upstairs TiVo, and something actually worked right – it booted. Now I didn’t want to redo the “Clear all setup” disaster of many, many hours ago, so I tried to just redo the guided setup. I went through that, but now it tells me that it needs 4-8 hours to rejigger the guide data before I can start clearing out the old season passes and putting in the correct ones.

Ok, now all I need to do is fix the season passes, install the CacheCard software again, get the network cable up to the bedroom working again, and then figured out how to add one of the 30Gb drives to the upstairs TiVo. Frankly, I had a shorter to-do list before I started fucking with it.

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