If you run 'smartctl -V' you'll notice that that as with open-source
software which is licensed with GPL2, smartmontools comes with ABSOLUTELY
NO WARRANTY. And we mean it. You, as a user, can get open-source software
like Fedora for free. But the flip side of this equation is that you, as a
user, also have more responsibility: you have to read the documentation,
to understand what the software does, and ultimately to contribute
something back to the open-source community.
Having said this, a few comments are in order:
(1) If you read the smartmontools web page FAQ, you'll notice that it
states very clearly that not having a drive in the database is NOT an
issue. [Though, as an open source user, it would sure be nice if you spent
a few minutes (as described) to help us add it in to the database.]
(2) In fact another user has already done this for "your" drive. Fedora
is distributed with version 5.21 of smartmontools. If you upgrade to the
current stable release (smartmontools 5.30) you'll find that your drive IS
in the database.
(3) A few minutes of research with Google (or browsing the
smartmontools-support mailing list archive) will show that thousands of
people have used these tools without problems. In fact since they are
distributed with virtually every major Linux distribution, I expect that
the number of users is several orders of magnitude larger.
(4) You wrote: "Since I never had a problem with disks, I am going to just
take my chances." Without intending any lack of respect (I am sure that
you are an intelligent and thoughtful person) this is foolhardy. If you
store any data that you can't replace, you MUST back it up. Just "taking
your chances" means that you will, eventually, lose some or all of it.
(5) Can smartctl provoke problems? As I said in my reply to Lake, the
answer is 'yes', IF a disk is already failing. An extended self test
(smartctl -t long) will read-scan the entire disk surface. If a disk
already has problems, such a scan will probably reveal them. For a very
marginal disk, it could be the "straw that breaks the camel's back" and
provoke catastrophic disk failure. Note that this also applies to backups:
the very act of backing up a disk (and thus reading all the files on it)
can also cause a marginal disk to fail. Does this mean that you shouldn't
backup? No! It means that you should keep multiple backups, and backup
frequently, so that if a disk fails during a backup, not everything is
(6) Please keep in mind that 'smartctl -t long' is simply sending a SMART
command to the disk. The effects of that command depend upon the disk
firmware, written by the engineers who designed the disk, not on
smartmontools. I am aware of at least one disk family (an old IBM
deskstar series) where some SMART commands did provoke such problems.
Smartmontools will recognize such disks (from the database) and issue a
warning and a pointer to a site where you can get upgraded firmware from
IBM. I am not aware of any such issues with Maxtor disks.
I advise you to re-think what you have said. Burying your head in the sand
and 'taking your chances' is not an intelligent and responsible approach.
On Thu, 18 Mar 2004, Henry Hertz Hobbit wrote:
> Editors & SMART developers:
> I didn't see the January article, but after reading
> Marshall Lake's comments on SMART I checked
> it out (no download necessary with Fedora). I first
> looked at the man page for smartctl. Since there
> was an information option I used it first. If that
> worked I would have dropped my run level from 5
> to 1 to do the test. Here are the results:
> [root@... tmp]# smartctl -i /dev/hdb
> smartctl version 5.21 Copyright (C) 2002-3 Bruce Allen
> Home page is http://smartmontools.sourceforge.net/
> === START OF INFORMATION SECTION ===
> Device Model: Maxtor 54610H6
> Serial Number: F6030KNC
> Firmware Version: JAC61HU0
> Device is: Not in smartctl database [for details use: -P showall]
> ATA Version is: 6
> ATA Standard is: ATA/ATAPI-6 T13 1410D revision 0
> Local Time is: Thu Mar 18 11:59:57 2004 MST
> SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability.
> SMART support is: Enabled
> I don't like that "Not in smartctl database" portion. If
> Marshall has a disk that is the same as mine, It MAY
> explain what his problems are. I am NOT going to run
> the smartctl command with the -t option given that
> kind of information. Even if my disk was in its database,
> I would advise dropping to run level 1 (Fedora, etc.)
> or single user level on Debian before I ran it with the
> test option - ditto for the file system check.
> Since I never had a problem with disks, I am going to
> just take my chances. I think a survey of other Linux
> users experiences running smartctl is in order here.