The question: Using Linux and mdadm, how can I read/copy data as files from disk images made from hard disks used in an Intel Rapid Storage Technology RAID-0 array (formatted as NTFS, Windows 7 installed)?

The problem: One of the drives in the array is going bad, so I'd like to copy as much data as possible before replacing the drive (and thus destroying the array).

I am open to alternative solutions to this question if they solve my problem.

Background

I have a laptop with an Intel Rapid Storage Technology controller (referred to in various contexts as RST, RSTe, or IMSM) that has two (2) hard disks configured in RAID-0 (FakeRAID-0). RAID-0 was not my choice as the laptop was delivered to me in this configuration. One of the disks seems to have accumulated a lot of bad sectors, while the other disk is perfectly healthy. Together, the disks are still healthy enough to boot into the OS (Windows 7 64-bit), but the OS will sometimes hang when accessing damaged disk areas, and it seems like a bad idea to continue trying to use damaged disks. I'd like to copy as much data as possible off of the disks and then replace the damaged drive. Since operating live on the damaged disk is considered bad, I decided to image both disks so I could later mount the images using mdadm or something equivalent. I've spent a lot of time and done a lot of reading, but I still haven't successfully managed to mount the disk images as a (Fake)RAID-0 array. I'll try to recall the steps I performed here. Grab some snacks and a beverage, because this is lengthy.

First, I got a USB external drive to run Ubuntu 15.10 64-bit off of a partition. Using a LiveCD or small USB thumb drive was easier to boot, but slower than an external (and a LiveCD isn't a persistent install). I installed ddrescue and used it to produce an image of each hard disk. There were no notable issues with creating the images.

Once I got the images, I installed mdadm using apt. However, this installed an older version of mdadm from 2013. The changelogs for more recent versions indicated better support for IMSM, so I compiled and installed mdadm 3.4 using this guide, including upgrading to a kernel at or above 4.4.2. The only notable issue here was that some tests did not succeed, but the guide seemed to indicate that that was acceptable.

After that, I read in a few places that I would need to use loopback devices to be able to use the images. I mounted the disk images as /dev/loop0 and /dev/loop1 with no issue.

Here is some relevant info at this point of the process...

mdadm --detail-platform:

$ sudo mdadm --detail-platform
       Platform : Intel(R) Rapid Storage Technology
        Version : 10.1.0.1008
    RAID Levels : raid0 raid1 raid5
    Chunk Sizes : 4k 8k 16k 32k 64k 128k
    2TB volumes : supported
      2TB disks : not supported
      Max Disks : 7
    Max Volumes : 2 per array, 4 per controller
 I/O Controller : /sys/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1f.2 (SATA)
          Port0 : /dev/sda (W0Q6DV7Z)
          Port3 : - non-disk device (HL-DT-ST DVD+-RW GS30N) -
          Port1 : /dev/sdb (W0Q6CJM1)
          Port2 : - no device attached -
          Port4 : - no device attached -
          Port5 : - no device attached -

fdisk -l:

$ sudo fdisk -l
Disk /dev/loop0: 298.1 GiB, 320072933376 bytes, 625142448 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x2bd2c32a

Device       Boot   Start        End    Sectors   Size Id Type
/dev/loop0p1 *       2048    4196351    4194304     2G  7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/loop0p2      4196352 1250273279 1246076928 594.2G  7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT


Disk /dev/loop1: 298.1 GiB, 320072933376 bytes, 625142448 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes


Disk /dev/sda: 298.1 GiB, 320072933376 bytes, 625142448 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 4096 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 4096 bytes / 4096 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x2bd2c32a

Device     Boot   Start        End    Sectors   Size Id Type
/dev/sda1  *       2048    4196351    4194304     2G  7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sda2       4196352 1250273279 1246076928 594.2G  7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT


Disk /dev/sdb: 298.1 GiB, 320072933376 bytes, 625142448 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 4096 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 4096 bytes / 4096 bytes

mdadm --examine --verbose /dev/sda:

$ sudo mdadm --examine --verbose /dev/sda
/dev/sda:
          Magic : Intel Raid ISM Cfg Sig.
        Version : 1.0.00
    Orig Family : 81bdf089
         Family : 81bdf089
     Generation : 00001796
     Attributes : All supported
           UUID : acf55f6b:49f936c5:787fa66e:620d7df0
       Checksum : 6cf37d06 correct
    MPB Sectors : 1
          Disks : 2
   RAID Devices : 1

[ARRAY]:
           UUID : e4d3f954:2f449bfd:43495615:e040960c
     RAID Level : 0
        Members : 2
          Slots : [_U]
    Failed disk : 0
      This Slot : ?
     Array Size : 1250275328 (596.18 GiB 640.14 GB)
   Per Dev Size : 625137928 (298.09 GiB 320.07 GB)
  Sector Offset : 0
    Num Stripes : 2441944
     Chunk Size : 128 KiB
       Reserved : 0
  Migrate State : idle
      Map State : normal
    Dirty State : clean

  Disk00 Serial : W0Q6DV7Z
          State : active failed
             Id : 00000000
    Usable Size : 625136142 (298.09 GiB 320.07 GB)

  Disk01 Serial : W0Q6CJM1
          State : active
             Id : 00010000
    Usable Size : 625136142 (298.09 GiB 320.07 GB)

mdadm --examine --verbose /dev/sdb:

$ sudo mdadm --examine --verbose /dev/sdb
/dev/sdb:
          Magic : Intel Raid ISM Cfg Sig.
        Version : 1.0.00
    Orig Family : 81bdf089
         Family : 81bdf089
     Generation : 00001796
     Attributes : All supported
           UUID : acf55f6b:49f936c5:787fa66e:620d7df0
       Checksum : 6cf37d06 correct
    MPB Sectors : 1
          Disks : 2
   RAID Devices : 1

  Disk01 Serial : W0Q6CJM1
          State : active
             Id : 00010000
    Usable Size : 625137928 (298.09 GiB 320.07 GB)

[ARRAY]:
           UUID : e4d3f954:2f449bfd:43495615:e040960c
     RAID Level : 0
        Members : 2
          Slots : [_U]
    Failed disk : 0
      This Slot : 1
     Array Size : 1250275328 (596.18 GiB 640.14 GB)
   Per Dev Size : 625137928 (298.09 GiB 320.07 GB)
  Sector Offset : 0
    Num Stripes : 2441944
     Chunk Size : 128 KiB
       Reserved : 0
  Migrate State : idle
      Map State : normal
    Dirty State : clean

  Disk00 Serial : W0Q6DV7Z
          State : active failed
             Id : 00000000
    Usable Size : 625137928 (298.09 GiB 320.07 GB)

Here is where I ran into difficulty. I tried to assemble the array.

$ sudo mdadm --assemble --verbose /dev/md0 /dev/loop0 /dev/loop1
mdadm: looking for devices for /dev/md0
mdadm: Cannot assemble mbr metadata on /dev/loop0
mdadm: /dev/loop0 has no superblock - assembly aborted

I get the same result by using --force or by swapping /dev/loop0 and /dev/loop1.

Since IMSM is a CONTAINER type FakeRAID, I'd seen some indications that you have to create the container instead of assembling it. I tried...

$ sudo mdadm -CR /dev/md/imsm -e imsm -n 2 /dev/loop[01]
mdadm: /dev/loop0 is not attached to Intel(R) RAID controller.
mdadm: /dev/loop0 is not suitable for this array.
mdadm: /dev/loop1 is not attached to Intel(R) RAID controller.
mdadm: /dev/loop1 is not suitable for this array.
mdadm: create aborted

After reading a few more things, it seemed that the culprit here were IMSM_NO_PLATFORM and IMSM_DEVNAME_AS_SERIAL. After futzing around with trying to get environment variables to persist with sudo, I tried...

$ sudo IMSM_NO_PLATFORM=1 IMSM_DEVNAME_AS_SERIAL=1 mdadm -CR /dev/md/imsm -e imsm -n 2 /dev/loop[01]
mdadm: /dev/loop0 appears to be part of a raid array:
       level=container devices=0 ctime=Wed Dec 31 19:00:00 1969
mdadm: metadata will over-write last partition on /dev/loop0.
mdadm: /dev/loop1 appears to be part of a raid array:
       level=container devices=0 ctime=Wed Dec 31 19:00:00 1969
mdadm: container /dev/md/imsm prepared.

That's something. Taking a closer look...

$ ls -l /dev/md
total 0
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 8 Apr  2 05:32 imsm -> ../md126
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 8 Apr  2 05:20 imsm0 -> ../md127

/dev/md/imsm0 and /dev/md127 are associated with the physical disk drives (/dev/sda and /dev/sdb). /dev/md/imsm (pointing to /dev/md126) is the newly created container based on the loopback devices. Taking a closer look at that...

$ sudo IMSM_NO_PLATFORM=1 IMSM_DEVNAME_AS_SERIAL=1 mdadm -Ev /dev/md/imsm
/dev/md/imsm:
          Magic : Intel Raid ISM Cfg Sig.
        Version : 1.0.00
    Orig Family : 00000000
         Family : ff3cb556
     Generation : 00000001
     Attributes : All supported
           UUID : 00000000:00000000:00000000:00000000
       Checksum : 7edb0f81 correct
    MPB Sectors : 1
          Disks : 1
   RAID Devices : 0

  Disk00 Serial : /dev/loop0
          State : spare
             Id : 00000000
    Usable Size : 625140238 (298.09 GiB 320.07 GB)

    Disk Serial : /dev/loop1
          State : spare
             Id : 00000000
    Usable Size : 625140238 (298.09 GiB 320.07 GB)

    Disk Serial : /dev/loop0
          State : spare
             Id : 00000000
    Usable Size : 625140238 (298.09 GiB 320.07 GB)

That looks okay. Let's try to start the array. I found information (here and here) that said to use Incremental Assembly mode to start a container.

$ sudo IMSM_NO_PLATFORM=1 IMSM_DEVNAME_AS_SERIAL=1 mdadm -I /dev/md/imsm

That gave me nothing. Let's use the verbose flag.

$ sudo IMSM_NO_PLATFORM=1 IMSM_DEVNAME_AS_SERIAL=1 mdadm -Iv /dev/md/imsm
mdadm: not enough devices to start the container

Oh, bother. Let's check /proc/mdstat.

$ sudo cat /proc/mdstat 
Personalities : [linear] [multipath] [raid0] [raid1] [raid6] [raid5] [raid4] [raid10] 
md126 : inactive loop1[1](S) loop0[0](S)
      2210 blocks super external:imsm

md127 : inactive sdb[1](S) sda[0](S)
      5413 blocks super external:imsm

unused devices: <none>

Well, that doesn't look right - the number of blocks don't match. Looking closely at the messages from when I tried to assemble, it seems mdadm said "metadata will over-write last partition on /dev/loop0", so I'm guessing that the image file associated with /dev/loop0 is hosed. Thankfully, I have backup copies of these images, so I can grab those and start over, but it takes a while to re-copy 300-600GB even over USB3.

Anyway, at this point, I'm stumped. I hope someone out there has an idea, because at this point I've got no clue what to try next.

Is this the right path for addressing this problem, and I just need to get some settings right? Or is the above approach completely wrong for mounting IMSM RAID-0 disk images?

  • Hey, did you manage to find some sort of solution to this? I'm having almost exactly the same symptoms as you. I bought an MSI Stealth Pro with two 256GB ssds in RAID-0, dual booted Ubuntu 14.04 and Windows 10 on it for nearly a year now, and yesterday Ubuntu just refused to boot, warning that the array could not be assembled. – Matej Jun 14 '16 at 19:57
  • I did not. I ended up just booting from a Windows Recovery Disc so I could access the array and used robocopy to copy all files that I could access. I could not continue to justify not having a working computer for the sake of my curiosity. I do still have the disk images though to test possible future solutions. I'll gladly drop another bounty on here to see if I can attract some attention. – Ryan Jun 14 '16 at 20:03
  • @Matej Check roaima's answer below. That solved my problem. Hopefully it helps you out! – Ryan Jun 23 '16 at 1:47
  • Thanks a lot for letting me know, looks promising! I'll try it out as soon as I can and report back here. – Matej Jun 23 '16 at 1:52
  • 1
    Standard cautionary disclaimer: Keep in mind that I operated on disk images created by ddrescue and not on the physical disks themselves. Working directly with live physical disks may make things worse if you do something wrong. Good luck! – Ryan Jun 23 '16 at 2:02
up vote 2 down vote accepted
+100

Looking at the partition table for /dev/loop0 and the disk image sizes reported for /dev/loop0 and /dev/loop1, I'm inclined to suggest that the two disks were simply bolted together and then the partition table was built for the resulting virtual disk:

Disk /dev/loop0: 298.1 GiB, 320072933376 bytes, 625142448 sectors

Device       Boot   Start        End    Sectors   Size Id Type
/dev/loop0p1 *       2048    4196351    4194304     2G  7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/loop0p2      4196352 1250273279 1246076928 594.2G  7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT

and

Disk /dev/loop1: 298.1 GiB, 320072933376 bytes, 625142448 sectors

If we take the two disks at 298.1 GiB and 298.1 GiB we get 596.2 GiB total. If we then take the sizes of the two partitions 2G + 594.2G we also get 596.2 GiB. (This assumes the "G" indicates GiB.)

You have already warned that you cannot get mdadm to recognise the superblock information, so purely on the basis of the disk partition labels I would attempt to build the array like this:

mdadm --build /dev/md0 --raid-devices=2 --level=0 --chunk=128 /dev/loop0 /dev/loop1
cat /proc/mdstat

I have a chunk size of 128KiB to match the chunk size described by the metadata still present on the disks.

If that works you can then proceed to access the partition in the resulting RAID0.

ld=$(losetup --show --find --offset=$((4196352*512)) /dev/md0)
echo loop device is $ld
mkdir -p /mnt/dsk
mount -t ntfs -o ro $ld /mnt/dsk

We already have a couple of loop devices in use, so I've avoided assuming the name of the next free loop device and instead asked the losetup command to tell me the one it's used; this is put into $ld. The offset of 4196532 sectors (each of 512 bytes) corresponds to the offset into the image of the second partition. We could equally have omitted the offset from the losetup command and added it to the mount options.

  • "I'm inclined to suggest that the two disks were simply bolted together and then the partition table was built for the resulting virtual disk" That is my guess as well, I just couldn't figure out how to make mdadm recognize the configuration. I'll try to get a chance this week to try out your suggestion here. – Ryan Jun 15 '16 at 22:59
  • @Ryan I've taken the approach that "if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then we can assume it is a duck". Far simpler than all this IMSM stuff but quite possibly entirely wrong, too. Either way, good luck with the result. – roaima Jun 15 '16 at 23:01
  • 1
    @Ryan fill in the ... to match your filesystem type – roaima Jun 21 '16 at 22:53
  • 1
    @Ryan somehow I missed the chunk size. Yes, use --chunk=128 for the 128KiB chunk size. Answer also updated, thank you – roaima Jun 21 '16 at 23:02
  • 1
    That did the trick! After running into a few minor errors (had to get the chunk size right, had to create /mnt/dsk first, had to specify -t ntfs with mount command), I successfully mounted the disk image and opened it and there are all of my old files, seemingly intact. Thank you so much @roaima ! – Ryan Jun 22 '16 at 0:09

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