In all likelihood, your BeOS system will never go down beyond the point of recovery. However, it can happen. If your system is so hosed that you can no longer boot, your only hope is to recover your personal data and do a clean install (which re-initializes the partition). But how do you recover your data if you can’t boot?
The answer is: Be Prepared. BeOS includes a copy of mtools in /bin, so you can copy files to a floppy disk if necessary, even if you can’t access your Windows partition. mtools work just like simple DOS commands, e.g.
mcopy filenames a:
And of course, nothing beats a good backup system. There are a couple of commercial backup solutions availalbe for the BeOS, though you can get a whole lot of mileage out of plain old zip. See Creating system backups with zip for details.
Start by booting your system from the boot floppy and installation CD. It’s important to use the CD so that you’re not just booting from the hard drive via floppy. Hold down the Spacebar as the kernel begins to load and you’ll get the option to Rescan for Bootable Partitions. Select this and let it find your CD-ROM (it may take a couple of tries). Boot from the CD and let it run until it gets to the License Agreement screen. At that point, hold down Ctrl+Alt+Shift+D. This will launch DriveSetup so you can mount your hard drive (assuming it’s mountable at all). Note that the mount point will not be
/boot, as that’s now occupied by the CD.
Close DriveSetup and you’ll be back at the Agreement screen. Hit Ctrl+Alt+Shift+T to launch Terminal and change directories to “/. Get a directory listing and you can see where your hard drive is mounted. At this point, you can copy files to a Windows partition or use mtools to copy important data to floppies. Remember that you’ll lose your attributes if you copy BeOS files to a non-BFS file system, so zip up your files first, if possible!
You have one last shot at resuscitating your installation before reinstalling. Copy
/boot/beos/system/boot/* from the CD to your hard drive and try rebooting normally. If it works, you’re in business. If it doesn’t, at least you have your important files on floppy and can re-install with peace of mind.
If you suspect that your hard drive has corrupt sectors, try using DriveSetup’s Surface Test tool.
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