We have a few X7DBT Supermicro motherboards that is using a Kingston DataTraveler 102 USB Flash Drive as a boot drive. The customer had 10 systems and they say that the site had a power failure. Once the power came back on, the 6 systems did not bootup (i.e hangs at grub stage 1.5, or cannot load fs). Grub 0.97 starts running in all cases. This is a headless system, so they shipped it back to us.
We examined the systems are our lab and found that these USB flash had filesystem corruption. I understand that flash drives like the ones we are using are unreliable, and have this paper summarizes it well.
The above state is a standard case of fs corruption, but the following reasons make this failure strange to me:
The drive has multiple partitions. However, none of this is ever mounted (either read only or read/write). The fs is ext2, and grub reads and a compressed fs into ram and runs from there. So, how the heck does a corruption happen if it is not mounted?
When we plug a couple (did not test all usb drives) into a system with X8DTT motherboard it boots fine. Both motherboards have latest bios and downloaded from Supermicro. We are going through the "prove-you-are-not-an-idiot" stage in getting support from Supermicro.
The 2nd point can be chalked up to some screwy hardware issues (or bios), but the first one is troubling. Since we are not able to recreate the problem, we need to understand this problem a little better..