“…’cause what you reap is what you sow.”
It turns out that the problem might have been with avestriel’s disk after all.
That seems the obvious conclusion, anyway, given that the thing died an ugly death this morning. I took it offline to check up on a filesystem inconsistency, and was informed that the inconsistency could not be resolved without using --rebuild-tree. “No problem,” thought I. “I’ve done it once before.”
Well, yeah, except that last time I hadn’t been treated to controller-level DMA timeout errors when I was roughly a third of the way through the process. “Ooookay,” I thought, trying not to panic, “maybe it’s the controller. Or the cable. Or the power supply.” Easily tested: yank the drive, plug it into a different machine using a different cable. Hope, hope, hope. Nope. Same result.
The drive is currently sitting atop the case of the second machine, powered off. I’m hoping that being allowed to cool off for a bit will somehow make it happy. (It should give you some idea of just how desperate I am at this point, that I’d be willing to clutch a straw so thin.)
If that fails, I will have to do something I’ve never done before, and solicit the services of a professional data-recovery firm. There’s an assload of mail on that disk that I’d rather not lose. (Recommendations as to reputable firms in this area would be gratefully accepted.)
Once that’s arranged, I will have to hire the services of a different sort of professional firm to kick my own ass to the degree it deserves. I don’t think I’m up to the task myself. I mean, the drive all but sent me an engraved suicide pre-announcement. I have no excuse for not having made backups by now. None. Yet here I am.
Memo to self: the next time smartmontools so much as sneezes, buy a new drive and toss the old one. The headache spared will more than offset the money spent. And start making regular backups, for frigsake. Idiot.