I’ve been playing around with my old DroboPro and in the process managed to frag the uBoot config rendering the unit basically useless as the vxWorks side didn’t boot the special disk applications required for correction function. Fortunately I have another Drobo, in this case a Drobo FS. I was able to disassemble that (I didn’t even break the waranty void sticker) and gain access to the serial ports on the main board. From there I was able to read the Drobo FS uBoot config and use that to guess what the values needed to be for the DroboPro. After doing this the vxWorks side started working again 🙂
I also figured out what is up with the Drobo dashboard app. It definitely uses the serial number reported by the Drobo to determine the type unit it is talking to. It turns out the device type is the 5th from last digit, so if your serial number is TDBxxx7xxxx you have a Drobo FS for example.
0 = "Drobo"
1 = "Drobo S"
2 = "Drobo 5D"
3 = "Drobo Mini"
4 = "DroboPro"
5 = "B800i"
6 = "DroboElite"
7 = "Drobo FS"
8 = "Drobo 5N"
9 = "B800fs"
A = "DroboPro FS"
B = "B1200i"
So, how do I go about changing the serial number reported by the firmware? After a bit of messing around in the uBoot environment I discovered the
printenv command. This shows all the environment variables. It is then possible to track down the variable containing the serial number and change it to the desired value. Using the
saveenv command is not enough however, it is necessary to call another custom command
updateFlashToken to have the vxWorks side of things take notice of the new value.
The thing I did wrong was try out another of the custom commands
tdsetup. Don’t make the same mistake I made as it will frag all of the custom set up and leave you with a boat anchor. I was just lucky enough to have another one to examine to get the config back 🙂 I think I need to see if I can find a way to reload the firmware again as it appears I may have damaged something else as it is still not showing up quite right in the Drobo dashboard, but at least it is back to running the file server and so on 🙂
After working through it a bit more it appears that the problem is actually in the Drobo Dashboard. For some reason it is refusing to show the “Drobo ProFS”. I loaded up the 1.8.4 version of the Drobo Dashboard and it sees the unit just fine but doesn’t allow much to be configured. Maybe I will need to write my own client to get at all the functionality….
I recently saw a post somewhere that showed the internals of one of the newer high end Drobo machines. It appeared to use the same motherboard as the Drobo Pro I have sitting here on my desk gathering dust so I decided to take another look at what I could do with the thing. I had previously opened the machine up to get around the rebooting problem by disconnecting all the batteries with some success and in the process discovered the on board serial ports. It turns out they have a dual core processor in them running completely different OS code on each. One running Linux and the other running VXWorks. The linux one gives a plain old shell with lots of interesting stuff running on it. The VXWorks one doesn’t give much though. From what I can see the VWWorks side handles the actual disk access, while the Linux side handles the “UI” side of things, such as iSCSI on the Drobo Pro or file sharing on the Drobo Pro FS.
To get to the meat of the matter, I downloaded the firmware for the Drobo Pro FS and tried loading it into the Drobo Pro, which of course it rejected as I was expecting. I then had a look at the firmware files and saw they both had a very similar header. After patching the firmware file with the correct header values (an exercise for the reader to find the correct 12 bytes to alter) I was able to load the Drobo Pro FS firmware successfully into my Drobo Pro.
At first it didn’t seem to boot, but after putting some fresh disks in and rebooting the unit, up it came. 🙂 At the moment the device doesn’t show up in the Drobo Dashboard, but it does present a public share, so it’s not a complete loss. I also took the opportunity while I had a serial cable plugged into the board to enable the telnet and ssh servers to allow me to poke around some more.
It looks like the control software on the unit is expecting there to be two ethernet ports while the physical hardware only has 1. I may need to patch the binary…
I got another email from the awesome tech support guys at Drobo this morning asking about my DroboPro. I told them it had died again and they offered to replace it rather cheaply, they also suggested that both batteries might need to be replaced rather than just the CR2032 coin cell. I removed the main backup battery pack and pressed the power button and the thing booted up. I’m not shutting the thing down again until I’m sure I’ve got ALL of the data this time 😉
I spoke too soon. I rebooted the box to get it to enable iSCSI to allow for a faster transfer and it hasn’t come back to life again 🙁
At least I managed to get the one thing I didn’t have a backup copy of off the unit, so I’m pretty much good to go on my rebuild using a simple beige box.
It is almost 4 years old, so it has served me reasonably well. I have backups of most of the data, but there may be some things I have lost. Ah well. I’ve been wanting to open the thing up and have a look inside for a while now. They are quite nicely built I have to say. It is all back together at the moment, but I’ll probably rip it to bits again and take some pictures.