Fixing RCA Lyra’s “File System Corrupted” error

So I wanted to get a little more storage space on an MP3 player, and comes along and sends me a deal on a 4Gb RCA Lyra RD2762. I pick one up, get it Friday, load it up with 1.7Gb or so of MP3 files, and played a few tunes on it. My main system at home runs Gentoo Linux, and it was trivial to plug it into the USB port and mount /dev/hda for copying the files. I was fairly happy with my purchase at this point.

On Monday, I took it into work with me, tried to copy off some of the files onto another thumb drive I have there, and ended up with a “File System Corrupted” error.

That was it, the thing was dead in the water, you turn it on, it clicked and whirred for a while, displayed the “RCA” logo, and then the “File System Corrupted!” error :( . I figure maybe I can just reset the thing and it would reformat itself, the back says hold the power button off for 10 seconds to perform a reset. No dice. I Googled for some results, and get a bunch of tales of woe about sending the thing back to the manufacture for more than I paid for it in the first place. I was starting to think I should have been Googling this model before I bought it instead of now.

As a determined geek, I figured I could fix this thing by myself. I downloaded the manual, and found an interesting fact. If you hold down the Joystick control button while you plug in the USB cable, it automatically shifts to mass storage class (MSC) mode. Now I don’t actually have a clue what this means, but I suspected that was the mode which allowed me to format the drive. I did this, did an fdisk and set a single partition to type b (Win95 FAT32) (not sure if this step was actually required). I had to emerge dosfstools to get mkfs.vfat, then I did mkfs -t vfat -I /dev/sda, which formatted the drive. After this it fired back up as a blank drive, and I copied my 1.7Gb of MP3 files right back on to it. :)

Probably not a good solution for people not running Linux to begin with, but I would guess any self respecting distribution Live trial CD would probably have USB enabled and mkfs.vfat required to fix things up.

UPDATE 2007-12-04

I was out jogging when the screen on my Lyra froze. I was unable to recover it with any combination of efforts, and finally decided just to buy a replacement. I decided to switch to a flash based model, and after a bit of research selected the 8Gb Sansa player from Sandisk, which I have been pretty happy with overall. Good luck to everyone who still owns a RCA Lyra.