With helpful input from various forms, I think the mystery is solved --
the options used to create ext2 (ext3) file systems have changed,
rendering older tools (Ghost 2003, Partition Magic 8.0) unable to deal
with them. Especially insightful was the following posting at
http://www.unixgroups.com/thread54419.html

=====================================

02-07-2005, 12:47 AM
John Reiser
Guest

Posts: n/a
Default Re: Why is Redhat's EXT3 incompatible with Mandrake?
> Just did a reboot. The problem is with fsck.ext3, it's out of date.

The
> error message is "filesystem has unsupported features, update

fsck.ext3".

$ /sbin/tune2fs -l /dev/... | grep features # Fedora Core 3 root
Filesystem features: has_journal ext_attr resize_inode dir_index
filetype sparse_super large_file

$ /sbin/tune2fs -l /dev/... | grep features # Fedora Core 2 root
Filesystem features: has_journal ext_attr dir_index filetype
sparse_super

e2fsck will complain if it does not recognize _all_ features that are
present.
This prevents old e2fsck from destroying new on-disk layouts.

--

===========================================

See also the Ars Technica thread, Ghosting linux boxen (problems),
especially

> I had a very similar problem -- I had successfully used Ghost 2003
> standalone to back up my laptop onto a USB connected drive -- but

after
> I upgraded to CentOS 4.1, Ghost repeatedly complained "Read Sector
> Failure, result = 1, drive = 0 sectors 1017273104 to 1017233112

...";
> also, there's another clue that something is wrong -- Partition

Magic
> 8.0 sees the partitions are being completely full. Don't (yet) know

what
> changed in the ext3 file format with CentOS 4.1, which is based on

the
> Enterprise Linux 4 sources.
>
> Based on the helpful info in this forum, I used Ghost -ial -nolilo,

max
> compression, and it worked great. But now that I'm doing full sector
> reads, I also went through and zero'ed out all the

unallocated/unused
> space on my partitions (by filling the file systems with big files
> filled with /dev/zero output, syncing, then deleting them), which

helped
> a lot.
>
> The end result -- I have a working backup solution again, and I

think
> it's faster now than it was before.
>
> Note: more information is also available at
> http://www.thisishull.net/archive/in...p/t-56352.html, in

particular
> where is says
>
> On Sat, 13 Nov 2004 14:19:06 -0500, ultrajones wrote:
>
> > I can no longer use Norton Ghost 2003 to back-up my Fedora

partition. It
> > works fine when either FC1 or FC2 are installed on the partition.
> >
> > Does anyone know if Norton Ghost 9.0 works on a FC3 partition?
> >
> > Regards,
> > Ultrajones

>
> There is something funny about the EXT3 partitions that are created

by
> FC3. Mandrake 10.1, which is the same kernel as FC3, can't mount an

EXT3
> partition created by FC3. I don't know what it is that's different

but I
> suspect that Ghost may be having the trouble with the same thing

that
> Mandrake can't handle.



--
Jskud