Hard Drive not recognized by BIOS - How??

Posted on 1999-01-24
Last Modified: 2013-12-15
I have a Maxtor 7 gig hard drive that is partitioned using Maxtors proprietary MaxBlast Software.  It is made into three partitions.  I would like to install Linux on the third partition which I can format to either FAT or FAT32.  I have downloaded all of the Red Hat 5.2 linux install files (300+ mg) and I have created boot disks.  The boot disks wil not recognize the hard drive and allow me to do any reformatting.  Does anyone have any suggestions here. I am running windows 98 on the first partition and have a lot of data on the second.  There is nothing on the third partition and it can be deleted.  I cannot lose any of this data...
Question by:sleepnir
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LVL 51

Expert Comment

ID: 1632229
>The boot disks wil not recognize the hard drive and allow me to do any reformatting
Will it not recognize you disk at all? or just some partitions?

Keep in mind that most linux distributions cannot be booted from partitions which are not within the first 1023 blocks.

Expert Comment

ID: 1632230
You have to use linux fdisk to delete partition 3
then recreate it as a linux ext2 partition part of it
and some of it as linux swap
say 128MB swap rest for ext2,
But if the disk is not found you are in trouble.
Then you format the disk it is part of the installation.

Author Comment

ID: 1632231
The problem is that my boot disks aren't recognizing the hard drive because my systems bios requires that I use software ont eh disk to get the system to recognize the correct size of the disk.
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Expert Comment

ID: 1632232
What kind of bios are you using, are you accessing the disk in
LBA or LARGE mode
LVL 51

Expert Comment

ID: 1632233
AFAIK, if you have some kind of partition driver from the disk vendor (as you decribed) you must boot linux via DOS. Or you must install lilo on the MBR before booting from disk (but see my 1'st comment !! ).
LVL 51

Expert Comment

ID: 1632234
.. forgot to say that you must set the drive parameters in BIOS by hand (USER mode), the required values are written on the disk label, usually.
LVL 51

Expert Comment

ID: 1632235
Oops, please ignore the comment about "lilo in MBR", it's too dangereous if you have a partion driver.
I hit the submit button to fast, sorry.

Author Comment

ID: 1632236
I am using AMerican Megatrends BIOS version 1.00.03.AF2  This is running in LBA mode.  It is an older motherboard - Pentium 66 MHz.  I think that the boot of linux via DOS is the way to go but I don't know how to do that.  I need it to be able to read my FAT32 drive to find the setup files and it also has to be able to recognize the extended partition structure and allow me to reformat the third partition.  I also do not understand the statement about being in the first 1023 blocks - how do I determine this and is this a requirement for all operating systems?  I am trying to make this a dual boot machine with win98.

Author Comment

ID: 1632237
I got linux to recognize my disk by typing

linux hda=Cylinders,Heads,Sectors

at the BOOT prompt.  I think this is what you were talking about.  But it still does not recognize all of my partitions.  It gives me hda1 and hda2 but not hda3.  This is the partition I was hoping to install Linux on.  Also It does not show correct sizes and it indicates my free space is a negative number.
I will post exactly what it tells me tonight.

Author Comment

ID: 1632238
Mount Point  Device  Requested  Actual  Type
                       hda1      2855           2855     0x55
                       hda2      3616           3616     0x55
Drive summary:
Drive       Geom[C/h/s]     Total    Used     Free
                  [4092/16/63]   2014    6471     -4457

This is the information that disk druid gives me - I don't know how to identify the partition that I instend to have my installation on, it doesn't appear to be there.

Author Comment

ID: 1632239
I have been looking for online documentation and I have seen several references to drivers/block/README.ide  
Since my Linux is not working I do not know how to access this file, I would appreciate it if someone would peruse this source of information for relative data or provide me a way to access it myself.
LVL 51

Expert Comment

ID: 1632240
try to boot from floppy using a kernel image from cd, no installation !
Then check with fdisk if it recognizes your disk (post results, please).

Expert Comment

ID: 1632241
the 1023/1024 cylinder thing is an annoyance at best..

it means you cannot install LILO beyond it (the 1023rd disk cylinder) on any disk..  LILO doesn't understand how to address above it..

also note that if your disks are scsi, you need to be sure that you're installing on SCSI id 0 or 1.. no other id will install correctly..


Expert Comment

ID: 1632242
If you want to put Linux where partition 3 currently sits (not salvaging any data currently there) then first use Maxtor's utility to delete partition 3.
The reboot Linux as you did and hopefully fdisk will show the free space.
Keep in mind the 1023 limit above. It's real on old motherboards.
If you don;t see the free space after deleteing the partition using the Maxtor utility
then Maxtor is grabbing the whole drive and presenting it to the BIOS in some
way to get the drive recognized.
I've seen this with other utilities that put the drive geometry in the MBR to fake out the BIOS. If this MBR isn't read first you don't see the drive. If this is the case - boot to your
running OS(presuming WinXX), and(presuming RedHat 5.2) run the batch file
to start the install from a DOS command prompt. If you then see the drive properly
the only thing I can suggest is to start Linux via the loadlin utility. That way the BIOS
sees the drive roperly.

Accepted Solution

cypherpunks earned 200 total points
ID: 1632243
You will need to remove any manufacturers "BIOS" or partitioning software.  If you read the documentation for these products, they will most likely say that they will not function with any non-WinX OS's.  Contact your drive manufacturer for more information.

You will also want to pass the drive geometry as you did before:
X= your drive locator
C= Cylinders
H= Heads
S= Sectors
Get the CHS info. off your drives label or out of the drives documentation.

Also, you will probably be unable to boot from this drive if your partition table is going to be as you mentioned.  Your /boot partition has to reside completely within the first 1024 sectors of the drive.

If you are using Red Hat Linux 5.2, you can also use the new boot images that they have posted to thier errata site.


Author Comment

ID: 1632244
I'm going to give this answer a C.  It is correct it just isn't really a solution to what I wanted to do.  However I have read through all of the documentation about my hard drive and linux that seem to pertain to this problem and there doesn't seem to be an answer that is what I want.  Thank you all for your help I guess I was just asking for something that can't be done!

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