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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Hard Drives

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Hard Drives


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  1. Can I run UDMA/66 on a 40 pin 40 conductor cable?
  2. I have an UDMA/33 system today. How can I support UDMA/66?
  3. Do Microsoft Operating Systems support UDMA?
  4. I don't have a system that supports Ultra ATA/66, can I run the Ultra ATA/66 HDD in it?
  5. Do I have to put a jumper on my original drive when adding a new drive to my system?
  6. How do I know if my system supports 8.4 GB and larger drives?
  7. I'm using the correct parameters (16383x16x63). Why does my system say that the drive is only 504 MB or 528 MB?
  8. FDISK reports "no space to create partition" or "disk is write protected." What is going on?
  9. I can't create a partition larger than 2.1 GB, why?
  10. I'm running DOS 6.22 or Windows 3.1x. Why I am only getting 8033 MB or less?
  11. Why does Windows NT setup tell me that it's only a 7.9 GB drive?
  12. Does OS/2 support 8.4 GB and larger drives?
  13. I've looked through everything in this FAQ. I'm still getting less than 8.4 GB. What's going on?
  14. Why do all drives larger than 8.4 GB use the same parameters?
  15. I want to add a hard drive to my new system which includes a partitioned 2.5GB drive (C and D). When I installed the drive in my system my drive letters are changed. The D partition on the new drive becomes E. Can I change drive letters or can I install without this problem?
  16. I have two hard drives in my computer. When I turn on the computer, only the first hard drive shows up. If I soft boot (Ctrl/Alt/Del), then both show up. How do I get both to show up the first time?
  17. CMOS, FDISK, and Windows Explorer report less than the capacity of my new drive, but CHKDSK reports the right number of bytes. Which is correct?
  18. Can a hard drive and a CD-ROM be installed on the same EIDE data cable? If so, will this arrangement degrade the performance of the hard drive in any way?
  19. What is EIDE (Enhanced IDE), and what are the current features of EIDE?
  20. What is the difference between EIDE and Fast-ATA?
  21. Is there anything that might cause my hard drive electrical problems?
  22. How come I'm getting "out of disk space" message after loading in 800 MB of data on my 1 GB drive?
  23. I have a Compaq computer and I'm installing a new hard drive. Are there any special considerations I need to take?
  24. In my computer I have a SCSI hard drive that I normally boot from. Now that I've installed an IDE drive my computer tries to boot from that instead, how can I change this so that it boots from the SCSI?
  25. Under Windows 95. I had many partitions. Now I only want to have one, using FAT32. How do I do it without wiping out my drive?
  26. Should I convert to a single partition? Should I use FAT32?
  27. I ran the FAT32 converter, and now my drive seems slower. Why?
  28. I ran FAT32 conversion, now Defrag and Scandisk take ten times as long to run as they used to.
  29. During Win98 installation, the setup hangs during "detecting hardware".
  30. After Windows 98 installation or the FAT32 conversion, Windows 98 reports MS-DOS Compatibility Mode.
  31. Running a UDMA drive, but I can't check the DMA check box in device manager.
  32. Windows 98 will only see my new drive if I tell it the drive is a "Removable" drive in Device Manager. What is going on?
  33. Can I install Windows 95/98 on my Caviar drive that dual-boots Windows NT and MS-DOS?
  34. After I install Windows 95/98 on a computer with Windows NT, how do I start Windows 95/98?
  35. My system sees the full capacity of the drive in setup NT, but I can only partition a portion of it.
  36. I cannot create a partition larger than 4096 MB during setup.
  37. I have an 8.4 GB drive or larger installed, and cannot see the full capacity in Disk Administrator under NT.
  38. I get a "No IDE Device Found" error message during Windows NT setup.
  39. Can I install Linux on my Western Digital hard drive?
  40. I installed Linux on my hard drive but upon boot it hangs at the LILO message. Is this a problem with my drive?
  1. Can I run UDMA/66 on a 40 pin 40 conductor cable?

    No, the UDMA/66 technology is defined such that the PC and the HDD can both detect the presence of the 80-conductor cable. UDMA/66 will not be enabled unless the 80-conductor cable is present. Go to Top

  2. I have an UDMA/33 system today. How can I support UDMA/66?

    An existing system can be upgraded by purchasing a PCI-EIDE controller that supports UDMA/66. Go to Top

  3. Do Microsoft Operating Systems support UDMA?

    Windows releases indicate that they all support DMA transfers. Windows does not know the difference between Ultra ATA/33 or Ultra ATA/66. UDMA data transfer rate is determined by your HDD, your controller and the BIOS. This applies for all the following Windows operating systems:
    - Windows 98
    - Windows NT Service Pack 3
    - Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2 Go to Top

  4. I don't have a system that supports Ultra ATA/66, can I run the Ultra ATA/66 HDD in it?

    Yes, the HDD will not run in UDMA/66 mode but instead is a slower compatible mode such as Ultra ATA/33, DMA Mode 2 (16.6 MB/s) or PIO Mode 4 (16.6MB/s) Go to Top

  5. Do I have to put a jumper on my original drive when adding a new drive to my system?

    Most likely, yes. One hard drive must be designated as the master drive and the other as the slave drive if they're sharing the same data cable. Go to Top

  6. How do I know if my system supports 8.4 GB and larger drives?

    In order to properly support an 8.4 GB or larger IDE drive, your system's BIOS must be capable of supporting INT13 Extensions. You may contact your system manufacturer or system manual to determine if your system supports INT13 extension. Go to Top

  7. I'm using the correct parameters (16383x16x63). Why does my system say that the drive is only 504 MB or 528 MB?

    528 MB (504 MB Binary) is the limitation of the original Cylinder/Head/Sector translation method used on IDE drives. This problem was resolved with LBA translation. Make sure that your BIOS is set to use Logical Block Addressing (LBA), if it is available. Go to Top

  8. FDISK reports "no space to create partition" or "disk is write protected." What is going on?

    First of all, check your BIOS for "Virus Protection" or "Boot Sector Write Protect." These settings must be disabled during the partitioning process. If FDISK still reports these errors, then the BIOS cannot support the drive correctly. You may also have to check the jumper settings, refer to your hard drive manual for detail. Go to Top

  9. I can't create a partition larger than 2.1 GB, why?

    DOS, Windows 3.1x, and early releases of Windows 95 use the FAT16 file system. Due to structural restrictions, FAT16 cannot access partitions larger than 2.1 GB. You can still access the full capacity using FAT16, but you must create multiple partitions. Windows 95 B (also known as OSR2) and Windows 98 utilize the FAT32 file system, which will allow you to create partitions larger than 2.1 GB, at the cost of compatibility with older utilities and with other Operating Systems (NT and OS/2 do not support FAT32). Go to Top

  10. I'm running DOS 6.22 or Windows 3.1x. Why I am only getting 8033 MB or less?

    Dos 6.22 and Windows 3.1x were designed long before INT13 extensions existed. For this reason, these operating systems cannot access the full capacity of the drive, even if the BIOS supports INT13 extensions. Additionally, some BIOS's perform a non-standard translation which causes Dos and Windows 3.1x to only see 7.9 GB of the drive. Windows 95 and Windows 98 support the INT13 extensions and can access the full capacity of the drive with BIOS INT13 extension support. Go to Top

  11. Why does Windows NT setup tell me that it's only a 7.9 GB drive?

    At this writing, Windows NT (build 1381) setup does not fully utilize INT13 Extensions, so it cannot access the full capacity of an 8.4 GB or larger drive through that method. Disk Administrator within the NT operating system identifies the full drive size by examining the total number of available user sectors specified in the drive's device identification data. However, Service Packs prior to 4 did not correctly identify the total number of user sectors available. Service Pack 4 will correctly identify the total amount so that Disk Administrator will utilize the full capacity of the drive. Another cause of drive capacity limitation could be the IDE driver. You may need to install the updated Microsoft Atapi.sys driver. For more information about these issues, see this "Installing Windows NT 4.0 on Drives 8.4 GB or Larger" tip. Go to Top

  12. Does OS/2 support 8.4 GB and larger drives?

    OS/2 will support 8.4 GB or larger drives provided you have the latest device driver pack from IBM that supports drives of this size. Go to Top

  13. I've looked through everything in this FAQ. I'm still getting less than 8.4 GB. What's going on?

    You may actually be getting the full capacity of the drive. Hard Drive manufactures and some BIOS's report drive capacity in decimal megabytes and gigabytes, where 1 MB = 1,000,000 bytes and 1 GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes. However, FDISK and some other utilities report drive capacity in binary megabytes and gigabytes, where 1 MB = 1,048,576 bytes and 1 GB = 1,073,741,824 bytes. So 8,445MB(decimal)=8,063MB(binary) or 8.44GB(decimal)=7.85GB(binary). Regardless of which method is used, the actual number of bytes remains the same. In most cases, you will actually see values that are slightly smaller than these, since a few megabytes are lost to partitioning and formatting overhead. Go to Top

  14. Why do all of drives larger than 8.4 GB use the same parameters?

    Limitations in the original design of the IDE interface limit logical drive parameters to 16383 cylinders, 16 heads, and 63 sectors per track. These are the parameters of an 8.4 GB drive. Drives that are larger than this must use the information in their extended functions to communicate their full size to your computer, and no longer use the original CHS parameters. In order to assure compatibility, 16383x16x63 became the industry standard parameters for drives larger than 8.4 GB. Go to Top

  15. I want to add a hard drive to my new system which includes a partitioned 2.5GB drive (C and D). When I installed the drive in my system my drive letters are changed. The D partition on the new drive becomes E. Can I change drive letters or can I install without this problem?

    IDE hard drives are BIOS supported. All DOS based operating systems (including Windows) assign drive letters to the Primary DOS partitions first, then the Extended and Logical partitions are assigned drive letters. DOS will not allow you to change drive letters. The only way to get the drives to read in order is to create only Extended with Logical partitions on the slave drive. However, there is a drawback to creating only extended partitions on the slave drive. Should you ever decide to make the slave drive a master or only drive in the system, you will not be able to boot to the drive. DOS based operating systems (including Windows) can only boot to a primary DOS partition. In this way, you will need to re-partition your hard drive and install OS on that hard drive. Go to Top

  16. I have two hard drives in my computer. When I turn on the computer, only the first hard drive shows up. If I soft boot (Ctrl/Alt/Del), then both show up. How do I get both to show up the first time?

    If the hard drive boots on a warm boot but not on a cold boot, this can imply a BIOS timing problem. The BIOS may be attempting to access the hard drive before the drive has initialized. Check the BIOS setup screen for any of the following options and set them as designated:
    • Quick Power on Self Test ( disable )
    • Fast Boot Option ( disable )
    • Hard Disk Initialization time out (set this to 30 )
    • Above 1 MB or any Ram Count option ( enable )
    Go to Top

  17. CMOS, FDISK, and Windows Explorer report less than the capacity of my new drive, but CHKDSK reports the right number of bytes. Which is correct?

    Both. Let's explain this paradox. Hard drive capacity is calculated by taking the number of Cylinders x Heads x Sectors x 512 Bytes per sector. There are two different definitions of a megabyte and a gigabyte. For simplicity and consistency, hard drive manufacturers define a megabyte as 1,000,000 bytes and a gigabyte as 1,000,000,000 bytes. However, some BIOS's, Fdisk, and Windows Explorer all define a megabyte as 1,048,576 bytes and a gigabyte as 1,073,741,824 bytes. This is also termed as a "binary meg" and a "binary gig." Go to Top

  18. Can a hard drive and a CD-ROM be installed on the same EIDE data cable? If so, will this arrangement degrade the performance of the hard drive in any way?

    An EIDE hard drive and an EIDE CD-ROM can be connected on the same cable. The drive should be jumpered as Master and jumper the CD-ROM as Slave. Installing a CD-ROM on the same cable as the hard drive can cause a reduction of performance in the hard drive. Go to Top

  19. What is EIDE (Enhanced IDE), and what are the current features of EIDE?

    Based on extensive experience with IDE, in 1993 Western Digital introduced a proposal for a new, but compatible, extension to the standard. Because this extension was an enhancement of the existing IDE standard and fully backward compatible, it was termed Enhanced IDE (EIDE). The new standard includes an expanded drive command and register set. The new command and register set ensures that the older systems (without EIDE) will work with the new EIDE drives. When systems are upgraded with only a new hard disk drive, they must contend with the well-known limitations of the standard IDE connection. These limitations can be overcome by upgrading other system components such as the IDE controller and system BIOS. Whenever an EIDE hard disk drive is used to upgrade a system it makes sense to choose only system components that support EIDE. EIDE consists of a more powerful feature set and extension to the existing IDE standard: Higher capacities for hard disk drives:
    • up to 8.4 GB per device
    • BIOS translation
    • IDE Logical Block Addressing
    Up to 4 devices per system
    • including CD-ROM and tape drives
    Faster host data transfer rates
    • Mode 3 and Mode 4 PIO (flow control)
    Easier set-up and auto-detection of hard disk drive features less expensive and more compatible way to connect other peripherals such as CD-ROM and tape drives Maintain "Plug and Play" compatibility, first achieved by IDE. Go to Top

  20. What is the difference between EIDE and Fast-ATA?

    Fast-ATA (faster transfer modes, like PIO mode 4) is a subset of Enhanced IDE which indicates the ability to run at higher transfer rates. Fast-ATA does not include all of the features of EIDE and primarily focuses on faster host data transfer rates (which is only one of the Enhanced IDE components). Go to Top

  21. Is there anything that might cause my hard drive electrical problems?

    Yes there have been a number of Y power adapters on the market that are incorrectly wired. Y power adapters are used to expand a computer systems power availability. They consist of a clear plastic plug with 4 metal prongs on one end (this end attaches to an existing power connector within your computer) and 2 sets of wires leading to 2 plugs with female connections on the other ends (these ends are attached to internal devices such as hard drives, CD-ROM drives etc). The problem with some of these newer connectors are that the wires are attached incorrectly on one of the female connectors, and using this connecter can cause severe damage to any device attached to it. To check the Y power adapter for incorrect wiring, examine both female connectors. Make certain that both of the female connectors are lined up with the 2 chamfered (rounded) corners facing up and both of the squared corners facing down. The 4 wires attached to the female connectors should now be in the following order from left to right: Yellow (12 V), Black (ground), Black (ground), Red (5 V) If this order is reversed on one of the connectors, then your Y power adapter is faulty and should not be used. Go to Top

  22. How come I'm getting "out of disk space" message after loading in 800 MB of data on my 1 GB drive?

    In Windows and DOS, every file that is stored gets at least one allocation unit (called a "cluster") no matter what the size of the file is. The size of the cluster grows incrementally with the size of the partition. If you're using FAT16 file system and you have a 1.08 gig partition, the cluster size will be 32k. This means that even a 62 byte batch file is going to consume 32k of storage space (the difference between the 32k of the cluster and the 22 bytes that the file really needs is called "slack space"). The only feasible way to reduce the cluster size is to reduce the partition size. Go to Top

  23. I have a Compaq computer and I'm installing a new hard drive. Are there any special considerations I need to take

    Yes there may be. Some Compaq computers store the system BIOS information in a non-dos or diagnostic partition on the hard drive instead of storing it on a chip on the motherboard as most other systems do. If you have such a Compaq model and you install the new drive as a master, you will need to copy or reinstall the diagnostic partition onto the new drive. If you don't, you will not be able to get into your BIOS upon bootup. If you install the new drive as a slave or non-boot drive, you do not need to reinstall this partition Go to Top

  24. In my computer I have a SCSI hard drive that I normally boot from. Now that I've installed an IDE drive my computer tries to boot from that instead, how can I change this so that it boots from the SCSI?

    If you have an IDE drive installed in a PC, by default the PC will always try and boot from it first. If you want to boot from your SCSI drive you'll need to see if you can designate it as a boot drive within the SCSI controller setup. In a PC environment, by default the EIDE drive will be the boot device, unless your SCSI host bus adapter (HBA) is capable of hooking Int13, hence allowing the SCSI drive to take over that task. Please check with your SCSI HBA manufacturer for details. During boot, hit Alt-W and in the Advanced Options change IDE/EIDE boot option to SCSI to boot from your SCSI drive. The addition of SCSI drive(s) does not require you to change the jumper setting on your EIDE drive(s). Leave the jumpers on your EIDE drives as they were when adding a SCSI drive. In terms of drive letter assignment, you can arrange to assign drive letters to different partitions on your SCSI/EIDE drives the way you prefer it. Please refer to your manuals for details on your specific operating system. If you are adding an EIDE drive and controller to a computer, with SCSI hardware, based on your operating system and your particular system configuration, the procedure may vary. Again we suggest that you would refer to your manuals for details on your specific operating system. Go to Top

  25. Under Windows 95. I had many partitions. Now I only want to have one, using FAT32. How do I do it without wiping out my drive?

    Windows 98 does not provide any method for "re-sizing" partitions on the fly. The FAT 32 converter only performs conversions of individual partitions; it is not capable of combining them. The only two choices are to either re-partition the drive from scratch (which will sacrifice all data), or use a third party utility that allows you to re-size partitions on the fly (there are several available). Go to Top

  26. Should I convert to a single partition? Should I use FAT32

    This is a very common question, but there isn't much that we can recommend. Every computer user has different needs, and the best solution for you may be different than it is for your neighbor. The best thing to do is to understand the differences between FAT16 and FAT32, and the differences between small and large partitions. Then you should make a decision based upon your own needs. FAT16 and FAT32 both use clusters to organize data. The size of the clusters that are used depends on which of the two file systems you use, and how large your partitions are. In general, larger partitions use larger clusters -- but FAT32 uses much smaller clusters altogether. For example, a 1.0 GB partition under FAT16 uses 16 kb clusters, while a 2.0 GB partition uses 32 kb clusters. Under FAT32, both of those partitions would only use a 4 kb cluster (you would need a partition larger than 8 GB to use even an 8 kb cluster size!). Larger cluster make for faster file access, but they waste disk space. Smaller cluster sizes mean you can store more files in the same space, but file access is slower. Two more things to remember. FAT16 is limited in the size of partitions it can create to 2.1 GB. This means that to get the full capacity of a large drive, you must use multiple partitions. FAT32's only limit is 2 terabytes -- and there aren't going to be any drives that large for quite a while. You also need FAT32 to take advantage of a few of Windows 98's new features. See Microsoft for details. Go to Top

  27. I ran the FAT32 converter, and now my drive seems slower. Why?

    FAT32 is slower than FAT16 (see previous question). FAT32 is more efficient, but this is a reference to its use of smaller clusters which can store more files in the same space. But smaller clusters (and therefore more clusters) also mean that the process of locating and accessing files may take longer for some file accesses.

    In most cases, the speed difference between FAT16 and FAT32 is not noticeable. However, benchmarks may show a marked difference during specific kinds of tests.

    One thing that has been done to improve performance under FAT32 is the new Defrag. Windows 98 keeps a log of every program that is launched, and what files are associated with it. When you run the new Defrag, it doesn't just make your files contiguous- it also rearranges the files so that the related files are close to each other on the drive. This won't work when you first install Windows 98, it just improves performance over time (provided that you run Defrag regularly). Go to Top

  28. I ran FAT32 conversion, now Defrag and Scandisk take ten times as long to run as they used to.

    This is unfortunately a reality of FAT32. It takes Defrag and Scandisk an equal amount if time to examine a single cluster, regardless of that cluster's size. Since FAT32 uses smaller clusters, there are many times more clusters, and these operations take considerably longer than they used to. Microsoft compensates for this by including the "tune up wizard" which allows you to schedule these tasks for when you are away from the computer. Go to Top

  29. During Win98 installation, the setup hangs during "detecting hardware".

    Generally this is not related to problems with the hard drive. Turn off the computer and then reboot (this is what the setup tells you to do if this occurs). Setup will detect that there was a problem, and will attempt to correct. Go to Top

  30. After Windows 98 installation or the FAT32 conversion, Windows 98 reports MS-DOS Compatibility Mode.

    MS-DOS compatibility mode is not an error that is actually referring to the drive, but rather the hard drive controller (which is generally part of the motherboard on modern systems). It is usually caused when some device in the system was not correctly detected. In some cases, the problem can be resolved by simply rebooting several times to allow Windows to redetect devices. In other cases, the solution may be very complex. For more information, take a look at tip regarding MS-DOS Compatibility Mode. Go to Top

  31. Running a UDMA drive, but I can't check the DMA check box in device manager.

    If the checkbox is unavailable, this may indicate that Windows does not view the drive as UDMA capable. This could be a driver issue, or your hard drive or motherboard does not support UDMA. Assuming the drive and motherboard support UDMA, make sure that you are running bus-mastering drivers (these are installed by default if your motherboard supports them). This is all that needs to be done. Windows 98 handles all transfer rates that the drive and motherboard support automatically (just as Windows 95 handled PIO Mode 3 and 4 automatically). Go to Top

  32. Windows 98 will only see my new drive if I tell it the drive is a "Removable" drive in Device Manager. What is going on?

    In all likelihood, your drive needs to be partitioned using Fdisk. All hard disk drives must be partitioned before they can be formatted, even if the drive is only going to have a single partition. Windows 98 incorrectly allows you to format an unpartitioned drive if you designate the drive as "Removable." Using a drive this way may result in data loss. The solution is to first back up the data on the drive, then remove the checkmark from the "Removable" box. Next, use Fdisk to create at least one partition. Re-boot the system, then format the partition(s). This process will destroy any data on the drive. Go to Top

  33. Can I install Windows 95/98 on my Caviar drive that dual-boots Windows NT and MS-DOS?

    Yes. To install Windows 95/98 on a computer that dual-boots Windows NT and MS-DOS, start the computer in MS-DOS mode and run Setup either in Windows 3.1 or at an MS-DOS prompt. You cannot install Windows 95/98 in a directory with a shared Windows 3.1 and Windows NT configuration. In this situation, you must install Windows 95/98 in a different directory. If your computer boots Windows NT, you must configure the computer to dual-boot MS-DOS and Windows NT and then follow the instructions in the paragraph above. If you start the computer from an MS-DOS disk and then run Setup, you will no longer be able to boot Windows NT. However, you can restore Windows NT by starting the computer from the Windows NT Boot/Repair disk and then selecting the Repair option.

    Note: Windows 95/98 cannot be installed in an NTFS partition. It can only be installed in a FAT partition. Also Windows NT cannot recognize Windows 95B/98 FAT32 partitions. Go to Top

  34. After I install Windows 95/98 on a computer with Windows NT, how do I start Windows 95/98?

    When you start your computer, you are given a choice to run Windows NT or MS-DOS. Choose MS-DOS to load Windows 95/98. Go to Top

  35. My system sees the full capacity of the drive in setup NT, but I can only partition a portion of it.

    NT setup is limited to whatever BIOS can recognize. Check the BIOS to see that the drive is properly configured. Even if the BIOS cannot see the full capacity, NT will still be able to access the full capacity after it has been installed.

    Note: NT setup will never see more than 7.8 GB on a drive, regardless of what the BIOS recognizes. This is a limitation of the setup utility. Go to Top

  36. I cannot create a partition larger than 4096 MB during setup.

    This is not a problem, this is the way that NT was designed. The NT setup utility cannot actually create and NTFS partition. Instead, it creates a FAT partition, which can be converted to NTFS later in the setup procedure. Because the FAT architecture has a 4096 MB limitation, all partitions created during setup are limited to 4096 MB, regardless of what file system is used.

    If you wish to create larger partitions during setup see the Microsoft Knowledge Base for a possible work-around. Go to Top

  37. I have an 8.4 GB drive or larger installed, and cannot see the full capacity in Disk Administrator under NT.

    The original release of NT 4.0 did not support drives larger than 7.8 GB. To see the full capacity if a larger drive, you must install Service Pack 4 which is available from Microsoft's web site. For important details about using Windows NT on large drives, see our November 1998 Tip of the Month.

    Note: According to Microsoft definitions, 1 GB = 1,073,741,824 bytes. 7.8 GB translates into 8.4 GB under the decimal definitions used by hardware manufacturers. Go to Top

  38. I get a "No IDE Device Found" error message during Windows NT setup.

    Verify that the drive is jumpered properly and that it is detected in the BIOS. If possible, verify that the drive is visible under standard FDISK. If it is, determine what kind of partitions may already exist on the drive.

    This issue can sometimes occur because the existing partitions on the drive are FAT32.NT is not compatible with FAT32.You may want to see Microsoft Knowledge Base Article ID: Q126690-Windows NT 4.0 Setup Troubleshooting Guide, if you need further help.Go to Top

  39. Can I install Linux on my Western Digital hard drive?

    Absolutely, in reality the hard drive is unaware of what operating system you're installing on it. As far as the drive's concerned, it's all simply data.

    With today's distributions of Linux, preparation of the hard drive is handled fairly well during installation of the operating system. Most current distributions have their own version of FDISK which is not too different than the version from Microsoft. However, the Linux version is considerably more powerful to the extent it can create different types of partitions for different operating systems or for different purposes such as Linux swap partitions. During installation, you may not even need to use FDISK since many distributions have their own disk preparation tools that help you through the process. For example, Red Hat uses Disk Druid to assist in creating partitions and their respective mount points, configuring the LILO boot loader, etc.

    If for some reason you need to manually create and format a partition, you would use Linux FDISK to create the partition and then format the partition using mkfs.ext2. For example,

    FDISK /dev/hdx

    where x would be designated as a, b, c, or d (meaning drives 1, 2, 3, or 4 respectively), starts FDISK on the drive you intend to partition. Once you create partitions, they are referenced as thus:

    /dev/hda1/dev/hda2/dev/hda3
    first partitionsecond partitionthird partitionetc.


    Formatting the partition is accomplished using the command,

    mkfs.ext2 /dev/hda1

    This formats the drive using Linux's native file system, ext2.

    Once you've done all this, you will still need a mount point to enable access to the partition. A mount point is nothing more than a directory created under the root directory. After that, mount the partition using a command similar to:

    mount -t ext2 /dev/hda1 /mountpoint

    where mountpoint is the name of the directory created earlier. It's even possible to automate the mounting of partitions. Instructions at http://www.linuxdoc.org/HOWTO/mini/Automount.html explain this in detail.

    There are some rules and limitations for EIDE drives in Linux. In most cases, these are based on how well your PC's BIOS supports the size of the drive you are using. http://www.linuxdoc.org/HOWTO/Large-Disk-HOWTO.html describes large disk issues in great detail. In general, make sure your boot partition exists in the first logical 1024 cylinders of the drive. Also, partition sizes greater than 8.4 GB are not supported. Multiple partitions are fine as long as there are no more than four primary partitions.

    Check out these links for more information about Linux:
    • http://www.linuxdoc.org/HOWTO/mini/Automount.html
    • http://www.linux.org
    • http://www.linux-howto.com/
    Go to Top

  40. I installed Linux on my hard drive but upon boot it hangs at the LILO message. Is this a problem with my drive?

    This doesn't indicate a problem with the hard drive, it's a problem with the Linux software loading.

    Often a LILO failure is caused by the BIOS and hard drive having mismatched geometries, the LILO loader not residing within the first 1023 cylinders of the hard drive, or something similar.

    If LILO fails at some point, the letters displayed up to that point can be used to diagnose the problem. A basic listing of the error meanings can be found at this offsite* link: http://www.redhat.com/mirrors/LDP/HOWTO/Bootdisk-HOWTO-12.html.

    Refer to your Linux documentation for more in-depth information on LILO boot errors and how to fix them.

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