unbootable hard disk

Chuck Hallenbeck chuckh at mhonline.net
Sat Jan 18 06:45:45 EST 2003

Hi gang,

What else should I look for? I have a brand new machine with a 40
GB Fujitsu HD and I am installing a Slackware 8.1 distro with
speakup and an external doubletalk. The installation was made
from a set of diskettes and went without a hitch. The root
partition was large because I need a lot of space for /tmp and
perhaps /var in addition to the usual miscellaneous stuff. It is
about 4 GB and is the first partition. I marked it active with
fdisk just in case, but installed lilo to the MBR anyway. The
software and the general configuration is similar to my own
system. I made a couple of boot disks during the installation
process, and it is fortunate that I did, because the system will
not boot from the HD. It boots fine from the floppies I made, but
not from the HD.

I checked the bios setup program (a royal pain in the ass) and
saw that the HD was detected as the primary master, and that it
was selected as the second priority boot device, right behind the
floppy. I checked and double checked the installation (in fact I
did it more than once) being certain to install the kernel from
the installation boot floppy, but nothing. No error messages, no
nothing. It acts as though the HD were simply not present,. and
yet the bios recognizes it, it is on the list of devices to boot
from, and it works fine when booting from a floppy.

Well maybe not entirely fine. One more symptom.  When I boot up
from a floppy and pay attention to how it is working, the HD is
extremely sluggish. Checking the data transfer rate with hdparm
-t, I get about 10% the rate I get on my own system. Also, the
hdparm command is unable to set the DMA option with the -d1
option. What happens is that the hdparm command causes a 60
second delay after which the system resumes functioning but
without the DMA setting changed.

I am dealing with some idiots at a computer store who are
convinced the problem is with Linux, and I am equally stubborn in
insisting that it is not.

Any notion of what I might be overlooking? This is incredibly
frustrating. I gave the folks at the store permission to wipe out
my root partition if they needed to, hoping they would put a DOS
or Windows OS on it to check it out, but they happen to have a
Redhat 6.0 disk lying around and are spinning their wheels trying
to replace Slackware 8.1 with Redhat 6.0 because they suspect
there is a hangup when Linux tries to use a raid personality.

Thanks for any ideas.


The Moon is Full
So visit me sometime at http://www.mhonline.net/~chuckh

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