This problem was ultimately resolved, though the posted question has very little to do with the real problem:
Certain older Compaq models (mine is a Compaq Armada 1750 laptop) require some BIOS info on the hard drive. If you buy a new hard drive, you'll have to get this BIOS info on the hard drive BEFORE installing an OS, if you ever want to boot from your shiny new hard drive.
See Post #3
(or scroll down, if you're viewing the thread) for details on fixing this peculiar problem. Included there is a link to download bootable floppy images.
Here's my original post:
// QUESTION //
how can I get parted-1.6.15 onto a bootable floppy or CD?
Or, if it'd be better, another partition table / MBR fixer?
I read somewhere ( e.g. lists.gnu.org/archive/html/bug-parted/2004-08/msg00046.html ) that parted versions 1.6.11 and lower can mess up partition tables. I believe that's my problem, though I suppose I could be wrong (details below, in the story section).
The official parted page only has older versions of parted in the bootable floppy section... I have been struggling for... let's see, about 5 hours now... to get a newer (as in 1.6.12 or higher) version of parted working on this machine, and thus the forums become my last resort.
// STORY //
Compaq Armada 1750 laptop: PII/333MHz/256k L2, 192 RAM
New hard drive: 30 GB Samsung MP0302H (actually 28 GB if you divide by 1024)
Problem: Compaq stores part of the bios on the hard drive. (but I'm getting ahead of myself, that's a fun part of the story...)
SimplyMepis 2004.01 LiveCD...
- NEWER (2.6.7 kernel) completely failed to boot.
- FAILSAFE (2.4.20-something) booted, but no mouse! unacceptable.
- DEFAULT (2.4.20-something) completely failed to boot.
- NEWER menu > FAILSAFE 2.6.7 did the trick...
linux kernel identifies the drive properly by brand/model#, and seems to see the whole 28GB.
Looks great! touchpad mouse, SaMBa network, internet, Let's try the installer...
Graphical qtparted keeps dying on me. Just disappears while running. Let's try parted from tty2 (Ctrl+Alt+F2)...
I believe SimplyMepis 2004.01 has parted 1.6.9
seems to be running ok, but at some point I got: "Losing too many ticks! TSC cannot be used as a timesource" ... Parted hung! Left it hanging there. (How do I "kill" something in a virtual terminal?)
So I opened parted again in tty3 (Ctrl+Alt+F3 ... risky business, eh? maybe that was a bad move)
Interestingly, print tells me that the last partition creation operation I performed (prior to the hang) was successful. So I continued partitioning here...
Finished partitioning... what the heck, may as well post this, since it may be interesting:
Minor | size | fs type | purpose
2 | 15 MB | unknown | compaq diagnostics
1 | 800 MB | fat32 | C:\Win98
3 | 100 MB | ext2 | /boot
5 | 500 MB | fat32 | windows swap (yes, it can be partitioned!)
6 | 400 MB | linux-swap
7 | 3.5 GB | fat32 | windows Program Files
8 | 6 GB | fat32 | personal files, to be shared between linux and windows
9 | 6 GB | ext2 | / (mepis)
and some extra space, to be partitioned when necessary...
Run the mepis installer... It hung while preparing its root partition.
boot win98se CD...
looks like it went smoothly... reboot to run windows for the first time
"Boot from hard drive or cd?" > of course, I want to boot from the hard drive. (I think win98 is polite for giving that option)
"Non-system disk or disk error"... hard drive can't seem to find the win98 boot record. That's weird. In all of the dozens of times I have installed windows 98, I have NEVER seen it completely fail to start the boot process.
OK, let's try mepis again... this time the installer went smoothly.
same problem. hard drive can't seem to find its MBR! how obnoxious!
Aha! I found out that compaq stores part of the bios on the hard drive (?!!)
Need "PC Diagnostics" (SP16085) and "Compaq Setup for Portables" (SP8975) - those SP numbers are the latest as of September 2004. You must run Windows in order to write the floppies (I should dd images of those and post them somewhere). Both are bootable floppies. And both intermittently have trouble booting at all. But you have to boot from PC Diagnostics - and have the compaq SETUP for portables disk on hand - in order to install the compaq diagnostics partition. It's under "Manage Diagnostics Partition" or some such.
It argued that it couldn't find the necessary hard drive space. I guess that's because I first partitioned hda2 as FAT32 instead of just leaving empty space.
PAUD 1.0.4 (Parted And Utils Disk) with Parted 1.6.11 (soon I would painfully find out that I needed 1.6.12 or better)
What the heck, I just deleted all the partitions.
Alright, installed the stupid compaq diagnostics program. It only sees 8GB of the 30GB drive. Perhaps it's got the geometry incorrect? Well, parted saw it as 3654/255/63.
1024 * 255 * 63 / 2 / 1024 B/kB = 8032kB, the exact size the diagnostics program saw.
3654 * 255 * 63 / 2 = 28GB, sounds about right.
So it would seem that compaq's diagnostics program is seeing a geometry very similar to what parted 1.6.11 is seeing; the compaq diagnostics just can't see past cylinder 1024. Perhaps both programs are getting that geometry from the bios.
OK, so I boot the PAUD again, run parted 1.6.11, and it gives me a funny message: "Warning: unable to align partition properly. This probably means that another partitioning tool guenerated an incorrect partition table, because it didn't have the correct BIOS geometry. It is safe to ignore, but ignoring may cause (fixable) problems with some boot loaders. Ignore/Cancel?"
Alright, this is interesting; I wasn't getting this message before, which leads me to believe that the compaq diagnostics installer has rewritten the partition table.
Cancelling out tells me that the OS thinks the geometry is 3654/255/63.
Ignoring lets me partition the entire 28 GB drive. I attempted to rescue the previous partitions, since I had written down all the start/end locations. But it failed to rescue them. So I reinstalled mepis and windows. Again, the installations looked fine.
No luck. I still can't seem to boot anything, except now I can press F10 and get into the compaq diagnostics program, which does not seem to give me any access to what's up with the BIOS. I have yet to see a BIOS screen on this computer.
SimplyMepis LiveCD > installation center > repair > put GRUB in MBR
OK, now I boot up and get a GRUB menu. I guess I must have previously told it to put GRUB in /boot rather than in the MBR. To mepis's discredit, I have no option for win98 or for the compaq diagnostics boot. (When I installed Debian Woody, with its ancient 2.2 kernel, LILO found both the windows and the compaq bootable partitions, and put them on the menu)
Anyways, so I try to boot mepis. no luck... I get a splashscreen, and slowly, the following text appears:
hdb: drive not ready for command
/bin/sh: nomce: No such file or directory
kernel panic: Attempted to kill init!
And it hangs there.
Alright, so that's charming. hdb would be my CD-ROM.
I tried booting both the 2.4.20-something and the 2.6.7 kernel. One of them gave the above three lines, and the other also gave three lines, the first two of which were different, and the last of which remained "kernel panic: Attempted to kill init!"
So what the heck, I edit grub's menu.lst and put in the standard entry for windows... something along the lines of:
or something like that... this is off the top of my head, and it's likely wrong. Hey, I just looked it up and it seems I got it right :-) the last line is optional.
It hangs as well, but with less information cuz, y'know, windoze doesn't give you any useful information when it's booting.
Oh, and great news: I can no longer hit F10 to get to the compaq diagnostics partition. Grub seems to have made that inaccessible.
OK, so that's rather heartbreaking, seeing as I've put in about 16 hours trying to get this hard drive working. Booting from a floppy or LiveCD, I can mount all the partitions, and everything looks fine, just cannot boot from the hard drive, which makes it... well, it makes it rather useless, actually.