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Is your driver Primary Master? If it is, first make sure your BIOS is recognizing this drive as such. You need BIOS recognition first, then linux will follow. If this drive is NOT Master Primary, then you will need to specify a different device than /dev/hda
Make sure that the IDE cable is plugged into the "Primary" IDE connector on the motherboard, and the jumpers on the back of the drive are set to "Master". There should be a little diagram there for you to make things easier. I like to plug the Master device onto the far end of the IDE cable too, although I don't know that this makes any difference. There you go, then that should be /dev/hda.
For me, I just put the jumpers in the places indicated on the drive. As far as various autodetections and whatnot, I don't know. Hook it up to the first connector of the first channel and set the jumpers to primary master. Put the second on the end connector of the first channel and jumper to primary slave. (iirc)
And I don't recall correctly - beat me to it and were correct. Master on the end. And it does make a difference - at least, it didn't work til I switched it.
I got the hd set to Primary Master and got fdisk to work but when i had it print the partition table it said:
Disk /dev/hda: 30.7 GB, 30750031872 bytes
16 heads, 63 sectors/track, 59582 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 1008 * 512 = 516096 bytes
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/hda1 * 1 203 102280+ 83 Linux
/dev/hda2 204 57502 28878696 83 Linux
/dev/hda3 57503 59582 1048320 82 Linux swap
and I haven partitioned it yet. I have RH 9 and i was partitioning the hd to put slack on it how much space do I have left and y did RH have 2 linux partitions?(not including swap)
I stuck another drive in mine and put Slack on it. Installed LILO and have the option to boot either system. Simple as installing the hardware and installing the software. I've also used parted on a couple other boxes and it worked great. I've said before: I trust fdisk, parted, LILO - they've not let me down so far.
You need a boot disk for any system on your computer for recovery purposes. Basically, you can never have too many boot disks. *g* You can do default disks or you can just make them bootable and then put the utilities on them you think you might need and so on.
Basically, no computer operation like that is safe and guaranteed but it's also not like it's incredibly risky - you *may* wreck your machine but your *likely* to be okay.
What is on your drive(s) anyway, though? I've only used parted on FAT systems and various Linux fs because it doesn't work with ntfs - that's why I got a second drive when I was dealing with a single partition NTFS drive (no Partition Magic for me - why pay 70 bucks for closed source software to cut a hard drive in half when I can pay 30 bucks to double the hard drive with real hardware?)