Fighting every step of the way, but I won!
I noticed when browsing that SATA disks had dropped seriously in price since I last looked. So, I bought one. (That's acceptable logic for a geek, right? ;) )
Wasn't sure which chipset support I needed, Nvidia or Silicon Image, so I compiled both in as a module prior to installing the disk. So when I booted, the disk was recognised flawlessly. Time to transfer my distro over to SATA: I partitioned the drive & all was well.
Now, time to copy. Obviously, I don't want to copy the files over from an active root partition, so I'll need to do it from another distro. No problem, I've got an old Slackware install that'll do fine.
Or would have, had I not deleted its kernel a while ago. *sigh*
Okay, fine, I'll use the DSL CD. Which doesn't recognise the SATA disk.
Right, big guns time: Where's my Knoppix 3.9 CD?
Knoppix (of course) recognises all my hardware just fine. But refuses to let me write to any of my HD partitions. Read-only access. Grr.
What the Hell, I've been meaning to try a Knoppix hard drive install. And I don't need that Slackware partition any more. Go for it, Knoppix! Installed it, rebooted. Up pops Grub, and I suddenly realize I have no idea what boot options to pass it to get Knoppix to load.
So I mount the partition as root and go exploring the /boot partition for the grub.conf file Knoppix installed itself. Find it, cat it, pass grub the options, boot into Knoppix. Woohoo. Time to copy my Gentoo files onto SATA.
It takes a while, but less than I'd expected due to the high-speed SATA writing. Eventually, everything's copied over. I update the SATA disk's fstab, edit Grub to have a "SATA Gentoo" option and reboot.
SATA Gentoo promptly kernel panics: Can't locate the root partition.
After the screams of frustration die down, it occurs to me that I've done a silly thing that I've told newbies not to do on multiple occasions before: I've compiled support for my root partition as a module, when of course it needs to be built into the kernel. (Otherwise you get Catch-22: Modules residing on the root partition, and the root partition being unreadable until the module is loaded.)
So I boot into my normal IDE Gentoo, recompile the kernel with SATA support built in properly, reboot, and it fails again.
Then I realize I made another simple, daft mistake: I copied the new kernel to my IDE /boot, when of course it needs to be on the SATA /boot. I'm still using a kernel without SATA support.
One last boot into the IDE Gentoo, I copy the kernel across, and reboot one final time. Because this time, it works. Flawlessly. My Gentoo distro, running 100% off SATA. At long last, a successful distro transplant.
hdparm reports a speed increase, Firefox loads in ~2.5 seconds instead of the usual ~3.5 seconds (it was faster before I installed a bunch of extensions) and even Doom3 savegames take less time.
So, despite it fighting me at every single step, I now have everything running nicely off a noticeably faster hard drive. It's making the case a degree or two hotter than it used to be, but I think I can fix that.
Normally, adding a hard drive wouldn't make for a success story, but after the fight I had with this one, I thought it merited it :)
(The method I used to copy the partition contents, by the way, can be found at the bottom of this webpage)
Excellent stuff. Glad you didn't give up. We always like good news stories!
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