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Old 07-13-2003, 07:10 PM   #1
Freija
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Problem Initializing Partitions


When attempting to initialize my Linux Swap file, Debian's installation program gives me a "invalid argument" error. Then, when trying to initialize the main Linux partition, it begins writing the disks "inodes" then just sits there perpetually after that.
 
Old 07-14-2003, 08:49 AM   #2
dowmun
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Hi,
Some questions. Are you dedicating the entire harddrive to Debian, or split it so you can dual boot with another OS?
 
Old 07-14-2003, 09:06 AM   #3
dowmun
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Sorry, I hit the wrong key, I guess.

What installation media are you using? Floppies can cause lots of problems.
I am assuming that you have partitioned Debian's area and there were no problems with that.
I would stop at the first "invalid argument" error and try to find out what is amiss there. What exactly does the invalid argument say?
This kind of sounds as if there is a problem with the harddrive. Is the size of the harddrive (in G- or Megabytes) shown correctly when the machine first boots up?
 
Old 07-14-2003, 11:08 AM   #4
Freija
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The drive is dedicated to Debian only.

There aren't any problems partitioning the drive. I did notice though that when I had Win95 it only showed a 2GB drive when there was a 3.2GB installed. So, I tried partitioning with just 2GB and that didn't work.

I don't know what the argument is that is invalid. After being asked whether or not I want to scan the drive for bad blocks, then confirming that it will erase all data, then it comes up with the error. All it says is "Initialization failed: invalid argument".

BIOS reads the drive fine and so does cfdisk.
 
Old 07-14-2003, 11:42 AM   #5
dowmun
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partition iniatialization

Sitting here with two old boxes that are both flakey as mother's apple pie, I am a poor one to give advice, but we are learning, right?
I can't get away from the idea that Debian is not seeing the right size harddrive, and is trying to initialize something that is not there.
If you are adventerous, you might try going into BIOS, and looking under CMOS setup, and see how your first harddrive is being detected. If it is set to AUTO, you might try setting it to USER and then putting in the actual number of heads,cylinders,and sections. This information should be found on the harddrive itself ,or in any documentation you saved concerning the harddrive.
 
Old 07-14-2003, 11:49 AM   #6
Freija
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I did that in the beginning. I noticed they weren't correct so I fixed the drive's geometry to match what was listed on the drive. It got rid of a lot of errors that I had while partitioning, but never got rid of that invalid argument one. Hmpf.
 
Old 07-14-2003, 01:59 PM   #7
dowmun
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Problem installing partitions

Okay, you are way ahead of me. At the risk of getting another "Hmpf", I can only think of one more thing. While in cfdisk or fdisk, after you have made the partitions, you are writing these partitions to disk before you try to initialize them, aren't you? I don't even know if the installer will let you skip this step. It's all I can think of.
 
Old 07-15-2003, 01:34 AM   #8
Freija
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Just so you know, the "hmpf" was only meant to be a sound of frustration, not anything else. And, yes I did execute the write command.

It is quite a weird problem, but I'm sure I'll work it out in my spare time. I thank you for your attention and suggestions!
 
Old 07-15-2003, 06:01 AM   #9
whansard
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boot the debian cdrom,
go to a terminal,
wipe out the beginning of the disk with
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=1m count=1
reboot
i'm assuming you don't have anything important on the
machine at all, or i would be more careful telling you
what to type.
after that start the install over.
 
Old 07-15-2003, 12:36 PM   #10
Freija
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Quote:
Originally posted by whansard
[...] dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=1m count=1
i'm assuming you don't have anything important on the
machine at all, or i would be more careful telling you
what to type. [...]
Should I wipe the partition table clean before using this command? And accessing the terminal is done by pressing Alt-F4, correct?

Thank you!
 
Old 07-15-2003, 12:49 PM   #11
whansard
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that command will wipe the partition table clean itself.
and the bootsector and master boot record, all that.

get to the terminal however you wish. it depends on
what you use.
 
Old 07-15-2003, 01:57 PM   #12
Freija
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I get the error:

dd: invalid number '1m'

Update
I tried it without bs=1m count=1 at the end. It accepted the command and the HD is actively destroying itself . I just hope that the deletion of the bs and count commands won't hurt my drive.

Luckily there hasn't been anything of value on this computer since 2000 so I don't mind erasing the hard drive, or doing anything else data-damaging.

Update 2
As I expected, removing bs=1m count=1 did not work. I received the error dd: /dev/hda: No space left on device. It did erase everything, including the partition table, but I still received the invalid argument when trying to activate partitions. How can I modify the dd command so it will work? Or is that command useless now?

Last edited by Freija; 07-15-2003 at 03:32 PM.
 
Old 07-15-2003, 04:12 PM   #13
whansard
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i just messed up and put 1m instead of 1M.
that was really more than necessary.

they way you did it just ran until the end of the disk.
you did reboot after that right?

and then try to make partitions?

i was just wanting the installer to start "really fresh".
it looks like you probably did it, but it didn't work, so
it's something else. I think i've seen linux mess up
with a drive that was set cable select instead of
just master. i would look at that then try to get some
diagnostic utility from the hard drive manufacturer to
test the drive out.
 
Old 07-15-2003, 04:38 PM   #14
Freija
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Oh jeez. You know what? I bet I didn't restart the machine. *sigh* Well I'll redo the dd command with the 1M just to be safe. Oh, and before that I'll make sure the drive is set on Master. The drive has worked fine with windows before so i doubt it's that. But that'll be my last ditch effort.

Thanks so much for your help!
 
Old 07-16-2003, 01:59 PM   #15
Freija
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I wiped out the disk with the dd zero command, I verified that the drive is set on master, and the drive's state is fine. I STILL get the Invalid Argument error when initializing the partitions! I just wish I could see what the argument is...

Why won't this thing work???
 
  


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