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Old 04-10-2006, 11:47 AM   #1
Registered: May 2003
Location: Lisbon Falls, Maine
Distribution: RH 8.0, 9.0, FC2 - 4, Slack 9.0 - 10.2, Knoppix 3.4 - 4.0, LFS,
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BIOS not detecting IDE drive, yet drive works fine

Interesting scenario:

I was given a PC that I was told was 'junk' (site did not do any research, as soon as a user complains that the thing doesn't boot they just junk it and put in a new system).

Nice looking machine, P3 550, 256 MB RAM, Soyo MB. Lots of life left. First thing I did was to boot the thing off of Knoppix. First thing I noticed was that the HD autodetect in the BIOS took forever (almost 30 sec), and that it did not find the HD in this machine, a Western Digital Caviar series 15 GB. The BIOS did not see the drive at all. I thought the drive dead, until Knoppix booted up and gave me a link for it on the desktop. Within the OS, the drive performed fine. I did some read/writes to it, formatted, ran a couple of fsck's against it, even got a SMART status from it and everything seems fine. I moved another drive from a machine into this box that had an OS on it already (Slack 10.2 setup with LAMP) after compiling a kernel for the new hardware, and this drive was seen fine by the BIOS (and subsequently booted fine), but the other drive is still not detected by the BIOS. Just like knoppix though, slack can see the drive, I can use it, everything seems fine with it. It doesn't make any funny noises, or freeze or give me data loss or anything. I've plugged the cable into both of the on-board IDE hook ups, and also used an old promise ATA 66 PCI card. I've even tried different cables. BIOS never sees it no matter what I do, but the drive is always usable within the OS.

So, here's my thought. I've been planning on setting up a raid 1 on my LAMP box for a while now. This isn't a production machine, it's more of my test box where I host some in-progress web sites and files, so I'm not overly concerned with something going wrong, although that doesn't mean I'm a fan of data loss. So, would any of you be concerned with the BIOS not detecting the drive? Is this even an issue, or just a possible incompatibility between the drive and the machine BIOS? Are there any other tests I can do on the drive that have not been done already? Has anyone ever seen this before?

Old 04-10-2006, 04:32 PM   #2
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The behavior of the disk drive would indicate that there is something wrong with the disk. Nevertheless I don't see any harm using it in a RAID 1 configuration until it dies. Maybe it will work for ten more years. You never know.
Old 04-11-2006, 10:49 PM   #3
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Was the drive originally plugged into the Promise controller? If so, it might be like a Dell system I have, which also didn't get recognized on boot up, but could be accessed afterwards, because it appeared as a SCSI and those drivers were not loaded yet, as I remember... Anyway I believe that after switching the drive cable from the Promise card to the IDE connector on the motherboard, you also have to remove another little cable that is connected to the mobo from the Promise card. Then I think you might have to go into the BIOS setup and change some setting there -- can't remember now what it was, enabling DMA maybe.
Old 04-12-2006, 08:48 PM   #4
Registered: May 2003
Location: Lisbon Falls, Maine
Distribution: RH 8.0, 9.0, FC2 - 4, Slack 9.0 - 10.2, Knoppix 3.4 - 4.0, LFS,
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Finally figured it out. Jumpers on drive were set as 'master', which apparently doesn't play well if there is only one drive on the cable (go figure). There was a 'single' jumper setting, so I tried that and voila, BIOS sees it fine now. All good.



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