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Having trouble installing a piece of hardware? Want to know if that peripheral is compatible with Linux?

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Old 06-11-2004, 10:28 PM   #1
aisphording
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Registered: Jun 2004
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Can't format hard drive


Hi,

I have a problem with my hard drive, which I am unable to solve. Here is what happened. When I changed some of my partitions to install Linux, my XP partition got messed up. I didn't expect that to happen, and so there were some files that I hadn't backed up. I got someone to back these files up for me using a recovery program. This person had changed some of my BIOS settings, so that it didn't do the auto detect for drives when turning on the computer any longer. After we had backed the files up I formatted and installed Mandrake 9.1 with lilo as bootloader.
After that we changed the BIOS settings back to what I thought was the right setting. Well, turns out it wasn't.
After changing the CMOS settings to auto detect and normal, lilo only gave me a L 99 99 error. I tried formatting again, because I couldn't figure out what the problem was, didn't do anything. I couldn't change any partitions with fdisk or when using the Win XP CD. I tried fixmbr, didn't work. chkdsk didn't work properly either, and only returned an error (something like there is at least one error that can't be repaired).
Next thing I tried was using MaxBlast 3 (I have a Maxtor 20GB HD). None of the tools in there worked either, except for overwriting the whole HD with zeros. Tried that. Still not working.
After that didn't help either I went and checked out the whole BIOS again, and thats when I realized that the last column in the CMOS was set to normal. I changed it to Auto, and suddenly lilo started again. When I selected to boot linux I didn't expect it to work, of course, but at first it actually looked like it was going to start up. Well, it stopped booting very soon (not surprising, after overwriting the drive with zeros). Well, I thought I had fixed the problem and could reinstall everything now, but no!
When trying to install from the Mandrake CD it says there is some error on my harddrive. I still can't delete partitions. But now, when I insert the bootable Maxblast disk that doesn't work any longer either. When starting up that program it now says "batch files nested too deep" or something along these lines.
I know I should've stopped trying to fix the problem much earlier and just asked, but I thought I could solve it myself. Well, I guess I was wrong afterall, so hopefully someone here can help me.
The computer with the problem is a Pentium III, 700MHz,
Maxtor 9*** hard drive, 20GB
DVD, CD, and CD-RW drives
128 MB-ram

Thank you very much for any kind of help!!!
 
Old 06-11-2004, 11:32 PM   #2
wapcaplet
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Could it be a hardware problem? With that many utilities failing, I'd be suspecting hardware failure.

You didn't say whether you used any Linux disk utilities; you might want to try using the Linux fdisk or cfdisk utility (which you should be able to get to if your Linux installation CDs offer the option of booting into recovery mode). The Linux version of fdisk is many, many times more reliable, smart, and useful than the Windows or DOS fdisk utility.

It sounds as if when you overwrote the disk with zeroes, it missed the boot sector (which is why Linux started booting up for you, I'd wager), so perhaps that is where the problem is. I've had a lot of problems trying to get Windows utilities to repair boot sector problems (you could try the undocumented 'fdisk /mbr' option from Windows' fdisk - though it may fail to actually overwrite the MBR like it's supposed to).

That's about all the advice I have. I don't have much experience with this kind of thing. Good luck!
 
Old 06-11-2004, 11:51 PM   #3
darthtux
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I would first try wapcaplet advice to try the Linux cfdisk. If that doesn't work, you may want to try a live-cd linux like knoppix to use cfdisk from there.
 
Old 06-11-2004, 11:53 PM   #4
aisphording
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Registered: Jun 2004
Location: Canada
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I tried fdisk /mbr, but it does not work either. i get an error message saying "error writing to fixed drive" (or something similar). the fdsik program from the win98 boot disk, that is.
i seriously doubt that it is a hardware problem. i am pretty sure that it was me who caused it, unless this is a really weird coincidence.
i haven't tried any linux utilities. what is the difference between the windows and linux tools? can i get a bootable disk with these tools?

thanks!
 
Old 06-12-2004, 09:18 AM   #5
wapcaplet
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Your Mandrake installation CDs might give you the option to go into rescue mode, or drop to a console, where you will most likely have fdisk available to you.

If not, you could get Knoppix, though I would personally consider it overkill for what you want (it's big, and very full-featured). Perhaps Damn Small Linux would be more appropriate - it's a much smaller download, and should have the utilities (like fdisk) that you'll need. All this is assuming that your CD-Rom drive is bootable (which most are); if it isn't, or if you want to use a floppy instead, then you could probably do no better than tomsrtbt, which includes fdisk and a bunch of other rescue utilities, and fits on a floppy.

As far as the difference between Windows and Linux fdisk, I don't know the technical details but just from using both of them I know that Linux fdisk can create many different types of partition (for Fat32, reiserfs, ext2, and about a hundred others), while Windows' fdisk can create basically one type: DOS/win32. On many occasions I've had Windows' fdisk be unable to delete existing partitions. One of my favorite errors was "Cannot delete extended partition while logical drives exist", and then "No logical drives exist," resulting in a partition that was un-deletable (which it sounds like you have also). Anyhow, suffice to say that you should try the Linux version
 
Old 06-14-2004, 04:02 PM   #6
aisphording
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hey, the problem with the logical drive that you described is exactly what i am currently facing. i am now trying to use the linux fdsik, lets see what happens!
 
  


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