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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 04-12-2006, 10:53 AM   #1
Citizen Bleys
Registered: Mar 2001
Location: Moncton, NB
Distribution: Gentoo 2006.0
Posts: 181

Rep: Reputation: 30
Possibly damaged hard disk?

I've got a good one.

One of my co-workers asked me to try to save his laptop. It was originally running XPee, and it would constantly reboot itself before the OS was loaded. His recovery disk failed to format the "user partition," and BartPE couldn't read the disk.

I popped a Gentoo LiveCD into the drive and was succesfully able to mount the Windows partition and read the contents of the drive. I was able to succesfully back up the previously inaccessible contents.

Here's where it gets interesting. fdisk fails to write to the partition table. I had to reboot to get out of the stream of garbage that spilled across my screen (in all 6 virtual terminals, no less!). When I switched back to X and opened a terminal, fdisk read one big linux partition. mke2fs -j just froze. I rebooted and ejected the CD, and buddy's old 'Doze install came up.

Now, I wouldn't be surprised to see 'Doze crap up the whole partition via a virus or spyware, but shouldn't I be able to blow away the partition from a bootable Linux CD? Any malware on the disk wouldn't be able to touch Linux, especially since I tried fdisking from a fresh boot without mounting the drive. Anything in the RAM would have been gone as the computer was left powered down overnight. Anything in the MBR would have been ignored because Gentoo booted directly from the CD.

That's looking to me like a damaged hard disk, but I'd like a second opinion (or better yet suggestions) before returning the computer and saying "It's pooched. Get a new one." Especially since there's a case of beer in it for me if I manage to get this fixed

EDIT: I've also tried an Ubuntu LiveCD. GParted crashed. I prefer to keep using my Gentoo disc since it doesn't take 20 minutes to boot.

Last edited by Citizen Bleys; 04-12-2006 at 10:56 AM.
Old 04-12-2006, 08:01 PM   #2
Senior Member
Registered: Dec 2003
Location: Paris
Distribution: Slackware forever.
Posts: 2,389

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Use this command in order to have the drive model:
hdparm -i /dev/hda
If it don't work, get info from the manufacturer or open the laptop.
Then get the hard drive utility from the hd's company and do a low-level format.
Install Linux and get TWO cases of beer .

Don't forget to try slax live-cd:
Old 04-12-2006, 08:10 PM   #3
Registered: Dec 2005
Location: Montana
Distribution: Debian "squeeze"
Posts: 157

Rep: Reputation: 30
L.T.gz is a good guy and I backup his recommendation 100% (sorry about your iPod dude!)

Deffinately get the hd utility from the drives manufacturer. Try running a test against the drive and most likely the S.M.A.R.T feature in the drive will spit back an error code. That'll point you in the right direction. I know utils like Drive Fitness Test (I think Hitachi program??) will spit back codes which then can be looked up in their documentation PDF.

Drive making any strange noises? clicks, pops, whistles?

Good luck,

ps: New Glarus Uf Da or Rogue Coffee House Porter would be my choices of beer. He/She owes you for simply recovering their data. Good job!


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