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Old 12-17-2009, 12:22 PM   #1
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Old Hardware - Installing on Fat32

I have an old pentium II computer that I wanted to turn into a facebook terminal for a friend.

The computer runs puppy linux fine. However, it cannot install to the hard drive.

I tried:

mkfs.ext3 /dev/hda

It gave up halfway through. Because the hard drive came as fat I then tried:

mkfs.vfat /dev/hda

It worked. The old partitions were gone.

I think the hard drive is too old to convert to ext3.
However, all the distros I have won't install to fat32. I don't care about performance. How do I install debian to fat32? Or is there any distro that will do this.

Thank you for replies.
Old 12-17-2009, 12:27 PM   #2
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/dev/hda refers to an entire disk while /dev/hda1, /dev/hda2 etc. refer to partitions on it. You can use a tool like fdisk, cfdisk (my fave) or gparted to create partitions on /dev/hda and mkfs* to create file systems in them -- or you could just go right ahead and install from DVD or whatever and let the installation process do the disk partitioning and file system creating.
Old 12-17-2009, 12:35 PM   #3
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I suggest you DD the drive and MBR of drive
this will wipe all partitions and data cleanly

next open Gparted and when you select create new partition
it will say you need to make a MSDOS label or something
say yes
hit apply
then again hit the button to make New partition
this time make it ext2 or 3 (ext2 is slightly better for older hw)

then reboot and install Puppy, whatever

I suggest you Not DD the drive then reboot
make sure after DDing it you open Gparted and setup the partitions

if all else fails Yes almost any distro can boot from FAT32 in livecd/usb mode
this is how I test all my remasters for usb

I make a small fat32 partition 10GB maybe
install syslinux to partition
then use Plop bootmanager via Grub to boot that partition

Note that I have at any time 5-10+ distros on there

so, what is your preference?
to DD the drive and get Gparted to try and make ext2/3

or boot it like usb boot?
Old 12-17-2009, 12:56 PM   #4
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Damn small linux (A capable small distribution) will install on fat*.
Old 12-17-2009, 01:17 PM   #5
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For an old machine there is one distro that easily installs, this to my experience, without need of manually partitioning the hard drive, the installer merely asks you what format and where, installer does the rest. Download, burn and try this.

By the way, it is not a liveCD but a simple interactive installer, yet that distro runs truly fast even in low ram, and is capable of running an Open Office.

Hope it helps.

Good luck.

Last edited by malekmustaq; 12-17-2009 at 01:19 PM.
Old 12-17-2009, 09:18 PM   #6
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I have tried both debian and dsl. fdisk -l reports that the drive is formatted as ext3, but no matter what I cannot mount or access it.
Debian's installer accepts the partition set up but it loops for about five minutes and then reports the hard drive could not be written to.
Any time I -do- try to write or read to it, I listen to the actual physical movement of the drive: It starts up for about three seconds, goes silent, repeat.

At this point I believe the drive to be dead. My father gave me this computer because he found it in the attic. Before that time, this laptop, and the hard drive had been sitting in the attic which means it endured 130F+ in the summer and -20 in the winter for about six years. I am going to use a liveCD until I buy another flash drive to permanently attach and install debian or something.

Thanks for the help and replies.
Old 12-17-2009, 09:48 PM   #7
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in fact i don't really know how old is yours... but i have router at home, it is Pentium 1 200mhz with 2.1 Gb HDD, formatted as ext3, running debian lenny. it's purpose is to hold VPN connection to my ISP and make NAT for my LAN having 3 computers in. also running recursive DNS(from a minimal BIND build). i never really experienced any troubles formatting to ext3, it was made at once.
debian lenny, i found is a good server platform. even for so old PCs like my router.
it should really be your HDD fault.

Last edited by Web31337; 12-17-2009 at 09:50 PM.


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