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Old 02-08-2002, 06:40 AM   #1
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Registered: Feb 2002
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Angry Upgrade woe

Having a bit of trouble upgrading my system from RedHat 7.0 to RedHat 7.2.
The system is a 2 year old Dell with a 20GB Hard Drive. It shares the hard drive with Windows 98. I partitioned it originally with Partition Magic and never had any trouble with it until the upgrade.

The first problem arose when I had to choose a boot loader. Remembering that Partition Magic was there, I decided to choose the "Don't install a boot loader" option to leave it alone. This was a pretty stupid thing to do, it meant that PM was now pointing at something that no longer existed. I then compounded the felony by going with the RedHat recommended upgrade of the file system from ext2 to ext3.

Anyway, then I chose my packages and the upgrade proceeded smoothly except for one warning:

"Unable to align partition properly. This probably means that another partitioning tool generated an incorrect partition table, because it didn't have the correct BIOS geometry. It is safe to ignore but ignoring may cause (fixable) problems with some boot loaders."

Not seeing what else to do, I chose to ignore it. We'll come back to this later.

Anyway, the process completed, I made a boot floppy without event and rebooted the machine. It of course died when I chose Linux from the Partition magic prompt. The Windows choice still worked.

I realized the error of my ways then. So I decided to go into Partition Magic and see what I could do. It started complaining about mysterious errors in the boot section which I figured were flipping bits from ext2 to ext3. This version of PM was probably too old to know about ext3 so I got out of there and decided I should get rid of Partition Magic at this point and use LILO or GRUB. PM had helped me to partition the disk but I didn't really need it's boot loader. So I uninstalled both Partition Magic and its companion Boot Magic, put the Red Hat CD back in and tried to do the install again.

I chose grub this time, the installer did it's thing, there was nothing to upgrade and then it told me that since I hadn't changed the kernel, it wouldn't touch my boot-loader (even though I had changed my boot-load preference) I tried again and again, installing some packages I didn't really need just to see if I could get it to install the boot loader but it wouldn't. Pretty stupid installer - if you change your boot load preference it should install your choice even if you don't change the kernel.

And when it rains it pours. My floppy was no good for booting. Seems that the install program merrily writes out your floppy without verifying so you can easily be left with a useless disk without knowing.

So there was nothing for it but trying to manually load LILO or GRUB in rescue mode, which I did.

Neither worked. LILO wouldn't boot. I then got a bunch of information about GRUB and decided to try that. By now I'm not touching anything without understanding it. And I decided to install GRUB onto a floppy and test it from there before messing up my hard drive. I tried formatting floppies first and went through several before finding a good one, but I finally found one and got grub onto it.

I booted from this floppy and up came grub.
From there I could easily boot to win98 but when I tried booting to Linux
(trust me that all my partition numbering was correct) it died in the middle with this message

mxt_scan_bios: enter

At this point the system was hard frozen and had to be turned off and on to reboot.

Now I figured at least I understood why the floppy boot disk had failed, so I got another floppy that passed the format-verify test and went back into the installer, made a boot floppy this time and then tested that it indeed worked.
So I now knew for sure that the Linux install was successful except for the boot loader problem.

So where to go from here? It seems likely to me that the warning message quoted above has something to do with my problem. The warning message calls the problem "fixable" but doesn't say how.

Another question. Would LBA32 help me? Is it needed for GRUB?
I would be grateful for any answers here.


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