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Hard disk problem


I am helping a colleague of mine install Linux on his PC.  The PC in
question was "inherited" from our boss (who has decided to switch to a
Macintosh), and is a pentium machine from a no-name company.

The problem we are having is that the hard disk (Western Digital model
AC2700, 700 MB) has on it a "Disk Manager" from a company called
On-track.  This is code that is on the boot sector of the hard disk,
supposedly to get around the around the 1024 cylinder problem.  (The
BIOS is AMIBIOS, which a AMIBIOS date of 07/25/94.)  In any case, we
couldn't read the partition table, and after calling Western Digital
and On-track, we ended up fdisk'ing and formatting the hard disk.

The hard disk has 1416 cylinders, 16 heads, and 63 sectors, but the
BIOS apparently could not handle 1416 cylinders.  Under DOS, (with the
original BIOS setting of 1415/16/63) fdisk (the DOS version) would
show only 500 MB.  Worse is that the DOS partition created under the
1416/16/63 setting would give problems under Linux: fdisk (Linux
version) would complain about the partition having different
physical/logical beginnings and endings, and about not ending on
cylinder boundaries.  We finally hit on this combination to make
everybody happy:

	BIOS setting: 708 cylinders, 32 heads, 63 sectors

Under DOS, boot up was ok, and DOS-fdisk showed 696 MB.  Under Linux,
boot up showed CHS=708/32/63 (and not 1416/16/63), and Linux's fdisk
no longer complains about "different physical/logical beginnings",

Now when we boot up with a Linux floppy disk, we get

	hda: WDC AC2700H, 696 MB w/128KB Cache, LBA, CHS=708/32/63, MaxMult=16

	ide0: primary interface on irq 14

But further down the line we get

	hda: set_geometry_intr: status=0x0d { Busy }
	ide0: do_ide_reset: success
	hda: set_geometry_intr: status=0x0d { Busy }
	ide0: do_ide_reset: success
	hda: set_geometry_intr: status=0x0d { Busy }
	end_request: I/O error, dev 0300, sector 0
	  unable to read partition table of device 0300

After boot up, if we try to mount the MSDOS partition (/dev/hda1) or
enable the swap (/dev/hda3), it does not work.  Curiously, after
booting up, if we go into fdisk and do a "w" (write to the partition
table), then we can get to the partitions (enabling swap, and mounting
the MSDOS partition).  But this change doesn't seem to be permanent,
and we have to go through the same maneuver with fdisk every time.

By the way, we tried all kinds of combinations with the
cylinder/head/sector setting, and with the Linux boot-up options to
set the hard disk parameters.  So far we *always* get the "unable to
read partition table" error.  

Any suggestions?  Thanks in advance.

Sidney Li
Polaroid Corp.
lih at

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