Re: interesting drive problem
From: m_f_h (no_one_at_now_where.com)
Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2003 19:51:03 -0500
Zap Radon wrote:
> m_f_h <email@example.com> wrote in news:r70vb.1$cO2.firstname.lastname@example.org:
>>Zap Radon wrote:
>>>I have a laptop drive that had a head-crash a while back. Not having
>>>the dough for a new drive, I simply partitioned around the bad spot
>>>and went on--at the time it was a fat32 setup with Win2k on it.
>>>Later I converted the usable parts to NTFS. Everything has worked
>>>I decided to take the plunge into Linux recently, and wiped the drive
>>>and attempted to set up RH 9, with a similar partitioning scheme.
>>>Ouch. First it simply wouldn't let me skip the bad area. Eventually I
>>>went back to windows to set up barrier partitions, and tried to put
>>>RH on either good partition. Then I attempted Mandrake, since its
>>>installer was more flexible.
>>>I've finally come to the conclusion that neither linux will tolerate
>>>any part of the drive--if it succeeds in installing, it has so many
>>>file errors that it won't run.
>>>Yet, with NTFS, I can't even detect any bad blocks, and it runs
>>>flawlessly (as flawlessly as windows ever runs, at least.)
>>>Anyone know what's going on?
>>Mandrake is a fork of Red Hat, and while they have grown apart in
>>many ways, I suspect that there is little difference in the way they
>>behave toward problem disks.
>>As I understand partitioning under Linux and Windows, there are
>>differences that may explain what is happening. I remember reading
>>somewhere that Linux rigidly enforces the rule that partitions begin
>>at the beginning of a cylinder, and Windows does not. So, you may
>>have thought you partitioned around a bad spot, but you may not have
> Snipped format stuff--I've recovered stuff that buried pretty deeply on
> Windows disks--you're absolutely right.
>>Linux, on the other hand, imposes higher standards during
>>installation, on the "Better Let Them Know Now Than Later Theory"
>>and will refuse to install completely if it finds any bad spots that
>>can't be remapped. I suspect that the head crash you experienced may
>>have used up your cache of spare blocks that all drives come with.
>>Based on my experience, Linux is less trusting of hard drives in
>>this condition than Windows is.
>>If you have not done so already, I suggest two things:
>>1. On many distros, there is an option to test the integrity of the
>>installation: take advantage of that and test the CDs. If you get a
>>failure notice, don't assume it's the media; the problem could be a
>>failing CD drive. I once had a situation where the integrity test
>>insisted that the CD was bad, but the point of failure changed every
>>time I ran the test. After replacing the CD drive, all went well. In
>>your case, replacing a laptop CD drive may be out of your price
>>range; in that case I'd look into a network install, either by using
>>another computer's CD drive or by getting the install files from the
> I did test the media. It was fine.
>>2. However you manage to get the install files to your laptop,
>>always, always select the option offered when partitioning the disk
>>to test for bad blocks. When Linux performs such a test, it creates
>>a file of bad spots that the file system uses to keep from storing
>>data to, and this file may be of any size. Under Windows, bad block
>>info is stored in the FAT area, and there is a hard limit to the
>>number of bad blocks it will keep track of.
> Hmm--RH seemed to have a limit--it simply refused to use the partition.
> The item about starting on a cylinder boundary makes sense--might try
> going for a larger excluded portion.
>>Keep in mind that the file system you select may be an issue. Ext2
>>and Ext3 file system creation allows for block checking at the time
>>of creation. Reiser file systems (version 3.x) do not check for bad
>>spots at the time of creation; rather, when bad spots are found,
>>they are noted in the file system's journal. I don't know how other
>>file systems, such as XFS, handle this issue.
>>Regardless of which Linux file system you use, a message is sent the
>> /var/log/messages file that a bad block has been found and whether
>>corrective action was taken.
> RH just kicked me out of install when it came up with bad blocks. Perhaps
> it was after some limit was reached-wasn't sure what it was doing.
> A couple observations--when I attempted to leave the bad area blank, RH
> would automatically fill it in, no matter where I told it to locate the
> partition. The other problem I had with RH is that it seemed to want to
> make all partitions primary, so I kept running out. Mandrake didn't argue
> about it.
> I would love to know how ntfs manages to keep data integrity intact on
> this thing--the sheer magnitude of corruption on the linux installs was
> shocking. I haven't lost a thing on it in 2 years, or had any file-
> related problems at all.
> Snipped Memtest stuff--great program--have used it for years, actually.
>>Finally, check out http://www.linux-laptop.net/.
> That's quite a site--thanks!
> It's intriguing, to say the least.
I, too, have had issues with Red Hat's partition program, and I
have found it better to use something like Tomsrtbt or LNX-BBC to
boot from, partition the disk, then (optionally) format the
partitions. Then I rebooted and tried the install again (but
didn't reformat the disk when offered the chance).
If you create a separate partition for /boot, don't use Reiser
(for that partition) because Reiser creates a huge journal, 32
MBytes, that would be wasted space in that small a partition.
In the wake of the controversy over Red Hat Fedora, I came across
a site that offers a fork of Red Hat's Enterprise version. The
author has some very interesting things to say about how Red Hat
prepares its distros, and it may help explain some of the
problems you are experiencing. http://www.whiteboxlinux.org/
FAT tracking of bad blocks may be true for OS's up to Windows Me.
NTFS may use a bad block handling scheme similar to Reiser. To
install Red Hat with Reiser file system support, boot as follows:
# boot: linux reiserfs
During install, check the alternate ttys for messages (Alt-F2, etc).
This whole thing sound like quite a challenge. Good luck!