Re: Linux BIOS Challenge
Date: Sun, 27 Mar 2005 08:52:58 GMT
Like wow! Thanks for such interest. I hope that I can do it justice.
On Sat, 26 Mar 2005 11:20:51 -0900, Kevin Miller
>> On Fri, 25 Mar 2005 18:42:09 -0900, Kevin Miller
>> I'm very happy to give you more info. I didn't want to scare people
>> off with loads of un interesting detail.
>Yeah - sometimes it's hard to find that balance.
>> I know a lot more now than I did 3 months ago.
>> The system is my old machine running two hard drives. HD0 is 18Gb
>> which 5½ years ago was a staggering size. HD1 is 20Gb. Both are
>Isn't that bizarre? And in 5 more years we'll wonder how we ever got by
>w/only a 160 GB drive!
>> entirely FAT32. Until the advent of Linux I ran XP, 98SE (twice), and
>> DOS 6.22, and multibooting was performed by BootitNG. The system was
>> rock steady during the time and was networked through a Linksys router
>> to my "best" computer which ran only XP. The processor is an AMD
>> 550Ghz. The BIOS is Award and the mobo MS-6167.
>Not familiar w/BootitNG. Didn't know XP would run on FAT32. Don't
>think I'd do that but maybe you want to get to the XP files from DOS or
>W98 or something. At any rate, it sounds like that much worked fine.
BootitNG is an arcane sort of boot manager prog that is my best mate's
favourite, so I was stuck with it. I should say that it has been rock
stead for 3 or 4 years and has some good utilities. However, I
accepted all the defaults offered by Linux and the bootup is now Suse
inspired with no sign of BootitNG.
>> I installed Linux and when finished I booted up and it failed. I
>> noticed that the error message said "disk failure" and referred to the
>> CD-ROM. I assumed that the BIOS was still pointing to the CD-ROM as
>> the first boot up device and entered the BIOS to change it. It was in
>> good order and pointing to the floppy drive.
>> Linux had been installed in 12Gb of a second partition behind XP.
>OK. So you must have resized the partition that XP was on, whether or
>not it was NTFS or FAT32, and now it's about 8 GB, right? Are you still
>using BootitNG or did you let Linux write to the MBR of the primary disk?
I don't think that I resized the XP partition, though it is a
possibility. If it happened I should have used BootitNG to move the
boundary of the partition.
>> Overtime I realised that the POST message had flown past and that this
>> was happening:
>> At boot up the BIOS found no floppy in the first device and had failed
>> to detect both hard drives (usually) and had finished up pointing at
>> an empty 3rd device - the CD-ROM.
>No floppy was found? Do you mean no floppy disk or drive? Was a disk
>in the drive? Hopefully, you mean no disk was found but the drive
>detected, but I think you mean it didn't see the floppy drive.
The BIOS detected the floppy drive but there was no disk in it to
provide an O/S.
>The floppy drive(s) should be on a different cable than the IDE drives
>IIR. I think it's smaller. What do you mean by pointing at the CD ROM?
> Were messages on the screen that indicated it was looking for boot
>media in the CD-ROM drive? Does it boot from CD if you put one in?
The floppy drive is on a different cable data cable.
The BIOS was listing the CD-ROM as the 3rd boot device.
Yes, the "Disk failure" message was referring to the CD-ROM having no
CD in it. This was nor obvious for a few months.
Yes, it does boot from the CD-ROM. Recently I have told the BIOS that
CD-ROM is the first boot device to facilitate XP installation.
>> I found that very often the solution was to do a warm boot whereupon
>> the BIOS successfully detected both drives and ran the Suse boot menu.
>That sure smacks of the same issue I had which was a drive failure (DVD)
>but maybe that's coincidence. So we seem to be booting from the SuSE
>boot loader, probably grub, right?
Yes, that's right. And not a problem as long as i get that far.
>> Recently I flashed an update (1999) to the BIOS to cover that option.
>Not sure which option you mean there.
Was it a flaky BIOS chip, or a flaky BIOS that was failing to detect
the hard drives? Better make sure it was in perfect order - flash the
>> A few days ago I decided to buy a new hard drive. The decision meant
>> that I had decided to support the old machine and maintain it for the
>> near future.
>A woodworker can't have too many clamps, and a computer can't have too
>much hard drive space. Just a fact of life! <g>
>> I had an old 4Gb hard drive acting as a paper weight on my desk and
>> decide to do a dry run. I installed XP and it went like a dream. It
>> created my internet connection and found my network. It booted up
>> perfectly every time. Even my wife used it for the web. BIOS
>> aberration is a thing of the past.
>> I had disconnected the data cable serving my 2 hard drives at mobo
>> level and used a spare cable to connect to the old drive (which is
>> just resting on the floor of my case for the moment).
>OK, good. Get anything not necessary out of the picture. So your 4
>gigger is on channel IDE0, right? Jumpers are set to stand alone drive
>or cable select? Make sure the drive is either circuit side up or on a
>piece of cardboard or something non-conductive. But you probably
>already know that.
Yes, HD0. No jumper, so runs as single with no other hard drives
I'm a bit worried now! I haven't fitted it into the case because it is
so temporary, but it is circuit side up and it is resting with its
case on the lip of the system box which is conductive. I believe that
this is desireable to simulate the screw connection to the case. I've
often done this without any trouble.
>> If it helps I could run this system for a period of time, say a week
>> or a month, and then move back to just HD0 with XP and Linux, or both
>> hard drives and monitor any BIOS non-detection, having first ensured
>> proper seating of cables.
>What I would do is to wipe out XP on that drive and just install SuSE.
>Let it run standalone and see how it behaves. If it's all fine, then we
>know SuSE runs w/o any weirdness in at least that configuration. After
>that revisit running SuSE on the other drives. There's a lot of
>different pieces of that puzzle so a number of things to check.
>One, make sure both HDs are on cable select, or one is set to master and
>the other slave. The master should be on the end of the cable I
>believe, and the slave in the middle. If I understand the boot process
>correctly, I believe that at boot time the computer will read the MBR on
>the first (master) disk which will point the system to the boot loader.
> In this case it used to be BootitNG but now should be grub, residing
>on the 2nd HD in the Linux partition, in the /boot directory.
Linux is in the second and last partition on HD0. Not sure without
disconnecting one HD which is master, though the jumpers should tell
me. The hard drives are jumpered master and slave.The computer is in
an awkward spot for seeing inside. The grub seems to work perfectly
well once it has reached that stage.
>In /boot/grub is a file called menu.lst. It will contain entries that
>will let you select where/how you want to boot. I'd expect yours to
>point to Linux, XP, and maybe W98 or DOS if you still have those
>partitions - wherever you used to boot with BootitNG. Not sure what
>you're running on the two original drives, but if it was me I'd back up
>the data (copy it to your good computer would be easiest), reinstall XP
>on the first drive, and SuSE on the 2nd drive. (Well, if it was
>*really* me I'd dump XP altogether, but for this example I'll pretend
>not to <g>.)
I haven't examined menu.lst but those items are displayed. I have no
interest in W98 or DOS so I have not chosen them from the menu since
Linux was installed. I did suggest in this group that W98 might be
sacrificed and some wag replied "At last, a use for windows".
There is no data worth saving. I keep it for old time's sake (and it
keeps my wife off my good computer)..
>Let SuSE modify the MBR on the first drive so you get the grub boot
>loader which let's you pick where you want to boot to.
Not sure how to do this.
>On the XP side I'd create two partitions: an XP/NTFS system partition
>(drive c:) around 8 GB, or whatever XP requires, and a FAT32 d: drive
>using the rest of the drive. You may need to create an e: drive too.
>Can't remember the size limitations of FAT32 - might be only 2GB or 8 GB
>or something. Anyway, make some sized FAT32 partition and point "My
>Documents" there. Linux will trash an NTFS partition if you write to
>it, but if you have a FAT32 partition both XP and Linux can write to it
>so you can share files between the systems easily.
I've done this and in spades. 7 partitons altogether. XP is in ntfs,
all others FAT32.
>On the Linux side I'd let SuSE create whatever partitions it defaults to
>on hdb (the 2nd hard drive). I usually break down my partition scheme
>into smaller units, such as a partition for /var, /home, /boot, etc. but
>if you're new to Linux you're probably better off keeping it simple
>This should give you a boot menu that let's you select XP or Linux.
>Then restore the data files which you backed up to the appropriate place.
>> Thank you for your time and interest. I acknowledge that my premise
>> might be false, but in the past the impossible has been found to be
>> possible (just think how the flat earth people feel today) and I am
>> glad that this issue is being considered.
>Well, I'm not convinced that Linux is doing anything to the BIOS, but I
>do believe that something weird is going on and it surfaced after you
>tried installing SuSE. I do know that Linux (and probably XP or other
>OSs *do* write to the BIOS do some extent, i.e., the system and hardware
>clock. But I'm not a hardware guy, so beyond that I'm just guessing. I
>can't think of why they'd access anything else in the BIOS and have
>never heard of them doing so but the volume of things I've never heard
>of could fill oceans! <G>
>We've all been befuddled at one point or another, and most of us are
>here to help as well as be helped. Hopefully this will give you
>something useful to work with. And if I've got any of my boot procedure
>concepts out of alignment hopefully someone more knowledgeable will
>correct me and fill in any blanks.
I am terribly impressed. I shall give very careful consideration to
dedicating HD1 (20Gb) to Linux.