Bembel-B Blog

2006/04/22

The SATAnic Power of State-of-the-Art OSes and Installing Them

I recently did a clean install of Windows XP and Fedora Core 5 on my SATA HDD and it was quite an odyssey to get it working. I’ll briefly describe the odds I was confronted with. The real problem was to get Windows NTLDR/boot.ini bootstrap and the GRUB bootloader installed and configured correctly. One source of trouble seems to be that I had my old (even though unpartitioned) IDE HDD still plugged in and it could not be disabled in the BIOS. I am using an Asus A7N8X-E Deluxe mainboard.

Installing Windows XP

Of course one needed to have the Sil SATA driver on a floppy disk and press F6 when the Windows XP Install CD got booted. I knew this already. But downloading that 20+ MB driver package from the Asus website took over 30 minutes with about 13KB/s.. Very frustrating!
The strange thing with the Windows install was that it wouldn’t let me install on the SATA HDD without having enough free space on the IDE HDD. I had to create some partition on the IDE HDD and then the first step of installation continued.
Funny enough, the Windows bootloader got installed on that IDE HDD. So I had my Windows installed on drive C: (SATA) and the bootloader on drive D: (IDE) with a boot.ini configured to load Windoze from the second (SATA) HDD.
To fix that, I had to change the boot.ini to use the first HDD. I edited the file using a Linux Live-CD and copied it to a floppy disk (as there is no text editor included in the Windows Recovery Console AFAIK). Then I booted the Windows Recovery Console and copied all files from the IDE drive and the fixed boot.ini from the floppy disk to the SATA drive. This of course only was sufficient, as I wanted to use GRUB as my bootloader. Quite interesstingly, the drive letters using the Recovery Console where different, i.e. C: was IDE and D: was SATA.. Stupid drive letters anachronism I say!

Installing Fedora Core 5

The installation process was quite straight forward. Only thing that was annoying: There was only the option to install GRUB into the boot sector of the IDE drive or into the beginning of the first Linux partition (SATA). So I had to reinstall GRUB giving the desired destination after the OS was installed.
But this wasn’t enough. The problem is that I booted from CD and therefore the CD-ROM drive was seen as first boot drive and the HDD was considered the second drive. So I had to edit /boot/grub/system.map and define the HDD to be the first boot drive and do a reinstall of GRUB (grub-install /dev/sda).

Conclusion

Some part of problems I think were caused because I had that IDE HDD still installed. On the other hand the installer programs should be smart enough to automagically get around these problems. Sadly I didn’t find the solution as directly as it may sound. Searching the web I didn’t find anything describing my case, so this is why I wrote this..
My description of problems and how I solved them is surely very compressed for such a complex and confusing topic. So feel free to ask for clarification etc. by commenting.

ChangeLog

[2006-04-23: Add tags.]

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2 Comments »

  1. hi,

    i have toshiba m70, dualboot (Winxpsp2 & FC5), all working with XGL and other candyz.
    except, when i do
    hdparm /dev/sda output is very poor :(

    i cannot even enable DMA…
    /dev/sda:
    setting using_dma to 1 (on)
    HDIO_SET_DMA failed: Inappropriate ioctl for device

    not to mention IO 32b/w/sync :(

    DVD MATCHITA is otherwise working A-OK.

    have any ideas?

    regards,
    Benjamin

    Comment by benjamin — 2006/08/10 @ 23:44 | Reply

  2. Hi there,

    on the hdparm issue I think this behavior is perfectly normal. Here’s what it looks like with my SATA HDD:
    —snip…
    [root@p512o ~]# hdparm /dev/sda

    /dev/sda:
    IO_support = 0 (default 16-bit)
    readonly = 0 (off)
    readahead = 256 (on)
    geometry = 30401/255/63, sectors = 488397168, start = 0
    [root@p512o ~]# hdparm -d1 /dev/sda

    /dev/sda:
    setting using_dma to 1 (on)
    HDIO_SET_DMA failed: Inappropriate ioctl for device
    —snip—

    I guess there’s no such thing as DMA Mode with SATA drives. But I don’t know very much about SATA anyway.. :)

    Sadly I don’t understand what you mean with “IO 32b/w/sync”.. If you got bad SATA performance this is most likely because of poor support of that SATA controller’s driver.

    Well, hope that is of any help for you.
    Ciao!

    Comment by FrankZabbath — 2006/08/14 @ 03:04 | Reply


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