Large Hard Drive install problems

Rick Stevens rstevens at
Wed Jun 8 01:03:35 UTC 2005

brad.mugleston at wrote:
> Brad Mugleston, KI0OT
> There are 10 types of people in this world.  Those that
> understand binary and those that don't.
> On Tue, 7 Jun 2005, Rick Stevens wrote:
>>Mugleston, Brad wrote:
>>>I was given a PII computer - generic brand, can't read who made the board
>>>w/o pulling the computer apart.  I'm going to use it as a file server for my
>>>house and I've got a 160G hard drive to put in it.  It only recognizes 8G of
>>>the drive.  Do I need a special card for this drive or am I doing something
>>>wrong during the FC2 install? Maybe a bios upgrade?
>>>If its a driver card what information do I need to have to get the right
>>>one?  It's a 160G ATA 100 drive.  Slow but cheep.
>>>If it's bios - I haven't upgraded a bios for a long time will I need to
>>>install windows to do this (I don't remember seeing a bios upgrade for Linux
>>>but again that was awhile ago).
>>Well, gee.  PIIs are pretty long in the tooth.  It may be that it won't
>>grock anything bigger than 8GB.
>>First, see if the BIOS supports LBA mode.  If it does, then set it and
>>see if it recognizes the drive properly.  If it doesn't, then see if
>>there's a "user specified" setting where you can put in the cylinders,
>>heads and sectors.  Remember that old BIOS' often couldn't handle >8GB
>>because of the way they stored the CHS values.  You should calculate
>>the number of blocks on the drive (cylinders * heads * sectors), then
>>bugger the CHS values you feed the BIOS.  Most often the BIOS is limited
>>to 1024 cylinders so you have to tell it 255 heads, then divide the
>>total number of blocks by 261120 (1024 * 255), and use that value for
>>the sector count.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
>>Good luck.
> Thanks,  I probably need it.  Yes the BIOS handles LBA mode but
> thats when it stopped at 8G (I just let it automatically discover
> it).  So how many blocks do I need for 160G?  I think thats what
> your suggesting I do.

Yup.  Blocks = cylinders * heads * sectors.  You should be able to glom
that off the drive's label.  If not, look it up on the manufacturer's
website.  Then go into "manual" mode and set the cylinder count to 1024,
heads to 255 and the sectors to the value given by

	sectors = blocks/261120

See if that'll do it.
- Rick Stevens, Senior Systems Engineer     rstevens at -
- VitalStream, Inc.              -
-                                                                    -
- Treat each day as if it's your last...a lot of crying and whining  -
-      usually gets you what you want!              -- Sam Sledge    -

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