linux QTParted disables hard drive

  • Thread starter Achim Nolcken Lohse
  • Start date

A

Achim Nolcken Lohse

I bought a couple of used 8GB Western Digital hard drives recently,
and found that I couldn't format them on my system. I took them back
to the vendor, and he formated both as FAT32 using the system BIOS on
his machine.

When I got them back to my system, an old Compaq AT box with a P166
cpu, I found the drives were accessible under Win98 but a surface
Scandisk self-cancelled about half-way through. But when I tried
running Scandisk under DOS, I found that DOS couldn't see the drive at
all!

I then tried DOS FDisk, and it saw the disk, but reported a) it had no
partitions defined, and b) there was no space to create any DOS
partitions.

Next I tried Ranish Part243, and it was unable to even display any
information about the disk, refusing to go beyond disk 2 because it
"has no active partition".

I then booted Knoppix 3.4, under which the WD drive mounted without
problems. QTParted also reported no errors on the disk, but strangely
reported two partitions on it, the FAT32 one of 7.45GB, and another
"free" filesystem of 1.48MB at the end of the drive. I used QTParted
to delete the FAT32 partition and recreate it, but when I selected the
"format" function, QTParted generated a pop-up that said " this is a
virtual partition. You cannot alter it. use undo instead." The undo
function did not replace the deleted partition, so the drive is no
longer accessible under Linux or Win98 as before.

I think this is pretty much the strangest partitioning experience I've
ever had, and the most frustrating.
 
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J

James

Achim Nolcken Lohse said:
I bought a couple of used 8GB Western Digital hard drives recently,
and found that I couldn't format them on my system. I took them back
to the vendor, and he formated both as FAT32 using the system BIOS on
his machine.

When I got them back to my system, an old Compaq AT box with a P166
cpu, I found the drives were accessible under Win98 but a surface
Scandisk self-cancelled about half-way through. But when I tried
running Scandisk under DOS, I found that DOS couldn't see the drive at
all!
<snip>

That's a very old PC. It's likely the BIOS does not support your 8GB
drives resulting in the strange results you describe.
 
A

Achim Nolcken Lohse

<snip>

That's a very old PC. It's likely the BIOS does not support your 8GB
drives resulting in the strange results you describe.

I don't think that's the problem. If it were, the drive surely
wouldn't have shown up as 8GB under Win98SE.

I have just discovered the probable cause of the problems, however.
The drive was salvaged from an X-Box machine, and is locked and
password protected. In order to use it normally in a PC, one has to
acquire the password and unlock the drive.

Still, it's rather scary that none of the four partitioning programs I
tried were able to offer any help in identifying or solving the
problem.
 
J

James

Achim Nolcken Lohse said:
I don't think that's the problem. If it were, the drive surely
wouldn't have shown up as 8GB under Win98SE.

I have just discovered the probable cause of the problems, however.
The drive was salvaged from an X-Box machine, and is locked and
password protected. In order to use it normally in a PC, one has to
acquire the password and unlock the drive.

Still, it's rather scary that none of the four partitioning programs I
tried were able to offer any help in identifying or solving the
problem.

But if the drive is 'locked' and password protected how could the vendor
have formatted the drives as FAT32 so easily and then delivered it back to
you 'locked' and password protected? That doesn't make sense to me?
Nevertheless I still believe a Compaq AT with a P166 is likely to have a
BIOS limitation in addressing hard drives. You can read more here:
http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/bios/size.htm and in the same article he
describes what can happen if you put in a hard drive that the BIOS can't
handle: http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/bios/sizeHandling-c.html

BTW, which DOS version did you use to try and access the drive? Older DOS
versions could only read FAT16, not FAT32. I think you need a 'DOS' disk
made with at least Windows98SE to 'see' a FAT32 volume.

You should also run an FDISK from a 'FAT32' DOS and see what the partition
information is.
 
K

Krust

I don't think that's the problem. If it were, the drive surely
wouldn't have shown up as 8GB under Win98SE.

I have just discovered the probable cause of the problems, however.
The drive was salvaged from an X-Box machine, and is locked and
password protected. In order to use it normally in a PC, one has to
acquire the password and unlock the drive.

Still, it's rather scary that none of the four partitioning programs I
tried were able to offer any help in identifying or solving the
problem.

If you used an old DOS boot disk it wouldn't be able to read FAT32.
 
C

Chaos Master

Chaos happened and Achim Nolcken Lohse said:
I don't think that's the problem. If it were, the drive surely
wouldn't have shown up as 8GB under Win98SE.

I have just discovered the probable cause of the problems, however.
The drive was salvaged from an X-Box machine, and is locked and
password protected. In order to use it normally in a PC, one has to
acquire the password and unlock the drive.

Isn't there any way to destroy all partitions on the drive, I think this would
wipe password?

What I think that can be done:

- (just for safety): Remove your main hard drive (unplug it) and put this HD
as primary master. Set jumpers. Make the BIOS detect it.

- Boot using a DOS bootdisk
- Use FDISK to destroy partitions and to partition it as you like
- Use fdisk /mbr
- Format the new partition(s)
- Put your main HDD as primary master, put this new HDD as slave, setting
jumpers.

Disclaimer: I have never installed a hard drive in my PC (I am a software
guy), so I don't know if this will work 100%

[]s
 
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A

Achim Nolcken Lohse

But if the drive is 'locked' and password protected how could the vendor
have formatted the drives as FAT32 so easily and then delivered it back to
you 'locked' and password protected? That doesn't make sense to me?

Does it make sense to you that the drive appears and can be written to
in Windows, but DOS FDisk reports it has "no partitions defined" and
that it can't create a partition because there's no space?
Nevertheless I still believe a Compaq AT with a P166 is likely to have a
BIOS limitation in addressing hard drives.

Well, I can only report what I saw. Both FDisk and Windows reported
the size of the drive correctly, as did Linux. I was also able to read
and write to one of the drives in Windows and Linux. Is that possible
without BIOS support? I noticed when Knoppix 3.4 booted, it reported
"hdc: host protected area =>1" and
"hdc: [LDM] hdc1"

for this disk only. Perhaps that's a clue to the problem?

You can read more here:
http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/bios/size.htm and in the same article he
describes what can happen if you put in a hard drive that the BIOS can't
handle: http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/bios/sizeHandling-c.html
Thanks. Interesting reading, but doesn't really shed any light on the
problem under discussion. Only one size limit could possibly apply -
the 240 head/ 7.38GiB one, since the BIOS handles a Maxtor 6GB hdd
without problems. And if I understood the article correctly, the most
likely result of this limit would merely be to truncate the useable
space of the drive to that limit.
BTW, which DOS version did you use to try and access the drive? Older DOS
versions could only read FAT16, not FAT32. I think you need a 'DOS' disk
made with at least Windows98SE to 'see' a FAT32 volume.

I used the startup disk created by Win98SE.
You should also run an FDISK from a 'FAT32' DOS and see what the partition
information is.

What's a FAT32 DOS?
 
A

Achim Nolcken Lohse

If you used an old DOS boot disk it wouldn't be able to read FAT32.
It would still be able to detect the partition. In any case I used the
Win98SE Startup disk.

What I find most baffling is that Win98 showed the drive, allowed me
to read and write to it, did a quick scan and found no errors, did a
surface scan of more than 50% (4+GB) of it before cancelling, and yet
DOS doesn't see the drive at all, and FDisk recognizes the disk, shows
the correct disk size, but detects no partitions yet can't create any
because "there's no space available"!
 
A

Achim Nolcken Lohse

Chaos happened and Achim Nolcken Lohse said:


Isn't there any way to destroy all partitions on the drive, I think this would
wipe password?

Linux QTParted allowed me to delete the hdc1 partition, but not the
hdc-1 partition. Then it allowed me to recreate a FAT32 partition, but
not to modify it. After that disk became inaccessible.

DOS FDisk can't detect any partitions. When I try to delete, it says
no partitions defined. When I try to create, it says no space to
create a partition, while reporting the unpartitioned size as 7.63GB.
What I think that can be done:

- (just for safety): Remove your main hard drive (unplug it) and put this HD
as primary master. Set jumpers. Make the BIOS detect it.
- Boot using a DOS bootdisk
- Use FDISK to destroy partitions and to partition it as you like
- Use fdisk /mbr
- Format the new partition(s)
- Put your main HDD as primary master, put this new HDD as slave, setting
jumpers.

Fatal flaw with this plan: with this drive on the primary IDE channel,
either as single or as slave, the system wouldn't boot at all.
 
D

dszady

Achim said:
But if the drive is 'locked' and password protected how could the vendor
have formatted the drives as FAT32 so easily and then delivered it back to
you 'locked' and password protected? That doesn't make sense to me?

Does it make sense to you that the drive appears and can be written to
in Windows, but DOS FDisk reports it has "no partitions defined" and
that it can't create a partition because there's no space?
Nevertheless I still believe a Compaq AT with a P166 is likely to have a
BIOS limitation in addressing hard drives.

Well, I can only report what I saw. Both FDisk and Windows reported
the size of the drive correctly, as did Linux. I was also able to read
and write to one of the drives in Windows and Linux. Is that possible
without BIOS support? I noticed when Knoppix 3.4 booted, it reported
"hdc: host protected area =>1" and
"hdc: [LDM] hdc1"

for this disk only. Perhaps that's a clue to the problem?

You can read more here:
http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/bios/size.htm and in the same article he
describes what can happen if you put in a hard drive that the BIOS can't
handle: http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/bios/sizeHandling-c.html
Thanks. Interesting reading, but doesn't really shed any light on the
problem under discussion. Only one size limit could possibly apply -
the 240 head/ 7.38GiB one, since the BIOS handles a Maxtor 6GB hdd
without problems. And if I understood the article correctly, the most
likely result of this limit would merely be to truncate the useable
space of the drive to that limit.
BTW, which DOS version did you use to try and access the drive? Older
DOS
versions could only read FAT16, not FAT32. I think you need a 'DOS' disk
made with at least Windows98SE to 'see' a FAT32 volume.

I used the startup disk created by Win98SE.
You should also run an FDISK from a 'FAT32' DOS and see what the partition
information is.

What's a FAT32 DOS?

Win98 1st Edition here. It can do FAT32.
Use fdisk on both. As long as they are over 2g no problem formatting to
fat32 DOS(File Allocation Table 32Bit) which utilizes clusters more
efficiently. In other words, an 8G drive would be 8G unless formatted to
FAT16(4G).
In fdisk, did you say yes to support for large partions(?). You have to say
yes. This old Gateway would just skip by that question, so I won't(ever)
use the restoration disk, except for writing all zeroes to the HD.
Achim, you are always having problems doing this. Actually as far as I
remember it's been Knoppix. Can you get a larger hard drive?
Even if Linux is the only OS? Do you want to run Windows on one of the hard
drives?
Why not run a hard dive resident OS? Mandrake:) I'll send you all 4 disks.
It will be worth your time, believe me!
You are going to need at leat a 20g hard drive to run both.
Minimum 10g for Linux
Tell us your needs and wants and we'll make your dreams come true.
 
J

James

Achim Nolcken Lohse said:
Does it make sense to you that the drive appears and can be written to
in Windows, but DOS FDisk reports it has "no partitions defined" and
that it can't create a partition because there's no space?

Windows has it's own embedded IDE hard disk driver, it does not use the BIOS
INT13 to access the hard drive, it accesses the hard drive directly. OTOH
DOS programs and FDISK use the BIOS INT13 to access the hard drive so yes, I
can see why in some circumstances Windows would be able to access the hard
drive correctly using it's own driver but FDISK or any DOS program using
INT13 through the BIOS might have difficulties if an older BIOS cannot
handle a newer drive geometry correctly. Similarly, Linux has it's own
IDE hard disk driver. This is why I suggested you look at the BIOS.
However, as you have discounted a BIOS problem, it's not clear to me what
the problem as you describe it might be especially as your vendor had no
problems creating partitions and formatting the hard drives in his machine.

I used the startup disk created by Win98SE.

What's a FAT32 DOS?

A version of DOS that can handle a FAT32 drive (as I mentioned in the
paragraph above). I had suggested you might need DOS from W98SE but Dszady
mentions that DOS from the original W98 will also work on a FAT32 drive.

Others have suggested that you go back and run fdisk again, perhaps with the
new drive as the root (C:) drive but as you already say fdisk won't even
display any existing partitions or allow you to create a new partition, then
it would appear this will not work?

As you are convinced the BIOS is fine, I can only suggest you bring the
drives back to your vendor, ask him to delete all the partition(s) he
created and then see if FDISK on your PC will allow you to create a new
partition? You should also ask him if he detected any 'locks' or passwords
when he ran FDISK on them?

BTW, what information about the hard drive does the BIOS display on the
screen when you switch on and if you enter the BIOS configuration utility as
the PC boots, what information does the first BIOS screen display about the
hard drive? This might provide a clue?
 
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S

Susan Bugher

James said:
BTW, what information about the hard drive does the BIOS display on the
screen when you switch on and if you enter the BIOS configuration utility as
the PC boots, what information does the first BIOS screen display about the
hard drive? This might provide a clue?

Hi Achim,

Compaq does do things differently - I learned that the hard way when I
installed a new CD drive in one. :( I have a dim recollection (possibly
erroneous) that Compaq puts a hidden sector on its hard drives - perhaps
the BIOS expects that hidden sector to be there. You might try a
newsgroup search for your problem including "Compaq" as one of the
search terms.

Susan
 
V

vince

I bought a couple of used 8GB Western Digital hard drives recently,
and found that I couldn't format them on my system.

Have you tried using Western Digital's software (available on their web
site) to partition and format the drives?

If you can find an older copy of WD Data LifeGuard, there is software to
check your hard drives for errors (eg. version 1.26 is a DOS based boot
floppy with all the tools you need to troubleshoot, partition and format
a Western digital drive).

Another trick you might try is to boot with Knoppix and use the linux
fdisk, instead of parted. Option "o" will allow you to create a new
partition table.

And as a last resort, in Knoppix, you could use dd to zero out the
master boot record - or the entire disk, for that matter.
 
C

Chris Lee

But if the drive is 'locked' and password protected how could the vendor
have formatted the drives as FAT32 so easily and then delivered it back to
you 'locked' and password protected? That doesn't make sense to me?
Nevertheless I still believe a Compaq AT with a P166 is likely to have a
BIOS limitation in addressing hard drives. You can read more here:
http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/bios/size.htm and in the same article he
describes what can happen if you put in a hard drive that the BIOS can't
handle: http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/bios/sizeHandling-c.html

BTW, which DOS version did you use to try and access the drive? Older DOS
versions could only read FAT16, not FAT32. I think you need a 'DOS' disk
made with at least Windows98SE to 'see' a FAT32 volume.

You should also run an FDISK from a 'FAT32' DOS and see what the partition
information is.

If he was using MSDOS 6.22 and the partition was formatted in FAT32
the partition would *NOT* show up under msdos 6.22 or older.

As far as they are concerned the partition doesn't exist.
 
A

Achim Nolcken Lohse

Win98 1st Edition here. It can do FAT32.
Use fdisk on both. As long as they are over 2g no problem formatting to
fat32 DOS(File Allocation Table 32Bit) which utilizes clusters more
efficiently. In other words, an 8G drive would be 8G unless formatted to
FAT16(4G).
In fdisk, did you say yes to support for large partions(?).

I did
You have to say
yes. This old Gateway would just skip by that question, so I won't(ever)
use the restoration disk, except for writing all zeroes to the HD.
Achim, you are always having problems doing this. Actually as far as I
remember it's been Knoppix. Can you get a larger hard drive?

Well, my plan was to run three or four hard drives, 4 to 8 GB in size.
Even if Linux is the only OS? Do you want to run Windows on one of the hard
drives?
Why not run a hard dive resident OS? Mandrake:) I'll send you all 4 disks.

Thanks for the offer, but I've got broadband. In fact, I've got a copy
of Fedora on DVD. I'm not interested in hosting bloatware though.
It will be worth your time, believe me!
You are going to need at leat a 20g hard drive to run both.
Minimum 10g for Linux.

I'm surprised. That's a pretty big jump from around 2GB a year or so
ago.

In any case, my priority right now is to keep my older systems going
reliably, as my wife is using one for work, and I like to have another
for backup. If I succumb to the lure of a new PC, with a huge hard
drive, I'll end up with all my eggs in one basket, and when the system
crashes, I won't be able to just move over to my spare and continue.
 
A

Achim Nolcken Lohse

Hi Achim,

Compaq does do things differently - I learned that the hard way when I
installed a new CD drive in one. :(

Funny you should say that. I moved a working Creative 52X CD-ROM to
the Compaq under discussion, and it wouldn't run. I had to use an old
SCSI external instead.
I have a dim recollection (possibly
erroneous) that Compaq puts a hidden sector on its hard drives - perhaps
the BIOS expects that hidden sector to be there.

You may be thinking of the configuration partition. Compaq provided
some of its AT systems with configuration and diagnostics floppies,
which were, of course, excruciatingly slow to run. They offered the
alternative on these systems to create a configuration and diagnostics
partition, which is fine normally, but creates problems when you try
to set up a dual-boot system with Lilo or some other boot manager.
 
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A

Achim Nolcken Lohse

Windows has it's own embedded IDE hard disk driver, it does not use the BIOS
INT13 to access the hard drive, it accesses the hard drive directly. OTOH
DOS programs and FDISK use the BIOS INT13 to access the hard drive so yes, I
can see why in some circumstances Windows would be able to access the hard
drive correctly using it's own driver but FDISK or any DOS program using
INT13 through the BIOS might have difficulties if an older BIOS cannot
handle a newer drive geometry correctly. Similarly, Linux has it's own
IDE hard disk driver. This is why I suggested you look at the BIOS.

The Compaq BIOS is pretty much a black box. It detects hardware
changes such as removal of the floppy, or a change of hard drives
(even a change between two specimens of the same model), and allows
you to accept or ignore the changes (F1/F2).

If you boot from the Compaq configuration disk, it displays hardware
found, but NOT the disks on the secondary IDE controller, even when
these work fine under DOS and Windows.
However, as you have discounted a BIOS problem, it's not clear to me what
the problem as you describe it might be especially as your vendor had no
problems creating partitions and formatting the hard drives in his machine.

Well, I don't know that he created the partitions, and he formatted
the hard drives using the BIOS of his machine. I noticed afterward
that one of the drives was jumpered as single, while the other was
jumpered for CS. I don't remenber which was which, but one was
readable under Windows and the other wasn't.
....
As you are convinced the BIOS is fine,

I can't say the BIOS is fine, only that there's no reason to believe
the problem is due to its inability to handle disks of this size,
since it handles a 6GB Maxtor without any of these problems.
I can only suggest you bring the
drives back to your vendor, ask him to delete all the partition(s) he
created and then see if FDISK on your PC will allow you to create a new
partition? You should also ask him if he detected any 'locks' or passwords
when he ran FDISK on them?

I didn't post here to get help with these drives, just to warn others
of my experience with QTParted, which seems to have behaved
erratically in this instance. The vendor is a six hour round trip
distant, and I don't have any trips that way scheduled for over a
month. He doesn't seem to know or care about the xbox password/lock
problem, possibly because he's found other buyers who have access to
xboxes and so can implement the workaround. It looks like the drives
are a write-off for me, but I'm more cheesed off about the time I
wasted on them than the money spent.
BTW, what information about the hard drive does the BIOS display on the
screen when you switch on and if you enter the BIOS configuration utility as
the PC boots, what information does the first BIOS screen display about the
hard drive? This might provide a clue?

See above. This BIOS doesn't have anywhere near that sophistication.
No information about the hardware is displayed at bootup, unless a
drive is changed. And all it displays then is that it's a type 68,
which label it also uses for the 6GB Maxtor and the 540MB Conner.
 
A

Achim Nolcken Lohse

Have you tried using Western Digital's software (available on their web
site) to partition and format the drives?

If you can find an older copy of WD Data LifeGuard, there is software to
check your hard drives for errors (eg. version 1.26 is a DOS based boot
floppy with all the tools you need to troubleshoot, partition and format
a Western digital drive).

I've been to the WD site, and downloaded a number of possibly useable
utilities, but haven't tried them yet. I assume that the xbox users
are knowledgeable enough to try these utilities themselves, and
wouldn't need a special password collection utility if there were such
a simple solution.
Another trick you might try is to boot with Knoppix and use the linux
fdisk, instead of parted. Option "o" will allow you to create a new
partition table.

Tried that, but all it got me was an "invalid option --o" message,
followed by a short usage list I couldn't make sense of.
And as a last resort, in Knoppix, you could use dd to zero out the
master boot record - or the entire disk, for that matter.

Don't know how to do that either, or what I would do next.

FYI, I did record the results of fdisk -l /dev/hdc:

"Disk /dev/hdc: 8004 MB, 8004132864 bytes
16 heads, 63 sectors/track, 15509 cylinders
Units=cylinders of 1008*512=516096 bytes

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System"

This was followed by a wordy warning that any number of cylinders
greater than 1024 might cause problems with older OSs, DOS FDisk,
etc....
 
R

Richard Steven Hack

When I got them back to my system, an old Compaq AT box with a P166
cpu, I found the drives were accessible under Win98 but a surface
Scandisk self-cancelled about half-way through. But when I tried
running Scandisk under DOS, I found that DOS couldn't see the drive at
all!

Compaq BIOS does odd things. When I tried installing Red Hat Linux
7.3, Red Hat 8.0 and Mandrake (version I forget), they would not
install at all on my Maxtor 40GB HD. Even when I created and wrote
the partition table using their own partition table managers, each
would report being unable to read the partition table or that the
partition table was an unknown format.

OTOH, Red Hat 7.0 blew right on the machine with absolutely no
problems at all. Go figure.

Also, as someone else noted, Compaq puts a diagnostic partition of
about 6MB, IIRC, on the first part of the drive. This can totally
confuse a lot of partitioning programs (but not Ranish, which
recognizes it.)
 
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R

Richard Steven Hack

I have just discovered the probable cause of the problems, however.
The drive was salvaged from an X-Box machine, and is locked and
password protected. In order to use it normally in a PC, one has to
acquire the password and unlock the drive.

Not surprising - X-Box is a game machine. A quick Google reveals this
Web page on how it is partitioned - in fact, there IS NO partition
table!

http://www.xbox-linux.org/docs/partidea.html

And here's an article on doing just that - putting an X-Box hard drive
into a regular computer (warning: very involved):
http://www.tech-forums.net/computer/topic/6704.html

Related software tools can be found here:
http://www.xbox-scene.com/tools/tools.php?page=harddrive#newsitemEpFVEFZllEVMUtVboU
 

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