Solution: Richard's Linux installation

In a previous Pop Quiz, Richard was having problems with a Linux installation. This week, we offer a solution to his dilemma and award TechRepublic T-shirts to two lucky members!

When we last left Richard, he was having problems with a hard drive installation. Richard was given the job of installing new hard drives on three separate workstation machines. The first two machines required Windows 2000, while the other would be using Red Hat Linux 6.2.

Richard purchased three ATA 100-compliant EIDE hard drives and ATA 100 cards and installed each card into its respective machine, followed by the hard drives. He made sure that all the hard drives were plugged securely into each UDMA card. Before the drives could be detected, however, the hard drives had to be formatted, and the software required to run the card had to be installed before the hard drives were attached.
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Everything appeared to be working fine after Richard installed each operating system to its respective hard drive. Both of the Windows 2000 machines seemed to operate normally, as did the hard drive with the Linux installation. Richard then plugged the Win2K hard drives into their ATA 100 cards, and turned on the workstations. To his delight, the computers booted just fine.

Next, Richard turned his attention to the Linux machine. He followed the same steps that he had done with the two Windows machines, plugging the newly formatted Linux hard drive into the UDMA card securely. He powered up the machine, but an error occurred telling Richard that the hard drive could not be found and that no OS was available. Thinking he might have botched the install, he removed the ribbon from the ATA 100 card and plugged it back into the motherboard. To his surprise, the OS loaded without any problems.

The solution
So what was wrong with Richard’s plan? There is actually a two-part answer to this particular quiz, which made it a little more difficult to figure out.
  • Problem one: Richard loaded Linux on another IDE slot.
    Linux tends to be a bit temperamental when it comes to its installation. When you install the OS on a specific IDE slot, the OS installs the hard drive as hda, hdb, hdc, and so on. When you move the hard drive to another IDE slot on a board, Linux can’t make the distinction that it has been moved, and thus will produce an error.
  • Problem two: The kernel isn’t compiled to run the ATA 100 card.
    Most Linux distributions currently available don’t support the ATA 100 cards on the market, given that it’s such a relatively new technology. In order to run a hard drive that is connected to an ATA 100 card, the functionality must be compiled directly into the kernel. On another side note, if Richard wanted the hard drive to run as an ATA 100 hard drive, it also would have to be compiled into the kernel.
We’ve chosen two winners out of all correct entries received. Congratulations to Sergej Rinc and Joseph Fleischfresser, who both correctly identified Richard’s problem. For their winning entries, both members will receive a free TechRepublic T-shirt.

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