Yes, there is a hard drive there...
July 12, 2006 7:02 AM   Subscribe

Debian won't find my hard drive! Please help! I have details so there's

Ok. I'm trying to do a dual install with Debian ver 3.1 (for AMD64) on my PC ( also running XP Pro 64bit ). The installer initializes fine, but doesn't find my hard drive! I've looked online, but I can't find anything on my situation. Mostly, I can't find help with my specific hardware. I've used live cd's before, but this is my first install. Here's the specs on my computer:

Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe Wireless Edition Motherboard
AMD Athlon 64 FX62 Processor
Biostar GeForce 7600GS Video Card (V7602GS51)
2x Kingston 1GB DDR2 800 RAM
Western Digital Caviar 16-WD3200KS 320GB SATA Hard Drive 7200RPM 16MB Cache (connected to M.B. directly)
Plextor PX-716AL/SW DVD/RW + CD/RW
OCX 700W Power Supply

ASUS BIOS Ver. 0504

Debian Ver. 3.1r2 for AMD64

Thanks in advance for all the help!!!
posted by tdreyer1 to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The first thing I'd try is an install/live/rescue disk from another distro. If something else can see the hardware you might just need to build a custom boot disk for debian (and having booted into whatever other distro you can interrogate it to find what drivers it loaded).
posted by devbrain at 7:20 AM on July 12, 2006

The AMD64 distribution you're using is a year old (and was frozen for some months before that, so it's more like 1.5 years old). I would guess that your hardware is simply too new, something isn't supported.

Accordingly, you can either get an install disk for the Debian testing distribution, which is only a week or two old at any given time:

Or you can try a Debian-based distribution with a recent release, such as Ubuntu:

Or, uh, something else. But rather than try to troubleshoot installing Debian Sarge, I would just pick a newer distro and see if that "just works". If you get a very recent distribution and it still doesn't recognize your drive, that's a problem.
posted by jellicle at 7:31 AM on July 12, 2006

(1) Are you 100% positive that the drive is properly installed?

(2) Are you sure you're trying the right device? (/dev/sda1 probably)

(2) Debian stable is designed to be "behind the curve" of the latest technology. Your drive is SATA and quite large. It is possible that the stable debian installer (or possibly even the kernel) isn't happy with this as your primary drive.

IIRC, hard drives over ~140GB will not register unless your kernel is >2.4.20. So check that too.
posted by beerbajay at 7:36 AM on July 12, 2006

Response by poster: @devbrain: Ok. Can you point me to a step-by-step how-to to tell me how to build a custom boot disk for Debian? Also, if I do get another distro to install, how do I find out what driver it used?

@jellicle: (*sigh* more cd's to download...) I didn't realize that there was a newer version of the amd64 port, so I'd like to try the updated one... I just don't want to spend another 2-3 days downloading it... so I think I'll try Ubuntu again. I tried it as a live cd, but it always hung at the progress image (sorry, don't know what else to call it). I think I'll try Ubuntu at lunchtime, then update this page with any problems or success I might have.

@beerbajay: 1) As far as physically installed, remember that I already have XP Pro 64bit installed and running... So yes, I'm sure it's installed properly. 2) I don't know how to specify the device, so if that is the problem, it would be nice to know how to specify it. 3) I believe the kernel is, but I'm not sure...

Thanks y'all, I really do appriciate the help!
posted by tdreyer1 at 8:15 AM on July 12, 2006

I'd definitely try Ubuntu... the 6.06 release is just a few weeks old. Your hardware, however, is also only a few weeks old, so it may not be supported yet.

You'll probably like Ubuntu better than stock Debian anyway... Debian is probably the best server distro going, highly optimized for remote administration, but it's not as good as a desktop. Ubuntu is based on Debian, so you get the same packaging and administration goodness, but it's highly polished and optimized for use by regular humans. It's really _very_ nice.

The new NVidia chipset is apparently very similar to the old one, so it might work with the most recent NForce3/4 drivers. If not, just be a little patient. It's very normal for Linux to be a little behind on hardware support, and you bought absolutely bleeding-edge stuff. It may take awhile for the free software guys to catch up. 6+ months is historically fairly normal, though I doubt this particular hardware will take that long.

Rolling your own bootdisk would be a tall, tall mountain to climb for someone who's never worked before with Linux.
posted by Malor at 8:35 AM on July 12, 2006

Drive specification: most likely, the hard drive will be /dev/sda. If you have other SATA devices, it might be /dev/sdb or something like that.

Partition specification: Windows will occupy /dev/sda1. Currently, the drive is probably partitioned with that as the only partition, taking up the entire drive. If you ever get the installer going, it want you to reduce the size of that partition and create some other partitions for Linux. A fairly likely outcome is something like:

/dev/sda1 - Windows (NTFS)
/dev/sda2 - Linux (ext2/ext3)
/dev/sda3 - Extended partition (fake, holds swap partition)
/dev/sda5 - Swap partition for Linux

If download bandwidth is a problem, try the Debian netinst images - they're small, and they have just enough to get up and running, and then they download additional software from the net to complete the install. This is the base page:

And this is the image you want:

Or even:

You'll still end up downloading a lot of software, but it may be more satisfying to get things started and then do the downloading.
posted by jellicle at 8:45 AM on July 12, 2006

I agree with Malor. Debian is great, but it may be just plain easier for you to use Ubuntu.

Even then, you may have issues with your SATA controller/SATA drive not being immediately recognized. Based on googling your motherboard, it looks like you have a Silicon Image SATA controller (which is the same brand as the one I have, I think), and I remember some issues with Ubuntu x64 about 9 months ago with getting that to go. However, I didn't spend much time with it, further messing around will probably get it to work, as long as it's supported in general. Google your chipset name/models and linux to try and find out more.

The thing is, with linux, you almost always have to tinker with something to get your system working correctly. I've always had one piece of hardware that needed a little configuration or outright replacement to work in linux.
posted by cellphone at 8:51 AM on July 12, 2006

I was going to suggest Ubuntu, too, but I see someone had the same problem with your mobo.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:27 AM on July 12, 2006

Response by poster: UPDATE: Ok. Went back and tried Ubuntu 6.06 for AMD64... boot menu loads. I select install... It brings up a picture of the ubutnu symbol and the word "ubuntu" and then hangs. Ok. I tried the advanced install cd... I hit "install in text mode"... loads the kernel, goes through a bunch of lines of text then hangs after the following line:

[ 40.500900] input: ImPS/2 Logitech Wheel Mouse as /class/input/input1

Then nothing. I can type stuff (onto the screen), but the system doesn't respond. I tried various things like linux, ubuntu, live, livecd, linux noapic.... and it just sits there. I does the same thing when I try the advanced cd, non text install... What next?
posted by tdreyer1 at 10:39 AM on July 12, 2006

Response by poster: Oh, and the non-text install hangs after the same line of text, just with a different number...
posted by tdreyer1 at 10:39 AM on July 12, 2006

Response by poster: I don't know if this'll help, but the Slax and Gparted live cds are really the only ones that have worked with my machine, and I've tried quite a few.
posted by tdreyer1 at 10:46 AM on July 12, 2006

Just use the weekly snapshot netinst from testing for AMD64. I downloaded it in minutes. Something like 280 megs. Jellico told you to do.

posted by QIbHom at 2:47 PM on July 12, 2006

I had a (somewhat) similar problem with sarge/sata/amd64. The problem with the installer was that it wasn't very bright about which kernel modules to load, and loading the wrong ones, or loading them in the wrong order caused the box to hang.

The fix is to not allow the installer to load all the modules it's going to suggest, just the ones you need, at least with regard to sata & ide & pci. You'll find it easier to experiment in order to find the right combination from the command line, hit alt-f2 to open a shell.

load the ide_core first--that is,

$ modprobe ide_core

then you'll want to load (via that modprobe command)

amd74xx (should be right for your c51 motherboard)
sd_mod (that should be right--I've got the SiI controller too)

in that order. At this point, you should have a /dev/sda in your devfs.

You'll probably want to add cdrom & ide_cd, assuming you're booting from that medium.

You should be able to go back to the menu at this point (alt-f1)--unless you're doing root on lvm on raid, but that's another story. But be carefull not to load the other disk and motherboard drivers...the intaller's going to keep presenting them.

When the installer's done, it will chroot and build your initrd without the extra modules, so you'll be fine.

There's some more help on this page for your motherboard.

From that discussion on that page it looks like you're going to need the forcedeth ethernet module, which they seemed to have some trouble with, needing a very more recent version in the 2.16.17 kernel. In which case Sarge is right out--you'll have to try Etch or Ubunto and then follow the instructions on that page to get your network driver going.
posted by cytherea at 2:32 AM on July 13, 2006


I think I got the modules wrong:

In loading order:


Should be the minimum to get your drive working, but I'm using 2.6.8--you might want to try the modules they have listed (load theirs from bottom to top--lsmod show the most recent first).
posted by cytherea at 2:45 AM on July 13, 2006

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