[sclug] booting / large hard drive nightmare

James Wyper jrwyper at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Oct 16 14:05:25 UTC 2004

For about a year now I've been meaning to sort out how my linux box
boots, but I'm not sure what's the easiest way to fix it.

The PC is an old IBM PII with the 33.8GB bios limitation.  It has the
original 3.2GB hard drive as hda, and a seagate 80GB drive as hdb.  hda
has one partition mounted as /, hdb has three: hdb1 (/home), hdb5
(/usr), and hdb6 (swap).  hdb1 is also around 3GB, hdb5 is more or less
the rest of the disk.

No matter what I've tried (having reread the large disk HOWTO several
times), I cannot get Linux (2.4.19-mdk) to recognise the entire size of
the 80GB drive unless the OnTrack disk manager boots before Linux does.
 My copy of OnTrack can be installed on a floppy drive or the seagate
drive (hdb) but won't install on hda for some reason (probably because
it came free with the seagate).

Until now I've been booting via the floppy using the boot disk image
supplied by mandrake (together with OnTrack on the same floppy), but
this is slow and sometimes unreliable.  I'd like to boot from the hard
drive(s) if at all possible.  The PCs bios allows me to select hdb as
the first boot device (making it possible to run OnTrack first), but so
far I haven't been able to tweak lilo to boot successfully (keep
getting as far as LI 99 99 99 99 99 99...)

What I'm considering doing, as I think it's the least-work option, is
to  swap the contents of hdb1 and hda1 (ie put / on hdb1 and /home on
hda1), so that the kernel, lilo etc. all reside on the same partition
as actually gets booted.  I think that in order to do this I need to
(from a rescue CD or similar):

use mv to get the contents of hdb1 and hda1 swapped
change /etc/fstab to reflect the new locations of / and /home
use rdev to tell the kernel that it's now rooted at /dev/hdb1
change lilo.conf so that it knows it's booting from /hdb1
rerun lilo installer
cross fingers and reboot

Are there any steps I'm missing here (e.g. is changing fstab all I need
to do to let my system know where everything's moved to?).  Or is there
a simpler way?

Many thanks,

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