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8.4Gb BIOS limits vs w2k & Linux install on 80Gb HD

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Audioaficionado

Sparkomatic Moderator
Joined
Apr 29, 2002
I've confirmed that Western Digital's EZ-BIOS won't work with Linux from WD themselves. I know, I was the last one here to figure that out. :confused:

I'm trying to figure out how to install w2k and linux on my new 80Gb special ed HD without using the overlay ez-bios. (See sig for system specs)

So if I use the w2k boot floppies to get into w2k, will the OS see past the bios limit on my pre 1998 Phoenix bios and be able to install and reboot without it?

I think linux would be able if the boot partition is before cylinder 1024/8.4GB.

I'm abandoning 98lite for now as it would be problematic to work without ez-bios. When I boot 98/DOS without ez-bios, the system doesn't even see the drive at all.:bang head

Your collective expertise would be greatly appreciated.

TIA,
 

XWRed1

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2001
Its not hard. Just partition the drive without any EZ-BIOS crap, which is far easier to do than doing it *with* the EZ-BIOS stuff present.

Just boot off the Win2k floppies or cd, and when you partition the drive make a partition in the beginning of it, unformatted, for Linux, make a small one after that for swap, then make the rest Win2k. Format that last one as ntfs and install Win2k on it. Then when you are done, go back and install Linux on the first partition.

Its about time you installed a real operating system. Now that 2nd cpu won't be sitting around doing nothing all day.
 
OP
Audioaficionado

Audioaficionado

Sparkomatic Moderator
Joined
Apr 29, 2002
How big and what file system should the linux / & swap partitions be? Other Linux partitions?

Does w2k also need to have it's root \ before 1024/8.4?

Will w2k play nice with linux if it's not installed on C:\ or hda1?

I was thinking of going NTFS for the primary \ w2k partition, and a huge FAT32 partition for common file storage. Or should I just divvy the HD up into secure OS file systems all NTFS for w2k & ext3 or ReiserFS for Linux?

It would be kinda nice if both OS could read and write to a common area for dual file access ie. Mp3, text docs, graphics files, etc.

Edit: One more thought. If I keep my current installed 30Gb HD with EZ-BIOS and 98lite as the slave, could grub jump over and get 98 to boot?
 
Last edited:

XWRed1

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2001
Just the partition with /boot in Linux needs to be in the first 1024 cylinders, and thats only if you are booting with Lilo. Doesn't matter for Windows. Make the Linux partition as big as you want, you can just get by with a partition for / and another for swap, which is all I outlined before.
 

moorcito

Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2002
Location
Chicago, IL
With both Lilo and Grub if you install either boot loader in the MBR you don't have to worry about the bios limits or anything like that. Just make sure you have some boot floppies for both OSes.

I have a 40GB with linux sitting about the 20th gb and I have lilo installed in the MBR and I've never had problems with the cylinder limit. Most problems like that have been fixed long ago.
 

petreza

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2002
Hi,

I don't know much so I might be wrong but here is what I know:

The limitation of 8.4GB comes from the motherboards BIOS. I do not think it makes a difference what OS is installed - it will not boot it if its boot files are situated beyond the 8.4GB limit.

There are two ways to work arround this - get a mobo with BIOS that does not have the 8.4GB limit ( like I SUSPECTED HERE ) or install a PCI card that overwrites your MOBO's BIOS as was explained to me HERE eventhough that was for SATA it applies to regular ATA too, I guess.

You see, I feel very frustrated about this limit. What I want to be able to do if I want to install 4 OSes on a 80GB drive, is to split it at 20GB each. That is why someday I will be getting an PCI ATA card.

Hope I helped.
 

moorcito

Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2002
Location
Chicago, IL
petreza, all you need is a good boot loader, one that sees past the 1024th cylinder. I've had 5 OSes on a 40gb hd and I've never had problems with any cylinder limit. As long as the boot loader is in the Master Boot Record (MBR) and points to the correct place on the hard drive where the OS's boot files are you don't have to worry about anything, even if those boot files reside past the limit. And this goes for any different combination of partition sizes and OSes.
 
OP
Audioaficionado

Audioaficionado

Sparkomatic Moderator
Joined
Apr 29, 2002
It'll be a new HD so I can gamble with the installs unlike my 30Gb HD with a nicely tweaked 98lite installation.

The worst that can happen is a reformat and redo on the new HD.

Libernet-Debian GNU/Linux installs ReiserFS and GRUB by default if you let it. Any one else try this brand of Debian distro? It's supposed to be Linux newbie friendly on the install.
 

petreza

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2002
moorcito said:
petreza, all you need is a good boot loader, one that sees past the 1024th cylinder. I've had 5 OSes on a 40gb hd and I've never had problems with any cylinder limit. As long as the boot loader is in the Master Boot Record (MBR) and points to the correct place on the hard drive where the OS's boot files are you don't have to worry about anything, even if those boot files reside past the limit. And this goes for any different combination of partition sizes and OSes.

Which is a good (best) MBR bootloader that can deal with a lot of deverse OSes?

I have System Commander but it is not MBR bootloader.

I read an article about the 8.4GB limit before I started multibooting. I assumed the limit was universal - STUPID ME. I never tested it to see if it might work - booting from a partition beyond the 8.4GB. I have ASUS CUSL2......

Thanks for your info. Please, answer the question above.
 

moorcito

Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2002
Location
Chicago, IL
Are you going to install a Linux distro as one of the OSes?

If you do, then I'd recommend Lilo or Grub. From what I've heard both work about the same. I've used Lilo and never had a problem. Lilo (Linux Loader) or grub are Linux boot loaders that support booting multiple operating systems. I've used Lilo to boot Linux, Win98, FreeBSD, etc. so I can verify that it supports deverse OSes.
 

David

Forums Super Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2001
This is all AFAIK, feel free to correct me.

The older method of accessing data was via CHS. Where the Cylinder, Head and Sector for the data items were specified. This caused the 8Gig limit.

The new method is LBA, Large Block Addressing, where data is written/read as a block.

If LILO uses CHS, and tries to load the kernel image from beyond the 1023rd cylinder, it will not work. If you add lba32 to /etc/lilo.conf then it will use LBA and can work.

Grub has no problems with 1024 cylinder limits etc, and should work with most OSes, as its name stands for:
GRand Unified Bootloader.

David
 

petreza

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2002
David said:
........

Grub has no problems with 1024 cylinder limits etc, and should work with most OSes, as its name stands for:
GRand Unified Bootloader.

David

Is GRUB a MBR bootloader - is it entirely contained in the MBR - does not require a partition for installation like System Commander does?
 
OP
Audioaficionado

Audioaficionado

Sparkomatic Moderator
Joined
Apr 29, 2002
XWRed1 said:
Yes and Yes.

Hmmm...

Sounds like it might be better than all that M$ multi boot.ini editing hassle.

I wanted to put wfw3.11/DR-DOS and NT4 on my wife's 486DX2/66.

My main SMP PPro200 will be w2k and GNU/Liux. Maybe I'll also expirement with a small DR-DOS partition for DOS games.

Both machines have legacy BIOS limitations but it looks like GRUB might just be the solution.

Do I install GRUB first or last?
 
OP
Audioaficionado

Audioaficionado

Sparkomatic Moderator
Joined
Apr 29, 2002
http://www.xosl.org/

Have any of you seen this GUI open source bootloader yet?

Looks like a freeware alternative to system commander, partition magic, bootstar, etc.

Can it handle bios limits?

I'll try it out on my 486 with DR-DOS and NT4.