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Old 03-26-2014, 04:56 PM
 
Location: Arizona, The American Southwest
52,145 posts, read 30,209,677 times
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Has anybody else here experienced the same issue trying to replace the XP Home Edition that came pre-loaded on a Dell 4700 computer, and replace it with different flavors of Linux, including RedHat Enterprise and Suse?

The computer is about 8 years old, the BIOS is version A10, it has a Pentium 4 3.2 GHZ processor, Maxtor 160 GB hard drive (forgot the model) and 3 GB of memory (the maximum the motherboard can support) but for some reason, none of the Linux versions I tried to install are able to recognize the presence of a hard drive, and I know there's nothing wrong with the disk drive, the BIOS sees it and recognizes it. I even tried to re-install XP Home and Professional editions, they were disks not included with the computer; the XP Home Edition was from a custom-built computer I built 10 years ago, and the XP Professional Edition was purchased through a previous employer, even those installation attempts could not recognize the presence of the C partition. I'm beginning to suspect Dell used a proprietary component somewhere that will not allow the installation of a different OS than what came with the computer.

Has anyone else had the same issue with their factory Dell, or any other brand of computers?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:24 PM
 
Location: Wandering.
3,544 posts, read 5,676,746 times
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Linux uses a different type of file system, so it's not going to be able to recognize the partition. IIRC, you'll need to remove all of the partitions, and completely reformat the disk to one of the Linux supported systems (ext or xfs).
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Old 03-26-2014, 10:03 PM
 
15,924 posts, read 17,643,650 times
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Why not burn a bootable image of some of the flavors of Linux and see for yourself?

Knoppix Linux Boot CD, Download Disk and Documents, Discuss, Get Help

Puppy live-CD

Slax Linux - your pocket operating system

Debian on CDs

Download Ubuntu Desktop | Ubuntu
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Old 03-26-2014, 10:35 PM
 
Location: Southern California
4,448 posts, read 5,445,682 times
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Yes I have a 4700 with suse linux. I installed it probably over 5 years if not longer ago, I didn't have a problem. So forgive my memory.
1) Can you not see the hard drive at all?
2) Did you ever mess with the configuration?
3) I think the CD drive is IDE and the hard drive is SATA, does it say anything about a SCSI device?
4) Are you okay with erasing the drive? Are you familiar with FDISK and partitions?
5) I don't think there is anything too special that dell did, are there different "modes" for the hdd?
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Old 03-26-2014, 10:54 PM
 
Location: Arizona, The American Southwest
52,145 posts, read 30,209,677 times
Reputation: 91130
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skunk Workz View Post
Linux uses a different type of file system, so it's not going to be able to recognize the partition. IIRC, you'll need to remove all of the partitions, and completely reformat the disk to one of the Linux supported systems (ext or xfs).
I thought I removed the NTFS C partition that was used by Windows XP, I'll have to check the installation instructions for Linux again because I thought all the flavors automatically erased and formatted the drives and created the appropriate files systems.
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Old 03-26-2014, 11:42 PM
 
Location: Arizona, The American Southwest
52,145 posts, read 30,209,677 times
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From thelopez2
Yes I have a 4700 with suse linux. I installed it probably over 5 years if not longer ago, I didn't have a problem. So forgive my memory.
1) Can you not see the hard drive at all?
- After I reformatted and erased everything on the NTFS C drive, I can still see it in the BIOS, but it's not visible with the Linux installs, and now it's not even visible to the Windows XP installation CDs, even though the BIOS sees the C NTFS partition. That's what made me think Dell had something proprietary in one of their components.

2) Did you ever mess with the configuration?
- If you're talking about the BIOS configurations, no I didn't.

3) I think the CD drive is IDE and the hard drive is SATA, does it say anything about a SCSI device?
-I saw the SCSI device as one of the items in the list of drivers the RedHat Linux Enterprise installation displayed when it could not detect the hard drive. In one of the RedHat Linux versions, I also saw the installation get stuck on device hd0, which it detected. It stayed there for over 45 minutes before I interrupted it.

4) Are you okay with erasing the drive? Are you familiar with FDISK and partitions?
- I know about the partition and the fdisk utilities. As I mentioned previously, yes I erased everything that was on the Dell factory XP installation.

5) I don't think there is anything too special that dell did, are there different "modes" for the hdd?
- Not that I'm aware of.

.
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Old 03-27-2014, 07:26 AM
 
Location: HoCo, MD
4,578 posts, read 8,189,440 times
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Sometimes jacking with the partitions can mess up the partition tables to the point where things just no longer work.
Assuming you have no need to preserve any data on the hard drive:

Boot to the live CD (e.g. Ubuntu), run disk utility and format the entire drive (erasing the partitions). If that doesn't work - you can try using the command dd to remove the MBR to make it look like a blank disk.

# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=512 count=1

Linux Delete / Remove MBR
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Old 03-27-2014, 07:52 AM
 
Location: Southern California
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The bios doesn't see partitions, it only reports the physical drive.

I just fired the old 4700, in the BIOS there is a "Drive Operation" Normal/Combination. Mine is set to Normal. Does your bios report it as SATA Drive 0? In the report section, are there any SMART ERRORS?
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Old 03-27-2014, 10:08 AM
 
Location: USA
701 posts, read 993,845 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macroy View Post
Sometimes jacking with the partitions can mess up the partition tables to the point where things just no longer work.
Assuming you have no need to preserve any data on the hard drive:

Boot to the live CD (e.g. Ubuntu), run disk utility and format the entire drive (erasing the partitions). If that doesn't work - you can try using the command dd to remove the MBR to make it look like a blank disk.

# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=512 count=1

Linux Delete / Remove MBR
This!

Except I would use Parted Magic (Linux) as it loads in ram is fast. Even runs with a damaged or without a hard disk.

You can remove all partitions, reformat and you may have to rebuild the partition table.

To the OP - you didn't have to remove the Windows partition nor reformat the drive to install the common distros of linux. If you just booted up using the Ubuntu/Mint/Fedora Live CD, it would have recognized the properties of your machine, and prompted you whether you wanted to install alongside windows, or wipe it out and use the whole drive for Linux. Then it would have done a guided reformat and install.

Sometimes, removing the Windows partition messes up the partition table. Easily fixed, using the gparted utility which is usually included in the more common flavors or Linux like Ubuntu/Mint/Fedora. If not included in the version of Linux that you have, I recommend Parted Magic as another excellent Linux version that loads in ram.
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Old 03-28-2014, 08:38 AM
 
Location: Arizona, The American Southwest
52,145 posts, read 30,209,677 times
Reputation: 91130
Quote:
Originally Posted by thelopez2 View Post
The bios doesn't see partitions, it only reports the physical drive.

I just fired the old 4700, in the BIOS there is a "Drive Operation" Normal/Combination. Mine is set to Normal. Does your bios report it as SATA Drive 0? In the report section, are there any SMART ERRORS?
This was the problem, the BIOS' Drive Operation was set to SATA only, it turned out that the versions of Linux that I'm trying to install only support RAID configurations..

I changed the setting to Normal/Combination, and voila.. the drive was visible. I installed RedHat Enterprise successfully, but it's an ancient version (from 2004) so I need to get a more modern version that works with 32-bit hardware.

Thanks for your help everyone.
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