[svlug] 137GB HD limit?

Erik Steffl steffl at bigfoot.com
Tue Jul 22 16:38:41 PDT 2003

Bill Kendrick wrote:
> On Tue, Jul 22, 2003 at 07:37:11AM -0700, Bryan K. Watson wrote:
>>On Tue, 2003-07-22 at 01:53, Erik Steffl wrote:
>>>   Is there a 137GB HD limit in linux kernel? It looks like I can only 
>>>access about that much of 250GB SATA (Serial ATA drive).
>>Probably a BIOS limitation.  Many (even current) BIOS don't support that
>>large of an HD.  This applies to any OS that you use on it.  It has to
>>do with the number of bits allocated to address the drive. 2^28*512.
> That was my thought at first, too.  I had to run some BIOS-flashing software on my
> PC to get my 120GB drive to work, when I bought it.  (The BIOS software from my
> motherboard manufacturer was MSDOS-based, so I had to make a DOS boot floppy and
> run it from there.  I think I used 'FreeDOS' or some-such.)
> OTOH, though, I believe Erik said the drive works fine under Windows.
> My assumption was that he's dual-booting, and therefore the BIOS is fine
> (since Windows can see all 137GB).
> Indeed, though, it could have been under Windows on an entirely different box
> (one whose BIOS doesn't have the 137GB limit).  Or, perhaps Windows itself might
> have some way of getting around the BIOS limitation.  (I obviously don't use
> or know much about Windows, personally :^) )

   I had to get SP1 for win xp (without SP1 it showed it as 137GB drive, 
with SP1 it shows it as 250GB, I can format it etc.). It's the same box 
(dual boot). Bios shows it as 250GB in setup, not sure if that means 

   Linux show it as 250GB (cfdisk, mkfs, badblocks etc. all recognize it 
as 250GB disk), it's just that reading only goes up to 137GB, the other 
half is unreadable...

   BTW since linux doesn't use BIOS for disk reads what would BIOS not 
supporting disks over 137GB mean? I had a disk that was too big for BIOS 
before and while I couldn't boot off of it it worked fine in linux. I 
just disabled the disk in BIOS (otherwise BIOS would freeze). [that was 
back in the days when 40GB was too much:-) IIRC the limit was 37GB and 
large disk howto was still usable... those were the days...]

   I guess it's SATA driver, but I can't find any details...


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