[svlug] Need help about Debian installation

Mark S Bilk mark at cosmicpenguin.com
Sat Nov 1 18:43:38 PST 2003

In-Reply-To: <Sea1-F991nYS5ZuKh3100014141 at hotmail.com>; from mimoore_350 at hotmail.com on Sat, Nov 01, 2003 at 01:21:30PM -0700
Organization: http://www.cosmicpenguin.com/911

On Sat, Nov 01, 2003 at 01:21:30PM -0700, Mike Moore wrote:
>When I tried to install Debian Linux on my Windows ME desktop, I got the 
>following error by using cfdisk to partition the hard disk:
>FATAL ERROR: Bad primary partition 1: Partition ends after end-of-disk

If you don't care about the files on this disk, then, as another 
has suggested, feel free to change the BIOS settings for it, etc.,
as needed to make Linux and Windows both happy.

But if you do want to preserve the present files, then I think 
they are in great danger if the Linux installation procedure
has already changed anything on the disk, and certainly they 
are if you proceed with the installation, regardless of which
partitioning program you use.  The layout of logical partitions
is complex, and probably has variations depending on which 
version of Windows (and maybe which Linux partitioning program)
creates the partitions.  There is clearly something wrong with
the partition scheme on that disk, but it might require an 
extensive investigation by a very knowledgeable person to 
determine exactly what that is, or how to fix it.

I think there is only one way to preserve those files (if their
filesystem has not already been damaged), and that is to back
them up, and then test the backup by doing a compare and by 
restoring it onto a disk -- but NOT the disk in question -- 
and examining lots of restored files at random.

Until that is done, the sick disk should be treated as a 
read-only device -- don't write to it, or modify the files 
on it, in any way.  And especially don't change its BIOS 

Backup can be done to tape, CD-R, zip drive, or another hard 
disk.  Large disks are very inexpensive now, about 60 to 70 cents 
per gigabyte at Fry's after rebates.  My Western Digital 120GB 
drive with 8MB buffer has been very fast, reliable, and quiet.

If you back up the files unchanged onto another disk (i.e., just 
copy them there instead of using a backup program that compresses 
them into some kind of backup format), then after doing the 
comparison of the files with the originals, you can omit the 
restore step and just do a thorough spot check of the files on
the new disk.  Also, run a program that tells you the aggregate
size of the original files and the new copies, and make sure the
two sums match approximately.  Remember that backup to a new 
hard drive, while simple, results in backup files that are not
as permanently reliable as those written to CD-R's (or DVD-R's), 
since they can easily be destroyed if the new disk fails, or 
suffers damage to its filesystem.  So treat such a backup drive 
with care, again as a read-only device, until the files are 
copied back onto the old drive and tested.

I'm not the list's greatest expert on these matters, so additions 
and corrections from such are appreciated.


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