Disk Manager

When motherboards are manufactured, their BIOSes are only capable of addressing a certain amount of space on a hard drive.  As technology improves and drives get bigger, these limitations are overcome or temporarily worked-around.  In the PC world, the most recent limitations have been at 8.4 gigabytes, then 32 gigabytes, and now 132 gigabytes.

So if you want to install a newer, bigger hard drive into a system with an older BIOS, you might run into one of those limitations, which means that either 1) your motherboard will only "see" 8.4 or 32 or 132 gigabytes of your drive, even though the drive is actually bigger than that, or 2) the drive just won't work at all in that system.  As long as #2 isn't true -- as long as the BIOS does at least recognize that the drive is there -- then you can use special software called "dynamic drive overlay" or "disk manager" software to overcome this.  This software installs itself in the master boot record (MBR) of your hard drive, and acts as a translator between your computer's old BIOS and your new big hard drive.  The result is that you can access the full capacity of the hard drive!

For my musicbox system, I had this problem.  I have a 40 gigabyte IBM Travelstar hard drive, and an old Alton or PC Chips TX-Pro II motherboard (with a Pentium-I 233mmx, to give you an idea of the age).  The board only recognizes the hard drive as a 32 gig drive.  That's not acceptable.  Here's how I solved it.

  1. Download the Hitachi disk manager program from the source or from my local copy.  This is a Windows program which will create a boot floppy disk.  (Linux users can just download my copy of the resulting floppy disk image and write it to your floppy disk with the command "dd if=diskmanager.img of=/dev/fd0" where /dev/fd0 is your floppy device.)

  2. Follow the instructions here, which basically say:

    1. Download that program and use it to create a disk manager boot disk.
    2. Enter your system's bios and set the hard drive to "none" or "not installed".
    3. Boot the disk manager disk.
    4. Choose "Hard Drive Installation" from the disk manager menu.
    5. Choose Advanced Options -> Maintenance Options -> Utilities -> Your Drive -> Set Drive Size and set it to the recommended size (which will be smaller than the actual size of your hard drive).
    6. Reboot, enter the bios, and change the hard drive to "Auto" or "Auto detect".
    7. Boot the disk manager disk again and this time, use the "Easy Installation" to set up the drive. (It didn't matter to me what OS or partitions were created, because I was just going to reboot and set up my partitions manually in Linux.)

  3. Reboot (from the hard drive now, not from the floppy), and you should get the disk manager boot screen after POST.

  4. Press spacebar to "boot" from the Linux floppy boot disk (which I had previously created on my Windows system by running RAWRITEXP.EXE [here or here] with the "smart boot manager" disk image [here or here]), and then when that loads, you'll get a menu... choose to boot the Slackware 8.1 CDrom.

  5. This will bring you to a login prompt shortly. Login as root and run cfdisk to create your partitions: in my case, hda1 = 1GB root, hda2 = 100MB swap, hda3 = 100MB /tmp, hda4 = 38GB fat32 for my music files.

  6. Reboot after partitioning, again go through the disk manager and then boot the floppy and then the cdrom... this time when you get to the prompt, type setup to begin installing Linux.