Ubuntu 12.04, Amahi, and Linux Not Detecting Hard Disks

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve had this much trouble with Linux detecting a hard drive.  It brought me back to Ye Olde Linux days when 14 floppy disks housed your distribution and more times than not you didn’t have compatible hardware and had to find out via BBS what modem worked with what kernel…sometimes, it was a major pain…and that was the fun in it 🙂

In today’s installation of Linux…I thought I’d left those days behind.  I was wrong, unfortunately.

I downloaded Ubuntu 12.04 to install so that I could put Amahi on my video/picture/file/tv/movie share Linux machine.  Amahi is pretty much the best program on the face of the planet to use for this purpose…I’d put it up against any ‘samba-like’ distribution of Linux out there and I think it would come out on top.  Anyway, I went to install Ubuntu 12.04 and I immediately hit a problem:  it wasn’t detecting my hard drive.  I got out my notes for when I last installed an operating system on this server and it happened to be the last release of Amahi on Fedora…which was Fedora 14.  In that instance, I had to pass the nodmraid option in order for my hard drive to detect.

Easy enough.  I went into the Ubuntu options for booting.  Chose F6 and then selected nodmraid.  It booted fine and I went to a desktop.  Once there, I clicked the install icon.  Things were looking good until I went to the part of the installer where you choose a hard disk…which didn’t give me any hard disks.  I tried this process again and again…often times putting in other options such as noapic, nolapic and other awesome boot parameters using the F6 portion of the boot prompt.  No joy on any of these tries.  What could it be?

After a few minutes of brainstorming, I realized that Ubuntu wasn’t actually honoring the boot parameter for nodmraid.  Since this was the case, the hard drive wasn’t detecting.  In order to get the hard drive detecting, I should remove the dmraid information from my hard drive and see if this made a difference.  So, here’s how I fixed this problem:

  1. Instead of booting to install Ubuntu, select the option to Try it first
  2. Once there, hit up the dashboard, click on all applications, and search through all 78 until you find Terminal
  3. Once the terminal is up, type sudo su and hit enter.  You’re now root.
  4. type fdisk -l and take note of the letter designation of your hard drive that is having problems detecting (sda in my case).
  5. type dmraid -E -r /dev/sdX where ‘X’ is the letter designation of your hard drive.
  6. Answer yes to the question it asks of if you wish to remove the dmraid information on the drive.
  7. Reboot and Install Ubuntu.  It should now detect.

Not a hard thing to figure out…but it might be for some new users…and I’m almost certain Amahi users will run across this…because many of them are converts from Windows Home Server.  In this case, they’d probably be pretty freaked out having to drop down to a command line and issue commands.  Hopefully, this article will be a handy tool for them to use in order to get Ubuntu and subsequently, Amahi installed on their computer.  Thanks for reading!

Clarification on Foresight and Fedora

I previously wrote about a possible “rebasing” of Foresight Linux on the Fedora platform. This conjecture was a bit premature it seems as I am completely wrong on this being a possibility 🙂 The best part about me being absolutely wrong on this is that there is still going to be benefits for Foresight and Fedora even without the rebase.

Foresight is toying with the idea of having a sub-project (completely separate from Foresight Linux base) that it has tentatively called ‘boots, a Fedora remix‘ (a play on Dora in Fedora for those of you with kids).

What would happen is that mirrorball, a tool from rPath that ‘sucks in’ repositories, would pull in a Fedora repository into a separate Foresight repository.  From there, it is fully consumable by any product/project that is hosted on rBuilder Online from rPathConary really is one of the most innovative package managers on the planet and I’ve mentioned it once or twice before (never got around to part II on one of those though).  The ability to fully suck in a RPM repository is already being done with CentOS and Scientific Linux on rBuilder Online…even Ubuntu is currently being done as well…so we have proof that it is totally possible.  Once imported, Conary takes over the management of said packages.

So what does this give Foresight?  A few things:

  1. Testing of packages in 2 communities
  2. Developer eyes/chatter in 2 communities
  3. The ability of Foresight to cherry pick packages from a large base
  4. Compare and contrast for packages from 2 different sources to track down bugs

So, as I said, I was wrong initially and I hope this clears up what Foresight plans to do.  A sub-project will be started that imports the Fedora repository changing them from (rpm to Conary) allowing Foresight to both test and cherry pick packages from a larger base hopefully freeing up a bit more time for Foresight architects.  Phew!  What a mouthful, run-on-sentence that was!

Why Conary?  How does this help Fedora?

I know some of you may be asking Why Conary?  What does it have over RPM that Foresight should suck in a repositoroy and change it to Conary packages?  The reason this is an absolute necessity is because the tools on which Foresight are built (rBuilder Online) works with Conary only…that means ISO generation and repository hosting are all mandated to be Conary based.

The other interesting part about this is that Conary blends version control with package management.  It deals with changesets as packages.  Imagine SVN…you have a local changeset that  you’re working on and the version inside the SVN repository differs from that.  You can then diff the state of your local copy to see how it differs from the remote copy.  This allows you to see the changes you’ve made and allows you to see what code may be broken.  Also, commits are numbered automagically so that you don’t have to worry about breaking things much because you can rollback to a previous known good state.

The same is true with Conary…you can rollback to previous known good states.  You can also diff each changeset locally with the remote repository.  Now imagine this with Fedora packages…if something is broken, chances are Foresight will find a fix for it much more quickly than someone in Fedora…a single command can diff the previously known good version with the broken version and find out the shortcoming.  Or perhaps a known good verion in Foresight that isn’t Fedora based might be used to diff the Fedora RPM version and find out the differences in them.  In all, it’s going to help developers track down problems faster.  This helps Fedora…they now have a small number of Foresight developers who will be working with hundreds of popular Fedora RPMs looking to see if they work or are broken.

Most of the benefit will be measurable in Foresight because they’ll be able to use just about any package Fedora creates…but the Foresight community is FULL of very capable developers…guys that really know what they’re doing.  If they can make this a collaborative effort Fedora will gain exceptionally smart developers as well…even if testing packages on a different platform, they’ll have eyeballs on these packages and if a fix is found or made for them they will definitely go upstream to Fedora.

Hopefully, this puts things right from my initial wrong.  I don’t claim to be an insider for Foresight…I just know a lot of the people involved and ask questions a lot….I also pay attention to the developer mailing list.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I’ll attempt to track down answers for them 😀

Dell E521 and PCLinuxOS 2007 Final

It’s been a process of elimination to get my Dell E521 working. Previous workarounds with boot options didn’t work…so I had to use a combination of boot options to get things working nice and stable.

I powered up the PCLinuxOS 2007 Final LiveCD and began the installation to disk. During the bootloader configuration I appended the following text to the end of my linux, failsafe, and framebuffer entry:

noacpi irqpoll pci=routeirq

From there, I saved, closed all programs and rebooted. Upon first boot I opened Synaptic and installed the PCLinuxOS .a64 Kernel which is optimized for 64 bit processors. I then opened up the PCLinuxOS Control Center yet again, went to the boot section and altered my grub bootloader again with the same information in the code above. I rebooted to make sure my changes worked.

When logging in this time, I opened Synaptic and installed the Nvidia 97xx drivers for my graphics card (Fata1ity 7600GT). After this installs you’re prompted to restart X and upon login…you should be presented with quite a stable and quick desktop.

Hopefully this works well for those of you out there that are using E521’s or E520’s as I believe they have the same mainboard (not sure though).

New Linux with an Old Laptop: Fedora Core 4

Guest Editor Apostasy has decided to take a look at current distributions and how they perform and install on an older laptop. This article is the first in a series of many that will look at distributions such as Suse 10, Fedora Core 5, Mandriva, and other desktop-centric distributions.

The Hardware

  • Compaq Armada E500 Laptop
  • 700MHz Intel Pentium III
  • 256MB PC133 SDRAM
  • ATi Rage Mobility
  • Intel Ethernet Pro 100
  • Toshiba 10GB Hard Disk
  • Netgear WG511 Wireless PCMCIA Card


I chose to use a network install via HTTP. This went quite smoothly, initially via a text interface for configuring the network and entering the address to install from, then a graphical interface for partitioning and package selection. Right from the start Fedora looks like a professional O/S, it’s not fluffy and cute, but it is very pleasant to look at. Partitioning was handled automatically by Disk Druid, no problems at this stage.

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Experiment Revisited: Fedora Core 4

During the next few weeks, I’ll be quietly revisiting all of the distros that we included in our experiment; Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandrake (now Mandriva), MEPIS, and PCLinuxOS. I decided to go ahead and install each distro (current version) and re-orient myself and discuss what Mrs.Devnet liked and what she didn’t like about each one and further discuss what I feel are some strong points and weak points for the distro. After this, we’ll discuss the important things that each and every distro should take note of…that is, what can be improved. Most reviews and quicklooks just point out problems and then do nothing…Yet Another Linux Blog will strive to do more than this. We can’t just sit on things without bringing solutions to the table or we become part of the problem. So without further nonsense, we’ll visit each distro and try to nail down what they could do to appeal to more people. I’ll be getting Mrs.Devnet’s take on it and then I will also add my own using the many average computer user’s that I know as base for my commentary.

So…today I’ll be looking at Fedora Core 4. We’ll begin by assuming I’m a new user and new to Fedora in General.

The Quick Look

First things first. Fedora offers hands down the easiest install of any distro out there. Anaconda is like a betty crocker oven…even a kid could bake with it. For some people, this doesn’t cut it because they may or may not need to feel ‘old skewl’ or ‘l33t’ by keeping things text based or even similar to an Ubuntu/Debian installer feel. For new users though, the Fedora Anaconda install is stellar. Fedora really shines in this area.

Package selection during the install is all graphical, clear and concise. Adding visuals to any presentation or process will make it more efficient and easier to understand. After the install, you are greeted to a KDE or Gnome session depending on what you choose. I chose KDE since I’m more fond of it than Gnome.

During the experiment, Mrs.Devnet experienced problems with an extremely slow booting Fedora on our test computer. I chalk this up to it being a test release. There were no problems with it during this time. In fact, Fedora has increased its boot speed considerably with FC4. It’s one of the fastest booting distros I’ve dealt with. What makes it even better is that it is fully graphical. Though most people want a text boot, I like the fact that you’re given an option.

Continue reading “Experiment Revisited: Fedora Core 4”

Experiment 1.4: Fedora Core 4 Test 1 Final Rating

Linuxblog Introduction: We took an average windows user, gave her a handful of distributions of Linux, and forced her to use each distro for one week. We gave her alsaconf, email servers, and mounted her windows partition to the fresh install. Then, we faded away and quietly watched her in her new environment. You too can join us by reading on…

Editors Note: More screenshots would accompany this review, but problems with software/hardware prevented many things from happening. Read on for more.

1) Look/Feel – as far as the look of this distro goes…everything is very nice and professional. This one is extremely easy on the eyes. I was excited at the chance to get to use the gnome desktop by default. I really like the way the menu bar is at the top instead of the bottom. I don’t like the fact that there are very few choices in the menu’s for anything. But overall, everything seems very nice. (Score – 8 )

2) Performance – Slow! With a capital “S”! During my first login, the desktop took approximately 45 seconds to login then froze. So we restarted and tried it again. It improved to 40 seconds but didn’t freeze this time. When clicking on menu’s it isn’t too bad…but whenever I open a program it takes forever and a year to open it up. This is horrible. (Score – 2)

3) Hardware/Software – This was a big issue for me as well. I don’t like the fact that there is very little choice in the menus. Also the fact that it is extremely difficult for me to download and install things (something I haven’t figured out yet in Linux) and that it doesn’t have many choices for software makes it useless for me. Fedora seemed to install all my hardware correctly though. (Score – 5)

4) Upgradeability/Security – Yet again this subject is lost on me. I have to trust that things are secure. Upgrading is a mystery for me. I’ve gotta be fair to this one so I’ll give it what I give every distro. (Score – 10)

5) Documentation – There is loads of documentation available from the Fedora website. However, none of this actually helps me at all. Being a new user this is like looking at a new language to me. I don’t understand any of it. It might be great for other people but it doesn’t help me out at all. Still, they’ve got great organization in place and a very detailed site, so they will score a bit high on this. (Score – 9)

6) Installation – Everything was very straightforward. They have an excellent graphic installation thing. Very easy to use. This might even be easier than Windows. It wasn’t a long installation either. It would be great if all of the distros installed like this. (Score – 10)

And now…once again…it is time for my criteria…

Continue reading “Experiment 1.4: Fedora Core 4 Test 1 Final Rating”

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