The Fedora logo

The Fedora logo

About a week ago, I ordered a new hard drive. A 750 gig Western Digital Caviar (model number WD7500AACS), specifically. With this new hard drive, I wanted to upgrade to the newest version of my OS. I had been running openSuSE since building this box a few years back – starting with 10.1, and upgrading to 10.2 when it was released. I didn’t switch to 10.3 after that, because I didn’t do a decent drive setup (I had a /boot/ partition, but everything else was just jammed into the root partition) and using a bootable gPartEd CD to move everything around was a painfully long process…like, three days long. Needless to say, I’m not making that mistake again.

Anyway, this drive is a SATA drive – SATA2, but it has a jumper setting for backwards compatibility with SATA1; my motherboard (an old-ish Asus A8N5X) is a SATA1 board. I brought it home, burned my openSuSE 11.1 installation DVD, shut the system down, plugged the hard drive in, and booted back up. I noticed that the drive wasn’t listed at the BIOS POST screen. I booted from the DVD, went to install it, and found that the drive wasn’t listed in the partition manager. Not really a surprise, since it wasn’t listed in the BIOS.

I shut the system down and tried my other SATA ports – none of them worked. So it’s looking like either the hard drive is bad, or my motherboard is screwed up and the onboard SATA controller isn’t working. I got a PCI SATA controller (some no-name card based on the VIA VT6421A chipset) from a friend, hooked it up to that, and the installer was able to see it. Additionally, my motherboard supports boot from PCI – sweet. So I run the installer, set up my /boot/, /, /home/, and swap partitions, and tell it to install GRUB to the MBR on the SATA drive.

Once it’s done getting all the packages installed, it falls to a black screen. No terminal, no GUI, no power save mode on the monitor, just an empty screen. I wait a little while, and there’s no indication of activity, so I do a hard reset. It tries to boot…no luck. So I tried it again, this time installing to the MBR on the old PATA drive and setting GRUB up with an option to boot from the new hard drive’s root partition. Again, no luck.

At this point I’m sick of screwing with it, I figured that the installer hanging with that black screen was screwing up the GRUB install – so I tinkered for a little bit until I got it to boot from the old openSuSE 10.2 installation, downloaded the Fedora 11 installer, and went to town. I still couldn’t get it to boot from the new drive. So I looked online and found that a lot of people have had trouble booting from these VT6421A-based cards, and decided to look through my BIOS for some PCI boot options.

Lo and behold, my onboard SATA ports were all disabled. I shut the system down, removed the card, plugged the new drive into the port marked “SATA 1″ (out of 4) on the motherboard, and booted from the Fedora 11 DVD…again. BIOS showed the new drive this time. When I got to the installer’s partition manager, I saw that the new drive was still being considered the second drive – sdb. Well, I planned on removing the old PATA drive, and when I did, the identifier would switch – that would be a problem.

So I shut down, pulled the old drive out, and reran the installer. It went through everything without a hitch – while it did this, I dug out my USB enclosure for PATA drives and stuck the old 160 in that. When Fedora was all up and running, I just copied everything off of the old drive, and I’m in the process of going through and dealing with it all. Some things are being deleted, the music that was freshly downloaded is being compressed further (LAME ABR112 for the win), etc.

It’s taking me a while to get Fedora 11 configured the way I like it. KDE4.2 takes some getting used to when I’ve been on 3.5 for years. Compiz is pretty much totally out of development, so after using it for a while and seeing some of the stability issues, I gave that up pretty quickly. I finally got MediaTomb and my P2P file utilities fully functional when I realized there was a firewall and disabled it. I still can’t get the Samba server running though – when I try to run /etc/init.d/smb start or /etc/init.d/nmb start it fails, outputting the following to the log:

[2009/06/30 21:45:17,  0] smbd/server.c:main(1256)
  smbd version 3.3.2-0.33.fc11 started.
  Copyright Andrew Tridgell and the Samba Team 1992-2009
[2009/06/30 21:45:17,  0] lib/messages_local.c:messaging_tdb_init(96)
  ERROR: Failed to initialise messages database: No such file or directory
[2009/06/30 21:45:17,  0] lib/messages.c:messaging_init(204)
  messaging_tdb_init failed: NT_STATUS_OBJECT_NAME_NOT_FOUND
[2009/06/30 21:45:17,  0] smbd/server.c:smbd_messaging_context(101)
  Could not init smbd messaging context.

I can’t, for the life of me, figure that one out. It can connect to Samba shares fine though, and that’s good enough for now. The last thing that I was having problems with was finding a good media player – I always loved Amarok, but Amarok 2 sucks. It’s got a laundry list of missing features – no software equalizer, no collection management, severe lack of configuration options, etc. So I figured I’d install good old Amarok 1.4 – I enabled a Fedora 9 yum repository that contained an Amarok 1.4 RPM, and tried to install it – no go. First of all, removing Amarok 2 was a chore (PackageKit and its KDE front end, KPackageKit, aren’t all that great). Then, the Amarok 1.4 RPM required a bunch of older packages that would have just been completely infeasible to get going.

However, googling "amarok 1.5 fedora 11" and clicking the first result got me to another blog post – "Amarok 1.4 for Fedora 11" on "On the third side" – apparently this person had some issues of his own with Amarok 2, and decided to forwardport 1.4 to Fedora 11. Thank you very much, my friend~

And that’s the…experience…that this has been. I’m planning on trying openSuSE 11.2 when it’s released, so we’ll see how that goes. At least this time, switching from one operating system to another won’t take several days.