View Full Version : Hard disk's and mbr's

09-01-2003, 04:31 PM
Been playing with Linux on an old 486. The hdd had partitions on it created with a dos/win boot disk, I used the Linux version of fdisk to delete these and create new Linux partitions. Now I want to remove this hdd and use it in another machine with dos but dos fdisk gives me this "Error reading fixed disk"message. Any ideas on how to get dos to "see" the hdd??. The hdd works fine with Linux and even doing a zero fill with the hdd maker's utility has not helped.

Graham L
09-01-2003, 06:30 PM
Umm. Try using the Linux fdisk to remove all linux partitions, then make a DOS one. (I'd trust Linux fdisk to make a DOS partition, rather than trust MS FDISK to handle Linux partitions ... even removing them. :D)

If you are using an old DOS FDISK, it can't cope with non-DOS partitions. :_|

10-01-2003, 09:33 AM
Have done that with Peanutlinux boot disks - no go, msdos can't see it.
Installed DeLi Linux in console mode, set up lilo and got a no operating system message upon rebooting.
Had a go at installing DR-DOS and it can't see the hard disk either.
The drive will work ok in Linux if I boot of a floppy though.
Bad mbr or boot sector????.

10-01-2003, 09:39 AM
Are you using a Win98 boot disk, as that would be what I would be inclined to try :-)

Graham L
10-01-2003, 03:56 PM
What did your disk manufacturer's "zero" programme kill? If you can still use the disk in Linux, after booting with a floppy, try doing "lilo -u" to restore the MBR which existed before Linux was installed on it. That will still have the linux partitions in it (they were made before lilo was run for the first time).

Then use Linux fdisk to delete the Linux partitions (which should stop it working in Linux :D), and make it acceptable to MS. It gets messy, doesn't it?

10-01-2003, 04:16 PM
A win98 disk wont work I've had a try!!!
Will try the lilo -u think and get back to you.

10-01-2003, 04:28 PM
You can 'wipe' the MBR (and included partition info) with Diskman (http://diskman.no-ip.com/)

10-01-2003, 05:11 PM
Well the lilo -u didn't help.....
Having a look at diskman now...

Graham L
10-01-2003, 05:15 PM
IBM give away a disk zapper. I've posted the address here: a search for "zap.exe" will find it.

Terry Porritt
10-01-2003, 06:57 PM
The same query cropped up a short while ago, and with the popularity of playing with Linux it will continue to arise.
My own solution is to use Partition Magics' dos program pqmagict.exe.

This will remove non-dos partitions and the linux extended partitions that FDISK cant do.

It can in fact be downloaded from the New Jersey Institute of Technology:


10-01-2003, 08:52 PM
Sorry guy's
zap gives me an error code 01h Unsupported Funct or Param
Pqmagict says drive 1 - 0 MB and dumps me back at a a:\> prompt

Pulling hair out..........

Graham L
11-01-2003, 02:44 PM
There is one byte in the MBR which, if it is wrongly set, makes the disk unusable by MS. I'm surprised that the IBM programme coughed: I got the impression that the IBM engineers wrote that because they occasionally ran into problems. :D

Have you got Nortons Disk Doctor, or the old Nortons NU? Those could fix it, but I'm not sure whether they fix it "automagically". It's a rare condition, but the old books about DOS disks mentioned it as a real annoyance.

Can the linux fdisk not create a DOS partition on it?

11-01-2003, 08:58 PM
Yes Linux fdisk can create a dos partition but dos fdisk will still not see it.
I have since put this hdd in a p120 machine I have and guess what??
Dos fdisk then works. Putting the freshly fdisk'd and formatted hdd back into the 486 still gives me a "error reading fixed disk" message. Putting the hdd out of the p120 into the 486 gives me the same fdisk error. It appears that the problem is with the 486 and not the hdd although once up and running the 486 goes fine with dos, linux or win95. It is a Digital Venturis 466 with a Digital bios in case this makes a difference.
Strange huh??

11-01-2003, 09:35 PM
Error reading fixed disk is usually caused by a hardware problem, such as an incorrect jumper, misconnected cable, etc.

11-01-2003, 11:04 PM
well I just reinstalled windows because I'd killed my MBR and couldn't seem to get it back :_|

12-01-2003, 05:25 PM
sounds like bios settings....