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  1. #1

    Absolute Nightmare...Sarge on SATA, Asus motherboard, Media Center Dual Boot

    I apologize in advance for being so selfish and having my first post be a request for help, but this has been one ugly experience. Maybe I'm being too pessimistic, but I only have two full (and luckily free) days to get my system running again, and I'm concerned I won't be able to do it.

    I decided to install Debian (Sarge, the latest) on my HP m1280n Media Center PC because I had liked my UNIX experiences and I wanted some of the physics/math tools available. I'm a passable user, but my experience with installing GNU/Linux is pretty limited - this was my first attempt.

    Anyway, I downloaded and burned the netinst from Debian and booted with it and immediately had problems with the partitioner - it won't recognize my disk correctly; it sees four 1.1GB partitions, when in fact there are four that add up to 250GB. I look online and see that the installer doesn't support SATA, but that if you disable SATA in the BIOS setup, it'll work. Great. I try that. Still nothing. I move my partitions around so the Windows system files are on the first blocks. Now it works and installs. I select GRUB as my bootloader.

    On my first startup, it hangs on the BIOS handoff. So I think, no problem, I'll just load Windows and look online. Windows doesn't start - GRUB is looking in partition 1, but Windows isn't there. I panic and try to do my system recover (HP installs a partition with Windows Media Center on it so they don't have to distribute the CDs that the Great Satan won't let them give to people, lest we all have access to TV on our computers) but now THAT'S looking in the wrong partition. I calm down, go to my other system and look online.

    I hear something about USB and BIOS handoff, so I turn off "legacy USB." Huzzah! Debian goes. I do setup and log in. But I can only see half the screen, and it's 800x600 - everything is just pushed off to the left. I putz around and find out that I need to edit X86Config, so I do that and restart - but now my monitor says it's been put in the wrong mode and won't display anything (though I did look up the specs and enter them correctly).

    Oh well, I think. All I have to do is reinstall Sarge and start again. But now I've got the same problems with the partitioner again - four 1.1GB partitions, and my only option is to erase the entire disk. And my BIOS has periodically lost IDE drives, saying it needs a floppy to start, but a restart fixes that. So now I have a system that sometimes won't properly load the BIOS, never loads Sarge, and can't find Windows.

    On top of it all, I don't have another SATA machine, so I can't mount the thing as a slave and poke around in there.

    My one consolation is that I was offered a Beta (or is it Alpha) of Windows Vista and I turned it down - at least I knew that would ruin my system!

    So any suggestions? I know this is a long post and probably an awful newbie abuse of forum guidelines, but I'd really appreciate your help. I'm patient and persistent and I need to get this fixed! All I need is either Windows OR Debian running well, I think I'll be able to handle it from there. HELP!


  2. #2
    Also, I think if I could get in and replace or edit the X86Config (is that the name of it?) file, I could restore some functionality, but I can only get to the "restore" command line, and that seems pretty limited.

    Ugh...anyone live in New England and want to drive here and help out? I'll buy pizza/beer and sing your praises forever.

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