[nSLUG] Suggestions for Distro

J. Paul Bissonnette jpaulb at eastlink.ca
Sun May 31 10:17:16 ADT 2009

Daniel Morrison wrote:
> 2009/5/29 J. Paul Bissonnette <jpaulb at eastlink.ca>:
>> I am also having issues hdd order. every hdd is sda, sdb, sd* no matter
>> whether if it is ata, sata or scsi. Booting from chosen disk is a pain.
>> I had a mixture of SCSI, SATA and ATA. The order the BIOS sees the hdd
>> and the partitioner orders the disks are different.
>> I really do not care where the issue is. Debian follows the BIOS and
>> Ubuntu has another way.
>> If I have to upgrade my hardware every time I upgrade Ubuntu; I been
>> there, have done that with Windows. I have much better things to do with
>> my life.
> You are making big generalizations. How does the BIOS "order" ATA,
> SATA, and SCSI? I have never seen one that does this -- unless you
> mean "BIOS boot order", which is really something different. In what
> way is choosing a disk to boot a pain? 
"BIOS boot order"
The BIOS on the MSI K8N Neo9 has a boot order
IDE Primary Master, Slave
IDE Secondary Master, Slave
Third Master
Fourth Master
Fifth Master
Sixth Master

The SCSI drives are appended to the end of that list

> I admit that managing grub
> manually is a nightmare (I use LILO so it's really a breeze nowadays)
> but Redhat- and Debian-based distros I've used automate the
> installation of grub, so it's typically just a matter of copy/pasting
> some lines in /boot/grub/grub.conf in order to add extra choices.
> Given that Ubuntu is based on Debian, what specific experiences are
> you referencing when you suggest that Debian and Ubuntu order your
> disks differently? Are you comparing an old Debian with a new Ubuntu?
I am comparing Ubuntu 9.04 or 8.04 & Debian Squeeze
Ubuntu installation, at the partitioner stage, identifies the SCSI 
drives as sda, ... sdn
The SATA drives sdn+1... and then the ATA are at the end of the list

Debian has always identified the drives in the same order as the BIOS does.
Primary master is hda
Primary slave is hdb, etc.
First SATA is sda.. etc
Then the SCSI drive

With Ubuntu the first bootable disk is sda which could be either SCSI, 
SATA or ATA, depending on what types of hdds are installed.
I asked in the Ubuntu forum when this first became apparent with 8.04. I 
had just upgraded from 7.10; where there was no issue. Never got a reply 
to the question. My solution was to remove the SCSI and the SATA install 
the system and manually install the SATA. The SCSI hdd has been retired 
since Ubuntu 8.04.

Debian is not using the UUID system, there is no problem mixing drives, 
Ubuntu is using it; there is a problem mixing drives. Whether that is a 
coincident or not I do not know. There was a distro 5 or 6 years ago 
(Xandros) that introduced that system, it was also a nightmare to mix 
> And finally, where did the issue of "upgrading hardware" come from?
> One of the best advantages of Linux has always been that you *don't*
> need to stay on the upgrade treadmill -- Linux generally still works
> fine on truly ancient hardware (fancy graphical environments being the
> main exception, but that's expected).
 From my experience with Ubuntu; when I added 1 SATA to the ATA drives;  
I would have to upgrade all the drives to SATA to get it to work 
properly. It maybe a Motherboard issue also.
Debian text based installation was finished in a jiffy, no fuss.
I just do not have the time, energy, experience or the interest to spend 
hours trouble shooting glitches introduced between one upgrade and another.

> I completely sympathize with the concern that Linux distros are
> churning out software that looks (and behaves) more like Windows every
> day, but I point the finger of blame firmly at the all-singing,
> all-dancing "desktop" environments, brain-dead black-box systems like
> CUPS, and the steaming pile of crud that is GTK2. Apart from Redhat's
> monstrous "disk druid", I find the installers are really improving
> (and thankfully, always offer you a shell, so you can easily save time
> by simply using (s)fdisk instead). Luckily, popping open a shell is
> also still an option for the fully-fledged OS as well. The only darn
> shame is that nowadays, when googling for the solution to a problem, a
> large number of unhelpful pages need to be ignored, as they target a
> point-and-drool approach to particular distro's custom
> pkgmgr/wizard/control panel, instead of giving you the "real" answer.
> Pity.
> -D.
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