Recently, I was given 2 unit of Dell PowerEdge computer with Intel Pentium 4 processor running at 2,4GHz, 256MB RAM and a 40GB hard disk. It was install with a Linux OS but I don't know what Distro it is. When power on it show bunch of text and it hang and the last message was a Kernel panic. But it is still ok since I am going to format the computer with another Distro. That is where the problem start. I cannot format the computer at all. Is it possible for a Linux Distro to protect the computer from being formatted or is it the hardware already fail? Thanks in advance to anyone who help.

Recommended Answers

All 14 Replies

If you are starting to use a CD / DVD with a linux distro (distribution Oerating system) on it then it should format hte disk automatically. (Using EXT 2 or EXT 3 format. If it does not do this either the computer bios is not set up to bootDC as first boot device and it trying and faioling to boot from the hard drive. check the bios.
If the CD does boot it should give you options to do what you want. It is unlikely (but just possible) tha the OS on the hard drive has been made read only if that is the case (or protected by password) you should get indication of that.
If none of these work try using a disk program like partition commander or etc to reformat the disk. If that afails it seems an electrical fault in the HD drive.

I have gone through all aspect of trying to format the hard disk. The BIOS has been set to boot from CD/DVD. I put in the Ubuntu 9.04 and it come out with the menu that show "Test Ubuntu Before Installing" and "Install Ubuntu". When I press enter on either one of them. The screen just go blank and the CD seem to stop spinning. I even try Window ME and Window XP to delete the partition. But fail. It seem to be able to boot from its previous version of Linux but it just hang. So I don't know whether its the Linux preventing the hard disk from being formatted or the hard disk just simply fail. Anyway thank for your help.

As far as I'm aware; once you start booting from a Linux live CD, whatever OS is on the HD is completely ignored. So the resident OS will not be able to stop the machine booting from the CD (The BIOS settings usually determine whether boot from CD/DVD is allowed!). Similarly, once running a live distro, the resident OS shouldn't be able to stop the HD from being reformatted either.

If your Linux live CD's are failing to boot, it is most likely a hardware related issue (or your live CD is scratched/damaged/corrupt!). But it's not necessarily the HD, it could be something else, like a component on the motherboard or some other card/component which is damaged.

What happens if you remove the HD's and then try to boot into a Linux liveCD?
If it boots OK, then the HD's are definitely damaged. Otherwise if it doesn't, then there is some other hardware related issue!

One other thought springs to mind:
256Mb of RAM doesn't sound like enough to be able to run Ubuntu in Live mode (but I could be wrong), perhaps you could try a more lightweight Linux LiveCD. Perhaps something like Slitaz (which is Ubuntu based, but far more lightweight).

Try booting a lightweight distro's live CD without the HD's connected first and then if that works, try booting with the HD's connected.

If Slitaz (or whatever lightweight distro you choose to test drive) boots OK both times (with and without the HD), then you should be able to format the drives and install a distro on there.
If Ubuntu is your preferred distro, you could try installing Ubuntu using the alternate install disk rather than the liveCD. The Ubuntu alternate install disk requires much less memory than the LiveCD, so is more likely to succeed on a system with less RAM.

However, if even a lightweight distro won't boot without the HD's connected, then you'll know you've definitely got a hardware problem. In which case, something like the Ultimate Boot CD might also be of use. The UBCD has tons of diagnostic tools that could help to determine the exact problem (provided the computer is able to boot into UBCD that is!).

Oh and purely for the purpose of reformatting the HD's, you could perhaps try removing them, connecting them to another computer and then reformatting them from there.
Again, if this presents a problem it is most likely that the HD's are dead/damaged!

in my case i would love to transform that hdd into an external one, then for once it's done i put into the box again, piece of cake, right?
sorry if you dont expect my answer... but just in case you have no more options left..

- Draugnavz

This is what I have done. I remove the hard disk and plug into my main computer as a 2nd IDE hard disk and use my main SATA hard disk to scan and try to fix it but upon booting up the monitor went to sleep mode and nothing happen. Just blank screen but the CPU is running.

And on the Dell PowerEdge computer. I install another hard disk to test whether it is the computer problem and the result is that the computer is fine. I test it for a day or 2 now. So it could not be the computer problem.

Recently I just found out that the Dell PowerEdge was use as a server. So I was wondering whether Linux server has the capability to write protect the hard disk for security issue? Shall I just use a Linux server to format it?

Anyway I will try whatever means to revive before I dump the hard disk. Its such a waste to dump an otherwise a good hard disk. Appreciate to you guys for your help.

don't dump the hard disk... keep it with you.. along with the development of your knowledge being hardware tinker...

just try Linux server to format it... or else bring them to mac os X's disk utility to format it...

wish i could help more..

I was thinking of using a Linux server to format. Maybe who know it might solve the problem. That is the only method I haven't try yet. Now the question is which Linux server? Thank you!

ubuntu is fine enough, as it based on debian...

Below is the message I got when booting up and hang after that.

ide: fail opcode was: unknown
end_request: I/O error, dev hda, sector 65
EXT2-fs: unable to read superblock
Kernel panic - not syncing : VFS: Unable to mount root fs on unknown-block(3,1)

Anybody had any idea what it was? Is the hard disk end of life? Appreciate to anyone who help. Thanks!

I/O error is an input output error (ie cant read or write to:)
Dev (device) hda (hard disk drive a = first hard drive in linux)
sector 65 is one of the many sectors on your hard drive.
EXT62-fs is (ext 2 type of format used by linux) fs =file system and then it tells you that the format is unable to read the sector at that address (65) on the hard disk
The rest just tells you that the heart (kernel) opf the software cant do anything as it has not got the data required from the hard disk.

I suspect the best thing to do is to try to use a commercial disk partition program (there are many around) that can format in EXT 2 and it may able to do a repair on the hard drive. If not then a reformat and reinstall is the answer.
Failure like this is usually due to the head descending onto the hard disk, or dirt or dust scratching the surface or is some cases a power failure whilst writing to the disk can cause damage tot eh disk surface. A reformat will tell the system not to use this part of the hard disk and all will appear well.

It says something about your hard disk drive because it mentions ide and hda(your hard disk drive), I think it means it can't mount it because it said "Unable to mount root fs on unknown-block(3,1)"

I find it odd that 2 computer with same brand having the same problem at the same time. What is the chance of that happening? Anyway I will keep on trying until I know for sure it is really dead. Thanks for all the help.

you could try using partition wizard. It is a free program that doubles as live cd. Or use an arch install cd.

There are some applications that will forcibly do that without needing the OS, you might be able to do that

Be a part of the DaniWeb community

We're a friendly, industry-focused community of developers, IT pros, digital marketers, and technology enthusiasts meeting, learning, and sharing knowledge.