137GB Limitation for my 500GB HD

Asked by edu

I am just installing Ubuntu in a new computer and my 500 GB HD appears as having just 137GB. After some research I found out that there is a problem in the BIOS that does not recognize 48-bit LDA.
I searched for upgrades but my Intel motherboard does not have any BIOS upgrade to provide this feature. Instead, Intel turned available a software that would enable Windows to access the whole of the HD capacity and not just the 137GB.
Searching for a similar solution in Linux I found the idea of creating a small partition for the \boot once after booting linux would recognize the whole HD. Unfortunately it did not happen.

I do not really want to use windows.

My question is:
Is there a way/driver/workaround on which Ubuntu would be able to access my whole 500GB even though my BIOS just recognize 137GB?

Please give me some help on this.


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Ariel Cabral (acabral1961) said :

Please, can you give us the model of your motherboard and the version of Ubuntu are you using.
Can you please open a terminal, run this commands:
 sudo fdisk -l
 sudo df -h
and paste the result here.

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edu (eargollo) said :

Hi Ariel,

The mother board is the Intel D945GCLF2 (http://www.intel.com/products/desktop/motherboards/D945gclf2/D945gclf2-overview.htm). It is a mini-ITX that I intend to use in my media-center computer.

The disk is SEAGATE ST3500630AS-PCB 500.0GB.

The result of the commands I just can send you later.

As I said Intel provides a software called Intel Application Accelerator ( http://support.intel.com/support/chipsets/iaa/ ) that is supposed to solve this problem for Windows (http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/sb/CS-002770.htm).

At http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/sb/CS-002770.htm you can see that my motherboard is in the list that requires this software. It is unfortunate that they do not care for supporting linux.

Thank you very much for your help and I will put the commands result as soon as possible ( I would love to have my *new* Ubuntu media-center ready and running really soon :-) )

By the way, the Ubuntu I am installing is the 8.10 ( I just downloaded the Installation CD yesterday ).


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Ariel Cabral (acabral1961) said :

Just for your information,
Ubuntu (and Linux in general) is not so much affected for this BIOS limits.
Ubuntu only look the BIOS at start, once Linux (or Ubuntu) boots, the BIOS restriction does not matter any more because Linux takes over the hardware management and it can access the partition(s) beyond the BIOS limits.
Then, this is the answer to why Linux don't need any software to recognize the full capacity of your drive.
The only restriction is to make a boot partition inside the BIOS limits, but doesn't affect you because you'll have the same view of the file system no matter on how many drives was divided.
At installation time:
When you are asked to partition the hard drive, you must select manual instead automatic and then you can choose the size and place of your partitions. Be really careful if you have another active partition on your hard drive or another hard drive on the system.
An option for you, may be:
Make a ext3 partition (amount: no less than 500 MB and no more than 137 GB and mounted on /boot, I suggest 2 GB to be sure do not have any trouble in the future and no much more), a linux-swap partition (amount: the double of your RAM memory, no mount point required), and another ext3 partition (amount: the rest of your drive capacity, mounted at /).
The /boot partition typically holds the kernel that the OS uses to talk to the hardware. also holds the GRUB menu (the menu that lets you select which OS or kernel you want to boot into if you have 2 or more installed at the same time, like WinXP and Ubuntu).
If you want windows on the same hard drive let me know and I suggest you another partition scheme.
Hope this helps, let me know.

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edu (eargollo) said :

Hi Ariel,

I had thought about that and this is what I did:
1) Started up the installation CD
2) Selected manual partitioning
3) Created a 20GB (I just wanted to test) for \boot
4) Created a 20GB for \ (I did not creat swap partition once I just wanted to assure this would solve the problem)

At this point while checking for the partitions I could make it was still showing 97GB ( this means that my 500GB disk was not recognized before the installation).

5) Followed with the installation
6) Booted Ubuntu
7) Installed Gnome Partition Editor and did run it
The Partition Editor showed me also just 97GB of available disk for another partition.

This is when I did run out of options, started searching the web and as I did not find anything suitable I decided to ask for more specialized help :-)

By the way, I did also download a tool from Seagate, the Seatools for DOS (http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/support/downloads/seatools/seatooldreg) to check the disk (Seagate claims it checks if the disk is all right despite the 137GB limitation).

Seagate tests returned OK.

Any idea of what I could do?

Once again, thank you very much for your support,

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Ariel Cabral (acabral1961) said :

Ok edu,
Can you please start the LiveCD and choose "Try Ubuntu without any ..."
When started go to System->Administration->Partition Editor and please tell me if the your drive is recognized at their full capacity. If yes (as I suppose) make a click on the install icon and follow the steps I mentioned before.
Hope this helps, let me know.

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edu (eargollo) said :

Hi Ariel,

I did that but it shows only the same 137GB. I am now working with the possibility that maybe I need to set up the number of cylinders/tracks/heads of my disk manually.
I don't understand what is going on once I did find a seagate document (http://www.seagate.com/support/kb/disc/tp/137gb.pdf) that tells that linux is not supposed to have such a problem.

I am having trouble to find out the head/cylinder/track count for my disk... I am now stuck in the table 1 of the document http://www.seagate.com/staticfiles/support/disc/manuals/desktop/Barracuda%207200.10/100402369f.pdf

Curious, right?


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nhasian (nhasian) said :

an alternate solution to your problem would be a new sata controller:


thats the cheapest one i saw that specifically stated it worked in linux.

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Ariel Cabral (acabral1961) said :

It's weird,
I told you that Linux is not affected by the BIOS limitations, please wait for a while with the manual configuration of your drive.
Your drive have jumpers at their back from along the serial and power connectors, there is a jumper there?
You can go to:
and download the manual for your hard drive and see the proper configuration for your motherboard.
Hope this helps, let me know.

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మంగిపూడి కోదండరామ్ (Mangipudi Kodanda Ram) (kodanda) said :

Hi Ariel,

I am experiencing a similar problem with the hard disc capacity limitations wit BIOS. Below I will explain my situation and requirements.

I have a Sony VAIO VGN-FJ1S/W laptop bought 3 years ago. I recently wanted to upgrade my hard disc from 80 GB to 500 GB. I bought a 500 GB hard disk, updated the BIOS to the latest available version from the Sony's official support. This shows me only 137 BG in the BIOS for the new disc. I contacted the Sony company support and they said there is no more support for this model. So BIOS upgrade (for free) is ruled out for my case.

When I tested to install Ubuntu, I went until disc partitioning, I could see 465 GB listed out there. So it recognizes the full capacity.

When I used my recovery CDs to install WinXP, I get a message "Setup is inspecting the hardware...". I see a black blank screen and the system hangs - no keyboard, DVD drive spinning but only the CPU works and the fan runs very fast. To be sure I checked the recovery discs with the old small hard discs and they work properly.

My requirements are that

(1) I want to have WinXP from my old hard disc. I need windows for my wife and for my MP4 and camcoders.
(2) I want to install Ubuntu in the rest.

Could you please suggest me a method and a partitioning scheme.

Thanks in advance,


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