adding new HD on PIII with FreeBSD


New Member

Messages: 17

I'm currently running FreeBSD on a Dell PIII.

It has a 13GB HD that came with the box when
I got it. It's getting a little tight, not much
room for music.

Next year I'm planning to buy a bigger HD and
install 7.1 on it but I'm wondering if I'll
run into limitations with this older PC.

I'm seeing drives out there with 350GB or more
that are pretty cheap!

Thanks for any advice,


Staff member

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It's quite likely your BIOS will not support more then 80GB. Check if there's a BIOS upgrade.


New Member

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Messages: 19

SirDice said:
It's quite likely your BIOS will not support more then 80GB. Check if there's a BIOS upgrade.
I always thought such a limitation was a problem only if your boot partition extends the first 80GB. FreeBSD doesn't really use the BIOS for harddisk I/O. But someone should confirm this.



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You are unlikely to have a problem, even if you replace the old disk with the new one. The much easier approach, guaranteed to avoid PC limitations, is to leave the existing disk in place and add the new one for extra space (well, assuming that the system has the physical capacity to attach a new drive). The FAQ has an entry titled "How can I add my new hard disk to my FreeBSD system?" which covers this topic.



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cmc4bsd said:
So it's only the first disk that will have the problem?
It's the disk that has your kernel on it. The problem isn't running FreeBSD, it's booting FreeBSD. In a standard installation, you use BIOS functions to boot the kernel, and so the BIOS has to understand the part of the disk you boot from.

None of this is likely to affect you in any case, but you might have a very old BIOS in a PIII system, so we're being a little conservative by warning about possible-but-unlikely problems. If you continue to boot off of the same disk you're using now, you should be fine.


Aspiring Daemon

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Messages: 523

First make sure that your motherboard supports big disks. I remember having a 500 Mhz Pentium III that didn't support anything over 20GB. Also that a look at the motherboard's site for updated BIOS, with luck you'll find newer versions with expanded support for bigger disk.

You are mentioning a Pentium III so you can only get IDE disks on the motherboard. However you can get PCI cards for additional disks, there are cheap cards for IDE and SATA disks some with RAID also.


Son of Beastie

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see if freebsd CD1 or fixitcd sysinstall recognises entire disk, if yes, and your bios doesn't recognize big disks, you can create bootable CD to load kernel and then boot from hdd


New Member

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I have 6.3 on my P1 machine and a 40GB HDD in it. The BIOS supports only 8GB, but FreeBSD recognize the full 40GB.


Active Member

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I don't know about the bios, but I have an old IBM 300PL that works fine with a 160GB disk. P3 500. Plugged it in, booted the FreeBSD install disk, and all is well. The bios is dated 1999. I know you couldn't find 160GB disks in 1999 ;)