A couple years ago I built a simple computer from some spare parts and made it a linux desktop. A few days ago I decided to use it to replace an even older linux server I had running at my house. I turned it on (for the first time since I built it) and decided, after a few failed attempts at upgrading from Fedora 11 to Fedora 16, to put in a new hard drive and install Fedora 16 from scratch.
The old hard drive was a 40GB IDE drive. My new hard drive is a 750GB SATA II drive.
I took out the old drive, plugged in the new drive, and boot the machine from a Fedora 16 live CD. Once booted, I attempted to install the OS to the hard drive, but after getting through a few prompts the installer told me there were no drives to install to.
I pulled out the SATA II drive and put in an old, nearly failing SATA drive (not SATA II). The machine recognized the old drive just fine (and warned me it was getting ready to fail).
I hooked the SATA II drive up to my Windows desktop via a USB adapter. Everything on the drive looked great. I re-partitioned and reformatted the drive, but it still wouldn’t work on the linux box. I did a lot of head scratching to figure out why the machine liked my old drive but didn’t like my newer one.
I noticed that the computer was rejecting the SATA II drive even before trying to boot Fedora. The BIOS liked my old drive but didn’t like my new drive. That told me something was wrong on the BIOS or chipset level.
Making it work
The machine has a MSI K8T Neo (MS 6702 v1) motherboard. A quick Google search on things related to SATA on that mother board led me to this forum post from someone with the same problem as I was having. People kept recommending the original poster jumper the hard drive to restrict it to SATA I performance. It didn’t work for the original poster, but I thought it was worth a try.
It worked for me :)
Someone on the forum referenced this other forum post talking about hard drive/chipset incompatibility. It seems like the VIA chipset used on the MSI motherboard doesn’t play well with SATA II drives (even though SATA II drives should be backwards compatible with SATA I).
So, in short, when using a SATA II drive on the MSI K8T Neo motherboard, jumper the drive to operate like a SATA I drive.
What is a “jumper”?
A jumper is a small plastic sheath that’s made to enclose and connect two jumper pins. The inside of the sheath contains metal, so when a jumper is placed over two jumper pins a circuit is completed. These jumper pins are found on many internal computer components. They are short pins found in small groups that stick up from or out of a component.
Because jumper pins are easy to confuse with other pins placing or moving jumpers is not something that I’d suggest you try out just for fun. As I general rule, I’d suggest you leave jumpers and pins alone unless you know what you’re trying to accomplish and you know which pins should be jumpered.