View Full Version : Linux Newbie - Large drive support on older machines

2005-06-09, 07:21
Good morning all,

Please bear with me, a Linux newbie ... I am thinking of moving my SlimServer install over to a Linux base for a couple of reasons;

The first is clearly performance. My poor old PII, 350 Mhz is really struggling to serve my 30 000 + tracks collection and I keep on seeing post about better performance on Linux (wihtout the bloat of Win2K)

The second reason is one I need help on. I am wondering about being able to use large drives (in excess of the BIOS limit) on that machine. It seems that Linux can support large drives by bypassing the BIOS size limit. I have discovered this when I started using a NAS product called NAS Lite + (http://www.serverelements.com/) which allows large drive (200-300 Gig) despite the BIOS limits. As I understand it, the Linux core used by NAS Lite supports this.

So, the questions are -

Is that correct and can this be done with a distro that I can use for SlimServer ? And, is anyone using a setup like this ?

Any help would be appreciated !


2005-06-09, 10:45
Re large drive support.

I think you will find that the BIOS needs to be able to understand the boot drive, but is completely bypassed once linux is running. Hence assuming linux understands your disk controller and it is capable of supporting larger disks it will work.

I have run two setups like this - keep old drive to boot from and add another to store stuff on.

Assuming IDE, this is likely to restrict you to lower data rates than modern disks support, but probably fast enough for slimserver.


2005-06-10, 08:46
You're right - some older PC may have problems addressing very larges drives fully. You'll get partital access to the space on older PC's. Just stick the drive in and see what the BIOS tells you it's size is when it sees it (You should be able to do this from the BIOS screen) - you won't hurt anything just to see what's the deal is.

If you do have issues - grab an PCI ATA controller card (check it's Linux support first) and stick the drive on that - that will solve your issue.

Best of luck!


2005-06-12, 18:59
Thanks guys. I guess I'll take the plunge.