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So I bought the new 3TB GoFlex Desk...


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#1 pwyll

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 11:30 AM

Hi Everyone,

So I recently bought one of the new Seagate 3TB external hard drives. (FreeAgent GoFlex Desk, part number STAC3000100)

Accessing it has been a puzzle.

My understanding is that a normal MBR can only handle partition sizes up to 2.2TB. For larger partitions, what I see is people recommending GPT (GUID Partition Table, http://en.wikipedia....Partition_Table ) instead.

One thing that's not clear to me is whether the 2.2TB limit still applies when sectors are 4Kb rather than the normal 512 bytes. At any rate, this thing came formatted with one single NTFS partition, which appears to have a 4K sector size and no GPT, just vanilla MBR.

NTFS is fine with me, as I still boot into my windows partition sometimes and like to be able to access my data from either OS. The way Seagate formatted this, it:

It *is* visible and usable, to my desktop's 32-bit Windows XP install.
It *is* visible, but won't automount, on my desktop's Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic) x64 install. I'm hesitant to try mounting it manually.
It *is* visible, and *will* automount, on my laptop's Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid) x64 install.


parted (and GParted) seem very confused by the drive.
fdisk seems to understand it OK, as does 10.04's newer version of Palimpsest. (The System->Administration->Disk Utility app.)

I've read that Seagate had figured some format hack such that it was usable on 32-bit XP, but for whatever reason it doesn't seem to be a vanilla NTFS format. Does anyone know if this drive uses Advanced Format ( http://en.wikipedia....Advanced_Format ), or is just a standard NTFS format using a 4K sector size?

I'd like to know exactly what's going on with the drive so I can safely format it if needed. I'd like to know how to make:

1. (best option) A single NTFS partition, aligned at 4K sector boundaries, usable by 32-bit windows, 9.10 x64, and 10.04 x64, that does not use GPT.
2. (acceptable) two NTFS partitions, usable by 32-bit windows, 9.10 x64, and 10.04 x64. (again, not using GPT)

I'd also like to avoid upgrading my desktop to 10.04 if possible.

One thing I *don't* need to able to do with this drive is boot from it (from either XP or ubuntu) so that at least is one less thing to figure out.

Does anyone have more detail on this drive and the exact partitioning scheme used? Has anyone else tried to format it? (as NTFS, or even Ext3/Ext4?)

Any help greatly appreciated! Thanks.

#2 Brian

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 11:35 AM

Welcome to the forums.

It's definitely Advanced Format and I'm not surprised at all that you're having trouble within Linux, it's long had problems with AF drives.

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#3 TSullivan

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 01:52 PM

Awesome! Someone technically inclined finally bought one of the darn things! :lol:

Could you do me a favor and post the fdisk and parted printouts of the partition table?

also a quick hdparm -I /dev/(that3TBdrive) would also be great.

One of those will probably shed some light on this.

#4 pwyll

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 10:06 PM

Ok, here you go.

First, results under Ubuntu 9.10 x64 (my default OS)


sudo fdisk -l

Note: sector size is 4096 (not 512)

WARNING: The size of this disk is 3.0 TB (3000592977920 bytes).
DOS partition table format can not be used on drives for volumes
larger than (17592186040320 bytes) for 4096-byte sectors. Use parted(1) and GUID 
partition table format (GPT).


Disk /dev/sdg: 3000.6 GB, 3000592977920 bytes
1 heads, 7 sectors/track, 104652377 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 7 * 4096 = 28672 bytes
Disk identifier: 0xa4b57300

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdg1               2   104652001  2930256000    7  HPFS/NTFS

sudo parted -l: No output for this drive!

palimpsest: Can see the drive, but can't do anything with it.

sudo hdparm -I /dev/sdg (or /dev/sdg1):
HDIO_DRIVE_CMD(identify) failed: Invalid exchange

Mounting: canNOT mount the drive from within GUI. Haven't tried using the command line.


Next, results using an Ubuntu 10.04 LiveCD:

sudo fdisk -l:

Note: sector size is 4096 (not 512)

Disk /dev/sdc: 3000.6 GB, 3000592977920 bytes
1 heads, 7 sectors/track, 104652377 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 7 * 4096 = 28672 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 4096 bytes / 4096 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 4096 bytes / 4096 bytes
Disk identifier: 0xa4b57300

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdc1               2   104652001  2930256000    7  HPFS/NTFS
Partition 1 does not start on physical sector boundary.

sudo parted -l:

Model: Seagate FA GoFlex Desk (scsi)
Disk /dev/sdc: 3001GB
Sector size (logical/physical): 4096B/4096B
Partition Table: msdos

Number  Start   End     Size    Type     File system  Flags
 1      28.7kB  3001GB  3001GB  primary

palimpsest: can see the drive just fine, along with plenty of drive info. Claims the partitioning scheme is MBR (not GPT AFAIK)

sudo hdparm -I /dev/sdc (or /dev/sdc1):


/dev/sdc:
 HDIO_DRIVE_CMD(identify) failed: Invalid exchange

Mounting: CAN mount the drive from the GUI.

Does this help? I'm especially curious about the claim of an unaligned partition, since Seagate claims it's formatted for optimal use with XP as well.

Thanks!

#5 Brian

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 07:17 AM

Well, Seagate is *supposed* to handle alignment on the fly, which was announced here. But since they haven't released any AF drives without enclosure yet, Seagate hasn't had to be terribly forthcoming about how they handle this alignment issue.

Also worth reading is this piece on alignment.

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#6 pwyll

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 10:10 AM

Thanks for the links on alignment, I'll check them out.

A poster over at ubuntuforums recommended I try partedmagic and see what else I could figure out. Fortunately, the version of hdparm that comes with partedmagic 5.2 can get drive info:

hdparm -I /dev/sdg
/dev/sdg:
SG_IO: bad/missing sense data, sb[]:  72 00 00 00 00 00 00 0a 09 0c 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

ATA device, with non-removable media
	Model Number:       ST33000651AS                            
	Serial Number:      9XK00PE7
	Firmware Revision:  CC95    
	Transport:          Serial
Standards:
	Used: unknown (minor revision code 0x0029) 
	Supported: 8 7 6 5 
	Likely used: 8
Configuration:
	Logical		max	current
	cylinders	16383	16383
	heads		16	16
	sectors/track	63	63
	--
	CHS current addressable sectors:   16514064
	LBA    user addressable sectors:  268435455
	LBA48  user addressable sectors: 5860533168
	Logical/Physical Sector size:           512 bytes
	device size with M = 1024*1024:     2861588 MBytes
	device size with M = 1000*1000:     3000592 MBytes (3000 GB)
	cache/buffer size  = unknown
	Nominal Media Rotation Rate: 7200
Capabilities:
	LBA, IORDY(can be disabled)
	Standby timer values: spec'd by Standard, no device specific minimum
	R/W multiple sector transfer: Max = 16	Current = ?
	Recommended acoustic management value: 128, current value: 128
	DMA: mdma0 mdma1 mdma2 udma0 udma1 udma2 udma3 udma4 udma5 *udma6 
	     Cycle time: min=120ns recommended=120ns
	PIO: pio0 pio1 pio2 pio3 pio4 
	     Cycle time: no flow control=120ns  IORDY flow control=120ns
Commands/features:
	Enabled	Supported:
	   *	SMART feature set
	    	Security Mode feature set
	   *	Power Management feature set
	   *	Write cache
	   *	Look-ahead
	   *	Host Protected Area feature set
	   *	WRITE_BUFFER command
	   *	READ_BUFFER command
	   *	DOWNLOAD_MICROCODE
	    	SET_MAX security extension
	   *	Automatic Acoustic Management feature set
	   *	48-bit Address feature set
	   *	Device Configuration Overlay feature set
	   *	Mandatory FLUSH_CACHE
	   *	FLUSH_CACHE_EXT
	   *	SMART error logging
	   *	SMART self-test
	   *	General Purpose Logging feature set
	   *	64-bit World wide name
	    	Write-Read-Verify feature set
	   *	WRITE_UNCORRECTABLE_EXT command
	   *	{READ,WRITE}_DMA_EXT_GPL commands
	   *	Segmented DOWNLOAD_MICROCODE
	   *	Gen1 signaling speed (1.5Gb/s)
	   *	Gen2 signaling speed (3.0Gb/s)
	   *	Phy event counters
	    	Device-initiated interface power management
	   *	Software settings preservation
	   *	SMART Command Transport (SCT) feature set
	   *	SCT Long Sector Access (AC1)
	   *	SCT Error Recovery Control (AC3)
	   *	SCT Features Control (AC4)
	   *	SCT Data Tables (AC5)
	    	unknown 206[12] (vendor specific)
Security: 
	Master password revision code = 65534
		supported
	not	enabled
	not	locked
	not	frozen
	not	expired: security count
		supported: enhanced erase
	488min for SECURITY ERASE UNIT. 488min for ENHANCED SECURITY ERASE UNIT.
Logical Unit WWN Device Identifier: 5000c50020701f84
	NAA		: 5
	IEEE OUI	: 000c50
	Unique ID	: 020701f84
Checksum: correct

Hopefully this will shed more light on how to properly format the drive... but note that hdparm thinks the sector size is 512!

#7 qasdfdsaq

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 07:24 PM

One thing that's not clear to me is whether the 2.2TB limit still applies when sectors are 4Kb rather than the normal 512 bytes. At any rate, this thing came formatted with one single NTFS partition, which appears to have a 4K sector size and no GPT, just vanilla MBR.

If you read my rant in the other recent thread about 4K sectors you'd know there is no 2TB limit. Well, there is, but you're thinking about it wrong. Also, there is no spoon.

The 2TB limit applies to 1) XP, 2) MBR. MBR does not support 4K sectors (well, it shouldn't but can be hacked in some implementations). NTFS does not have 4K sectors, it has 4K clusters (by default). NTFS doesn't really care about sector size, cluster size can be one or more sectors.


I've read that Seagate had figured some format hack such that it was usable on 32-bit XP, but for whatever reason it doesn't seem to be a vanilla NTFS format. Does anyone know if this drive uses Advanced Format ( http://en.wikipedia....Advanced_Format ), or is just a standard NTFS format using a 4K sector size?

I'd be interested in finding out how this works too. Can you provide me a dump of the first megabyte of the drive? This should tell me what partitioning scheme it's using, the sector size/type, and what hacks if any are in use.

Easiest way to do this under Linux would be to use dd, though I'd prefer if you gave me a screenshot using R-Studio under Windows as well.
To get the first meg (assuming sdg is still the drive) under linux:
dd if=/dev/sdg of=/home/username/testfile.bin bs=4096 count=256
Zip the file, and upload it somewhere or email it to me if you can.
Then run R-Studio (http://www.data-reco..._Download.shtml demo version is fine), select the drive, then screenshot the right hand tab (Properties). Select the first partition on the drive, and screenshot that too. Save and upload. You can also use R-Studio under Windows to dump the first part of the disk if you want, just create a 1MB region and image that.


I'd like to know exactly what's going on with the drive so I can safely format it if needed. I'd like to know how to make:

1. (best option) A single NTFS partition, aligned at 4K sector boundaries, usable by 32-bit windows, 9.10 x64, and 10.04 x64, that does not use GPT.
2. (acceptable) two NTFS partitions, usable by 32-bit windows, 9.10 x64, and 10.04 x64. (again, not using GPT)

I'd also like to avoid upgrading my desktop to 10.04 if possible.


Neither of these should theoretically be possible, though 2) isn't entirely relevant. NTFS can use partitions up to several petabytes, so if you can partition it, NTFS can use it. Also any partition scheme that can use >2TB drives can use the whole drive in one go. However depending what hacks they're using it might work...

One thing I *don't* need to able to do with this drive is boot from it (from either XP or ubuntu) so that at least is one less thing to figure out.

Good, cause the hacks required for this get real ugly.

Does anyone have more detail on this drive and the exact partitioning scheme used?

Nope, but I'd like to find out, with your help (see above).

Edited by qasdfdsaq, 08 August 2010 - 07:56 PM.

#8 qasdfdsaq

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 07:28 PM

Meh.

Edited by qasdfdsaq, 08 August 2010 - 07:56 PM.

#9 pwyll

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 07:33 PM

Hello qasdfdsaq,

I've done as you asked - the files are available here

Note that I've also attached a screencap of error messages generated by R-Studio, even though XP doesn't complain about the drive and I can read the contents.
Also, the image I made with dd was using the version in Ubuntu 9.10 x64, in case it matters.

Let me know if you need anything else, curious to get your take on it. Oh, and by the way, do you know of any a priori reason why I wouldn't be able to use a different drive enclosure? The fact that this one is "smart" and doesn't have an on/off switch is highly annoying.

Cheers!

#10 Brian

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 07:46 PM

Unfortunately most the externals we see don't have an off switch. The drive might work in another enclosure, you'll have to see if it has a special board sitting on top of the drive or in between the connection. Since it's AF, they might be doing something different with the hardware inside.

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#11 qasdfdsaq

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 04:42 AM

Well this is interesting... The drive under Windows does show up as a native USB device with 4K sector size. However, it also has a 512-byte MBR in the first 1/4 of sector 0. According to the MBR, the first partition is NTFS and starts at sector 7 (?!) and ends at 732564000 = 2794GB when interpreted as 4K sectors.

It's a pretty simple kludge really, the MBR is supposed to be the first sector on a 512-byte disk but they've just shoehorned the same 512 bytes into a 4K sector and left the remaining 1536 empty, counting on the OS not to care that it's a 4K disk when it really should be a 512-byte disk.

So it's not the NTFS format that's been kludged, it's the partition table. For all intents and purposes it's a 4K drive, but uses a 512-byte MBR when it should be using GPT. Windows seems to just read the first 512-bytes to get the partition table and interpret it in 4K mode (which it really shouldn't). I can understand why older partitioning tools would be confused by it...

As for getting it accessible under Ubuntu 9.10, I'm not sure if there's a safe way to do this, as I'm not 100% sure where the problem lies. It could either be because it doesn't understand the MBR kludge, or that it doesn't understand 4K sector drives. The hdparm output you gave seems to point to the latter, though I cant figure out what the info shown by fdisk is meant to represent (the "Blocks" value seems to be 1KB but the "Start" and "End" values make no sense whether interpreted as 512-byte, 1KB, or 4KB).

Is there any data currently on the drive? If there's no (important) data on it I'd try mounting it manually under Ubuntu anyway just to see what happens. I'm not familiar enough with *nix to know exactly what path it uses to determine partition layouts for mounting I'm afraid. The proper way to do this would be to use GPT, but as XP (32-bit) doesn't support that, it won't help you.

Edited by qasdfdsaq, 10 August 2010 - 04:45 AM.

#12 pwyll

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 10:03 AM

Interesting. Thanks a bunch for taking a look, I've gotten way more info via these forums than any other place I've asked. (Seagate in particular has been useless.) I'll try manually mounting it later and report back. There is some data pre-loaded onto the drive, so I should be able to test reading/writing if I can get it mounted under 9.10. If not, guess I have no choice but to upgrade to 10.04.

#13 pwyll

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 07:34 PM

OK, here's what happens when I try to mount: (note that I am not a Linux or Ubuntu master!)

Ubuntu 9.10 x64: (my current main OS)

sudo mount -t ntfs-3g /dev/sdg1 /mnt

Failed to read last sector (732563999): Invalid argument
HINTS: Either the volume is a RAID/LDM but it wasn't setup yet,
   or it was not setup correctly (e.g. by not using mdadm --build ...),
   or a wrong device is tried to be mounted,
   or the partition table is corrupt (partition is smaller than NTFS),
   or the NTFS boot sector is corrupt (NTFS size is not valid).
Failed to mount '/dev/sdg1': Invalid argument
The device '/dev/sdg1' doesn't seem to have a valid NTFS.
Maybe the wrong device is used? Or the whole disk instead of a
partition (e.g. /dev/sda, not /dev/sda1)? Or the other way around?



sudo mount -V

mount from util-linux-ng 2.16 (with libblkid and selinux support)



Ubuntu 10.04 x64: (boot from LiveCD)

sudo mount -t ntfs-3g /dev/sdc1 /mnt

(works)



sudo mount -V

mount from util-linux-ng 2.17.2 (with libblkid and selinux support)



Does this mean that I can't mount this thing in Linux unless I upgrade? (or upgrade the version of util-linux-ng?)

#14 qasdfdsaq

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 01:02 PM

By the looks of things, yes you're stuck. Unless you can upgrade certain parts of the OS to a newer version (SATA/USB passthrough driver and/or kernel) but I don't know enough about Linux to be suggesting how or what to do it.

#15 pwyll

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 09:59 PM

OK, thanks very much for all your help. I've cross-posted to the ubuntu forums and will report back if any interesting info comes to light.

One more question, if you're up for it... if I wanted to re-format this drive, with the same kludge and partition table that it currently has, would there be a method you'd recommend?

#16 SpecialK90

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 03:33 PM

I can't tell for certain but is this a single 3TB drive or 2 1.5TB drives together?

Thanks

#17 Brian

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 03:55 PM

It's a single 3TB drive...the first of its kind ;)

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#18 qasdfdsaq

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 05:15 PM

OK, thanks very much for all your help. I've cross-posted to the ubuntu forums and will report back if any interesting info comes to light.

One more question, if you're up for it... if I wanted to re-format this drive, with the same kludge and partition table that it currently has, would there be a method you'd recommend?

I'm honestly not sure. I don't know how different partition managers handle MBR-4K as there's no real standard definition of how it should work (actually it shouldn't) but if you wanted to recreate it exactly as it is now, you could easily just run "dd" again to copy back the first meg of the disk that we extracted before - that'll give you the same partition table, you'd then just have to format the partition normally.

#19 pwyll

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 07:57 PM

That works for me, thanks for the tip. I didn't realize that dd copies partition tables, too!

#20 pwyll

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 11:11 PM

One more infobit - today I tried taking the drive out of the external housing it came in (which I don't like, since it doesn't have a power switch) and putting it in another one of mine. (which I do like.) No go. The drive shows up as 800gb in linux, (with 512b sectors) and 400gb or so in windows, with unpartitioned space. Guess the enclosure's controller does matter, after all. :-P

#21 Atamido

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 04:05 PM

One more infobit - today I tried taking the drive out of the external housing it came in (which I don't like, since it doesn't have a power switch) and putting it in another one of mine. (which I do like.) No go. The drive shows up as 800gb in linux, (with 512b sectors) and 400gb or so in windows, with unpartitioned space. Guess the enclosure's controller does matter, after all. :-P

Ouch, a drive controller that performs magic to commands to/from the drive? This won't end well. Any chance you'd risk trying to partition the bare drive, or is there no way to restore it once you put it back in the enclosure?

#22 pwyll

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 10:39 AM

I'm not sure whether the enclosure it comes with performs magic commands, or if it's the case that the other one I tried putting the drive into makes bad assumptions. Fortunately, I put the drive back into its original enclosure and everything seems hunky dory again. I think if I ever have to re-partition, I'll use qasdfdsaq's advice and use dd to raw-copy the partition table back over. (this should also work as a failsafe if I try another way and it fails.) Hopefully some other enclosure will appear that I can use instead...

#23 qasdfdsaq

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 04:35 AM

If it shows up as 400GB with 512-byte sectors then it does seem the other controller simply doesn't support 4K sector drives, rather than this one uses any "magic" commands. It'd probably work fine on an internal controller with up-to-date drivers.

#24 Florz

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 08:28 PM

So, the magic is simply having the sata-usb bridge in the GoFlex enclosure present the drive as having 4KiB logical sector size instead of 512 bytes. Apparently, Windows XP's storage drivers are capable of using larger than 512-byte logical sectors for usb devices, so now each LBA points to a 4KiB block and the numbers in the MBR will be much smaller, thereby pushing the 2TiB limit up to 16TiB.

The reason for this trick is to maintain compatibility with Windows XP 32-bit systems. Even if the drive itself uses 4KiB physical sectors, it could still be using 512-byte logical sectors like other advanced format drives on the market for backward compatibility. If so, it should in theory work with any enclosure and/or SATA controller, but now the OS will see the drive as a 512-byte logical sector drive. Which means that the existing partition table and the formatted NTFS-filesystem will make no sense and you'll have to repartition the drive using GPT and reformat the filesystem. But then you'll lose Windows XP 32-bit compatibility.

I suspect your other enclosure has a 2TiB limit, probably because the sata-usb-bridge/firmware doesn't support full 48-bit LBA, but only 32-bit. If you truncate the total number of sectors into a 32-bit number, a 3TB drive would be detected as 802GB.

As for Linux support, there is a kernel patch mentioned here which enables support for 4KiB logical sector MBRs. I believe this patch is included in the Ubuntu 10.04 kernel, but not in 9.10. Ubuntu 10.04 also has newer versions of the mount and util-linux packages which seem to have better support for different logical and physical sector sizes.

Btw, just a tip, if you add the -u option to the fdisk command, fdisk will give the start and end numbers in sectors (sudo fdisk -l -u).

Edited by Florz, 19 August 2010 - 01:30 PM.

#25 qasdfdsaq

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 09:20 AM

Very good info Florz, thanks. There's plenty of drives with 4K sectors internally that present themselves as 512-byte externally for compatibility, I hadn't considered the possibility of this being done in reverse - a 512-byte sector drive presenting as 4K for compatibility!

Also good find on the Linux kernel patch.



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