Best of Technical Support

Our experts answer your technical questions.

Fixing Swap When Moving a Drive

I am using Red Hat 9 on an HP Brio (PIII, 20GB and 192MB of RAM). I first installed Linux when my hard drive was a primary slave. Later I changed it to primary master. I am using a boot disk to boot in to Linux, but when I try to boot in to the system, I get an error that the swap partition was not initialized. The kernel could detect changes to my root and boot, but it was unable to in the case of swap partition. How can I change the swap partition dynamically? In other words, what parameter should I pass to the kernel before booting so as to specify my swap at the command line? Also, can I use the same boot disk to boot on other systems with different partition allocations, as with Windows startup disks?

Aman Hardikar

This is easy to explain; Linux is looking for the swap partition on one device (the primary slave), probably named /deb/hdbX, X being the partition number, and it happens that it now resides on the primary master disk, which probably is /dev/hdaX. Therefore, Linux can't find the designated swap partition and is unable to initialize it. To fix this, edit your /etc/fstab file and change the device on the line that has the swap entry. It may be something like:

/dev/hdb2   swap    swap    defaults        0 0

So, change it to:

/dev/hda2   swap    swap    defaults        0 0

In this example, the swap partition is number 2 on the disks. Then, reboot your system, and it should work fine. An alternate way to reboot would be to start the swap partition manually with the command swapon -a -e, after editing the /etc/fstab file as indicated above.

Felipe Barousse Boué

Serial ATA Support?

I intend to install SuSE 8.2 and want to know if I can install it on a Serial ATA hard drive.

Daniel Gustafsson

Serial ATA hard drives are supported by Linux (including the SuSE 8.2 distribution's stock kernel version 2.4.19). This will be obvious, but as always, first you must check that the BIOS and/or disk controller hardware of your system does support Serial ATA hard drives.

Felipe Barousse Boué

As usual, the first question is, does your BIOS support booting from your serial ATA interfaces? If your BIOS doesn't support booting from this controller, you might be able to install Linux to boot from some other device.

Jim Dennis

You can look up your hardware on SuSE's component database at Other Linux distributions also maintain their own hardware compatibility lists. Although something technically might be supported in the kernel version that your distribution ships, it's best to check your distribution's hardware compatibility list before you go hardware shopping. Items on the list are more likely to be detected by the installer automatically, and your distribution is more likely to include up-to-date utilities with support for items on the list.

Don Marti


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