I did a bit of a disservice the other day, when I dropped that bland note about the drive size issue between different versions of Linux.
Invariably if I make a note like that and don’t give a little more information, months from now I’ll be scrounging around trying to remember why that happened and what I did to get around it.
So as a service to myself, and to anyone else who might run into the same problem, here’s a little more information.
First, yes, the Debian 5 installation routine (specifically off the business card installer) can properly report and partition the drive to its correct dimensions.
And yes, both Debian 6 and Arch Linux can’t, at least not in their current renditions. I don’t think this is a bug, I think it’s a combination of lesser issues, and the fact that the drive was probably supposed to be 40Gb.
However, both ‘Six and Arch can manage the drive after it has been partitioned, and access areas beyond that imaginary 40Gb limit.
Their internal partitioning routines still try to cut it off at 40Gb, but so long as those stay out of the way, there doesn’t seem to be a problem.
Which means the obvious shortcut is to prepartition the drive using the Debian 5 installer, break away and go back to one of the other miscreants.
The only problem I’ve had with this, after two or three attempts apiece, is a single Grub 18 error in Arch. If you don’t know, that’s when the Grub configuration files are located beyond what the BIOS can access normally.
And that’s an error I’m used to, after working with very old machines for years. It’s easy enough to get around, with a small 64-96Mb partition at the front of the drive, just for /boot.
So that’s as much information as I have now, and unless I stumble over something that’s related or relevant, as much as I’m likely to ever have.
If there’s a fix or a bug report out there that seems to match it, let me know. But I probably won’t be filing a bug anywhere entitled, “Drive size misreported on a magical hard drive that was mispackaged as three times the advertised size but only in some distros and not in others.”