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Re: problem with SATA disk, difference between standard kernel and Debian kernel

On Fri, Jan 02, 2009 at 10:51:56PM +0000, Andrew M.A. Cater wrote:
> On Fri, Jan 02, 2009 at 03:00:41PM -0600, lee wrote:
> > On Thu, Jan 01, 2009 at 05:56:25PM -0200, Eduardo M KALINOWSKI wrote:
> > > lee wrote:
> > > > Well, how do you install on SATA disks when the installer can't access
> > > > them? It still has the option to load more modules from a floppy disk,
> > > > but I haven't had a floppy disk drive for years ... With no system
> > > > installed, you couldn't create those disks anyway.
> > > >   
> > > 
> > > You should be able to load them from a USB stick. Maybe it's not fully
> > > automatic, but you can switch in another console during installation,
> > > mount the disk, and then direct the installer to load from that directory.
> > 
> > Well, I don't have an USB stick --- though a card reader instead
> > should work. But how/where do you get the modules? And how do you put
> > them onto the USB device while installing?
> > 
> A USB stick is a few Euro :)

About $14, and I already have SD cards and a cardreader, so I'd rather
use that :)

> Go to the non-free archive for Debian packages. Look for
> firmware-non-free packages. I've recently had to use the bnx2
> drivers for Broadcom ethernet cards.

The modules I need to access the disks come with standard and Debian
kernels. They are not non-free.

And then, when you look at http://www.debian.org/distrib/netinst, it
doesn't tell you that the installer is missing crucial modules to
access SATA disks (which are the default nowadays), or where to get
missing modules. There are also no floppy disk images of the installer
for download (like there used to be), which would allow you do
download another disk image containing more modules. Still the
installer keeps prompting for a floppy disk and tells you to insert
the disk, just to find out that there is no floppy disk drive

Why doesn't the page tell you, like it did when floppy images were
available, that you might need more modules and offers you to download
another CD image? Why aren't those modules just on the installer CD?
It's not that the CD image would get too big to fit on a CD or to
download --- and if it was, there could always be the minimal
installer image for computers older than 4 or 5 years and another one
with all that's missing on the minimal image.

The installer could also give you instructions about how to get more
modules or just download the missing modules automatically during the
installation, just like it does with other things.

> Download the .deb on another machine. [Assuming you're using Linux 
> here].

What do you do when you don't have one? Buy a windoze CD and another
hard disk, install windoze on that disk, get the needed files, install
Debian, sell the windoze CD and disk?

And before you can do that, how do you know where to get the missing
kernel modules for the installer, and how do you know which ones are
missing? I'd like to know that for the next time I'll try to install.

> Carry the USB stick across to the machine you need it on. Boot the Lenny 
> installer - at some point the dialog will tell you that you need 
> non-free modules and will ask you for a floppy/USB stick to load 
> the modules from.

No, it didn't tell me that it needs modules. It only told me that no
disks had been detected. If I hadn't known that a module is missing
and that it does work once the right module is available, I could have
concluded that Linux is just too old to run on even "old" (like two or
three years) hardware ...

> Insert the stick when prompted.

The installer offers to read modules from a floppy disk, not from an
USB device.

> > These modules need to be available to the installer out of the
> > box. It's not like I'd be using some unusual hardware ...
> > 
> > 
> What is not unusual to you is unusual to other people :)

What is unusual about SATA disks and controllers?

Go to your favourite computer store --- now or a year (or even longer)
ago --- and try to buy a computer or a mainboard that doesn't have
SATA disks or an SATA controller. You'd have a very hard time to find

Also keep in mind that this was the amd64 installer. Which system that
can run 64bit software doesn't have an SATA controller?

> The reason that the modules are in non-free is precisely because
> they have licence conditions or similar which prevent us putting
> them in the Debian archive proper.

The "AHCI SATA support" in the standard and Debian kernels creates
something that is non-free?

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