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Re: lenovo s205 installation problems

* doug <dmcgarrett@optonline.net> [120205 23:54]:
> Just out of curiosity, will the machine boot up on an installation
> disk from Microsoft? Maybe the machine is defective?

Hi, Doug.  Do you mean, does M$ install?  Inasmuch as the machine
boots the Debian DVD, I don't understand what I would learn from
trying to boot a M$ installation CD or DVD.

But after more searching, I think I see the problem, and I hope to
experiment later today.  Here is the situation as I see it as present,
but I may be mistaken; so please do not take any of the following as
authoritative, and please do not hesitate to correct errors:


(1) It seems that everything goes back to Intel, which introduced two
interrelated innovations:

    => The Globally Unique Identifier Partition Table ("GPT" or "GUID
    Partition Table") is a replacement for the old M$DO$ partition

    => The Extensible Firmware Interface (originally, "EFI", now
    "UEFI" in which "U" means "unified") is a replacement for the old
    Basic Input/Output System ("BIOS"), at least with respect to drive
    hardware.  UEFI appears to correspond to the Advanced Host
    Controller Interface ("AHCI").

(2) With GTP, the scheme of primary, extended, and logical partitions
distinctions is done away.  Instead, there are only two categories of
partition; these may be termed "normal" and "bios-grub".  All normal
partitions are equal, and the bios-grub partition (of which there can be
only one) is optional.  With GPT, there may be as many as 128 normal

(3) In GPT, the purpose of the bios-grub partition, if it is present,
is to contain bootloader code.  However, inasmuch as the bootloader
code may be stored in a normal partition, mounted as "/boot", the
bios-grub partition is optional.

(4) Like the MBR of the old scheme, the bios-grub partition is
unformatted, for the partition begins at a pre-defined physical
location.  However, it appears that the bios-grub partition -- unlike
the old MBR -- is not constrained to a specific length.

(5) Machines without the new UEFI/AHCI system are unable to work with
the new GPT partition scheme.

(6) Machines with the new UEFI/AHCI system are not able to work with
the old MBR/primary-extended-logical partition scheme, unless the
setup utility provides a "IDE" or "BIOS" mode as an alternative to

(7) In machines with the new UEFI/AHCI system, GRUB2 is able to work
with the new GPT partition scheme.

(8) In machines with the old BIOS system, GRUB2 is able to work with
the old MBR/primary-extended-logical partition scheme.

(9) In order to convert from the old scheme (M$DO$ partition table and
BIOS) to the new (GPT and UEFI/AHCI), it is necessary to remove the
old partition table (if any) and create a new GPT.

(10) In order to convert from the new GPT scheme to the old scheme, it
is necessary to remove the GPT and create an old-style partition

(11) At the present time, the cfdisk utility is unable to work with
the GPT scheme.  In particular, cfdisk is unable either to create a
GPT or to remove a GPT.  If cfdisk recognizes a GPT on the drive, the
utility simply exits with an error message.

(12) However, in reverting from the new GPT scheme to the old, once
the GPT has been removed using a utility such as GParted, cfdisk may
be used to create an old-style partition table and an old-style
partitioning scheme.  It remains to be seen whether GParted is going
to supplant cfdisk among those who prefer not to migrate to the new
GPT scheme.

(13) GParted is able to work with GPT as well as with the old scheme,
but GParted may default to the old scheme.  Therefore, in using
GParted to implement the new partitioning scheme, take care to specify


My next experiment with the S205 is to try the following sequence:

    (1) Use the setup routine (F2) to put the machine BIOS in "AHCI"
    mode, booting from USB.

    (2) Using GParted in "GPT" mode (booting from a flash USB),
    partition the drive with four "normal" partitions:

        => /boot

        => /

        => swap

        => data

    (3) Boot the machine from the Debian 6.0.4 installer, using either
    a DVD or a CD in an external drive with USB interface, or else the
    netinstall image in USB flash.

    (4) All the installation to proceed normally, including the
    installation of missing WiFi firmware (rt1_nic/rt18015e-1fw) and
    the installation of GRUB2.

    (5) Power down and then, on power-up, use the setup routine (F2)
    to change the boot device to the internal hard drive.

I discovered the peculiarity that, on the S205, the other three USB
ports become active only after the Debian installer boots, so that
setup routine manipulations must be handed with the internal keyboard.
This fact enabled me to load firmware from a USB flash memory stick.
Using a desktop machine, I downloaded from the Debian repository all
of the "firmware" packages I could find, but I did not install them.
Once I located them (they were ".deb" files "/var/cache/apt/archives"
-- a total of about 1 gbyte), I copied them to a fat16 format USB
flash stick, which I inserted when the installer prompted for "missing

Now to the experiment...


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