I configure the two devices that way (CD-ROM as slave, hard drive as master), sysinstall refuses to mount the CD, giving me an error about "CD/DVD drive not found!". It's worth noting that no other OS I've run on this same PC ever had any trouble finding the CD-ROM drive when it was configured as the slave.
Strange. That you got that problems. I've been always using a CDROM on slave. Never had a problem there. Did you look if the BIOS was able to autodetect the cdrom on boot? Do you use cable select on one of them?
To get around _that_ problem, I had to configure the CD-ROM as the master and the hard drive as the slave. With the CD-ROM as the master, sysinstall is able to actually detect the CD/DVD drive, but then I run into this nonsense with fdisk refusing to detect or accept the correct disk geometry for the hard drive. It's worth noting that I've never had to manually specify hard drive geometry settings in the installer for any other OS I've installed on this PC. They figured it out automatically and worked fine.
Another time: Just turn on LBA.
So far, I'm really disappointed by FreeBSD. If FreeBSD lacks the logic or detection to automatically figure all these things out and just work, that is a serious bug (whether due to a programmer mistake or poor software design). I've _never_ had this much trouble getting an operating system installed on this particular PC.
It's due to poor hardware design in history.
If I can't get things working within about 1 more hour of tinkering, I'm going to abandon FreeBSD entirely, put my machine back together, and just use the drive as an extra NTFS filesystem for my personal files under Windows XP.
That explains, why you don't want to switch from auto to LBA. Sometimes auto is the right thing, but most times you have to think of the right setting, because auto is just a default. (Example: If I leave all values set to auto in my bios, my system is going to creep literally, because some components wont interact correct)
When people argue that Windows is easier, and that *nix isn't ready for the desktop, this is *exactly* the kind of problem that they are talking about. I hope any actual FreeBSD developers on these aliases wake up and take notice.
The real problem is that we still work around design flaws which exist in hardware for a decade. Everybody uses his/her personal best workaround and sometimes they are in conflict.
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