Message: 10
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 22:26:05 +0900
Subject: 160 Gb Harddisk: needs extra tweeking?


I never had such a monster of a big harddisk; hence my question.

I've got a 160 Gb Western Digital Harddisk (WD 1600 JB).

It comes with a tiny CD-rom, about 8cm in diameter, entitled
"Data Lifeguard Tools". I don't know what to do with this CDrom.

You should probably ignore the disk. I do.

I am planning to use this harddisk as the only harddisk in my PC and install FreeBSD (preferably version 5-Current) on it. Will I encounter problems? Does it need extra tweeking?

I use two in my old Cyrix 133 MHz mailserver and they work fine. I don't recall doing any tweaking, except perhaps adjusting the number of inodes when I formatted it. More about that below.

The Western Digital homepage says somewhere: "Hard drives larger than 137 GB require a controller card to utilize full drive capacity." What does that mean?

Good question. I didn't need to find out, because one of my drives came with an Ultra-ATA controller card. Usually if your BIOS can figure out how to boot from it and get the FreeBSD kernel loaded, you will be ok.

Another question. The Western Digital homepage lists this about the harddisk: Data Transfer Rate (Buffer to Host) 100 MB/s (Mode 5 Ultra ATA) 66.6 MB/s (Mode 4 Ultra ATA) 33.3 MB/s (Mode 2 Ultra ATA) 16.6 MB/s (Mode 4 PIO) 16.6 MB/s (Mode 2 multi-word DMA)

Do I have to tell this to the kernel somehow, or is this a BIOS thing?
Are there good reasons not to choose the fastest option "Mode 5" here?

The kernel ATA driver will figure it out. It will use the highest data rate your controller and hard drive can both manage, IF you use the correct cable. If you use a standard ATA cable, then your speed will be limited (to 33.3 MB/s, I think). Be sure you use a high speed cable if you have a high speed controller. The default is probably to use PIO, so if you want the possibly faster DMA mode, you will need to figure out how to do that. "man ad" will probably provide more useful information.

When you get to the point where you are formatting the device, think about what you are going to be storing on it. If it will be a bunch of very large files, you can format it with fewer inodes, which will make more capacity available for data and less for overhead. On the other hand, if you are going to be storing a bunch of small files, you will need more inodes. You use at least one inode per file, and when you run out of inodes, you can't have any more files, even if there is still space on the disk. The default installation assumes something like an average of 8K bytes/file, so if your files will be much smaller than that, you should adjust the format accordingly.

If you are manually adjusting things, you would use something like
newfs -i 32768 [remaining args]
to reformat your drive assuming 32K bytes per file. I think you can also do this when you are configuring the BSD partitions in sysinstall.

Thanks for help and advice.


Hope it helps.

- Bob

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