Hi Marcos,

> I had a (partial) success: formatted a 4 GB disk which previously
> also produced the error message "Boot sector contents
> implausible, disk not yet FAT formatted", etc., etc.
> It now has one 2 GB partition, and it boots normally.

I forgot to mention - you can use the /D option of the
Freedos FORMAT tool to get more verbose output. Useful
in particular if you redirect output to a file :-)

> Although I am not sure, I think what made the difference this 
> time is that, in the computer setup, I changed the setting of 
> "32Bit Mode" to "OFF".

Please explain what you mean by 32bit mode and at
which place this setup possibility can be accessed.

> However, I tried the same procedure on the previous (6 MB) hard 
> disk, and it did not work. Same old error message appeared again 
> :-(
> For lack of knowledge about hard disks, I'm working in a trial
> and error basis. Perhaps you experts could tell me what are the
> essential points I must pay attention to.

One thing is that you should make sure that you use
the right partition types - e.g. FAT16 versus FAT32,
with or without LBA. For a disk of 6 GB both with
and without should work, but if your BIOS is not a
stone age one, I think with LBA would be safer, as
non-LBA always has a risk of getting CHS geometry
wrong between FDISK, FORMAT, DOS, BIOS or similar
if you manage to press the wrong buttons ;-).

> A comment about FAT16 and FAT32. The reason I am still sticking
> to FAT16 is that I do not know how reliable are the tools to keep
> the file system in good shape (DOSFSCK, DEFRAG, etc.) for a FAT32

Dosfsck works fine, but remember to use the current
2.11.dos3 version which makes sure to not use a swap
file on disk while scanning a disk :-p Defragging a
FAT32 disk can be problematic and/or very slow but
I think that it is at least not risky in general...

> disk. Because virtually all my work is in DOS, I cannot afford a
> disk crash. I would appreciate your thoughts on that.

I think you cannot afford skipping the production
of regular backups - which also holds for all other
operating systems, not only for DOS, of course.

> I only use FreeDOS (and occasionally Linux).

Then I recommend using Linux based partitioning
(and resize) tools like gparted. Note that Linux
formatted (mkdosfs from dosfstools) partitions are
a bit harder to make bootable from within Linux eg
with my sys-freedos-linux than DOS made ones, but
running the normal Freedos SYS from within plain
DOS (not within dosemu) should always be enough
to get the partition bootable after all.

>>     It also matters which kernel you use - FreeDOS kernels 2038
>>     or maybe 2039 should work well.
> Mine is kernel 2039 16-bit (date 2009-08-01)

Then you can compare whether kernel 2038 works better.
Even 2036 might be worth a try. Also note that 8/2009
is probably not the most recent version of kernel 2039.

>>     Then you might have a bad FDISK configuration, for example...

> Here's my FDISK.INI file in the FreeDOS boot floppy:
> ; Current settings:

Correct - otherwise you get unpleasantly large clusters.

> ;                           FLAG_SECTOR Sector number where the flags will
> ;                           be located.
> FLAG_SECTOR      2

That option is a bit exotic, you can set it to 0 to disable.

> ;                           SET_ANY_ACT True will allow user to set any
> ;                           primary partition active.

True is useful if you want to make another OS bootable.
Similarily, DEL_ND_LOG true might be useful if you do
want to delete non DOS partitions using a DOS fdisk.

> VERSION          FD

I personally recommend W98, which enables FAT32 usage
and LBA. The "FD" style is "FAT16, 4GB, LBA" and I do
not know whether ALLOW_4GB_FAT16 or VERSION wins in
the question whether or not to allow large clusters.

> XO               OFF

If you set it to on, you get more menu options.


PS: A minimal fdisk.ini (for boot flopppies) is:

      AMBR             OFF
      COLORS           30
      DEL_ND_LOG       TRUE
      FLAG_SECTOR      0
      LABEL            ON
      REBOOT           OFF
      SET_ANY_ACT      TRUE
      VERSION          W98
      XO               ON

(last line is the end marker, no linebreak after that!)


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