Don’t Cry For Me Ubuntu (Cry for Sata 6G)

Apparently Ubuntu is not for me 🙁

I have have this commodity PC that I snapped together to play Windows games. (Gaming is about all that Windows is good for these days.) So I though I would install Ubuntu and find some other fun things to do besides killing trolls and jumping through portals.

Every time I attempt to install Ubuntu the installer politely informs me that I do not have a hard disk attached to my PC. This is odd because I remember snapping it inside the case myself. (In fact I slid it in backwards the first time around and it got stuck and I had one of those classic /faceplam moments.)

I’ve tried both Ubuntu 10.10 and 11.4 to with no joy. I get stuck in the place inside the installer with the message:

(X) Has at least 4.4 GB available drive space

(The X above is a bad thing.)

I can run Ubuntu off the CD and Disk Utility doesn’t see the drive while GParted states tersely: No devices detected in the lower left corner of it’s status bar. The Unix command fdisk -l returns nothing.

Windows 7 has never had a problem detecting my hard disk. It’s pretty vanilla Western Digital Caviar Black with 1TB of space. It’s not some exotic brand or tech.

When I turn to Google for help I can see immediately this is not a common problem–not many search results. I found this post on the Ubuntu forums that describes a similar problem. Except that the poster has an HHD drive (which is part SSD and part normal drive). But the responses to his problem are not helpful and the thread just dies.

Western Digital’s support forum was not helpful. With the drive invisible tips for tuning it’s performance are just mean.

Currently I have 3, no 2, theories:

  1. I didn’t set a jumper properly or I somehow wired up the drive in a crazy way when I assembled the computer. That Windows 7 can work with my drive seems to disprove this theory but maybe I accidentally hit the Hide from Ubuntu DIP switch.
  2. My BIOS is not setup properly or my drive settings are screwed up. I don’t know much about BIOS but initial Google searches seem promising. I tried changing the SATA configuration settings from IDE to AHCI and from Enhanced to Compatible but without making a dent in the problem. Windows 7 boots no matter how I configure my SATA drive while Ubuntu continues to ignore the drive. This post on the ASUS Suport forum might yet bear fruit.
  3. Windows 7 has a clever hack that prevents Ubuntu’s installer from recognizing hard drives. (I’m just not this paranoid!)

I could just post on some forum but I’m kinda of bullheaded an want to figure it all out for myself. It’s hard for me to believe I have an actual new problem that the world has never seen before.

I will update this post as I progress. Comments welcome 🙂

UPDATE #1:

Theory 2 is disproved. I used ASUS Update to bring my motherboard’s bios up to date and the Ubuntu installer is still not cooperating!

UPDATE #2

Theory 1 is proven! Kinda. My WD Caviar Black drive supports SATA 3G and SATA 6G. So when I originally built my gaming machine I plugged the drive cable into the SATA 6G connector on my Asus P6x58D Premium motherboard. Windows 7 is ok with SATA 6G but I guess Ubuntu is not. SATA 6G is a new standard that is supposed be faster–but IRL isn’t much better than SATA 3G. (At least according to these guys.) When I wired up my drive to the SATA 3G connector Ubuntu recognized it!

So it’s not me that Ubuntu dislikes–it’s new fangled drive interfaces that don’t provide real value!