How does one install to a CF card in a CF-to-IDE adapter?

I have an old Fujitsu Lifebook C laptop (PIII-650, 192RAM) with a dying IDE hard disk; this computer is already running Haiku, and I thought this was a good excuse to give it freedom from spinning storage.

So I got my CF cards and a CF-to-IDE44 adapter; the laptop doesn’t want to know about the larger A-Datas (4GB and 16GB), but it recognizes fine during bootup a Sandisk Ultra 2GB and a generic “CF 2GB”. Problem is, the disk utility in the installer won’t let me create partitions on the adapted card; the options are all greyed out, and no existing partitions - if any - are visible, just the raw device.

Things I’ve tried:

  • Created a beFS partition with fdisk in Linux; no change, disk utility doesn’t even see the partition
  • Used another adapter; no change
  • Used the other CF the laptop likes; no change
  • Used a Microdrive; non-starter, laptop BIOS doesn’t like it
  • Installed Linux on the adapted CF card to check if it was a software problem or a hardware incompatibility: done, Puppy loaded just fine from the CF card
  • Wiped the old hard disk, created a 1.5GB partition at the beginning, installed Haiku there, then dd’d the entire thing on the CF card: it attempted to run, showed loading icons, but gave a “can’t find boot environment” error halfway through and crashed. The same just-installed system ran fine from the HD.

I’m running out of ideas, but I really want this laptop to work on flash memory, and natively-IDE SSDs are very expensive for the storage offered. Running via USB is unfeasible because the laptop only has USB1.1 ports and doesn’t want to know about my USB2 PCMCIA card.

Why does Haiku seem to dislike CompactFlash cards so much, and can it be convinced not to?

The syslog knows better than us. Can you attach a syslog? (booting from USB on the laptop with the compact flash installed).

Here is the syslog:

I booted from the optical drive (a DVDRW with the burned Haiku CD image) because the laptop only has USB1.1 ports; I’m not sure if it’s relevant but I thought I’d mention it anyway. The log includes mounting the USB flashdrive to copy the syslog over (I saw it increase in size when I plugged in the flashdrive).

I can see a lot of error messages regarding ATA, but I don’t know how to interpret them. I don’t know if it’s just the laptop that really doesn’t like CF cards at the hardware level, but then again Puppy does load from the CF card.

set your ata adapter to IDE emulation/legacy compatability in the bios and try again.

@thatguy: not in this case, we are talking about compact flash which is always “legacy”. The legacy/AHCI setting is only for SATA ports.

Relevant part of syslog:
KERN: ata 0-0 error: more than one DMA mode selected, not using DMA

KERN: ata 0: identified ATA device 0

KERN: ata 0: probing device 1

KERN: ata 0 error: device 1 failed, error code is 0x00

KERN: ata 0: signature of device 1: 0x0000

KERN: ata 0 error: device ready not set

KERN: ata 0-1 error: sending identify request failed

KERN: ata 0 error: command failed, error bit is set. status 0x51, error 0x04

I have a Transcend CF card here and it seems to work ok. Since there is a lot of logic in the CF card, various models can give different results.

A couple of years ago I used a number of CF cards with BeOs and then Haiku-OS, At that time some web sites pointed out that some CF cards could not be used as drives because CF cards have more than one mode of operation.

However, some of the cards that did not work could have their default modes changed by running a special MS-DOS program (sorry I don’t remember what program that was). But if you can find it you could find some of the cards that did not work, will now work properly.

As for what to look for take a look at:,170.html

Hope this helps.

From the lowendmac page:

Whelp, this explains why the Transcend one doesn’t work - I checked the specs and it’s only DMA, and the no-name 2GB can’t be any better. Linux probably boots off of it because Linux would boot off a piece of toasted bread if you could put a filesystem on it.

The A-Datas definitely support UDMA, but for whatever reason the laptop really doesn’t like them.

I’m not sure what to do now. I could run Haiku off of a USB drive flashed with the anyboot if I had USB2 ports, but this computer only has USB1.1 ports, and though I do have a PCMCIA USB2 adapter it won’t boot off of it. I really don’t want to buy questionable second-hand IDE drives, and even if I felt like splurging on a dedicated IDE SSD I’m not even sure this laptop would run with one of those anyway, since it seems to be unusually finicky. I guess my only choice at this point is to run a Linux distro off of the 2GB CF and live with the slow OS. sigh

Edit: scratch everything, I’m a total idiot. It’s working.

The laptop tells you what’s in its IDE channel with a line during boot that normally says something like “Fixed disk 0: Toshiba MK4025GAS”, or “Fixed disk 0: Sandisk SDCFH-2048” in case of the 2GB card.

The A-Data cards would just cause it to say “Fixed disk 0:” followed by nothing. I’d assumed this meant no recognition of the card, when it just meant that the card wasn’t identifying itself but was otherwise running fine. I had a flash of realization that this might be the case, and sure enough running the Haiku installer with one of the A-Datas inserted showed the partition and allowed me to format it and install the system.

So now I have a solid-state Haiku laptop. Me = happy :slight_smile:

Well, now-a-days I use SSDs in my laptops. But remember the new saying:

“Once you go solid state, you can’t go back”.

In-fact, I saw this when after using SSDs for a while I thought they were not really faster than the old hard drives I used to use. Since I just got a larger 1TB HHD I thought I would go back.

Big mistake!

I found that once I became use to solid state, all the little pauses I had forgotten about when using HDDs to be jarring to use. And forget about Windows on HDDs vs SSDs, Haiku is fast even in HDDs just better on SSDs, but Windows becomes painful to use once you used it on a SSD.

The 1TB drive was moved to an external USB enclosure where it works fine a work/data drive.

I would never dream of going back to mechanical storage on my gaming box and main laptop (500 and 250GB SSDs respectively). I can stand spinning storage on my kitchen computer because I never reboot it and I only ever use it for web browsing, but anything that needs to hit the drive often gets a SSD - they’re expensive, but it’s money well spent (on a new-ish computer, anyway).

Speaking of the laptop I’ve been working on here: it’s actually slower running from the CompactFlash cards than it is running from the HD, but I don’t much care because I only ever use it as a distraction-free writing machine.

I’ve installed Slitaz on the no-name DMA-only 2GB CF card and sure enough, it boots just fine. I then removed the optical drive so I can have direct access to the IDE socket, and I have the Haiku and Slitaz cards each in its own adapter so I can swap systems at will.

I don’t plan on using Linux much, but it’s handy to have another Linux computer ready to go if need be.