Installing Debian Lenny/Squeeze on GA-MA78G-DS3H

For some reason while using the net install (unetbootin) procedure to install debian lenny/squeeze via a usb drive onto my Gigabyte GA-MA78G-DS3H motherboard, the boot record couldn’t seem to be found by the BIOS (error message was “Missing Operating System”).  I was sure I had partitioned my boot drive correctly, and I was equally sure that I had set the debian drive as the first HDD to boot in BIOS. Still the same error message. Finally, after installing and reinstalling onto multiple HDDs, I realized that Grub (which controls the Master Boot Record, MBR) was setting my MBR to hd0.  I was pretty sure hd0 was not the drive I wanted to boot from (all my drives are attached to the SCSI controllers and thus begin with a “s”) and so it seemed I needed to address the MBR issue.  It had been a while since I had messed with GRUB so I did a quick goggle search and found the SUPER GRUB DISK utility (also installed via unetbootin onto a usb flash drive).  I booted from by usb flash drive (containing SUPER GRUB DISK) and chose the “Auto” option.  The application quickly found my lost debian operating system and gave it’s disk the correct MBR.  I’m still not sure why the default installation created an incorrect MBR, but I’m guessing some linux guru out there knows the answer.

Anyway, hopefully, someone else out there who is trying to build a linux machine w/ the GA-MA78G-DS3H mb will read this and it will save them some time.

Update:  Turns out the above description only worked because the super-grub disk was acting as my system’s grub proxy.  As soon as I removed the super-grub disk usb flash drive, the system displayed the “Missing Operating System” message again.  I then learned about three new issues based on some additional MBR/grub research:

  1. This mother board can not boot from its non SATA HDDs in AHCI mode (hence hd0 boot errors).  For some reason there is no way to set your system to boot from an old IDE HDD in bios even though your OS can mount a non-SATA HDD after starting up.
  2. If you get either the “Missing Operating System” message or the stall at “VMI Pooling” message, check that you installed a master boot record on the HDD you wish to boot from. When installing debian onto a machine which had a previous OS on it (windows) a dialog box asked if I wanted to install Grub.  I selected yes, but this just installed a new OS boot option on my previous HDDs MBR/grub bootloader.  If you’re not planning on using both OSs, just choose to install a fresh grub/MBR bootloader on your new HDD (i.e. the HDD that your old OS isn’t on).
  3. For some odd reason I needed to set my bios to boot from the “bootable add on card” even though I chose to install the MBR onto a SATA HDD which was directly attached to my motherboard.  I had the option of selecting this SATA HDD in bios as the 1st boot device, but I needed to select the “bootable add on card” for the system to boot correctly.  I’m still unsure why this is the case. Of note: I removed every add on card attached to my machine to test if any of these cards could be causing the issue.  No resolution was obtained.

Finally, after resolving my many boot issues, the installer did not install any of the desktop libraries (e.g. gnome) needed for a graphical display.  In an attempt to resolve this issue I reinstalled the Debian Squeeze OS three times.  Each reinstall I made sure to select the “desktop” radio button when prompted with my installation options.  This issue was resolved by using the command “aptitude install gnome,” following installation, and then starting up the desktop display with the command “gdm3.”  I’m not quite sure why the gui/desktop libraries were not installed using the Debian installer DVD, but I did notice there were issues with my KVM switch that simultaneously occurred during package download  problems.  For some reason, I needed to keep my KVM focus on the Debian machine in order to download packages successfully.

I used this computer Hope site and this Grub site to help diagnose my issues.


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