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Re: Parted CHS news... (non-512-byte sectors)

From: William Studenmund
Subject: Re: Parted CHS news... (non-512-byte sectors)
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2004 20:54:07 -0700

On Aug 1, 2004, at 6:48 PM, John Gilmore wrote:

Firstly, does anyone know anything about sector sizes != 512?  I've
never seen one in the wild.

Many SCSI disks can be formatted to have 1024-byte sectors, or larger.
CDROM drives (except those with Sun-modified firmware) have
non-512-byte sectors; I think they're 2048 but don't quote me.

Usually they are 2048-byte sectors.

Whether any of these would work in an IBM PC, or with a PC BIOS, or
with Windows, or with Linux, is a whole 'nother question.

Older SCSI hardware (the kind that you ran the whole-disk FORMAT
command on; the ones that didn't come already formatted) is certainly
capable of it.  Hmm, Andrew, I may have some of these drives around,
that I could ship to you, if the modern SCSI drives you have access to
can't do a non-512 FORMAT command.

I've been looking for open source software for running format commands
and such on SCSI disks; anybody have any pointers?  Sun had an offline
(boot it) formatter in the old days; they replaced it with one that
ran under Unix (in a miniroot during installation).  Both proprietary.
/dev/scsi had some driver software, but it was also proprietary.  This
is one of the few things the open source world has not replicated,
even though we have the sg (SCSI Generic) driver support to use it.

Check out http://cvsweb.netbsd.org/bsdweb.cgi/src/sbin/scsictl/scsictl.c for one example. This tool is a SCSI control tool for NetBSD. It has a format option, which I added way back when I was playing with 1k sector disks.

Take care,


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