This week I had a windfall of cash and decided to buy myself a Solid State Hard Drive. Since my Alienware X51 only really has room for 1 hard drive and a dinky 256 SSD would not be terribly suitable, I decided to opt for a Western Digital Black^2 Dual Drive. This device is a 128 GB SSD and a 1 TB mechanical drive built together into a single laptop sized hard drive. The pro to this is I get two drived in a single package, the down side is mediocre performance. While the Solid state is several magnitudes faster than the mechanic drive, it is sharing a single SATA data channel with the mechanical drive and so you loose some performance there.
My first problem with this drive was fitting it securely inside my computer. The X51 has a fixed SATA data/power connector where the hard drive pushed into it, rather than cables. So I had to do some serious garage engineering to get it in there all nice and snug.
My second problem was when I booted into the Linux install, it only saw the SSD drive, it did not see the 1 TB drive at all. I assumed this would probably be fixed with an updated kernel. I found this was not the case. I went to the internet and found the USB key they sent with the drive was not just Windows drivers. It actually takes you to Western Digital’s website where you down load a program that unlocks the 2nd hard drive. So I installed Windows 7 on the system, got the unlocking program, ran it and sure enough, the 2nd hard drive shows up. In hindsight, I probably could have just plugged in the spiffy USB cable they sent with the drive, hooked it up to PezWitch’s system, downloaded the unlocking program there, ran it on the drive and saved myself the trouble of a Windows install.
Once I got back into the Linux installer, I found the two hard drives actually looked like a single drive, with two partitions, three if you include the 100 MB Windows boot loader. I left the partitions as they were except to change the file systems. the Windows boot loader I converted to a FAT 16 table, figuring I might eventually use it for a quick boot hack. The second partition, which would be the rest of the SSD I formatted as Ext4 and mounted to root “/” and the third partition, which is the mechanical drive, I converted to Ext4 as well and mounted to /home. Magically, this worked, I was able to install Linux and boot up with no issues.
It was at this point I was getting the nvidia card going and things went REALLY wack on me, and the system would not go into the GUI. The nvidia driver was borked or an update screwed me over, I am not sure if it is related to the hard drive or not. I was now nearly 24 hours and three OS installs into this mess and I still did not have a functional OS. Sadly it was time to relegate this technology to the “Not Ready for Prime Time” category. I put my old hard drive back into my system, I just can’t have shit flaking out on me. I have now installed it into my Laptop and giving it one more try, if I can not get a stable OS, it will be crossed off the list of Linux compatible devices and I will foist it off on PezWitch, maybe it will perform better in her M11x.
PezWitch reminded me of one thing I forgot to mention, While I was removing the old hard drive from my X51, I cut myself and bled all over the new drive. Take from that what you will.