Ubuntu 10.04 and Western DIgital's new Advanced Format SATA drives - constant drive errors

Bug #583790 reported by brian mullan on 2010-05-21
18
This bug affects 3 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
ubiquity (Ubuntu)
Undecided
Unassigned

Bug Description

I recently bought a Western Digital WD10EARS 1 TB SATA drive.

This WD drive incorporates what is called "Advanced Format" on the drive:

See: http://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.wdc.com/wdproducts/library/WhitePapers/ENG/2579-771430.pdf&sa=X&ei=1H_2S8P9FYP78AavgNHECg&ved=0CB8QzgQoADAA&usg=AFQjCNHRHKOzE52JvyZZRvoYX3BiOoYsDw

I tried to install Ubuntu 10.04 on it.
The installation kept reporting errors related to the drive during installation.
The installation took quite a bit longer than usual.
After installation Ubuntu would boot but again various drive errors kept being reported.

I thought this might have been a 'bad' HD so I returned it and got the same model as a replacement.

Went through the same process... same results.

Re-downloaded Ubuntu (just in case) and reburned a new CD (just in case)
Tried to install Ubuntu 10.04 again... same results.

So I returned the 2nd HD and paid a restocking fee to exchange for a Seagate SATA drive which works just fine.

As far as I can tell the only difference was this new Advanced Format on the WD drive which the Seagate (and my other Hitachi HD's do not implement).

Given the errors, I'm not sure if this is a BIOS compatibility problem a WD implementation issue or an Ubuntu issue but I wanted to report it.
---
Architecture: amd64
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 10.04
InstallationMedia: Ubuntu 10.04 "Lucid Lynx" - Beta amd64 (20100318)
Package: ubiquity (not installed)
ProcEnviron:
 PATH=(custom, no user)
 LANG=en_US.utf8
 SHELL=/bin/bash
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 2.6.32-16.25-generic
Tags: lucid
Uname: Linux 2.6.32-16-generic x86_64
UserGroups:

brian mullan (bmullan) wrote :

Thank you for taking the time to report this bug and helping to make Ubuntu better. Unfortunately, we cannot work on this bug because your description didn't include enough information. You may find it helpful to read "How to report bugs effectively" http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/bugs.html. We'd be grateful if you would then provide a more complete description of the problem.

We have instructions on debugging some types of problems at http://wiki.ubuntu.com/DebuggingProcedures

At a minimum, we need:
1. the specific steps or actions you took that caused you to encounter the problem,
2. the behavior you expected, and
3. the behavior you actually encountered (in as much detail as possible).

Especially, please include the information requested at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DebuggingUbiquity/AttachingLogs as separate attachments to this bug. Thanks in advance!

Changed in ubuntu:
status: New → Incomplete

There's no complicated work here to prove the "Advanced Format" used by the
WD drives don't work.

Install the drive into a machine and try to install from an Ubuntu CD...
install eventually works but there are constant disk busy/time-out retry
errors occurring.

I'm not sure what you want? What behavior did I expect you asked.... ?
I'd expect either of those 2 new SATA drives to WORK !

Just like the Seagate or Hitachi drives that I used immediately afterward on
the SAME computer to install Ubuntu.

The ONLY difference that I can tell is the Western Digital uses this new
"Advanced Format" and the other drives don't.

Junk the bug if you want but either the WD 1TB SATA drive architecture is
faulty -or- its an Linux/Ubuntu problem with the new "Advanced Format" being
used.

However, since this "Advanced Format" is a new spec and there are not a lot
of drives out yet with it.... I think this is going to come up again with
someone else.

Brian

On Fri, May 21, 2010 at 11:58 AM, Philippe Gauthier <
<email address hidden>> wrote:

> Thank you for taking the time to report this bug and helping to make
> Ubuntu better. Unfortunately, we cannot work on this bug because your
> description didn't include enough information. You may find it helpful
> to read "How to report bugs effectively"
> http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/bugs.html<http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/%7Esgtatham/bugs.html>.
> We'd be grateful
> if you would then provide a more complete description of the problem.
>
> We have instructions on debugging some types of problems at
> http://wiki.ubuntu.com/DebuggingProcedures
>
> At a minimum, we need:
> 1. the specific steps or actions you took that caused you to encounter the
> problem,
> 2. the behavior you expected, and
> 3. the behavior you actually encountered (in as much detail as possible).
>
> Especially, please include the information requested at
> https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DebuggingUbiquity/AttachingLogs as separate
> attachments to this bug. Thanks in advance!
>
>
> ** Changed in: ubuntu
> Status: New => Incomplete
>
> --
> Ubuntu 10.04 and Western DIgital's new Advanced Format SATA drives -
> constant drive errors
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/583790
> You received this bug notification because you are a direct subscriber
> of the bug.
>

Hi Brian! There seems to be people that have been successful in using the new Advanced Format drives with Ubuntu, so it is still possible that there is some incompatibility specific to your hardware. It would help us a lot to have more information. You can attach the system logs and information automatically by running the following command in the Terminal:

apport-collect 583790

affects: ubuntu → ubiquity (Ubuntu)
Changed in ubiquity (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → New
brian mullan (bmullan) wrote :

Sorry but I don't have either of those drives any longer as I couldn't log
in to them once Ubuntu was installed. After
the 1st one was exhibiting drive errors I returned it thinking it was bad.
But the replacement was the same model
and it exhibited exactly the same disk errors.

I can send you the info about my current system which has only used either
seagate or hitachi (I can hot swap either) in the past.

I *did* say initially that it "could" be a BIOS compatibility issue or maybe
its just WD's implementation? But I've been
doing this long enough that it wasn't normal and I have dozens of SATA HDs
that I use but none are WD and none
were this advanced format.

My machine is fairly vanilla

AMD quad core 940 cpu
8 G DDR2
Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2h motherboard
I use a 1GB ethernet for a network connection

All drives are hot-plug eSATA 1TB

I'll send the output you wanted tho'

On Fri, May 21, 2010 at 4:49 PM, Philippe Gauthier <
<email address hidden>> wrote:

> Hi Brian! There seems to be people that have been successful in using
> the new Advanced Format drives with Ubuntu, so it is still possible that
> there is some incompatibility specific to your hardware. It would help
> us a lot to have more information. You can attach the system logs and
> information automatically by running the following command in the
> Terminal:
>
> apport-collect 583790
>
>
> ** Package changed: ubuntu => ubiquity (Ubuntu)
>
> ** Changed in: ubiquity (Ubuntu)
> Status: Incomplete => New
>
> --
> Ubuntu 10.04 and Western DIgital's new Advanced Format SATA drives -
> constant drive errors
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/583790
> You received this bug notification because you are a direct subscriber
> of the bug.
>

apport information

tags: added: apport-collected
description: updated

apport information

apport information

apport information

Maxime R. (max.r) wrote :

Hi, i have the exact same drive. I spent a lot of time investigating how AF is supported after reading so much about people complaining about the bad performance of these drives. Many even returned their hdd after buying them.
I can say that a stock install of ubuntu 11.04 doesn't correctly align the partitions. In fact this drive doesn't correctly report its physical block size (claiming 512B instead of 4096 in /sys/block/sda/queue/physical_block_size).

As said in this article (http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/library/l-4kb-sector-disks/):
"In practice, however, the physical block size information is spurious, at least for the first generation of Western Digital Advanced Format drives. Unfortunately, this means that disk utilities cannot properly detect the presence of such disks."

In fact, while installing ubuntu with default options, it _seemed_ slower (installing, upgrading packages, etc.). I made some benchmarks to sort this out: http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1106082-MAXR-AFHDDAL95
So, while the reading speed isn't really affected, random writes were in some cases almost 3x slower.

Manually partitioning the HDD with gparted and the "align to MiB" option while creating the partitions solved the problem.

I think the easiest fix would be to always use parted with the "-a optimal" option when partitioning the system during an install of ubuntu. (i don't think we still really care about wasting the first MB of our HDD). Hope this helps.

I'm having similar problems with a Seagate AF drive. However, I learned how to use GNU Parted and set up the partition such that it is aligned, as described above by Maxime. The problem is that when I install Ubuntu on it, the system doesn't install correctly and hangs at the splash screen.

However, if I let Ubiquity make all the partitions, then they end up misaligned, according to Ubuntu's disk utility (palimpsest) and GNU Parted. So basically Ubiquity won't install on a correctly aligned drive, and insists on misaligning the partitions it makes. Either GNU Parted AND Disk Utility are buggy, or Ubiquity is buggy.

Changed in ubiquity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed

I'm installing 11.04 64bit and not 10.04, as the original bug poster mentioned.

I finally got Ubuntu installed! Because Ubiquity will partition 4k HDD drives wrong, you have to do the following:

1. Make the partitions you want with GNU Parted in the commandline, easily done by booting from a live-USB or live-CD and making sure to use "parted -a optimal"
2. Use the 11.04 alternative installer CD and manually set the mount points for all the partitions. A live-CD installer might work, but it didn't for me. Ubiquity will complain that the disk is misaligned if you try to format any partitions besides the swap are, so make sure they've already been formatted in Disk Utility.

For some reason Ubiquity wants to put the first partition at the 34th sector of the HDD, while Disk Utility and Parted will both (correctly) put the first partition at the 63rd sector. Hopefully the developers can have this fixed before Oneiric's release!

tags: added: ubiquity-2.2.5
tags: added: lucid
To post a comment you must log in.
This report contains Public information  Edit
Everyone can see this information.

Other bug subscribers