Posts Tagged ‘Remapping Hard Drives’

Remapping Hard Drives

June 19, 2008

The problem with current hard drives is the legacy device mapping that was created for DOS. The Master Boot Record (MBR) on the first sector of the drive, which holds the operating system boot information, usually in the form of a boot loader, is only 512 bytes, an incredibly small sector. Modern boot loaders must store only a stub of information in the MBR and refer that to the remaining parts of the loader usually located within the partition of the operating system (OS) it is booting because there isn’t enough space to do all the functions required to boot a modern OS. Both Windows and Linux suffer this problem, but Windows is locked in to this legacy; Linux isn’t.

Why shouldn’t an alternative drive mapping be created that would have an MBR of at least 1MB that could hold a modern boot loader? The firmware of the hard drive would have to be updated, not a small concern. For the computer to recognize this new drive configuration a new BIOS is necessary. A Linux BIOS that can replace the manufacturer’s BIOS has been in development for some years that eliminates the restrictions of legacy DOS support. I don’t think it will work with Windows, so its use is limited. The upshot of using this BIOS is that boot speed is improved by orders of magnitude – seconds, rather than minutes. What would be the requirements to remap drives? I suspect it would require a BIOS update across all platforms.

Partition Locking:

There is a need for being able to password lock hard drive partitions from being changed, overwritten, deleted outside of the OS, yet that allows an installed OS to access the file system in that partition without problem. If this were implemented, another OS could not overwrite the MBR or an installed OS without a password. It should be installed on the drive in a protected, invisible partition, so that even if the drive were removed and installed into another computer it wouldn’t change the protection. Perhaps it could be installed in a new rewritable ROM chip built into the drive electronics, then it could be accessed from the BIOS or an OS.

What do you think?