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Re: F17 bogus "could not detect partitions" error

On Fri, 2012-03-16 at 12:19 -0600, Chris Murphy wrote:

> Disk has a valid MBR, and a perfectly bootable Windows 7 system. Upon
> launching Fedora installer (F16 or F17 beta TC1), after choosing
> "Basic Storage Devices" I get a message:
> The storage device below may contain data.
> [lists the disk type size connection etc]
> We could not detect partitions or filesystems on this device.
> This could be because the device is blank, unpartitioned, or vitual.
> If not, there may be data on the device that can not be recovered if
> you use it in this installation.......

> This is a truly hideous user experience, across the board. None of the
> explanations in the anaconda dialog are true. The disk is not blank.
> It is not unpartitioned. It is not virtual. (OK original user report
> is a real hard drive, but I reproduced this with a VM.) Here's how I
> can reproduce the problem.

As far as the error message goes, it seems correctly written to me. It's
a generic error message which is displayed any time anaconda (and hence
parted) is unable to make any sense at all of a disk's layout. It
therefore *has* to be pretty generic, because it could be displayed in
many situations. (It *is* displayed if you install with a completely
unformatted disk connected, for instance).

It does in fact countenance the possibility that the three possibilities
it offers are not actually the case. That's what the "If not" at the
start of the second sentence means. What the message is telling you is
"this might just be a blank disk, but if you know it's not a blank disk,
if you continue with the installation, we're going to blow any data
that's on it away".

> So those are the facts. Next it's a question on how to improve the
> result, or at the very least not produce totally bogus error messages
> that don't tell the user what the problem really is, or how to fix it.

I don't think it is a bogus message, for the reason cited above.
Remember to look at things from anaconda's point of view here.

The state anaconda is in when it posts this message is the state of
having given up on making any sense of what the hell is on the disk in
question. It has tried its hardest, but nothing doing. It now has the
option of just giving up and not installing, or proceeding to install by
blowing the disk away and starting from scratch. Given that it can
hardly modify a partition layout it does not understand, it's hard to
see what else anaconda can possibly do in this situation.

> What fixes this is deleting the GPT and rerunning the installer.
> fixparts and gdisk can do this. I'm not finding anything in parted
> that can help, but I have by no means done an exhaustive search.
Adam Williamson
Fedora QA Community Monkey
IRC: adamw | Twitter: AdamW_Fedora | identi.ca: adamwfedora

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