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Data Storage Software Hardware Linux

New Seagate Drives Have Real Difficulties With Linux 361

Posted by Zonk
from the making-the-penguin-crotchety dept.
wtansill writes "Seagate's Free Agent series of drives are not intended to be compatible with the Open Source operating system Linux. The Inquirer reports on the problem: an unhelpful power saving mode. 'The problem is to do with the power-saving systems on Seagate's latest range of drives and the fact that it is shipped already formatted to NTFS. The NTFS is only a slight hurdle to Linux users who have a kernel with NTFS writing enabled or can work mkfs. But the "power saving" timer is a real bugger. It will shut the drive off after several minutes of inactivity and helpfully drop the USB connection. When the connection does come back it returns as USB1 which is apparently as useful as a chocolate teapot.' Via Engadget, though, there is a solution!
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New Seagate Drives Have Real Difficulties With Linux

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  • Actually (Score:3, Funny)

    by Eddi3 (1046882) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @06:36AM (#21630027) Homepage Journal
    Actually, it's only incompatible with Open Sauce operating systems, so Linux should be fine.
  • I have quite a few external hard drives made by various manufacturers and they all have power saving modes. XP can deal with it. Vista can deal with it. Kubuntu can deal with it. So unless these drives have some sort of...different power saving mode I don't understand the dilemma.
    • Re:Power-saving? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gweihir (88907) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @09:39AM (#21630661)
      The problem seems not to be the power saving, but the drop of the USB connection, which AFAIK violates all standards. It seesm to mean that the computer has to know the drive is there, and that it should ignore the obviously crashed USB connection and just asume the drive is still fine. Linux does the right thing and disconnects the drive. My guess is that on Windows, there is either a more optimistic driver (i.e. one that makes the customer happy and hides the problem) or these Seagates actually need their own, special driver.
      • Re:Power-saving? (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @11:26AM (#21631201) Journal
        Windows has always used a Heisenburg unmount strategy (i.e. you don't know whether the drive is unmounted until you try accessing it). This makes a lot of sense if you consider where this behaviour came from; the original IBM PC. This machine had floppy drives which were manually operated; there was no software eject mode. This meant that it was common for a user to accidentally eject the disk while programs were still accessing it. Observing the UI principle that it's better to ask forgiveness than permission (something Vista has forgotten), DOS would suspend any program that tried to access a missing disk and prompt the user to reinsert it. Later, this behaviour became even more useful for network drives, since when network shares disappeared was often beyond the control of the user.

        MacOS Classic adopted a different behaviour; the Mac designers removed the eject button from the floppy disk drive, making it impossible to eject a disk without the OS having a chance to unmount it first. I'm not quite sure how they dealt with network drives, however. UNIX was designed as a multi-user system, so only the system administrator would be able to add and remove disks (everyone else would be using a dumb terminal away from the computer) and since UNIX system administrators are meant to know what they are doing it they were expected to mount and unmount disk manually.

  • by Crank Monkey (1200525) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @07:00AM (#21630075)
    I bought a Free Agent and I have not been happy with it. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn't. I went online to see what other users had experienced and read similar comments. A few people never had any problem with and liked it, but most had issues setting it up or getting it to run. I don't like this product.
  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @07:01AM (#21630081)
    Disconnecting hard drives is a big problem for external devices. So is power saving, and laptop use especially. I'll bet that Seagate will sell a "Mac-compatible" version fairly soon that voids this problem, and it'll be compatible with Linux.

    But this is an amazingly foolish mistake on Seagate's part.
  • Bad summary... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @07:03AM (#21630085)
    The Drive works, you just have to use sdparm to clear the idle flag so the drive won't spin down at all. But this is bad, its a deliberately defective product and I hope someone sues. Make that lots of people.
    • Re:Bad summary... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tsa (15680) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @07:10AM (#21630105) Homepage
      Why sue? Can't you just go back to the shop and return it? It's a faulty product, after all.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by estarriol (864512)
        If I could mod you +10 Basic Common Sense I would. Thank you. If everyone who was unhappy with the drive took it back as faulty, it would make the point and encourage Seagate to do something about it. Where's the harm to justify a lawsuit? It's an affordable, consumer grade external hard drive, not a million-euro SAN that is storing mission-critical air traffic control data. If you want every single external hard drive to be guaranteed perfect on pain of lawsuit, they'll all cost $500, with good reason
        • While I agree with your general sentiment about lawsuits and "consumer grade" pricing, here is something to try when the drive is off :-) Do your drives wobble or flex if you press a little on the tower part? By that I mean, can you make the tower part rock a little side-to-side while the base is still sitting flat on a surface -- kind of like the two parts are not attached very solidly? (Obviously, don't try to push real hard to the point of breakage, just use a slight press, looking for any relative movem
      • Re:Bad summary... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by thetartanavenger (1052920) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @08:09AM (#21630295)
        Someone mod this guy up!! I'm fed up with this typical attitude of "omg let's sue them!!" There's no point if the situation can be resolved some other sensible way. Suing should be saved for when they start refusing to refund/replace the faulty product, not because the product doesn't quite work because they messed it up. Warranties exist for a reason!!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gabrill (556503)
        Because most return counters don't have people capable of determining USB2 compliance and making the call that the product is defective by design. That leaves us stuck with the stores' goodwill policies on returns, since the unit is evidently working as designed.
      • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday December 09, 2007 @01:25PM (#21632127) Journal
        If you simply return the drive as defective, they'll shrug their shoulders and assume it was just that one disk. Tons of Windows users might not even have noticed.

        The point of suing them is so there's no mistake -- every single drive is defective -- and so they don't assume they can simply give you a replacement drive and everything will be OK.
    • by Mathinker (909784) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @07:15AM (#21630117) Journal
      Judging from the huge numbers of comments on NewEgg (I'd guess that it was at least 20% of the comments) that the drive died within days or months, this Linux-unfriendly idle flag setting is really just a minor irritation.

      On the other hand, since many of the failure comments blamed it on overheating, perhaps Linux users from regions with real penguins will be OK.
      • The 5 year warranty is why I get Seagate drives to begin with.

        I commit my data to DVD overnight and archive on seagate drives. If they die, I get a replacement. By the time these 750gb drives can't be replaced for free, there'll be a 3000 gb drive on the market or something like that, and it'll be time to consolidate into larger cap drives anyway.

        Western Digital? Dead in a year, just days beyond its warranty. Screw that.

        Hmmm. Rambling thoughts here. Maybe 500gb drives will go the way of the 500 meg drives.
    • the drive works (Score:2, Informative)

      by chaparrl (579943)
      I read the reviews at NewEgg before I bought this drive, and I was aware of the spin-down problem. I bought the 500gb model and use it as my MythTV store/tmp/work drive. I partitioned it /dev/sda and formatted it ext2. In over four months, I've had zero problems, and it gets used every day when MythTV records TV programs, flags the commercials, and prepares files to burn to DVD's. It gets warm, but not hot. Yes, I would feel better if it would spin-down when not in use, but so far, I wouldn't hesitate to bu
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Western Digital's 1TB My Book World Edition external hard drive has been crippled by DRM for your safety.
      From the WD site:
      "Due to unverifiable media license authentication, the most common audio and video file types cannot be shared with different users using WD Anywhere Access."

      You have 20 seconds to comply
      WD's list of banned file types encompasses over 35 extensions. This includes AAC, MP3, AVI, DivX, WMV, and Quicktime files. And why not Windows TMP files too.

      http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2007/12/07/ [channelregister.co.uk]
      • by h4rm0ny (722443)

        That's pretty awful. If I'd known that, I'd probably have not bought one on principle. Though admittedly, I just blanked the installed system and put in a customised one that allows SSH and NFS.
  • by aim2future (773846) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @07:16AM (#21630123) Homepage

    I could buy an argument as "there is a development bug, but we are fixing it soon and we are very sorry for this, but the faulty drives will be replaced".

    There is no way in hell, I buy an argument like "Our drives are not supposed to work with Linux".

    Either they hire complete idiots for their tech support, or this a sign of something really really bad smelling as the OOXML scandal or the SCO scandal.

    Anyway, now I won't buy any more Seagate drives, at least not until Seagate has cleared this mess up.
    • by IAR80 (598046)
      The nerve of the idiots. They screw up and they reply with this. From now on I'll only buy Samsung drives.
    • I have a dead motherboard atm (its a 'repaired' one which worked fine before it died the first time but now kernel panics randomly) and the place I bought it from says that it worked fine under Windows and Linux isnt supported.

      I asked them if they didnt support Linux or if the motherboard didnt support it.
      For some reason they didnt respond to that. :)

      Its rather sensitive legally because if they dont support Linux then I dont really give a damn and they still need to fix my defective board while if the mothe
      • In other words, they are too incompetent to verify that the motherboard is bad unless you go out and purchase $200 worth of software (Windows) and format a drive partition to install it?
        • Nah they are at least decent in that regard.
          They plugged in a test drive with Windows on it and said it worked fine.

          Apparently they run a series of Windows based tests to make sure all their work is good.
          No idea how you can make half decent testing software for Windows nor why you wouldn't use Linux with superior tests.
          • Because Windows is what they know. I'll bash a shop for forcing Windows on people, but not for using it themselves.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gooneybird (1184387)
      A Chinese company tried to purchase Seagate a while back, but their quality was too high (i.e. not enough profit), so Seagate is slowly lowering the quality enough so that they will come back and buy them. On another note: some firmware engineer doesn't really understand a damn thing about how unix operating systems run. I suspect that Seagate is attempting to jump on the "green" bandwagon by being "power consumption" friendly, to the point of their drives not actually working correctly anymore, but they s
    • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @09:51AM (#21630723)
      The really smart way to react would have been: "This is a issue with Linux taking longer then expected by us to identify itself as USB 2 compatible upon the hard drive leaving standby mode. We will publish a modifed firmware with a longer timeout; until then Linux users can use the entirely unsupported workarounds detailed on our website."

      Or: "This is a issue with Linux taking longer then expected by us to identify itself as USB 2 compatible upon the hard drive leaving standby mode. Unfortunately, the timeout is hardcoded in the drive's USB interface and cannot be changed; Linux users are advised to use the entirely unsupported workarounds detailed on our website or choose a different product."

      Both responses would have saved face. Linux users can stomach some fairly complex workarounds (especially since those workarounds tend to end up as transparent fixes in places like the kernel), but they won't accept "Linux is not supported".
      • by Svartalf (2997) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @12:17PM (#21631515) Homepage
        Indeed. The behavior of the USB drive is non-compliant with the USB storage device spec. It's a useful behavior, to be sure, if you
        can make it work on all the mainline OSes (Sorry, Seagate- Linux happens to be one of them...), but they didn't do their due dilligence
        and when caught out on it, they resorted to the "Linux isn't supported" BS (But then neither is MacOS for that matter- heh...lame.).

        That doesn't engender a desire for me to buy any more of their stuff- ever again.
    • by flappinbooger (574405) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @03:25PM (#21633007) Homepage
      I ran into this problem and solved it a couple of months ago. This is a problem that has been around for a while, and with some digging it isn't too hard to solve. Let me give you the rundown.

      It's a "problem" with external USB hard drives, the free-agent and free-agent pro. They go to sleep in a way that is incompatible with Linux. The drives ARE compatible with linux if you have a kernel that can r/w NTFS or if you format the thing to a file system that linux prefers.

      The drive hibernates and then when linux goes to wake it up it gets all bent out of shape and says the drive is dead or gone. Sometimes. Usually.

      The fix is to turn off the hibernation. If you have the pro version it comes with a utility to do this. If you have a non-pro version you're halfway stuck. Either you gotta somehow find the pro-tools software, or contact seagate and they WILL show you where to DL it off their website. Do the online chat thing and they'll give it to you no problem. They were very nice about it, actually. Took me about 10 minutes to do that. The pro software works just fine on the non-pro drive to change the sleep time. It's a one-time fix.

      I didn't run into this on a linux PC, I was using a free-agent on a Buffalo Linkstation NAS as a backup drive. The linkstation runs linux.... So.... It would hibernate and then when the LS would go to backup - BZZT! Error. Works GREAT now. I'm actually very happy with seagate, I've had to deal with them a couple times this year and it was actually pretty smooth. They have the longest warranty also, I believe.
  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @07:27AM (#21630151) Homepage
    I bought two of these drives (500GB) a couple months ago. I tried that fix on one (turned off standby spin-down via sdparm), but ultimately the drive failed in about a week (possibly from heat, but I also needed to plug and unplug it when running as the power switch was not responding properly). And despite any five year warranties, who is going to send a failed drive with all your data off to who-knows-where? Years ago, back when drives cost $1000 for 1GB, I did that twice -- once the manufacturer sent my fixed drive back to a different person, and another time they sent it to an old address. There is another issue with the drives, which is that the tower part is not very solidly attached to the base, so it is wobbly (hard to believe, but the connection of the base to the tower drive section seemed very loose on the one I tried -- in general that whole two-part design seems questionable to me from a ruggedness standpoint). The power button is very confusing too -- it barely moves (maybe its capacitance based?) and does not always seem to work as I might expect it to (which may also have lead to the failure, when I pulled the plug on it). I returned the other one unopened. Someday I might put the first in an external enclosure and see if it works at all (some people online report success with that, although it entails physically breaking the case to get the drive out from what I read), but even if it does I will never trust it. I would recommend avoiding these drives for anyone based on the wobbly design alone. Despite the warranty and previously liking Seagate (before they bought Maxtor), I've moved back to Western Digital drives and others -- at least WD drives just sit there without potentially wobbling if you put them on a computer case with the slightest vibration. They definitely look cool in operation with the glowing stripe, but it seems this iteration put style way before function.
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      By the way, what's currently the word on the various manufacturers? I know that Maxtor has a reputation of low durability, however its RMA process is rather good. Seagate has long warranties, but what about the quality of the drives? Last thing I heard, IBMs were overpriced and underperforming; is that still true?

      Some insight into what /. thinks of the various manufacturers would be helpful in deciding on future purchases.
      • by Fweeky (41046)
        Go read Storage Review [storagereview.com]. They have performance and reliability databases.

        Last I looked, Seagate were doing pretty well reliability wise, and their latest ES.2/7200.11's were doing amazingly well with NCQ/multi-user IO and STR. Hitachi (IBM) do pretty well for single user performance, and er, a quick glance at a pricelist shows they're in no way overpriced. ISTR a spate of WD failures being reported in forums which put a few people off them, along with a few 5-percentile entries in the reliability db (i.e.
  • by Hymer (856453) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @07:29AM (#21630161)
    ...they are slow and OS dependent, either you loose oceans of space (FAT formatted drives) or you can't write to them from some OS'es (NTFS formatted drives) or a Mac just reformats the whole drive because it can't read it.
    A NAS cost a little more and got all features you need without any of the problems... and you can get them almost as small as a external 3,5" drives. ...and they are fast... many af them now have gigabit ethernet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gigne (990887)
      Agreed about the NAS solution. What I now do is have a drive with 2 partitions. The first is a 100MB FAT partition with some windows tools (firefox vlc etc), and the rest of the drive as an ext2 partition. The FAT partition contains the windows driver for ext2/3 so I can use the drive nearly anywhere.

      http://ext2fsd.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by owlstead (636356)
      Except that I don't have an ethernet connection handy where-ever I go. Many company network don't allow you (either through procedure or technically) to just plug in a network device, and for good reason. Also there are still a lot of cable modems with a single connection at homes (because of idiot cable providers). So if there is a single PC at a home, they tend to use their only ethernet connection to connect to the cable modem. And network connections are a pain to setup.

      So a NAS is nice, but I would onl
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ...or a Mac just reformats the whole drive because it can't read it.

      I think you meant a Mac USER reformats the drive because the machine can't read it. I've never encountered the OS just reformatting a drive on it's own. However, I have seen it prompt the user to do so if the drive is unrecognizable, to which you can easily hit No or Cancel.
    • by WK2 (1072560)
      You're not supposed to do that. Dropping HDDs voids the warranty.
    • by moosesocks (264553) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @09:44AM (#21630691) Homepage

      ...they are slow and OS dependent, either you loose oceans of space (FAT formatted drives) or you can't write to them from some OS'es (NTFS formatted drives) or a Mac just reformats the whole drive because it can't read it.


      1) This is a complaint about the current state of filesystems, not external hard drives. Likewise, there *is* support for read/write NTFS on Mac [google.com] and Linux [ntfs-3g.org] these days if you're feeling adventurous, and it's said to be extremely reliable.

      2) A mac won't format an NTFS disk unless you explicitly tell it to. For one thing, OS X has NTFS read support.

      3) Gigabit NAS is nice, as long as you've got the money to pay for it, and also have gigabit network hardware (which most people at home don't these days..)
  • Compatibility (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Wowsers (1151731)
    I find these bits more interesting in the story...

    The problem is to do with the power-saving systems on Seagate's latest range of drives and the fact that it is shipped already formatted to NTFS.

    Okay, it's easy to format a drive, but why it is pre-formatted to NTFS?

    And when combined with this story: http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2007/12/07/western_digital_drm_crippled_harddrive/ [channelregister.co.uk]

    A kindly Reg reader tipped us off that the remote-access HDD won't share media files over network connections. Which is, as you can see here, the entire stinking point of it.

    It's a scary world full of potentially unlicensed media. We're fortunate there's a hard drive vendor willing to step forward and do some indiscriminate policing for us.

    From the WD site:
    "Due to unverifiable media license authentication, the most common audio and video file types cannot be shared with different users using WD Anywhere Access."

    WD's list of banned file types encompasses over 35 extensions. This includes AAC, MP3, AVI, DivX, WMV, and Quicktime files. And why not -- Windows TMP files too.

    Looks like there's something going on to push Windows as the only OS, leaving Linux and the rest up a creek with no hard drives at this rate. This is very disturbing.

    • Looks like there's something going on to push Windows as the only OS, leaving Linux and the rest up a creek with no hard drives at this rate.

      Being a Linux aficionado is kind of like voting for a third-party candidate. You make an intelligent choice of a better product, but the idiots will still end up running the country.

    • by dbIII (701233)

      Okay, it's easy to format a drive, but why it is pre-formatted to NTFS?

      Because 2GB is not a big enough maximum file size anymore. As for the often broken identify everything by a three letter description hack that remains from QDOS - just rename the files and Mac, linux, BSD, solaris and even dirt cheap hardware mp3 players will still be able to identify them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by b1t r0t (216468)

        As for the often broken identify everything by a three letter description hack that remains from QDOS

        CP/M was doing 8.3 before QDOS/MSDOS. (that's where they got it from!) And probably a PDP-11 operating system was doing it before that.

        As for pre-formatting for NTFS, I would suspect one reason would be Windows' annoying habit of reading every sector on the drive to check for errors (which is pointless on a brand new modern drive because of spare sectors) before finishing the format. The larger the drive, the longer it takes. Yes, this is only the default and you can tell it not to, but you have to know

    • by koh (124962)

      This is very disturbing.


      And completely illegal on at least 50% of the planet. It just won't happen.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)
      It's formatted NTFS because the majority of people who buy them are using an OS that makes best use of the space that way. These happen to be the same people who would have the most trouble with reformatting the drives. If it says 'NTFS' on the box, there isn't even a hint of a problem.

      Also, note that the WD DRM thing is because they built it to use their network service; if you don't use the service, the drive works just like any other drive. It's a stupid service, but the only reason the service doesn't w
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Dash Hash (955484)
      I just want to point out, that the WD DRM affects everybody, not just Linux.
      Claiming that it is some mass conspiracy against Linux is a bit alarmist at this point, since it is only Seagate who is producing an apparently "anti-Linux" drive.

      The WD drives also work just fine, as long as you don't use their Mionet thing. In addition, you can transfer any content you like on Mionet, you just can't have certain types of files available for anybody and everybody to have access to at their choosing. You can still t
    • by jamstar7 (694492)

      Okay, it's easy to format a drive, but why it is pre-formatted to NTFS?

      Compatibility, most likely. As the old Windows98 machines get pulled and updated, more home computers end up running XP or (shudder) Vista. NTFS is a more efficient filesystem than FAT32 is.

  • Easy workaround (Score:4, Informative)

    by shurdeek (571257) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @07:34AM (#21630177)
    I have two FreeAgentDesktop 500G's and also had this problem. I found a solution on the web and adapted it slightly to be automatic. Create this script:

    #!/bin/sh

    for i in /sys/class/scsi_disk/*; do
                    if [ "`cat "$i/device/model"`" = "FreeAgentDesktop" ]; then
                                    if [ "`cat "$i/allow_restart"`" -eq 0 ]; then
                                                    echo 1 > "$i/allow_restart"
                                    fi
                    fi
    done

    And put it into cron to run every 10 minutes (FreeAgentDesktops timeout is 15 minutes). I have it on ubuntu 7.04 but the only dependencies I recognise is to have kernel 2.6, sysfs and cron, which should not be an issue. I guess there is a nicer way to do this (e.g. script for dbus/hotplug), feel free to improve.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This "workaround" will surely make every Unix-guy rotate in his grave.
      While it "works" (thus the term "workaround") why run unnecessary commands every 10 minutes?

      Go to the root of the problem and just tell the harddrive to not go into sleep and be done with it.
      This is what the "sdparm" command does which is linked in the summary.

      I can't believe someone actually marked this informative ...
      • Re:Easy workaround (Score:4, Informative)

        by shurdeek (571257) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @08:48AM (#21630449)
        I see no reason why disabling sleep on the disk is somehow superior to telling linux to be more graceful when communicating with it. The reason why I use cron is that the disk is not permanently attached to the computer, and as I hinted, using dbus/hald/hotplug is probably preferable than using cron. I'm just too lazy to find out how that works.

        Besides, looks like this is not an issue anymore. Check this posting and the followups:

        http://www.mail-archive.com/linux-usb-users@lists.sourceforge.net/msg19677.html [mail-archive.com]

        Apparently you don't need to worry about this with new kernels.
      • by Znork (31774)
        "This "workaround" will surely make every Unix-guy rotate in his grave."

        Not really. Well, the cron job is a bit ugly (a more elegant solution would be to trigger the script via udev or something, but I can understand if someone's reluctant to figure udev out).

        "Go to the root of the problem and just tell the harddrive to not go into sleep and be done with it."

        That isnt the root of the problem. The root of the problem is that the harddrive and driver doesnt recover gracefully after powerdown. Turning off powe
    • Oooooweeeeeoooooooo I see script-fu!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nacturation (646836)
      #!/bin/sh

      for i in /sys/class/scsi_disk/*; do

                      if [ "`cat "$i/device/model"`" = "FreeAgentDesktop" ]; then

                                      echo Return for refund immediately!

                      fi
      done

      There... fixed your script.
       
    • by jimicus (737525)
      I guess there is a nicer way to do this

      Yes there is. It's called "buy a disk which works".
    • by johnw (3725)
      The script suggested above seems to miss the point - once you set the "allow_restart" parameter it means the drive can be (and is) restarted whenever needed. You don't need to run it every 10 minutes to stop the drive going to sleep. I use the following in /etc/rc.local. The only relevant drive I have is the FreeAgent one - add the device test from the script above if you have a mixture.

      for file in /sys/class/scsi_disk/*/allow_restart; do
      echo 1 >$file
      done

      The script needs to run just onc
  • by Mathinker (909784) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @07:40AM (#21630193) Journal
    From URL http://www.nslu2-linux.org/wiki/FAQ/DealWithAutoSpinDownOnSeagateFreeAgent [nslu2-linux.org] :

    Seagate Utility for Windows

    Here is a link to a utility by Seagate that, among other things, will allow you to adjust the spindown time of FreeAgent drives. Windows only.

    http://www.seagate.com/ww/v/index.jsp?locale=en-US&name=freeagent-downloads&vgnextoid=3723b5b59b7d5110VgnVCM100000f5ee0a0aRCRD [seagate.com]


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by owlstead (636356)
      This is a Windows software product really offers the same benefits as most other Windows products, so the following things should be noted:
      - "32-bit Operating Systems ONLY"
      - "Though this is a simple procedure, it is recommended that you backup any/all critical data before continuing." (this software *contains* the backup utility)
      - Doesn't make clear which operating systems are included on the tools page, you'll have to read the product specs per product.
      - All in one package, so don't use with without a high
  • Solution is simple (Score:2, Insightful)

    by boteeka (970303)
    Don't buy crap! If Seagate is only capable of spitting out this kind of crap, choose another vendor with a similar product.
  • by dltaylor (7510) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @08:03AM (#21630275)
    I've avoided buying Seagate drives since they started botching the SCSI interface back on the 150 MEGABYTE drives. The drives would accept selection while spinning up and loading the firmware from the media, then hang the bus until power was cycled. I have SCSI adapters with jumpers labeled "Seagate" that would hold off scanning the SCSI bus for a couple of minutes to let the Seagates become ready. No problem like that with any other drive manufacturer. This problem lasted at least through the 2 GByte 3.5" Barracuda, since I've tested HBAs against them and seen it.

    It doesn't surprise me at all that they still have incompetent firmware programmers.

    Simple solution: stop buying Seagate products and your problems will be fewer.
     
  • by slonik (108174) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @08:04AM (#21630283)
    A solution to the FreeAgent spin-down problem was published on Ubuntu forums back in July 2007:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=494673 [ubuntuforums.org]
    It works for me very well. Importantly, it does not disable disk's power control. Instead, it auto restarts the disk whenever needed.
    • by canuck57 (662392)

      A solution to the FreeAgent spin-down problem was published on Ubuntu forums back in July 2007: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=494673 [ubuntuforums.org] It works for me very well. Importantly, it does not disable disk's power control. Instead, it auto restarts the disk whenever needed.

      But I think in part the whole idea here is we shouldn't have to fix anything. But it is also a supreme strength of Linux, it will work around such games vendors play.

      Because I really don't think Seagate didn't know this. There is e

  • Multiple interfaces? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tnmc (446963)
    I notice all the talk is about USB.

    These drives are SATA drives and the FreeAgent drive my sister bought last month has an eSATA interface as well as USB (other models include the so-called FireWire interfaces as well.)

    Why use USB with these devices at all, strangling your potential I/O bandwidth?
    • Some Free Agent drives have a SATA interface, and some are USB only. The ones with dual interfaces cost more.
  • I checked a lot of forums, and even PC users are having a lot of issues with the drive, not just Windows-based ones. I wouldn't even bother with a work-around with this drive. It has reliability and driver issues even in the realm where it was designed to function. Seagate appears to have designed a dud here. Western Digital has way more reliable drives. (Just don't install their software and you'll be fine).
  • I find it incredible that a hard disk vendor would make disks that are incompatible with Linux in this day and age. Disks are one thing that pretty much always works under Linux, so this makes these Seagate drives really stand out (it would be a different story if it was, say, graphic cards). And it makes them stand out in a bad way. Linux may still have a small share of the consumer desktop market, but anyone who, at this point, thinks that Linux isn't serious is seriously deluded.

    Being on the list of comp
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      It's as if they deliberately made them not work with Linux. Why anyone would want to do that is beyond me.

            To get a free laptop from Microsoft?
  • I keep telling my manager to quit buying seagates. I am tired of having to rebuild my service machine hard drives. I went through three of them in two weeks awhile ago. Sure they have a 5 yr warranty but my time and the inconvenience of a HD failure are worth more than what that saves. I thought we had finally drilled the point home when we had a HD failure in the server on Friday, which holds the entire POS system including open and past service records customer data and inventory. (at which time I fou
    • by vux984 (928602)
      Meanwhile, I've never had any trouble with Seagate...and find Maxtor to be the bane of my existence.
  • by Oryn (136445)
    I came across this problem months ago when I used 2 freeagent 750gb drives as part of a backup solution. I tried the above solution, but it didn't work correctly for me, I have a cron job that does an rsync backup and a human that swaps the drives every 2 days.

    To be effective the above solution needs to be run as soon as you plug in the drive ie before the drive goes to sleep.

    The way I got round it was to buy a cheap usbsata enclosures from ebay, cracked open the freeagent (which contains a normal sata driv
  • I have an older Seagate 400G drive from the previous "Pushbutton" series. It works fine. When it spins down due to idleness, it remains logically connected via USB. At the very next operation, the drive spins back up. That takes about 6.9 seconds. That I/O request that spins it back up then completes and a response is sent back. Everything works fine if you are not annoyed by that occaisional delay after idleness.

    My point: someone (possibly formerly) at Seagate does know how to implement a USB connec

  • by pp (4753) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @11:31AM (#21631229)
    As usual with Linux, at the time slashdot picks the story up, the problem has
    been fixed for some time (10 days ago in Linus' tree, in various test trees quite a bit longer):

    http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/torvalds/linux-2.6.git;a=commit;h=f09e495df27d80ae77005ddb2e93df18ec24d04a [kernel.org]

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @12:24PM (#21631569)
    Firewire or e-sata externals are much better. I have a cheap usb external that carps out if you try to push to much data to it also firewire 400 is faster then usb 2.0 with less cpu over head.
  • Just to be clear (Score:4, Insightful)

    by raddan (519638) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @01:03PM (#21631927)
    These are Seagate disks in USB enclosures. The problem here is with the behavior of the USB bridge chipset, NOT THE DISK.
  • by PPH (736903) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @01:51PM (#21632327)
    A few years ago, I was helping an engineering firm out with updating their CAD PCs. We ran into an interesting problem: On any PC that had one of a number of licensed apps previously installed (and then uninstalled), AutoCad would refuse to install. Evidently, there was some incompatibility with a license key written to an unused sector. Reinstalling the OS (XP) and reformatting the HD first didn't help. Finally, we ran a disk wipe program. On everything other than Seagate drives, this cleared the hidden licenses and all was well. On about 2/3 of the Seagate drives, performing a low level wipe turned them into paperweights. Even Seagate diagnostic utilities could not detect them anymore, much less fix them.

    What I've been told is that some Seagate drives hold their own firmware on a few reserved sectors, which a low level wipe destroys. Regardless, the best solution seems to be; avoid Seagate.

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