Asus P3B-F MoBo -> Invalid partition table (5.x, 6.x)

Ewald Jenisch a at
Mon Apr 3 15:35:16 UTC 2006


I ran into an interesting problem installing FreeBSD on the following

MoBo: Asus P3B-F, latest BIOS 
CPU: PIII, 500MHz 
HD: Maxtor 90871U2 (9GB) = primary IDE master 
CD: Sony CDU 4811 = secondary IDE master 
256MB RAM 
Boot Sequence: Floppy, CD, HD 

FreeBSD is to be installed into two slices on the HD - one slice for
everything except /home, the other one for /home.

The problem: When installing FreeBSD (doesn't matter 5.x or 6.x) the
PC can't be booted off the HD after installation. When trying to boot
I get an error message saying "invalid partition table".

Digging further into the problem I've found out a workaround: When I
change the BIOS-parameters for the HD to "User Defined Harddisk" and
"LBA" booting is possible.

Even more: during initial installation of FreeBSD it doesn't matter if
the setting for the HD in the BIOS is Auto or User-defined/LBA -
however when trying to boot off the HD this setting does very well
matter. To cross-check I've installed FreeBSD with a HD-setting of
Auto, then changed the BIOS to User-defined/LBA and was able to boot
the PC from the HD.

Please note that this happens with both 5.4, 6.0 and 6.1-Beta4.

When checking the BIOS-settings I found out that Auto and
User-defined/LBA show different values:

Auto-setting: (PC cannot boot from HD with these settings)
Cylinders		1024
Heads			16
Sectors			63
CHS capacity		528MB
Maximum LBA Capacity 	8700MB

User-defined HD / LBA: (PC can boot from HD)
Cylinders		1024
Heads			255
Sectors			63
CHS capacity		8422M
Maximum LBA Capacity 	8700MB

Here are my questions:

o) Has anybody else experienced this behavior - possibly also on a PC
with Asus P3B-F motherboard?

o) Why does this happen? (I suppose something weird with HD-geometry,
i.e. the BIOS not reflecting the correct HD-parameters)

o) Is there a way to boot with the HD-parameters in the BIOS left to
default (Auto)?

Thanks much in advance for your help,

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