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How to hotswap the Ultrabay in a T43p

October 12th, 2006 · No Comments

Thanks to the always-useful Thinkwiki, I am now able to hot swap the Ultrabay in my T43p, which makes it possible to exchange, for example, the DVD-RW drive for an additional hard disk, without having to reboot or even put the machine to sleep. Essentially, just follow the instructions on Thinkwiki, which boil down to this (there are some variations, this is what I did)

  1. Install kernel 2.6.18 (or a previous one with the appropriate patches)
  2. Add “hdc=noprobe” to the kernel boot parameters, which makes the ata_piix driver manage the Ultrabay instead of ide-disk. This has the added benefit of enabling DMA on the Ultrabay, making things like DVD burning considerably faster and convenient (before, the machine would be unusable while burning a DVD, whereas now I don’t notice it).
  3. Install the scripts from the Thinkwiki page, and tie them to ACPI events so that things work automagically (you can always invoke them by hand as well, of course).

That’s it – it works. The one snag I had, and which had me stumped for a couple of days, was that I had a disk password on my second disk, so on reinserting it the machine would not recognize it. Removing the disk password solved the problem. I’ve also seen that hdparm has an option to unlock the disk by providing the password, so I guess this could also work, but I have not tried it.

<rant>This is one of the things that every once in a while bugs me about Linux – that the capabilities are there, but it takes so long for them to be usable. I’ve seen Windows users do hot-swapping on their Thinkpads for a long time now, but only recently is it possible on Linux. I know I shouldn’t complain, and the code is there, so if I want something so bad I should get on coding it, but still it irks me that some things are so difficult to achieve.</rant> Not that I’m about to switch to Windows or anything, but I wouldn’t mind something as easy to use as a Mac, also for work.

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