Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Adding a new hard drive to Ubuntu

19th January 2009

This is a subject that I thought that I had discussed on this blog before but I can’t seem to find any reference to it now. I have discussed the subject of adding hard drives to Windows machines a while back so that might explain what I was under the impression that I was. Of course, there’s always the possibility that I can’t find things on my own blog but I’ll go through the process.

What has brought all of this about was the rate at which digital images were filling my hard disks. Even with some housekeeping, I could only foresee the collection growing so I went and ordered a 1TB Western Digital Caviar Green Power from Misco. City Link did the honours with the delivery and I can credit their customer service with regard to organising delivery without my needing to get to the depot to collect the thing; it was a refreshing experience that left me pleasantly surprised.

For the most of the time, hard drives that I have had generally got on with the job there was one experience that has left me wary. Assured by good reviews, I went and got myself an IBM DeskStar and its reliability didn’t fill me with confidence and I will not touch their Hitachi equivalents because of it (IBM sold their hard drive business to Hitachi). This was a period in time when I had a hardware faltering on me with an Asus motherboard putting me off that brand around the same time as well (I now blame it for going through a succession of AMD Athlon CPU’s). The result is that I have a tendency to go for brands that I can trust from personal experience and both Western Digital falls into this category (as does Gigabyte for motherboards), hence my going for a WD this time around. That’s not to say that other hard drive makers wouldn’t satisfy my needs since I have had no problems with disks from Maxtor or Samsung but Ill stick with those makers that I know until they leave me down, something that I hope never happens.

GParted running on Ubuntu

GParted running on Ubuntu

Anyway, let’s get back to installing the hard drive. The physical side of the business was the usual shuffle within the PC to add the SATA drive before starting up Ubuntu. From there, it was a matter of firing up GParted (System -> Administration -> Partition Editor on the menus if you already have it installed). The next step was to find the new empty drive and create a partition table on it. At this point, I selected msdos from the menu before proceeding to set up a single ext3 partition on the drive. You need to select Edit -> Apply All Operations from the menus set things into motion before sitting back and waiting for GParted to do its thing.

After the GParted activities, the next task is to set up automounting for the drive so that it is available every time that Ubuntu starts up. The first thing to be done is to create the folder that will be the mount point for your new drive, /newdrive in this example. This involves editing /etc/fstab with superuser access to add a line like the following with the correct UUID for your situation:

UUID=”32cf775f-9d3d-4c66-b943-bad96049da53″ /newdrive ext3 defaults,noatime,errors=remount-ro

You can can also add a comment like “# /dev/sdd1” above that so that you know what’s what in the future. To get the actual UUID that you need to add to fstab, issue a command like one of those below, changing /dev/sdd1 to what is right for you:

sudo vol_id /dev/sdd1 | grep “UUID=” /* Older Ubuntu versions */

sudo blkid /dev/sdd1 | grep “UUID=” /* Newer Ubuntu versions */

This is the sort of thing that you get back and the part beyond the “=” is what you need:


Once all of this has been done, a reboot is in order and you then need to set up folder permissions as required before you can use the drive. This part gets me firing up Nautilus using gksu and adding myself to the user group in the Permissions tab of the Properties dialogue for the mount point (/newdrive, for example). After that, I issued something akin to the following command to set global permissions:

chmod 775 /newdrive

With that, I had completed what I needed to do to get the WD drive going under Ubuntu. After that IBM DeskStar experience, the new drive remains on probation but moving some non-essential things on there has allowed me to free some space elsewhere and carry out a reorganisation. Further consolidation will follow but I hope that the new 931.51 GiB (binary gigabytes or 1024*1024*1024 rather the decimal gigabytes (1,000,000,000) preferred by hard disk manufacturers) will keep me going for a good while before I need to add extra space again.

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