[SOLVED] ata1: SRST failed (errno=-16), boot extremely slow, BIOS disappears

I didn't ask for assistance with this problem, but I want to post it
anyway, for the benefit of others who encounter the same problem.  In
fact, I'm wondering whether we should advise forum members, as a general
rule, to post problem solutions.

A few days ago, I replaced both the harddrive and the monitor in my
11-year-old AMD desktop.  I then installed OpenSuSE 11.2 with Gnome
2.28.2 on the new harddrive.  The installation went spectacularly well,
and the images on my new monitor are glorious.  

There was only one problem: Booting was extremely slow.  Simply for
BIOS to detect the presence of my harddrive would take over a minute. 
Grub would take another half minute to load, then issue several "ata1:
SRST failed" complaints.  I applied google to the message and found
other people having extremely slow boots, but no one finding solutions. 
Some people blamed the video card, some blamed memory overload, and some
blamed Western Digital.

I opened the box, looked at the new harddrive, and recalled my
installation.  The drive was one I had used briefly several years ago as
a slave.  Now that it would be the only drive in the system, it would be
the master -- so I had set the jumper accordingly.

Now, to confirm that the jumper was set correctly, I went to the
Western Digital site and found the support documents.  That is when I
discovered that there is a third possible setting -- a "single drive"
that is NEITHER slave NOR master.  Aha!  

The single setting was indicated by the absence of a jumper, so I
removed the jumper and taped it to the chasis, to make sure that I
wouldn't lose it.  Then I restarted the computer and pressed "Del" to
get the BIOS options.  

Much to my dismay, BIOS indicated "no harddrive present".  What have I
done?!  Have I destroyed the drive?  In a panic, I shutdown the computer
without bothering to exit the BIOS screen.  Then I opened the box and
found the problem: I had forgotten to attach the lead from the power

I attached the lead and closed the box.  Confident that all was now
well, I reattached all of the external cables and booted the computer. 
The monitor went crazy.  Instead of the usual BIOS messages, I got a
moving test pattern.  Pressing "Del" had no effect.  Once again, I
pulled the plug quickly.

Have I destroyed BIOS by shutting down abruptly while in the BIOS
option screen?!  Have I pressed "Del" too many times?!  I got out my
BIOS manual and turned to the part of the trouble-shooting section that
dealt with flashing a new BIOS into the system.  

Finally calming down a bit, I wondered whether the new monitor might be
fried or poorly connected.  I put the old monitor back and booted again.
Same test pattern! 

This time, I patiently allowed the pattern to run its course.  I
noticed that the computer seemed to be going through the motions of a
boot sequence.  So maybe BIOS was still there after all!  

I opened the box again and returned the jumper to its original
position: "master".  Then I booted again.  The test pattern disappeared,
BIOS returned, and the boot completed, though slowly.  All of my data
was still there, on the drive!  I counted my blessings a second time.

Now I went back to the Western Digital manual.  This time I found a
fourth jumper option: cable select.  Ah, that sounds vaguely familiar! 
I moved the jumper to the CS position and booted one more time.  

This time the boot proceeded at lightning speed, and the "ata1: SRST
failed" messages were gone.

Problem(s) SOLVED!


2/16/2011 6:06:01 AM
📁 opensuse.org.help.install
📃 14389 articles.

💬 3 Replies

Ah, the sweet mysteries of computing...

Everything that happens *before* grub loads is a hardware/firmware
(bios or otherwise) issue.

The CS (cable select) setting in IDE drives is used to let the bios
decide in which slot the drive will be seen according to the cable it is
connected to. I never used this, it was buggy in the first mobos that
supported it and using master/slave/single jumper was always easy. Are
you sure the fourth setting isn't the "single" option?

This test pattern is something I've never seen. It first I thought it
was the monitor (as the "no/unsupported signal" jumping box you get
onscreen when the signal frequency is wrong) but as it happened on two
monitors it has to be some "feature" of your bios/motherboard. It might
be worth to check the m/b manual.

With IDE going the way out, issues like this won't happen anymore. I
presume your son's computer doesn't have any sata ports? If it does, you
may consider a sata drive for your next replacement. It's one drive per
cable, no jumper settings - except on the early ones, to select max
supported transfer speed (150 or 300MB/s IINM).

Anyway, thanks for your report. It's always interesting to hear about
cases like this.

brunomcl's Profile: http://forums.opensuse.org/member.php?userid=8892
View this thread: http://forums.opensuse.org/showthread.php?t=454214

2/17/2011 5:36:01 AM
I just installed OpenSuSE 11.4 for x86_64 and I have this problem.

More specifically, I have a brand new (not even formatted yet) Western
Digital Caviar IDE 500 Go. Until I read this thread, the hard drive was
in Slave mode. Now, I placed the jumper on "Cable select".

In both cases, I have the ata2: SRST failt (errno=-16) message at boot
(before any other message by the way). However, my motherboard doesn't
have any SATA ports (hence, nothing is connected in sata in my

The time isn't much of a problem (it's a server, so it shouldn't reboot
too often, and fast boot of OpenSuSE 11.4 works good). What is more of a
problem is that the hard drive isn't recognized by the OS, even though
the BIOS does recognize it.

Let me note that this new hard drive is to be the slave, the master
being another IDE drive. Concerning the cable connection, it leave the
motherboard, goes to the DVD drive and ends on that new hard drive. This
is the same hardware configuration I had before changing the
aforementioned hard drive and it worked perfectly with 11.0.

Does any one have an idea concerning why my hard drive isn't recognized
and why there's that message?

Thanks in advance!

n0x's Profile: http://forums.opensuse.org/member.php?userid=13293
View this thread: http://forums.opensuse.org/showthread.php?t=454214

4/4/2011 8:36:02 PM
On 2011-04-04 22:36, n0x wrote:
> Does any one have an idea concerning why my hard drive isn't recognized
> and why there's that message?


I think you should report the issue in Bugzilla.

However, The other day I read this - I don't know if it is the case:


> Problems with older hardware
> Hard disk and / or CD not found during installation
> Some older systems (typically Pentium-I 75-150 MHz) need the 'ide-generic' module loaded before the Hard disk and / or CD can be detected by the installer. If you encounter such behaviour, try re-starting the installation with the following added to the boot line:
>  'insmod=ide-generic'

Cheers / Saludos,

        Carlos E. R.
        (from 11.2 x86_64 "Emerald" at Telcontar)
4/5/2011 12:20:06 PM
(Thread closed)