How to copy data off an old IDE disk

Radoslaw Zielinski radek at
Sun Mar 30 13:10:51 BST 2008

Andy Wardley <abw at> [30-03-2008 12:34]:
> complete garbage. It not only has no filesystem or partition table on it, but
> is completely hosed to the point where "sudo fdisk /dev/sdb" simply barfs with
> "Cannot open /dev/sdb". The Mac doesn't even recognise it when I plug it in.

Last time when I fought with something like that, "dd if=/dev/zero
of=/dev/XXX count=1" has helped.

fdisk does some ioctl()s on the device it opens, which in turn probably
try to read something from it, starting with the first sector.  And
since it's full of rubbish, fdisk gets rubbish data and performs some
nonsense operation with it.  (Disclaimer: that's just a theory. ;-)

Radosław Zieliński <radek at>
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