Error 18

I’m trying to get openSUSE to work on an old Compaq Armada M700 laptop (1GB processor, 384MB RAM, 20GB HDD, CD-ROM) that someone gave me with the HDD wiped. OS installs ok, but when I try to boot, I get an “Error 18” message. I can’t access the BIOS (all F10 gives me is Setup), and I suspect that may be part of the problem. I have heard that some of these old Compaqs kept the BIOS on the HDD, in which event I obviously can’t get at it. If I can just get GRUB to load, I should be home free. Any ideas, hints, suggestions (prayers)?

There may be a copy of the bios hidden somewhere (there are unused sectors between the MBR and the start of the first partition), but IME what is executed at power-on must be on CMOS. The “Setup” you refer to, isn’t that the bios setup (configuration)?

The “Error 18” message - so when you start the machine you get to the openSUSE boot menu and it’s after you select to boot that you get this error, right? If so, it is a grub error. This error occurs when the partition which holds the boot loader is beyond the cylinder boundary the bios can recognize - or, the old “1023 cylinder” problem. Which would not be surprising at all on an old machine.

There are one or possibly two fixes for this. The preferred is a bios setting (via Setup) where drive access is set to “LBA” or possibly “Large”. Changing this may resolve the problem.

If you can’t get into the bios, or the bios does not provide this option (and it probably does if the original drive was >8GB), then re-install openSUSE. At the partitioning step, go into Expert mode and create a 50MB (only fifty) partition at the front of the disk (i.e., first) and give it a mount point of “/boot” (without the quotes). Create a second partition of 1GB and designate it for swap. Create a third partition for root (using forward-slash, that is, “/” without the quotes, as the mount point).

Now the boot loader partition will be under cylinder 1023. Give that a try.

I’m really not a traitor. I tried to use the info to install openSUSE, but it didn’t work. So I used that knowledge to install
(gasp) Kubuntu. Thanks
Maybe it was the disc…