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Data Loss on QUANTUM FIREBALL TM Series EIDE Harddrives: How to obtain and apply the patch

Return to my Quantum Data Loss page, my Harddrive Terms&Tricks page or to the COMPUTERCRAFT main menu

Copyright (C) 1997 by Erik van Straten. All (registered) trademarks are recognized.
Last major change: 04/16/1997 by EvS. Last file modification:



If you are convinced that your PC works fine, don't change anything! A patch may help prevent problems, but there always is a possibility that it introduces new unforeseen issues. Make sure you have a reliable backup before applying a patch!
Although I have conducted some tests and found no problems, your PC's hardware and software configuration is likely to be different from mine. Theferore, you must be warned that neither Computercraft, nor I will take any responsibility for whatever you do with your PC, including applying this patch.
Also, although Quantum also has done some testing (I don't know to what extent), the Quantum tech. people have asked me to make clear to you that "upgrading a drive with this utility is entirely at the users risk". Again, if you mess things up, you have only yourself to blame!
If you have any questions about how to obtain or apply the patch, check out both or for phone numbers of Quantum tech. support. European customers can call Quantum's helpdesk, tel. +44 1344 353507 for more information.
Note that I am not related to Quantum in any way, except that they sent me a drive for testing purposes (after I told them I didn't want to be restricted in publishing about it, which they agreed to). Furher I must have made them a bit nervous by bringing these pages online, which contributed to the fact that they finally acknowledged the problem and developed the patch.
Unfortunately the patch-program comes with very little documentation. I think it is primarily intended for use by experienced support people. I have successfully applied the patch program multiple times (applied both the new firmware and an old beta release) under various conditions, and will share some of my experiences below. This includes running the patch program with other parameters than the ones in the batch files that come with the patch-program. I think that they will improve understanding if things don't work as expected, but I may be wrong, and they might cause the program not to work or even cause damage. Again, in all cases, that is a risk you take. Don't blame Computercraft, me or Quantum if you mess things up!
I think you should read the section Before you apply the Firmware Patch before you even consider downloading the program.
If all this techie-talk scares you, find a more experienced person willing to help you. Hopefully Quantum will inform it's distributors about this patch, and possibly you can have the drive patched in the shop where you bought it.

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What does a Firmware Patch do?

An IDE (AT) or EIDE drive is a computer by itself. It has a microcontroller built in which requires an "operating system" program. This program is called the firmware. As with other programs, it may have some bugs in it that cause unexpected behaviour. The firmware in modern drives is rather complicated in order to obtain high performance and high storage densities. Further, new drives have to be compatible with older controllers (you should be able to use use an advanced EIDE PIO mode 4 drive on an old AT PC) which makes things a lot more difficult. Anyway, due to the complexity manufacturers usually store the Firmware in such a way that it can be (partially) replaced without having to replace all drives on the market, should a problem show up. Usually it is stored in flash-RAM or EEPROM. The patch-program will replace all or parts of the Firmware in the drive with a new release. This usually has nothing to do with data (files) stored on the harddrive, which will stay unaltered, provided that translation tables in the drive are not changed by the patch.

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What does the Quantum Fireball TM EIDE Firmware Patch do?

The Quantum Fireball TM EIDE Firmware Patch will replace all of (or parts of, I don't know) the firmware (operating system) in the drive, eliminating the rootdirectory truncation problem descibed in my Quantum Data Loss page. When you run the patch program, it will start identifying the attached drives in your PC, and verify that the supplied code file matches the drive. Then it will replace the code by downloading it to the drive. When it has finished that (it takes less than a minute) it resets the drive and does some additional diagnostics, and then terminates. It is preferrable to boot from a floppy disk, run the patch program from that floppy and have it write it's logfile to that floppy, because during the patch process the harddrive will be temporarily inaccessible. Further, by using a floppy to boot, the contents of the harddrive are irrelevant; it doesn't need a to have a bootable DOS partition. In fact,. it doesn't have to be partitioned at all.
Note that this patch should not change anything on the disks (also called platters) in the harddrive, but I do strongly recommend that you make sure that you have a reliable backup! (You shouldn't be needing it however).
There's one problem with this patch program, though. There is no undo possibility. There is no way (as far as I know) to first save the current firmware to a floppy! Therefore, I cannot say this often enough, use of this patch program is at your own risk!

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How to obtain the Firmware Patch

As of April 16, 1997, the only public locations I know of for obtaining the patch are:

I am happy that Quantum has placed the patch on the Internet after all, downloading 300KB from an over-seas BBS is simply a waste of money. Possibly the patch-program is available for download from Quantum BBS'es in the USA, I'm not sure. To prevent that I will be distributing an outdated release, AND to prevent legal problems with Quantum, I will not place this patch-program on any publicly accessible Internet-site, nor will I send it to anyone in any way on request. So if Quantum decides to remove it from their webpage in future, call them, not me.

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How to download from the Quantum UK BBS

Skip to the section Before you apply the Firmware Patch if you can download from the Internet!
As a test I downloaded the patch-program on Feb 8, 1997 from Quantum's BBS in the UK, phone +44-1344-353555. Since not all of you will be experienced in calling BBS'es I will describe how I managed to downlod the patch-program; this may save you some (expensive) online time. Note that the following may only apply to the UK BBS; possible Quantum BBS'es in the USA (if any) are running different software.
I used a DOS terminal program called BITCOM which came with my 14K4 modem when I bought it. Of course there are many other good terminal programs, but this one works fine for me. I run it from plain DOS to prevent Windows from messing with (read: slowing down) the serial port. If you don't have a good terminal program, you could consider a shareware program called TELIX which runs in Windows. I have no experience with it but have been told it works fine. Before calling Quantum I had BITCOM setup as follows:

This gave me an instantaneous 14K4 connection. The BBS first asked me if I was using ANSI emulation (which I did). Then it asked me to identify myself. It asked for my name, company, address, phone number where I can be reached during the day, what type of computer I have, my date of birth and whether I am male or female. Then it asked me to enter a user-ID which can be used for future logons (I chose EvS) and finally it asked me to enter a password (I suggest you think of a user-ID and a password before you start dialing).
After this, the system informed me that I had new mail, which consisted of a welcome message and an attached file with instructions how to use the BBS: file "BBSUSER.DOC" is attached to this message (it is 85684 bytes long). I didn't download that file because this menu-driven BBS did not seem difficult to use, and I wanted to keep the online time as short as possible. Within the menu-structure the X key always brings you back to a higher menu-level.

The main menu looks like this:
Please select one of the following options:

I chose F, and got the following menu:

NOTE: the patch is in the Public file library! So I pressed P and got the following menu:
There are 40 files available for download.

I chose D for Download:
Enter file name to find, X to exit, or ? for help: a6b2dnr.exe

File name: A6B2DNR.EXE Date: 01/27/97 Size: 296116 bytes
Library: PUBLIC Added: 02/04/97 Downloaded: 0 times
Uploaded by: Sysop
Approximate download time: 5 minutes
Tempest code download utility for A6B.2DNR code

Various protocols for download were offered:

Choose a download option (or 'X' to exit): Z
(Hit Ctrl-X a few times to abort) Beginning ZMODEM download of the file A6B2DNR.EXE in the PUBLIC Library (289K, 5 minutes)

I chose Z for ZMODEM which is a commonly used filetransfer protocol. The actual download time was 4 minutes. Actually I have been online twice, the first time I entered my name etc. and downloaded some directory listings in order to find out where the program was located. That first session took me 6 minutes. I expect that you can do the sign-on and download in a total of 7 minutes using a 14K4 modem. This should allow you to calculate the expected amount of money to pay to your phone-company.
As can bee seen the file to download is called A6B2DNR.EXE (300 KB) and can be found in the Public File area. Note that Quantum may rename this file, move it to another arear or even remove it from the BBS without telling me. Therefore, if you get an error message stating that the requested file cannot be found, I suggest you choose "L" to download a list of iles first. If you can't fnd it, call Quantum, and when you're sure the file is no longer there, please send me an email.

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Before you apply the Firmware Patch

Although I assume you've read the warning/disclaimer above, I would like to stress that the use of this patch-prgram is not as straightforward as it may seem. During the tests I conducted, I saw some strange things happen.
For example, I have a Mitsumi FX001D double speed CDROM drive in my PC, connected to a proprietary ISA-bus controller; this is NOT an ATAPI drive. However, during the patch-process, the green LED at the front of the drive would flash several times, although no CDROM drivers are loaded! For unknown reasons the patch-program apparently scans IO/addresses or DMA channels which causes the CDROM drive light to lit. Fortunately, the CDROM drive worked fine after I rebooted with the CDROM drivers loaded.
Further, I ran a test where I had the Quantum TM2110A drive attached as slave drive and a Seagate ST3290A (250MB) as master, both on the primary IDE channel. Although this is not a preferrable configuration when considering performance, it works for DOS and Windows, and some people may still be using configurations like this (i.e. a small IDE C drive and have recently added a bigger EIDE D drive). However, when I ran the patch-program, it started complaining about spurious (unexplained, unexpected) interrupts and wasn't able to patch the Quantum drive. This may have to do with the fact that the Seagate is an IDE drive (ATA), not an EIDE drive (ATA-2). However, when I swapped the drives (configured the old Seagate as slave drive) I had no problems applying the patch.
To prevent any problems I suggest that just before you apply the patch, you open up your computer, and disconnect all possibly interfering devices like other harddrives, SCSI controller(s), network cards, modem's, proprietary CDROM controllers and soundcards (especially if they are used as a CDROM controller). Make sure that you also disconnect power cables to devices that are not connected to a controller anymore. For example, I'd remove my ISA CDROM controller card from the slot, and remove both the ribbon (data cable) and the power cable (yellow/black/black/red cable) from the rear of the CDROM drive. The drive itself doesn't have to be removed from the PC of course. Make sure that your Quantum Fireball TM series EIDE harddrive is jumpered as master and is the only drive attached to the primary IDE port, and that there are no drives attached to the secondary IDE port (provided you have one). The Quantum drives have a table printed on them that tells how to jumper the drive as master (a jumper at the DS position).

Before you start pulling plugs or change your hardware in any way, I suggest that you make a drawing that describes which cable goes where. You may need to label cables. Also, if you remove expansion cards, make a note which slot they came out of, just to be sure. But before you begin you should make sure that you write down detailed information about your PC's current configuration (before having changed anything). This information can be found in the BIOS setup of your PC. After switching on the PC, press the key to enter the BIOS setup (usually the Del key) and make as much notes as possible about current harddrive settings. Often there is a menu called "Standard CMOS setup" which usually looks something like this:

Primary Master: User 2112 1023 64 0 4091 63 LBA
Primary Slave: User 1624 787 64 0 3147 63 LBA
Secondary Master: none 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
Secondary Slave: none 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----

This is how most Award BIOSes look like; AMI BIOSes are pretty similar. When your PC has a Phoenix BIOS you can also find similar drive data when you place the cursor over a harddrive entry and press Enter. It is important that you know the MODE your drive is used in. Although most BIOSes will have an AutoDetect harddrive feature, they will ask you which mode to use (i.e. NORMAL, CHS, XCHS or LBA). It is important that you restore these settings as they were after reinstalling hardware. If you have a printer attached, most BIOSes allow print-screen commands (usualy you'll have to press the form-feed button to get all the lines out of the printer). I am used to write down all "screens" in an ASCII file which I call SYSTEM.LOG (other PC details are written in it as well, such as IRQ and I/O port usage) . It takes some time initially but once you have it, it can save a lot of time (have a copy on a floppy disk!) However, if you have only one PC you'll first have to write down the BIOS settings on paper or print them.
Since you will be patching from a bootable floppy disk, it is not necessary for the Quantum drive to have a primary (bootable) partition. In fact, it doesn't have to have DOS partitions at all, or any partitions for that matter.

Please wait with pulling plugs until you've fully read the next section, how to apply the Firmware Patch; you'll be needing your PC to create a patch disk first!

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How to apply the Firmware Patch

Here's how to patch, step by step:

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Copyright (C) 1997 by Erik van Straten. I grant Computercraft the non-exclusive right to publish this page. All (registered) trademarks are recognized.

Return to my Quantum Data Loss page, my Harddrive Terms&Tricks page


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