Archive for March, 2011

Using Slax with GParted to format USB drive to EXT3

March 30th, 2011 6 comments

Although Ubuntu is highly rated and has GParted as standard on the its Live CD, it is 700MB or so to download, so if you are wanting a smaller download, then this GParted Slax Live CD (I’ve built) is for you!

Slax Live CD

Here’s my guide to formatting a USB drive to EXT3 using a Slax ISO I’ve built with the GParted disk utility. I believe that the latest Ubuntu Live CD (v10.10) no longer included GParted, so although Ubuntu is quite useful only with the older releases, having GParted ready for us to use.

I visited the Slax website and built a Slax release, which is the core release with the GParted utility and the libraries it needs to run. You can do the same or download it from the Linux Download page in the My Humax Blog, here:

This ISO is a small 203MB in size, so it should be faster to download than most Linux distributions. You can burn it to make a Live CD and boot up your computer temporarily to perform the USB drive format. Stick the CD in the drive and boot your PC via the CD-ROM drive. Your screen should look like the picture below:

Insert your USB drive if you’ve not done so. Slax will recognise your drive and will mount it. Start the GParted utility by clicking on the ‘K’ start button and choosing System and then GParted Partition Editor. Or you can open up the Terminal application (second icon on the bar at the bottom left corner of the desktop) and type ‘gparted’ followed by return. GParted should fire up as the screen below shows:

GParted on Slax

GParted will startup showing you the master hard disk’s configuration. Mine happens to be Ubuntu Linux. Under no circumstances should you modify your master hard disk (which most likely to be Windows). Windows partition type or filesystem will be marked as FAT32 or NTFS, example below:

A Windows formatted USB drive insert a USB drive, you

A few seconds after inserting a USB drive, Slax will pop-up a window askin you what you would like to do with it:

Prompt on inserting USB drive

If it is a drive you want to format to EXT3, then choose the ‘Do Nothing’ option and click on OK. Otherwise the drive will get mounted and you will not have the format option in GParted (cannot format a mounted drive).

Once GParted is running, pull down the drive menu in the top-right corner and select the drive you wish to format:

Select the drive to format

The image above states that I have 3 drives on my PC – the boot disk and 2 USB drives. I’m going to format a USB stick formatted in FAT32 called ‘KINGSTON':


Right click on the drive entry and choose ‘Format to':

Format to EXT3

Then select EXT3. Once that is done, click on the ‘Apply’ button to get GParted to format the drive. It will ask you to confirm of course, before it will perform the action.



If you have a drive that mis-behaves – GParted informing you that it can’t format the drive, you will need to delete the all the current partitions and create a new one on the drive. To do select the drive and choose ‘Partition’ from the menu.

Categories: How To Guides, Using Linux Tags: , , , ,

Formating a drive (to EXT3) with gparted

March 21st, 2011 6 comments

Well, I’ve shown you how you can upgrade your HDD in the various Humax PVRs, but with the newer ones the filesystem is the Linux FS EXT3, and with bigger than 1TB drives the box can not format them.

So here’s a quick post to show you how I formated my 1.5TB drive with Ubuntu and gparted (to complete my disk upgrading post).

The nice thing about Ubuntu is that it includes the GParted disk utility. It is graphical so easier to use than the CLI.

HDR-FOX T2 attempted to format the HDD

As you can see from the screengrab above, when I fired up gparted and selected the right HDD from the pulldown (highlighted in the red box), I can see the the HDR T3 started partitioning the drive – the first partition being 1GB in size… (This led me to the suspicion that it might have been able to format the whole drive given enough time. It might have taken it a lot longer than the 25 mins or so for me to doing to this by hand, however.)

So first thing to do is to complete the first partition by formatting it in EXT3 filesystem.

Put EXT3 filesystem on the partition

Select the right partition (here /dev/sdb1) and pull down the Partition menu, selecting Format and then ext3. Click on Apply to perform the action. A pop-up will ask you to confirm what you want to do.

Next thing to do is to divide up the second partition into two – remember the original HDD’s configuration? – three partitions: start partition 1Gb, end partition 10Gb, middle partition rest of disk.

Partition rest of disk

Select the second partition, and click on the ‘Partition’ menu option at the top, select ‘New’ from this menu. A pop-up should appear like the screengrab above. First uncheck the ‘Round to cylinders’ option (A). Type ‘10240’ into ‘Free space following’ text box (B). When you tab away from box (B), the value of box (C) should be the remainder of your HDD. Simple! Remember you want to create your filesystem in the EXT3 format, so select that from the pulldown (D). Click on the Add button when finished.

Apply changes to HDD

You can now apply the changes to the HDD as you like it to be, or you could ‘format’ the third partition as EXT3. No changes will be made until to click on the ‘Apply’ button at the top, and confirm that you want to make the irreversible actions.

When gparted has finished it will give you a summary of actions made:

GParted summary

If you haven’t formated the 3rd partition to EXT3, do so now. When this is applied it should be fast and you have a HDD ready to put back into your HDR-FOX T2…

New partitioned and formatted 1.5TB drive

Upgrading the HDR-FOX T2’s internal 500GB hard disk

March 2nd, 2011 14 comments

It looks like blogging is easier and faster than authoring pages in the wiki, so I will start here and learn wiki authoring later…

Recently, my internal HDD on the HDR T2 was getting full, especially because I was recording more programmes from the HD channels than the SD ones. So I decided to upgrade the internal drive for more recording capacity.


Western Digital WD15EADS 1.5TB HDD

I was ready to purchase and upgrade to a 2TB HDD, but after a bit of researching, I found that the HDR-FOX T2 can only deal (internally format) a drive up to 1TB in size. I also read that the 2TB hard disk technology is a bit roppy and the 2TB size of HDD is still waiting to be proven on reliability (at least 6 months ago – see here).

So I opted for a compromise – a 1.5TB HDD. This size drive should last me until a 2TB or 3TB become standard 😉 So I went for Western Digital WD15EADS from for about £60. Even though I really ought to have sourced out a drive designed to be used in a PVR – a ‘CE’ hard disk.

Next thing to do was to disconnect the HDR T2 and pop off the lid and install it…

Underside of HDR

Humax warranty seal

Warning! Of course the HDR T2 is protected by a warranty seal on the bottom of the unit, so the warning is: Do not open up this box to replace the hard disk as this voids your warranty! And remember your warranty last for 2+ years!

Nevermind I say, I have two other Humax PVRs (the 9200T bought in 2006, and the FOXSAT-HDR bought in 2008), both have had their internal HDD replaced and they are still going strong…

3 screws hold lid in place

Make sure you unplug all the cables from the HDR, especially the power and aerial before opening. Also make sure you earth yourself to remove static electricity on you body.

So there are 3 screws holding the lid on and they are at the back (see pic). A Philips screw driver will uncrew them. Slide the box back and lift up.

The inside of the Humax FOX-HDR T2 is wonderful sight – with shielded twin tuners, heat-sinked processors, standard SATA and power connectors and the enclosed HDD with fan.

There are 4 screws holding the HDD enclosure to the motherboard. Disconnect the fan power connect from the motherboard by squeezing the clip, before unscrewing the four screws and lifting the enclosure up slightly.

Inside the HDR T2

With the enclosure lifted slightly, undo the HDD’s SATA and power interface, before removing the enclosure completely.

The 500Gb internal HDD is a Seagate Pipeline HD2 hard disk – a special ‘AV’ or ‘CE’ disk designed to be used in a PVR. If we were smart and had enough money, we would replace like for like. Ideally we would put a 1TB/1.5TB/2TB Seagate Pipeline HD2 drive in place of the 500Gb. But instead we thank Humax for using a stardard 3.5″ HDD (some PVR makers use 2.5″ ones which cost twice the price to replace) and that we are able to use any 3.5″ in the HDR T2.

My replacement is the WD15EADS and others which are known to work in the HDR T2 are: Samsung HD204UI SpinPoint F4 and WD20EARS – both are 2TB.

Undo the four screws holding the HDD in the caddy, and then replace it with your chosen 3.5″ disk. Notice the blue vibration dampening gromets…

1.5TB HDD hooked up

From the picture, you can see that I’ve just hooked the 1.5Tb disk instead of putting it in the caddy and replacing, as I needed to test whether it would work with this disk. It is known that the HDR can not format a 2TB drive, but maybe it can a 1.5TB drive… After hooking it up, I booted the HDR and it informs me that it can see the drive and I ought to go to the Data Storage menu to format it…

HDR T2 detects the 1.5Tb drive

Formatting the internal HDD

Unfortunately, I think I did not leave it long enough to find out whether the HDR could format the drive or not. Maybe this is the same mistake others who’ve installed a 2TB drive made too..? This thought is with hindsight, because I stopped the formatting process thinking it was taking too long. I then plugged this 1.5TB drive into my Ubuntu Linux PC to format the drive, only to realise that the format process does take a long time, as the drive it so big!

Screengrab of ubuntu desktop with original 500GB HDD

I also plugged in the original 500GB HDD from the HDR T2, to inspect the partitions. Above is a screengrab of the desktop with the 3 partitions of the hard disk and dmesg log. The HDD is partitioned into 3. The first partition is 1GB for the EPG. The third partition is 10GB for streaming applications (such as iPlayer, I suspect) and the second is the size of the rest of the disk and is for the recordings, photo, music and buffer…

I need to partition my 1.5TB HDD in the same way.Three partitions: a 1GB, a 10GB, and rest of HDD partition. I’m going to use the gparted paritioning utility included with ubuntu to do this. The first partition has to be the 1Gb one and the last parition has to be the 10Gb. The middle partition will be the rest of the HDD, and this will be the usable storage for  your recordings, photos and music.

Partition new HDD using gparted

Doing this using Gparted will be in a wiki article I will post, as you can use this for formatting a drive in EXT3 to be used on the FOXSAT-HDR or HD-FOX T2.

It was at this formatting stage that I found partitioning 1.2TB of space in EXT3 format takes a long time – over 20 minutes! So this fact left me wondering if I had left the HDR-FOX T2 formatting my 1.5TB replacement HDD, it might have done so without me having to plug it into a Linux PC to manually format…