Yesterday I finished backing up my data and it was time to wipe that HDD of mine for good and freshly install Debian Wheezy stable with Xfce as a WM. I've booted into a live session to see if things like sound, wireless etc. work and they did without a problem. However I was surprised that after I installed gparted (again: live session) I was facing a single partition with approx 7.5GB (the size of my USB key). Okay, it automatically shows the device where the OS is booted from. However when I looked at the drop-down menu (top right) for selecting a device I saw that only /dev/sda1 (7.48GB) was available. No local hard drive at all. I opened the terminal and did

dmsg | less

after that

df -h

and finally

sudo  fdisk -l

but all was in vain. The only thing that I'm looking at was my USB key and that's all.

Then I decided to see how the installation goes and if the same issue occurs. For my (delightful) surprise when I got to the Detecting hardware and then to the Partition hard disks part there it was - almost 500GB of space. The only thing that's bothering me is the amount of time the formatting takes. Is it normal for a 3 hours of formatting to do only 13% of the 500GB? I remember clearly when I installed Ubuntu 12.04 LTS years ago that it took much less even though back then I also had a dual boot with Win7 and multiple other partitions so the formated space was like 200GB. That's the reason why I wanted to use gparted in a live session in the first place because gparted is usually pretty fast when wiping stuff and at least that I could do in order to boost the installation process of my Debian.

Any ideas why gparted, fdisk etc. are not showing my hard disk? I also clearly remember that back then when I installed Ubuntu I also checked the situation with gparted. Even though it was again a live session, everything showed as expected - both USB key and HDD.

1 Answer 1


This behaviour does sound unusual and might be an indication of a hardware problem. The problem might be as simple as a loose cable, or could be a failing hard drive.

You might consider looking at the drive statistics using a tool such as gsmartcontrol. Note that you will need to run the application as root so that it has full access to the hard drive.

  • SMART shows full health and the couple of benchmarks I did were also successful. Anyways the installation went without a single problem. However this is still an unresolved issue. Jul 31, 2014 at 17:43

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