Eideatapi Interface

As described in Chapter 5, "Hard Disks," the terms Enhanced Integrated Device Electronics (EIDE) and Advanced Technology Attachment Packet Interface (ATAPI) both apply to the same interface, but they're generally used in reference to different devices. Specifically, ATAPI devices follow a set of protocols that are useful for controlling non-disk devices, such as CD-ROMs and tape drives. A few removable disk devices that attach to the IDE port don't include full ATAPI support, but most do. Table 6.1 refers to all such devices as EIDE drives for simplicity's sake, and I use that term in this discussion as a more inclusive term than ATAPI.

By whatever name, the EIDE interface is a reasonably good one for removable media devices. Designed for high-speed disk devices, EIDE has no trouble keeping up with the speed of removable-media drives, which tend to be substantially slower than modern hard disks. With support for booting from these drives in most BIOSes, these drives can be a convenient means for generating emergency Linux boot systems. You can install Linux to an appropriate removable medium, and then boot directly from that device in case of an emergency.

The Debian and Slackware distributions are particularly easy to strip down to the bare essentials for installation on a small removable drive such as a Zip or LS-120 disk. Even if you don't normally use one of these distributions, you might want to consider creating an emergency disk with one of them.

The EIDE interface does have its drawbacks for removable disks, however. One of these is that it's most suitable for internal drives. If you want the flexibility to move a drive from one computer to another, it's best to look elsewhere. (Kits for using EIDE devices externally do exist, however, so if you really must do it, it can be done.) Just as important, the limit of two devices per EIDE chain can be quite restrictive, particularly if you want to load your system up with additional devices like a CD-R burner and tape backup unit.

Part II

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