I've finally found a drive that PartedMagic can't handle, but fortunately I still have a friend in
dd. Sounds like a trailer for an episode of Dexter's Laboratory. UPDATE: Even better, use an old Knoppix CD!
PartedMagic is a Linux live CD optimised for drive maintainence with tools such as GParted and Partition Image that I've been recommending and using for a few years. I was an avid fan of PartitionMagic before Symantec bought the company that developed it and killed the project, and PartedMagic filled that void really well.
Unfortunately, the [relatively new] WD hard drive that came with my [relatively ancient!] Libretto 70CT has been the first drive since I started using PartedMagic that the bundled applications simply can't handle. GParted reports that it can't read the data and as such I can't resize the partitions, and Partition Image simply panics and quits.
Is someone eating sushi or are things just fishy?
The Windows 95 partition boots on the machine and works flawlessly, ScanDisk doesn't find anything, I've run SpinRite on level 2 and 4 for several long days, I've done every file system integrity check known to humanity... NONE of them reports problems.
What I want to do is keep the Windows 95 partition intact but shrink it by a few gigabytes so I can run FreeBSD with my ncurses environment I've been developing. As it stands now, GParted/libparted can't read the data in the 95 partition even though it boots fine, the drive is fine and the filesystem is fine. I think.
I read on a few forums that people have had success with FAT systems running older live CDs when this problem occurs, and they surmise there may be an error in the newer versions. I'm willing to give it a shot, in the meantime I'm using dd to copy the whole drive to an image file as a backup, but I need to be able to resize this.
I wonder if hdiutil could do it? Hdiutil can resize non HFS+ partitions provided they're not running the system, can't it? I'm sorry this whole post was an excuse to think out loud!
Turns out those forum folks were absolutely right, I tried an old version of Knoppix from 2005 and it worked flawlessly! The newer versions of libparted must have introduced a bug with old FAT filesystems, or something.