Mapping Logical Drives to Physical Hard Drives for MS-DOS --------------------------------------------------------Copyright (C) 1991-2008 Pierre R.


How does one go about converting MS-DOS logical drive letters which represent hard disk physical partitions to their equivalent ROM BIOS Hard Disk I/O Interrupt 13H physical hard drive numbers (80H, 81H, etc.)? It's simple enough for floppy disk logical drive letters A or B (just take the uppercase ASCII logical drive letter and subtract the value of "A"), but for hard disk logical drive letters, it's another matter. Given MSDOS logical drive D: (or a computer system with multiple hard drives subdivided into numerous logical partitions), how does one derive the associated ROM BIOS Hard Disk Interrupt 13H parameters (hard disk number, starting head, cylinder and sector numbers) needed to locate and access this logical drive directly on a given hard disk? Before I answer this question, however, let us consider some of the practical uses of mapping logical drive letters to physical hard disks. Suppose you had a program that could perform this logical-to-physical mapping for you and display a given logical drive's hard disk ROM BIOS hard disk number on the screen. Armed with this program, you could walk up to an unknown MS-DOS system and find out how many hard disks the system has and on which hard disk a particular MS-DOS logical drive letter is located on. Another practical use would be if you were a developer of a hard disk defragmenter or space optimizing application that needed to translate the user's selection of a MS-DOS logical drive to the appropriate location on a hard disk. If your application user specified MS-DOS logical drive E:, then knowing the correct hard drive to address and actual physical location of this logical drive's data on that hard disk is a necessary part of that task. There's no doubt that having a ready-made master look-up table containing the host system's physical ROM BIOS hard drive information arranged by logical drive number would be both useful and convenient for the developer of this application. The biggest obstacle to determining which hard drive a particular MS-DOS logical drive is located on and where on that hard disk it starts, is that MS-DOS does not assign logical drive letters to logical partitions necessarily in the order that they physically reside on a hard disk. For instance, if you had two hard drives with a Primary partition and Extended partition on each one, then MS-DOS will assign logical drive

letter C: to the first Primary partition on your first hard drive, logical drive letter D: to the first Primary partition on your second hard drive, then logical letter E: to the first partition in the Extended partition on your first hard drive, followed by letter F: for the first partition in the Extended partition on your second drive. You will note that logical drive D: is not physically located on the first drive, and therefore its ROM BIOS hard disk number is 81H, not 80H, as one might first be inclined to think. Furthermore, consider the fact that logical drive E: has a ROM BIOS hard disk number of 80H because it's located on the first hard disk somewhere beyond the first bootable partition logical drive C:. To obtain the first sector from logical drive E: via ROM BIOS Interrupt 13H, Function 2 (Read Sectors), it is necessary to know the exact starting location of this logical drive in terms of physical hard disk , head, track, and sector numbers to be supplied as input arguments to this ROM BIOS function call. This article features a sample program which demonstrates a method for obtaining ROM BIOS Interrupt 13H corresponding parameters for a hard disk logical drive. The method is relatively straight forward, but requires an exhaustive examination of a host system's hard disks and their logical partitions. The first step is to perform a physical inventory of a system's hard drives, i.e. determine how many physical hard drives are present. The second step is to examine each hard drives' MS-DOS master boot record and partition table entries in order to find all the MS-DOS partitions and identify a partition as either a Primary, Extended or Secondary primary system type. Also, at this time, the starting head, cylinder and sector numbers for those logical partitions are extracted and saved since MS-DOS stores these physical parameters in the partition tables themselves. Finally, once the number of hard drives, number of logical partitions, and type of partitions on each hard disk is known, the MS-DOS logical drive assignment rules are applied to this hard disk information in order to build a master look-up table ordered by MS-DOS logical drive letters (C: to Z:) which contains the needed ROM BIOS physical parameters for each partition on each hard drive. How MS-DOS Partitions Hard Drives Before we logical drives to MS-DOS partitions to point out that maximum number of focus our attention on how MS-DOS assigns hard disk partitions, let's briefly review how hard drives. First, however, it is noteworthy with the advent of MS-DOS version 5.0, the physical hard drives supported by MS-DOS has

been increased from two to eight, and that Secondary primary partitions (other non-active bootable operating system partition types) continue to be recognized for backward compatibility reasons. The new maximum number of hard drives supported is a limitation imposed by FDISK, and not the MS-DOS 5.0 kernel initialization itself. With MS-DOS 5.0 hard drives are partitioned in the same manner as with MS-DOS versions 4.00 and 4.01. Physical space on each hard disk space can be divided up via the FDISK utility into Primary or Extended type partitions. The Primary and bootable first partition can be defined to encompass the entire hard disk space or to use only a portion of it with the remainder of hard disk space assignable to an Extended partition type. The Extended partition in turn may be subdivided into multiple logical partitions. The real limitation as to the maximum number of partitions that can be supported by MS-DOS is determined by the fact that only logical drive letters C: - Z: remain after logical drives A: and B: have been assigned to floppy disk drives by the MS-DOS kernel initialization. Also MS-DOS still requires that the first primary partition on a hard disk be reserved for bootable logical drive C: for compatibility reasons. The Master partition table located at offset +1BEH from the Master boot record on the first bootable hard disk, can contain up to four entries or records. The first entry is reserved for the Primary partition. The other entries can denote an Extended type partition or even a Secondary primary type partition created by a third party partitioning utility. The entries in the Master partition table are actually 16 byte records each which contain the Active (or bootable) flag, partition type, starting head cylinder and sector numbers, ending head, and the partition length in sectors. The partition type byte within a partition record is a system indicator which identifies partitions as having either a 12 or 16-bit sized MSDOS File Allocation Table (FAT) entry scheme. A partition type value of 1 is assigned by MS-DOS to partitions with 12-bit Fat entries, whereas values 4, 5 or 6 are used to mark 16-bit FAT entries. The partition type value of 5 also means that it is an Extended partition type, and a value of 6 is reserved for partitions whose sizes are greater than 32 Megabytes (MS-DOS 4.00+). The information stored in each partition table record can be used to determine the partition's type and the starting head, cylinder, and sector values needed to physically locate it on a hard disk, for example.

The Extended partition type entry in the Master partition table can be thought of as a pointer to the start of the Extended partition itself that is located physically beyond the Primary partition on the hard disk. The Extended partition has an extended boot record (non-bootable) and a logical drive table analogous to the Primary Master boot record and its partition table. This Extended logical drive table can contain up to two entries or records. The first entry in the Extended logical drive table is for the Extended partition itself (the logical drive) and the second entry used to point to the next possible Extended partition on the hard drive. Highlights of Hard Disk Partitioning Changes through MS-DOS versions: MS-DOS Comments --------------------------------------------------------------2.00 3.30 4.00 5.00 Only one MS-DOS partition per partitioned device Multiple logical partitions in new Extended part. type 5 Huge (> 32MB) partition type 6 added, 2 Gigabyte size max. More than 2 hard drives recognized (up to 8 per FDISK)

How MS-DOS 5.0 Assigns Logical Drives MS-DOS 5.0 assigns logical drive letters to physical partitions on hard disks in the following manner. Starting with the first hard disk, MS-DOS assigns logical drive letter C: to the first Primary partition, and then attempts to assign the next available logical drive letter to other Primary type partitions on subsequent hard drives if they exist. All Primary partitions are thus assigned first on up to eight hard drives. MS-DOS then returns to the first hard disk and begins assigning the next available logical drive letters to any Extended type partitions on that hard disk. When all the possible Extended type partitions have been assigned, then MS-DOS again progresses to subsequent hard drives in order to assign logical drive letters to their Extended type partitions if they exist. MS-DOS once more returns to the first hard disk to continue assigning logical drive letters to any Secondary primary partitions found there this time. And as previously, MS-DOS continues to assign logical drive letters to Secondary primary partitions on any subsequent hard drive in the system. Finally, after all the hard disk partitions are accounted for, MS-DOS goes on to assign logical drive letters to possible third or fourth additional

floppy disk drives, and then to any other logical drives invoked via CONFIG.SYS device driver statements, for example, a RAMDRIVE or CD-ROM. Sample .ASM Test Code using Logical-to-Physical Mapping Summary The test program code featured in this article serves as a simple but efficient way to obtain and display multiple MS-DOS Logical drives corresponding physical hard disk information. The underlying function of interest, HDSysInventory, which performs all the detective and deductive work, is invoked in the test program via the single call to HDMapLogToPhy. The function HDMapLogToPhy checks for existence of a final look-up table named HDindex, and builds it via function HDSysInventory if necessary prior to returning a pointer to that information to the calling test routine. Note that any subsequent calls to function HDMapLogToPhy by the Main test routine will not incur the necessary initial overhead of performing the system hard disk inventory and subsequent master look-up table preparation. Any MS-DOS logical drive which fails the MS-DOS Interrupt 21H IOCTL 440DH (Get Device Parameters) function call or test for hard drive media type ID within this test routine, does not generate a call to HDMapLogToPhy (floppies, Ram, CDROM, tape, remote and unknown drive types could cause this). Statistics are not returned or displayed for these media types. Furthermore, the prepared look-up table HDindex only contains valid entries for logical drives based on actual hard drives found during the system inventory. Therefore, MS-DOS Assigned, Substituted or Joined logical drives will not have a valid entry in HDindex either, and HDMapLogToPhy will return an error status to signal to caller that no data exists for these logical drives. An obvious improvement to this test routine would be to map such logical drives to their true identities and return a pointer to that data instead of returning an error status. See companion document for the Source Code. Assemble with Microsoft MASM 5.0+ (or 6.0 with appropriate backward compatibility command line switches) and link the single object module to create an .EXE program type image file. A minimum version of MS-DOS 3.1 is required to run the test program successfully, since the test program Main routine uses the MSDOS Interrupt 21H IOCTL 440DH (Get Device Parameters) function call to determine whether or not any one logical drive is considered to be a hard drive type by MS-DOS.

High-Level Pseudo Code for the Test Program: Main FOR LOGICAL_DRV = A: TO Z: IF LOGICAL_DRV is hard drive type (via Int 21H IOCTL Get Device Parms) THEN CALL HDMapLogToPhy (LOGICAL_DRV) display returned stats for LOGICAL_DRV (ELSE) ENDIF NEXT LOGICAL_DRV End Main Proc HDMapLogToPhy: IF system inventory not done yet THEN CALL HDSysInventory (ELSE) ENDIF RETURN pointer to stats for LOGICAL_DRV endproc Proc HDSysInventory: Set SYS_INVENTORY done flag Perform system hard disk inventory Build final logical-to-physical look-up table RETURN endproc

Program Structure The program is structured in four parts: (1) Main, or the test routine which calls the function HDMapLogToPhy, (2) the HDMapLogToPhy function, (3) the HDSysInventory function, and (4) miscellaneous support routines.

Function HDSysInventory takes a system's hard disk inventory and builds two preliminary tables. The first contains information needed to apply the MS-DOS logical letter rules of assignment to the hard disk physical inventory and also link it to a second table. The second table contains the actual starting head, cylinder and sector numbers encountered during the inventory. HDSysInventory then applies MS-DOS logical letter rules of assignment to the first table and uses the information stored there and in the second table to build a final look-up table that can be indexed by a zero-based MS-DOS logical letter drive number. Function HDMapLogToPhy returns a pointer into the final look-up table for a specified MS-DOS logical drive letter representing a hard disk. The pointer points to the drive's associated data: logical drive number, ROM BIOS hard disk number (80H, 81H etc.), FAT type, starting head, cylinder and track numbers. Note that these values are directly usable by ROM BIOS Interrupt 13H (DISK I/O) Read, Write functions. HDMapLogToPhy can also return an error status indicating that there was no valid associated data found in the final look-up table for a particular MS-DOS logical drive. Note that the two underlying functions HDSysInventory and HDMapLogToPhy, and their data structures, could be retrofitted to serve in your version of a test Main routine or more complex application that would simply reference the master logical-to-physical table to convert MS-DOS logical drive letters to corresponding ROM BIOS Interrupt 13H Read, Write function parameters when needed. Details on the Program Table Processing Algorithm Table Diagrams Below are the three tables or structures used by the test program:

Initial hardware inventory hard disk table HDtable: Partition Flags ? ? #Logical Drives ? ?

1st HD 2nd HD

Sequence Number ? ?

. Last HD

. ?

. ?

. ?

Second initial hardware inventory partition data table HDphys: BIOS HD # HD 1, 1st Part HD 1, 2nd Part . HD 1, Last Part HD N, 1st Part HD N, 2nd Part . HD N, Last Part ? ? . ? ? ? . ? FAT Start Start Start TYPE Head# Cyl# Sec# ? ? . ? ? ? . ? ? ? . ? ? ? . ? ? ? . ? ? ? . ? ? ? . ? ? ? . ?

Final MS-DOS logical drive master look-up table HDindex: DOS BIOS LOG# HD # 1st LOG 2nd LOG . Last LOG ? ? . ? ? ? . ? FAT Start Start Start TYPE Head# Cyl# Sec# ? ? . ? ? ? . ? ? ? . ? ? ? . ?

How the Program Tables are Built and Processed As hard drives are encountered during system inventory, the first table's (HDtable) row entries for partition type and total number logical drives are updated. The hard drive's type of partition is recorded as either a Primary or Secondary type, and the number of logical drives contained in any one partition is tallied. The sequence number entry is to be used later to

create the final master index table. Also as hard disks partitions are detected, the second hardware inventory table (HDphys) is updated with each partition's physical characteristics, i.e., the ROM BIOS hard disk number, Fat type, starting head, cylinder, and sector numbers. The low order 7 bits of the starting cylinder number are stored as well as bits 5-0 of the starting sector number in this second table. Once the initial physical inventory is complete, the MSDOS logical drive rules of assignment are applied to the first table and associated partition data moved from the second table to the third final master table (HDindex). The final look-up table is organized by logical MS-DOS drive number so that the associated physical data can be obtained for any one MS-DOS logical drive number that represents a valid hard drive partition. The algorithm processes the first table following the MS-DOS logical drive rules of assignment and updates the first table's values to reflect which partitions have been processed, the number of logical drives in each one that remain to be processed, and a sequence number which serves as an index into the final master look-up table.


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