Trying to get a new box running with a Promise fasttrak raid
controller. Installing RH8.0 always hangs when install tries to format
the drive /dev/sda. Complains that it cannot re-read the partition
table. I want to set up the drives myself from rescue disk (with
promise fasttrak driver loaded) so install can 'use existing
partitions' and skip the formatting part

I create three partitions on sda using fdisk, mkfs.ext3, and mkswap.

sda1 is type 'Linux' and size 102. I use e2label and name it /boot.
sda3 is type 'Linux swap' and size 1020. I use mkswap and make it a
swap drive

the rest of the drive is sda2, size 113349. running mkfs.ext3, the
system hangs when writing the inode tables. It is supposed to write
886 of them but never quite gets there!

How can I check if there is a major hardware failure on my system?