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Holy Shit: A Tale of Partitions and Boot Loaders

outsieoutsie Registered User regular
I feel bad that I only really come out of lurk mode here to ask for help, but this is some fucked up shit here guys, and I have no idea what to do. Here's the really long version, you probably only need to read the bolded bit at the end.

I've been bouncing around between a couple different operating systems on my eee pc (1005ha) since I got it a couple weeks ago. Up until today, I had Windows 7, XP, Moblin and Jolicloud all on different partitions. I had almost never used Jolicloud or Moblin since I threw them on, so like an hour ago I decided to just delete the partitions I had created for them and make three big ones, one for XP, one for Windows 7, and one just for storage. I used the Windows 7 formatting tool to do this, leaving four partitions, the extra one being a little 47 mb thing I assumed Asus had thrown on there, and everything seemed peachy.

This is where the shit hits. I had noticed that Moblin had thrown on its own boot loader back when I installed it, requiring me to use their linux boot loader to switch over to the Windows boot loader to start up XP or Windows 7. This was only a minor hassle, and I was too lazy to uninstall Moblin just to skip a 2 second annoyance. Well, apparently I fucked something up with Moblin's boot loader while deleting partitions, so when I rebooted, and after rebooting a couple times again, I'm getting a prompt for "GNU grub" which I guess is the boot loader Moblin used. I don't know shit about Unix or Linux, so I'm at a complete loss here. I'm fairly certain my Windows partitions are still perfectly intact, I just don't know how to get to them/recover the classic Windows boot loader.

Ahhhhhhh

outsie on

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    ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    fixmbr, I guess.

    ronya on
    aRkpc.gif
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    outsieoutsie Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    ronya wrote: »
    fixmbr, I guess.
    Just tried it, didn't seem to work. I'm not 100% sure what I'm doing with it, so more specific tips would be great.

    outsie on
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    ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    You seem to know what you're doing if you have four operating systems installed at once, so I'll skip the handholding... hm. It looks like they've changed the commands from XP.

    Boot from your Windows 7 disc, go to Recovery Console, then try

    bootrec /fixmbr
    bootrec /fixboot

    which should theoretically completely repair the Vista/7 bootloader.

    Also the 7 disc comes with a repair wizard that tries to automatically detect Windows installations. See if that works.

    ronya on
    aRkpc.gif
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    outsieoutsie Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    ronya wrote: »
    You seem to know what you're doing if you have four operating systems installed at once, so I'll skip the handholding... hm. It looks like they've changed the commands from XP.

    Boot from your Windows 7 disc, go to Recovery Console, then try

    bootrec /fixmbr
    bootrec /fixboot

    which should theoretically completely repair the Vista/7 bootloader.

    Also the 7 disc comes with a repair wizard that tries to automatically detect Windows installations. See if that works.
    Without a disc drive to use my Win7 disc in, and no USB drives large enough, I decided to just throw the Vista image suggested in this thread on a thumb drive and try that. I did both those things, the command console stuff and their automatic tool, and neither seemed to have any effect, although the automatic tool did detect my Win7 install. Do I have to use the actual Win7 disc, since I don't actually have a Vista install, even though its the same loader?

    outsie on
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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Hmmm....

    This is probably a sub-optimal solution, but it might get you where you need to be:

    1. Download a Linux installation image
    2. Install a new copy of Linux by booting from that CD (or flash drive)
    3. Once you've got grub working again (and you should, because installing whatever distro of Linux you go with should reinstall both all the necessary grub files and the MBR) boot into Windows.
    4. Download EasyBCD, and use that to restore the Vista bootloader
    5. ....that should do it?


    For some reason I think that EasyBCD can restore the MBR without a Vista/7 disc or anything. Been a while since I've wound up the creek you're currently up, but I want to say this is the path that got me out of the mess last time.


    EDIT: Damn, looking at it that is definitely a suboptimal solution (even assuming it works)...but it sounds like you're about ready for some desperate measures. Oh, and I think (5) was supposed to be the part where you delete the Linux partition and give its space back to Windows.

    mcdermott on
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    ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Yeah, I'll recommend mcdermott's outlined path then. It's not really suboptimal; it's actually probably the fastest way if download speed is a factor and you don't have a disc or disc drive handy.

    I'm not sure why the Vista repair wizard failed (although the workings of such wizards tend to be well-hidden, anyhow). It should have worked, even with 7. Odd. Well, if it didn't work, back to editing Grub.

    ... your Grub loader still works, right? Point it to your Windows install as appropriate, again, then use EasyBCD once you get into Windows 7.

    ronya on
    aRkpc.gif
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    outsieoutsie Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Wow, you two saved my life here. Thanks for the help, I'm used to figuring out my own roundabout solutions, and I had already downloaded/tried Ubuntu in the past, so it wasn't hard at all throwing it on there.

    Now, a different (but much less scary) problem. After installing Ubuntu I saw that the boot loader had a couple options for booting into Ubuntu, and one for Win7, but none for XP. I booted into Win7, and used EasyBCD to install the Vista loader, which let me boot directly into Win7, with no menu. I could also use it to uninstall the Vista loader, letting me boot directly into XP. So, I can now use EasyBCD to switch the computer between being XP or Win7, but I'd really like to have a menu when I boot up allowing me to choose.

    I'm really not great with this stuff, despite having four operating systems at once I've never really delved into anything deeper than installing them and trying them out...

    outsie on
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    saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I know nothing about Windows 7 at all. I've been a full time Linux user since 2004, so your mileage may vary on my advice.

    GRUB stands for "Grand Unified Bootloader" and has been the standard bootloader in the Linux kernel since LILO (the "Linux Loader") became deprecated a number of years ago. You can get it to boot basically anything that uses a BIOS (basically everything except Mac OS X), you just have to modify your menu.lst file.

    I'm going to assume that you have all your operating systems installed, you just need to be able to see Windows in the GRUB startup menu.

    1. First, boot into whatever Linux distribution you are using. Log in to an account that has root access (either root itself, or an account that can use sudo.

    2. Open xterm (or whatever terminal emulator you use; my personal favourite is aterm).
    $: sudo nano /boot/grub/menu.lst
    

    3. The above command will give you superuser access for a period of time, allowing you to open and edit the menu.lst in nano, a simple text editor.

    4. Scroll on down until you see something similar to this:
    title windows 7 beta (Loader)
    root (hd0,1)
    savedefault
    makeactive
    chainloader +1
    

    It will most likely list a bunch of different ones for whatever distro you are using. We are going to want to add something like the above to the menu.lst

    5. Basically, enter in the above exactly - title, root (we'll deal with this in a second), savedefault, makeactive, and chainloader +1 - all in that order. Basically, it gives you a name for the thing you are looking to boot, it specifies which disk and partition the OS is on, it makes sure the relevant settings are active and finally uses the chainloader mechanism to load up Windows.

    6. in Grub, disks and partitions are labeled in an X, Y format. So the first disk with two partitions will have two possibles combinations of (hd0,0) and (hd0,1). You must find out which disk has which data where, as if you don't label the disk properly nothing will work. GRUB's disk identification doesn't correspond in anyway to the way Linux itself does it, but instead relates entirely to the physical location of where the drives/how they are connected. So if you have two SATA drives, one connected on SATA0, one on SATA1, (hd0,0) will be the first partition of drive one, which is connected to SATA0, and so on.

    Trial and error is probably your best bet.

    7. When you have finished editing the necessary changes in menu.lst, save (control-O) and exit nano (control-X). Exit the *term, and then reboot and see if your changes worked. If they don't, make sure you have the right disk and partition, and keep trying. If you've tried all possible combinations, come back and we'll see if there are specific issues that you need to resolve beyond that.

    Hope that helps.

    saggio on
    3DS: 0232-9436-6893
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    ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    outsie wrote: »
    Wow, you two saved my life here. Thanks for the help, I'm used to figuring out my own roundabout solutions, and I had already downloaded/tried Ubuntu in the past, so it wasn't hard at all throwing it on there.

    Now, a different (but much less scary) problem. After installing Ubuntu I saw that the boot loader had a couple options for booting into Ubuntu, and one for Win7, but none for XP. I booted into Win7, and used EasyBCD to install the Vista loader, which let me boot directly into Win7, with no menu. I could also use it to uninstall the Vista loader, letting me boot directly into XP. So, I can now use EasyBCD to switch the computer between being XP or Win7, but I'd really like to have a menu when I boot up allowing me to choose.

    I'm really not great with this stuff, despite having four operating systems at once I've never really delved into anything deeper than installing them and trying them out...

    Well, EasyBCD should give you options. Not having it installed I can't be entirely helpful here, but I'll try my best.

    You need the Windows Vista/7 bootloader installed (to boot the more recent 7), then you need to tell that bootloader to show you options for XP. I think this page has pretty screenshots. Essentially, go to Add/Remove entries, and add Windows XP. Not too involving.

    ronya on
    aRkpc.gif
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    outsieoutsie Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Well, I've messed things up even more, and actually kind of gone backwards a ways here, to a whole new problem. I decided to just completely wipe the whole drive, and start off with a clean XP install and an otherwise empty hard drive. The latest problem is, since EEEs obviously don't have any CD drives, I've had to use instructions like these and these to put XP's installation stuff onto an SD card. It seems to work well enough, until I get to the Windows partitioner, which seems to only see the SD card as a hard drive, and won't detect the 1005ha's actual hard drive, which I had previously used a Gparted thumbstick to completely erase. Any tips here?

    outsie on
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    ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I'd just ditch the XP partition and stick with Windows 7, myself :P

    I'm not sure. Is the 100ha's hard drive an SSD? Is it IDE/SATA?

    ronya on
    aRkpc.gif
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    outsieoutsie Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    ronya wrote: »
    I'd just ditch the XP partition and stick with Windows 7, myself :P

    I'm not sure. Is the 100ha's hard drive an SSD? Is it IDE/SATA?
    To be honest, I got shitty flash video performance in Windows 7. It's not an SSD, and it's IDE (I think) although I'm not 100% sure what that means.

    Edit: Also, I don't have a flash drive/sd card big enough for Windows 7 at the moment.

    outsie on
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    outsieoutsie Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Solved. Apparently EEEs have something called AHCI turned on in bios that reduces HD compatability? I have no idea what it is, but once I turned it off, *poof* the hard drive showed up in Windows installer. Thanks for the help guys, I think I can manage from here on out...

    outsie on
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