I suppose some will argue that it is my own fault.
My new laptop screwed up on me during the week.
I suppose the easiest way is to chart the history that led to its downfall?
When I got the laptop home, I found that it had three primary partitions. The first was a small system partition that seemed to contain boot records. The next was the restore partition and the third was the main partition containing the OS and all the data.
I have always had a habit of separating my data from my OS, and many’s the time that has saved my bacon. I therefore split the main partition in two. So far, so good.
Then came my experiments in Linux.
I tried reducing the size of my data partition to make room for the Linux install. That was fine, and I ended up with about 40Gb of free space. However, Linux refused categorically to see it. This is when I learned that apparently one can only have four primary partitions.
Undeterred, I set about installing Linux within Windows itself. I didn’t want to use a VMC as that imposes too many restrictions. Linux Mint has the perfect solution – to create a file and use that as a virtual hard disk.
I liked Linux. It has come a long way since I first started messing with it in the early days when a UI was virtually unheard of. I liked it so much I decided to revisit the idea of installing it in its own partition.
Because of the four partition limit, I had to combine two of mine. There was a considerable amount of shunting around involved, but eventually I shifted all my data onto the OS partition, including my Mint installation, just in case anything went wrong. I deleted the old data partition and set about installing Linux Mint. It worked perfectly. I now had a duel boot windows 7/Linux machine.
As the old installation of Mint was no longer needed, I deleted it of my data disk. I also used a utility to delete the record from the boot record. That is where my problem started. The machine categorically refused to boot into Windows. It just went blank leaving me staring at a black screen. I couldn’t even access the factory restore partition.
I had previously made a set of DVD restore disks, so I stuck the first one in. I hoped it would have some hind of error checking but it didn’t. I found an old copy of Ultimate Boot Disk which had saved my bacon in the past, and that had a utility to edit the MBR. I edited it, to point to the correct partition but that just screwed thing up completely. Now I couldn’t get into Linux either!
I found a torrent for a Windows 7 restore disk on the Web. I burned it to CD and tried that. It immediately It told me that there were problems with my boot-up and claimed to fix them but it made no difference. Stuck again.
I decided the time had come to forget about my Windows data. I had most of it backed up anyway, though I didn’t fancy installing all my programmes again. I did a complete factory restore off the DVDs. It took ages, but eventually it announced that my machine was back to its original state. It wasn’t. Apparently the restore doesn’t touch the MBR which struck me as crazy!
I searched the Web again [luckily I had a spare machine!] and found one reference to restoring a Windows 7 MBR using DOS. I tried that and it worked. At last I was getting somewhere.
I now had a machine with Windows 7 but no programmes or data, and an installation with everything in it, but that I couldn’t access. I decided to reinstall Mint and suffer my loss of data.
During the Mint install, there was some confusion as to where I was installing it. It wanted to use a spare 3Gb of empty space, which was worse than useless. I eventually persuaded it to use the existing Linux partitions, and just for the hell of it, I told it not to bother formatting the main partition. It installed perfectly so now I was back in business, with just a case of installing all my programmes again.
I was wrong.
I booted into Linux and there was everything just as I had left it – all my programmes and all my data.
The more I see of Linux, the more I like it.
That full restore just about clinched it!