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Linux install gone back!

My first go at Linux has ended up a disaster! I got mandrake installed ok but when I tried to boot into windows I got errors about missing files. In the end, I had to reformat and reinstall windows. Now ive gone from linux, but no windows to windows but no linux!

My main windows partition is now "J" instead of "C". I can still see the Linux partitions in Partition Magic so they're still there. Why has Linux disappeared? How can I get it back?

Here you can see a screenshot of what im seeing in Partition Magic..

I really need this all done by tonight so I will just have to hope that something goes right in the next two or three hours. I think I need to set the partition as active, but im afraid of doing even more harm and making myself another days work!
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1 Solution
In what condition is the system currently?
You can or can not boot Windows?  I'm not clear on that from your description.

Looking at your Partition Magic report I'm wondering, how was the system originally configured?  Did you add another disk when you installed Linux?

How about giving a summary of what happened starting when you had a working Windows system.

me1191Author Commented:
I have always had two hard drives, one 80GB (main windows, games, utilites) and one 250GB (back up stuff, movie files, music).

I am now in windows and its working fine, ive jsut been installing a few things to get me back where I was.

The way my hard drives were partitioned before:
80GB drive:

250GB drive:
K:\Back Up

Maybe a bit odd to other people but its very neat and tidy really.
Okay then.   So you installed Linux and foul hit the fan?  Could you then boot Linux but lost Windows?  Which version of Windows is this?

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me1191Author Commented:
XP. First I could boot linux but not windows, now after reinstalling windows I cant use linux.
There is an issue with XP, disks and Linux.  A quick google search on "Windows XP Linux Disk" will provide you the details about that.    Looking over your partitioning scheme, I'm wondering if you are so close to a "scratch" install on both OSes that you may want to take some time, wipe both disks, then reinstall both.

To start off with, WinXP is now installed on drive "J:".  Although I have not tried it with XP, my other experiences with Windows variants tells me that if you attempt to remap that drive back to "C:", then you'll be unable to boot Windows.  What I think happened is that when you installed Linux, 'doze renamed all of the drives and was unable to find its installation when it needed to.

FWIW, I have had the most success when having to deal with Windows ensuring that I make PRIMARY partitions first (up to three) then an extended as the last partition (swallowing up all unused space) so that I could create logicals.    Otherwise you run into the problem that you have suffered here -- the drive letters get renamed.  This isn't an issue for Linux but Windows has hissy fits about it.  I'd do something like this:

Drive 1:                                 Drive 2:

Primary NTFS (c:)                Primary NTFS (e:)
Primary NTFS (d:)                Primary NTFS (f:)
Primary NTFS (e:)                Primary EXT2 (linux boot)
Extended                                Extended
     Linux stuff here                      More Linux stuff here.

Conventional wisdom puts a primary partition for the Linux Boot in the first 1024 cylinders of a drive so that all BIOS can boot from them but I find that most modern computers don't get wigged out wherever you decide to boot from.

If you load Windows XP first then you can have the Linux bootloader handle the switch between the two OSes.  Linux will simply incorporate it.

Hi,  I just answered pretty much the same question here: ;)

I read through that thread... you are in a bit of a bind, aren't you?  I can tell you from experience that the partitioning scheme that you have now will cause you no end of trouble (as you have found).  With enough effort you will be able to get both of the installed systems running but you will always have to be careful if you make any changes to the partitioning.  It will take much less time to simply reinstall your software.

I see that you have your thesis material on the Linux side.  You don't mention how much space this takes but what I would do, if I were in your position, would be to go to and download a copy of that distribution.  It is a self-hosting CD-ROM based distro that you can boot.  From there you will be able to access any of the data on any of the XP or Linux partitions.  Use whatever means you'd like to get the important data off.  Knoppix supports USB and networking so you can pick your favorite means to save the data.  Once you have verified your backups, wipe that mess and reinstall both OSes again, using a paritioning scheme that won't cause XP to reletter the drives.  Be sure to load XP first, then Linux.

Good luck!

me1191Author Commented:
So your saying that if I had Linux installed on my second hard drive I would have no bother because it's not on the same drive as windows?
It's not a matter of which drive you install Linux on as much but, instead, the order in which you create partitions and where you place them.    Windows insists on giving everything a drive letter and if you modify the partitioning scheme on an installed Windows machine, you can likely find yourself in this position (bent over).   Windows will be looking on a drive for files and that drive's letter has changed.  Linux does not have the concept of drive letters.  It only understands drives (e.g. /dev/hda is the master drive on the first IDE channel, /dev/hdb the second, and so on.  It also understands partitions as a number (e.g.  /dev/hda1 is the first partition on the master drive on the first IDE channel.)   The only time things get even mildly interesting is when you change drives around.  With a quick boot to a recovery CD you can easily fix this.  To eliminate the problem altogether, you can assign names to partiitons.  Then the only issue comes if you change where the boot drive is.  But once again, that's fixable.

The trick to successfully installing Windows and any other operating system on the same system is to remain aware that Windows will name the paritions as follows:

Starting with drive C: Windows will give a name to every primary partition on the main drive that has a recognizable (to it) file system.  Then it will continue to the second drive,  naming each of those primaries.  Then on the the third, fourth, etc.  Once it has assigned a letter to each primary drive, it then starts back to the first drive and does the same thing with any logical drives it recognizes in an extended partition.  You can see that in the partition magic jpg that was posted during this thread.  Once an extended partition was inserted in the middle of some primaries things started to go downhill quickly, for Windows.

Thus my recommendation... I always create one primary (because you need it for booting), then if I want more primaries I create them to whatever size.  I'll then make the remainder of the drive one big extended parition and create whatever I want in there.  Linux is quite happy booting from wherever you decide to load it -- on a primary or an extended partition, on the first drive, second drive or wherever.  Although you'll typically want a primary on the first drive for the /boot partition simply because it can make things easier to fix.

I hope that clears things up and I wish the original poster luck in  getting his system back in order.  I know how distressing it can be to have hardware hold your data hostage!

me1191Author Commented:
Booted from cd, carried on with the rescue process and Linux would'nt boot. I then choose the fail safe option and it done its thing then rebooted, I then selected Linux again and booted into it fine. Very nervous when I went to load windows again, but sure enough it loaded fine. Now two working OS'es. Really all extremely simple when you know how. Thanks.
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