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#1003289 - 11/28/08 05:43 PM OT... Computer Help Needed!
Euan Morrison Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/05
Posts: 1588
Loc: Edinburgh
Hi - am hoping some computer-savvy person can help with this!

I purchased a copy of a Linux magazine this afternoon on a whim - was just wanting to try out a Live installation DVD.

It turns out that it was really, really slow. So i took another step further, and tried to partition a small chunk of drive (10gb was going to be my limit) to try it alongside Windows.

Only problem is: I can't get back into Windows no matter what I try. I'm a bit scared that I have accidentally given over the entire drive, instead of the 10gb!

So far I've tried to use the F2 menu when I boot up, but there is no way to get to Windows from there.

Does anyone have any ideas? It was Mandriva One I installed.

Just wish I could turn back the clock 20 minutes and never touched it \:\(

Thanks,
Euan.

p.s. It is my parents' computer, which makes things a bit worse!!

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#1003290 - 11/28/08 06:11 PM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
SantaFe_Player Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 607
Have you completely shut down the computer? All of my laptops have partitioned drives with Linux on one half and XP on the other. To switch from one operating system to the other I have to restart the computer, and I get a menu at boot-up that allows me to select Linux or Windows. Did you use Ubuntu or RedHat? Those are the only two I use, but I did not actually install them myself so unless you've already tried the 'restart', I don't know what to tell you.....
_________________________
SantaFe_Player

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#1003291 - 11/28/08 06:13 PM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
SantaFe_Player Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 607
FWIW your parents might have a CD that came with their computer for re-installing the operating system in case of a problem. So even if you did reconfigure the whole hard drive, it may be possible to restore it, but I would think you'd have had some indication that this was happening if that in fact was what happened!
_________________________
SantaFe_Player

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#1003292 - 11/28/08 06:25 PM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
Euan Morrison Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/05
Posts: 1588
Loc: Edinburgh
Hi SantaFe, thanks for your response.

It was Mandrive One Linux which I installed. I've rebooted several times, and the only options I get at the home page are Mandrive, or Mandrive (Safe). I've also tried getting into the boot menus using F2 and F11 on startup.

Its a Dell pc, and didn't actually come with any installation cd's or restore cd's to start with. There is an option in the setup menu (F2) to restore to factory settings, but that didn't seem to help either.

I think a good option might be to either request Dell cd's from their website, or maybe just buy a copy of Windows XP in a shop?

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#1003293 - 11/28/08 06:25 PM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
Hmmm. Well, without being there to look, I can make a guess or two...

Assuming you did install on a seperate partition, then my guess is you made the Linux install the primary. I do not know anything about Linux, but there should be a way to look and see what systems are installed, and make one or the other the primary, and tell Linux you are dual boot. In windows you can go to system tools and on the boot tab, it will list all the operating systems installed on the computer. If you cannot figure out how to make the change in Linux, then boot your machine from the Windows CD, and go look. Make Windows the default system, and you should then boot OK.

I am wondering about your statement "that it was really really slow. So i took another step further, and tried to partition a small chunk of the drive...". That sounds like you installed it, then decided to try a seperate drive partition. As far as I know, you can only have one system per partition/drive. If you did install to the C drive and not the partitioned (D-Z drive), then you have a bigger problem.

Here's hoping you did it right...

EDIT - SantaFe and you posted at the same time as me... Perhaps you know someone with a CD you could use. XP or Vista will work, but nothing earlier.

Try going to a Linux site and ask there. I'm reasonably certain there should be a way to make Linux the primary with a "boot Windows" option...
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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#1003294 - 11/28/08 06:45 PM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
Euan Morrison Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/05
Posts: 1588
Loc: Edinburgh
Hi Gmm,

From what I can gather, I definately must have overwritten Windows. There is a section that displays a graphical representation of the hard drive, and there is no mention of Windows.

My next attempt will be to maybe re-install the Linux OS using their boot cd, maybe I can get back something from there. Yes - should propbably ask at a Linux forum also!

This could be a late night!

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#1003295 - 11/28/08 06:58 PM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Euan Morrison:
Hi Gmm,

From what I can gather, I definately must have overwritten Windows. There is a section that displays a graphical representation of the hard drive, and there is no mention of Windows.

My next attempt will be to maybe re-install the Linux OS using their boot cd, maybe I can get back something from there. Yes - should propbably ask at a Linux forum also!

This could be a late night! [/b]
If you did not tell Linux you have another system installed, it will not show anything (it cannot "read" it). Does it show the hard drive as the correct size or 10Gig? If it says 10 Gig, then that's good news. That means Windows is still there on the original C drive.

I would find out all I could about Linux before I take another step. It may be possible to back out slowly so no one gets hurt....
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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#1003296 - 11/28/08 07:32 PM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
Euan Morrison Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/05
Posts: 1588
Loc: Edinburgh
Okay, I did a little more poking around:

I think I'm a bit stuffed, really \:\(
When I was making the partitions, I remember seeing 149gb worth of space being partitioned to something called 'Home'. I got a bit confused at the partitions screen, so that was probably where I went all wrong.

I re-installed the Linux OS, and interestingly I found out that to add Windows to the choice at startup, you need to actually add that as an option manually (sneaky!). So i added it, tried again

I got 'Error Message 13', and nothing more happens.

I don't really know anyone nearby that would have the XP disk, so I think I will just dig into the pockets and buy XP tomorrow.

I suppose this is a nice reminder that computers are pretty serious things!

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#1003297 - 11/29/08 12:23 AM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
TX-Dennis Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/05
Posts: 4126
Loc: Texas
You may have, indeed, formatted the entire disk and thereby "erased" your Windows installation accidentally. I have dual booted Windows and Linux on a number of occasions. One has to be extremely careful with partitioning a drive as you have discovered. I also dual booted XP & Vista for a time.

I would imagine, Euan, that you could obtain restore discs from Dell for a small fee.

There is no need to purchase another copy of XP since you already have a legal serial. If some one you know has an XP OEM install disk (it would have to be the OEM version, I think, you could use theirs to reinstall, and still use your serial which should be on a sticker on the side of your machine. The best road, though, is to obtain set of restore discs. They will reinstall not just Windows, but all the programs the computer originally shipped with as well. If there are files on the drive that you would like to recover (pictures, music, etc.), there are also programs available (some of them free) that will be able to recover some or all of them even if you have formatted the entire drive. I recommend a google search for "free file recovery software."

Anyone who has mucked about with computers for any length of time has done something like this at least once or twice. \:D
_________________________
Dennis

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#1003298 - 11/29/08 03:25 AM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
Euan Morrison Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/05
Posts: 1588
Loc: Edinburgh
Thanks Dennis, I that last sentence makes me feel a bit better.

At first I was a bit angry - I had only bought the Linux cd on the spur of the moment, and I kept thinking 'what if - I had never picked up the cd, what if - I had backed off when things got technical' etc.

But I suppose I was curious to see what Linux was all about. And instead of climbing into the pool, I've done the computing equivalent of a big cannonball and been caught out by the lifeguard!

My reasons for running to the store and picking up XP instead of using friends/Dell is (and I don't think I've shared this yet):


It's my parents computer I did this on! And the sooner I fix the problem, the less chance they will find out what I've done! They aren't very computer-literate, so unless they see Windows appearing at boot, it will not be good for me.

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#1003299 - 11/29/08 03:27 AM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
Euan Morrison Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/05
Posts: 1588
Loc: Edinburgh
Also, I'm not too worried about losing data or Dell programs.

I didn't use anything which came with the computer anyways (I download vlc media player, firefox, and others instead of using Dell's stuff).

And I may lose a bit of photo's and music, but there are worse tragedies going on in the world, so it's not a big deal really.

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#1003300 - 11/29/08 06:58 AM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
Rented Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 174
Loc: Spain
Euan, maybe all is lost, maybe not.

Do this: go download the Ultimate Boot CD, and burn a CD of it. http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/

This bootable CD has loads of tools, but the only ones we are interested in here are the Partition Tools. If you go to the UBCD site, it lists all the tools along with links to their respective sites. Ranish Partition Manager has a couple of guides on how to set up dual booting using Ranish. Most of these tools can of course be copied to a bootable CD manually. But it's good to have the UBCD around anyway.

So, pick one of the partition manager tools which can display all types of partitions and see if the windows partition is still there. Some tools can even recover deleted partitions. Try that as well.

In other words: first see if the Windows partition is still there or is recoverable, then read up on dual-booting. If you are not interested in dual booting, just make the Windows drive the primary active partition.

P.S. There's an even better bootable CD called Hiren's Boot CD, but it contains pirated commercial software, so I wont point out where to find it. But now you know it exists \:\)

P.P.S. If you are new to Linux, I would suggest you start with one of the big ones such as Fedora, Ubuntu, etc. You will find help much easier with one of those. I've never heard of Mandriva, but I'm not a Linux expert so that doesn't say much \:\)

P.P.P.S. Don't take it too hard, you learn from your mistakes. On my first day at the job as an admin for my new employer I manages to wipe the hard drives clean on a server with one short command. All "workstations" in the office were diskless (i.e. no hard drives) so they all booted and worked off of this server. No a good start to a new job We had backups, but the backup guy had to come in from vacation to restore everything. If you come away with anything here it should be: BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP!

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#1003301 - 11/29/08 11:22 PM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
SantaFe_Player Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 607
uh-oh. Sounds like most of that disk is now /home/you in a Linux environment. Wish I could be more help - I'm exceedingly adept at using Linux systems, as I have been using Unix for over twenty years as my primary work machines, but I can only guess at installation foibles. You may just have to go to that Dell site and order a CD; if the machine is still under warranty it's possible this will be covered somehow; alternatively you might be able to download it while booted in Linux and copy it to a CD THEN try a re-install. Just wondering, operating system aside, whether there were any important files your folks had on that machine that are lost. Do they by any chance regularly back it up? If not, you may have some splainin' to do, even if you can restore XP for them.
_________________________
SantaFe_Player

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#1003302 - 11/30/08 04:56 AM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
Euan Morrison Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/05
Posts: 1588
Loc: Edinburgh
Cheers Rented - you obviously know what you are talking about! I'm just going to bite the bullet and pick up XP again and start afresh. I don't think I could cope with more booting procedures now \:\)

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#1003303 - 11/30/08 05:01 AM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
Euan Morrison Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/05
Posts: 1588
Loc: Edinburgh
Santa_Fe,

I think that's exectly it - I dedicated far too much space for the /home section o the OS.

Interesting - although with Dell.com, it's fairly easy to order cd's, at Dell.co.uk I don't seem to see them.

Anyways, problem almost sorted, I ordered XP, so when it arrives I shall do a format and install that.

I don't think my parents had very many files at all, so I'm not too worried about that. I lost around 36gb of mp3 files, which I shall have to re-copy from my cd's.

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#1003304 - 11/30/08 07:07 AM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
Hey Euan. Yea, it's beginning to look like you might have "lost" Windows.

Game may not be over, though....

If Linux did in fact reformat the hard drive, then it is game over (files can be recovered but it is a long and boring task - not worth the effort IMHO for 36gb of mp3s).

If Linux did not "erase" the original boot drive, then just maybe....

When XP shows up, first boot up with the CD and look for an option to "recover" or "repair" instead of install. My guess is it will not work, but will only take an hour or so to try.

If it works, you're done. If not, then install as an upgrade and not as a clean install. Again, it might not work, but give it a try.

If this also fails, then a clean install may be needed.

After you get it working in XP again (whatever method works), then you can try and do a restore to last safe boot.

Good luck, Euan. And, just in case you are wondering just how I gained some of this expertise, I refer you back to what a very wise texan once said:

"Anyone who has mucked about with computers for any length of time has done something like this at least once or twice."

One more thought....the XP disk may or may not come with all the upgrades issued by MS over the years. You might have to allow Windows to bring your machine and the new install up to date first. If you were using the automatic update feature, then it will be easy to match the new install with the old. If you did not regularly update XP before, then it may be problematic to get a match.
_________________________
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

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#1003305 - 11/30/08 08:08 PM Re: OT... Computer Help Needed!
DanXZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 69
Loc: North Yorkshire, UK
Euan

It's sounds to me like Linux has simply overwritten the boot sector. The windows partition is likely still there but no longer bootable. I have very limited experience with Linux but I do seem to remember someone I know having done this a few years back. I can't remember if he resolved it or not.

Here's what I would do:

1, Back up the entire hard disk if you have the facility and spend a few hours checking out Linux forums/guides regarding boot sectors and windows. It may be possible to find a utility to manually construct it.

2, If you have access to another Windows PC then take out the hard disk and install it as a slave in the second PC. You should be able to browse any FAT or NTFS file systems and copy any files you need.

3, Try installing windows over the 10 gig partition. You should then be able to browse the original windows drive and copy anything you need to keep.

4, Install windows over the original windows partition without formatting first and back up files.

5, Whether or not the previous steps worked do a Full disk format and re-install I'm afraid! Even if step 4 worked your PC will likely run like a dog.

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