A week without Windows…

Recently a friend of mine who writes for ZDNet went 48 hours on Ubuntu Linux.  Aside from problems that he had in getting his VPN working and drivers, he seemed to have a favorable impression of Linux and Open Source.  One of the biggest arguments was that 48 hours is not long enough to really get a feel for it.

I think 7 days would be a good start—especially for a college student.  So, I plan on attempting it in a couple of weeks.  I have a couple of caveats though… 

One is that my e-mail addresses are almost all based on Windows Live—and Microsoft will not allow third-party clients to access their Live mail accounts (at least not easily).  So, I may have to use Outlook (in Windows) for that.  Otherwise, I will end up with around 500 to 1,000 e-mails at the end of the week.

The second caveat is that I’m a tutor in Visual Basic. So, I may have to fire up the laptop in Windows to look at a VB program (unless Eclipse or NetBeans has a VB integrated development environment that’s compatible with Visual Studio).

The third caveat is that right now, I cannot get into my Kubuntu installation on my laptop (and I have to repair GRUB on my desktop).  This is due to a later kernel upgrade which breaks my laptop.  So, I may have to go back to 9.04 in order to do this.. Unless the latest kernel will work.  This is also one reason why I’m not starting immediately.

***Update of sorts**** I reinstalled Kubuntu last night on the laptop.  Now it’s a matter of getting it to boot up and go.  If I can get it working, then I’ll be ready sooner (maybe).  I’ve also looked into configuring Hotmail as a POP e-mail in Evolution—the only problem being that i have mail in folders on the server (and Microsoft, in their infinite desire to make you use THEIR products, won’t allow the other folders to transfer through POP).

I may even consider using Crossover to utilize my Outlook (and possibly Visual Studio) during the time—if I can get a trial version of it.  Or I may have to run Kubuntu in a VM (unless I can install it using wubi and have it use the existing Kubuntu partitions for it’s location).  If I go the VM/wubi route, then I will limit my Windows to Visual Studio (and maybe Outlook if it’s too much of a hassle to do things through the web).

So I will start this on January 25 and conclude it on February 1.  I’m looking for suggestions on how to overcome the obstacles that I have.  If anyone has any ideas, please comment or e-mail me before January 23 (so I have enough time to implement them).

Have a great day, and stay tuned for more blog posts on this subject. 🙂

Restoring your GRUB bootloader after upgrading Windows (or installing Windows)

There’s a story behind this.  I am triple-booting my laptop:  Windows XP Media Center 2005, Windows 7 RTM Ultimate, and Kubuntu 9.04.  When I installed Kubuntu, GRUB was the boot loader that I chose, and it worked perfectly.  However, when I installed Windows 7 RTM, Windows overwrote my GRUB boot loader, so I no longer could boot to Kubuntu. 

This is a pet-peeve that I have had with Microsoft’s operating systems for a long time.  Linux will happily move things around, so you can boot to either Linux or use the Windows Boot loader to boot up whichever versions of Windows you had installed.  Microsoft, however, just writes it’s boot loader over whatever is there—which will break your dual-boot of Windows and Linux (or multi-boots) or Windows and whatever other Operating System (non-Microsoft) you have installed.

I’ve searched the Internet for easy instructions for repairing GRUB—but never really found anything good. Until today, that is.  The closest that I found was the Super GRUB Disk or Auto Super GRUB Disk, which didn’t work on Windows 7.

Today, I read an article about the SystemRescueCD releasing their 1.3.0 version.  So, I downloaded it and looked for any articles on repairing GRUB with this.  I found some very simple instructions, and successfully repaired my GRUB installation.  Now I can boot to Windows or Kubuntu with all of the kernels that I had before.

The instructions

The instructions come from Tutorial on Repairing GRUB.  Here they are step by step.

  1. Boot to the SystemRescueCD or any liveCD for Linux (SystemRescueCD is preferred as it automatically sets you as root).  If you booted another Live CD, open a Terminal and either use “sudo” or su to get to the root prompt. The rest of the instructions are assuming that you have a root prompt or will use “sudo grub” to get into the grub program.
  2. type grub or sudo grub at the prompt (enter your password if necessary)
  3. At the grub> prompt, type find /boot/grub/stage1

It should return a value such as (hd0,1) or whatever your grub location is (Mine was hd0,3)

At the grub> prompt, type root (hd0,1) or whatever value was returned previously  (mine was “root (hd0,3)”)

It should return a value such as filesystem type is ext2fs, partition type 0x83.

At the grub> prompt, type setup (hd0) or whatever the first number in the value you used earlier is.

You should see grub running through some tests then installing itself and your menu.lst file with “Yes” or “Succeeded” depending on the action—then “Done.”.

If you see that it was successful, you can type “Quit” at the grub> prompt.

Something to note.  Linux, like most Operating Systems and programs, begins everything from 0—not 1, as you would normally think.  So, seeing “hd0,3” would mean the fourth partition on the first physical drive.  If you have Grub installed on a second hard drive, it will most likely show up as hd1,x where x is the partition that Grub is installed on.

Typically, your hard drive will have Windows on hd0,0 and then whatever other operating system on hd0,1 or whichever partition it is placed on.  In my case, my swap file (Linux’s version of the pagefile on Windows) is on hd0,2, so my actual Linux installation is on hd0,3.

So, if you’re needing to install GRUB or reinstall GRUB, I hope this helps you out.

Have a great day:)