Trouble with Windows after installing Ubuntu 7.10

Asked by Lelouch on 2007-12-26

Well, on a whim, I decided to give Ubuntu a go. I've been using Windows XP (not necessarily on this computer) for several years, and I've worked and tweaked it quite a bit, and I'd like to think that I know... One or two things about it, nothing extreme, but certainly enough to do basic tech support for friends and maximizing my XP experience.

But, as with anything, I began to grow bored of it. So I tried something new, that being, Ubuntu 7.10 via Live CD. I burnt the ISO to a CD (via Alcohol 120%, if that matters) and did a live session, was *quite* impressed, and began installation after a couple live sessions.

I went through the normal options, and no problems, but the partition work I did... I'm not 100% sure on. My memory is terrible in the first place, but recollecting to the exact things I did then isn't something to rely upon. But, I'll do my best.

As I recall, I set up two partitions.... One of roughly 15 gb, and another of about 5. The first was the root boot or something... I had to put "/" in somewhere. It told me to, and the other partition was used as swap space.... Far as I can recollect, anyways. It said it was okay, and kept going.

So here I am in the end, with a wonderfully working Ubuntu, and after a session of enjoying it royally, I turn my computer off, come back, load up my computer, and it automatically goes to Ubuntu. I didn't mind this too much, but after a couple times of this, I've wanted my Windows back, temporarily. (mainly for the games; Dawn of War, Starcraft, Freespace 2, the like)

Try as I might, going through my boot menu and BIOS settings, it *always* goes through to Ubuntu. Did I partition improperly? Did I do something totally wrong? All my totally essential stuff I keep on a (very) secure 1 gb thumbdrive, so if need be, I can start over, format hard drive etc, but that'd be a last resort. I also have a Windows XP Restore DVD, which advertises the ability to reinstall "Applications, Drivers and Operating System", so if need be, I can use it.

But, reinstallation isn't what I'm wanting.... If there was a way to select which OS I wanted at the start, that would be the best method. I'm not familiar with Dual-booting, I've mostly just heard of it, never seen or read anything about it. (and a look around at other questions here, I haven't seen a case like mine)

Any and all tips and pointers are gladly appreciated.

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Lelouch (argusster) said :

Argh, I forgot to mention that I also can't access the files that I could when I was in Windows. I don't know anything about that either, and my Ubuntu session would be vastly improved if I could access at least even my video files and music.

Again, thanks in advance.

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Olivier (olivier-lacroix) said :

Hi !

please open a terminal and post here the result of the following command

sudo fdisk -l

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Lelouch (argusster) said :

Ah, alright.... Here you go:

Disk /dev/sda: 80.0 GB, 80026361856 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 9729 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Disk identifier: 0xf9d10e91

   Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 * 1 2432 19535008+ 83 Linux
/dev/sda2 2433 9729 58613152+ 82 Linux swap / Solaris

Disk /dev/mmcblk0: 127 MB, 127139840 bytes
8 heads, 32 sectors/track, 970 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 256 * 512 = 131072 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x00000000

        Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/mmcblk0p1 1 970 124111+ 6 FAT16

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Olivier (olivier-lacroix) said :

I have bad news for you : you erased entirely your windows partition during the installation of ubuntu. And therefore you lost it :-(

Tell me if you need help to prepare your disk for reinstalling windows.

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Lelouch (argusster) said :

Oh wow.... Crap...

Weeelll..... huh... Alright, I'll give my restore DVD a go, and see how it is... Well, maybe later, I'm happy with Linux, and can do without windows games for a while....

Well, thank you, Oliver. Even though it was a mess that I made, at least Linux itself works great. Thanks again.

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Olivier (olivier-lacroix) said :

Ok. Do not hesitate to ask for it.

Your partitions are not really optimal. You certainly do not need 5Go of swap. Swap is virtual memory. Usually, using the same amount of swap as RAM is OK if you have 512 Mo of RAM or more.

The settings I use are the following :
  10 G for / (this is where all the programs go)
   1 G of swap
   the rest for /home (this is where all your personnal settings and data do)

this way, you keep the home directory as a separate partition, which greatly ease any process of reinstallation

If you install windows after ubuntu, be sure to create a partition before, since windows does not let you do it easilu. Moreover, you will loose the ability to boot ubuntu, because windows does not let you the ability to boot several OS. You can get it back easily. See one of the method given here

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Lelouch (argusster) said :

Ah.... Am I able to change my partitions at this point, or no?

And... If I do put Windows back, how do I create a partition before...? Ugh, I don't know this partition stuff at all well.

Also, even though my Windows and its stuff is gone, the 'Filesystem' that has... Ubuntu itself, I think? Only has an 18 gb capacity, so does this mean the rest is being used in something else? Or is it in limbo, in a way? I just don't get this kinda stuff...

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peter b (b1pete) said :


Sad to hear bad news. Anyway, just some hints

- if you have data in ubuntu back it up first -there is a package called MONDO that'll do a fine job; back up on CD/DVD
- in dual booting win-ubuntu it is mandatory to install win first -so install win on the first partition of the HD; I hope you know how to do it in win installer; DO NOT USE THE ENTIRE HD, I'd say 30GB would be a good size or whtever you wish
- after a good/proven win install do yourself a favour and dwnld ubuntu ALTERNATE CD iso for your processor and burn it
- boot of the Alternate CD and answer the preliminary questions and when the PARTITIONER is displayed pay special attention to FREE SPACE -this is the space that you want partitioned and ubuntu installed; mandatory TWO partitions / and swap -I'd say / 20GB and swap 1GB. If you want you can create other mount points/partitions such as /home, /usr, /var etc. I'd suggest just a /home is quite OK for the time being -make its size whatever you wish, it depends of the data you plan to have stored.
- ATTENTION - do not proceed further UNTIL YOU MADE SURE THAT THE / HAS THE BOOT FLAG SET!!! you do that by selecting the boot heading when the / was created screen -THIS IS A V IMPORTANT THING
- after you're happy with the way the partitions are sized, the file systems are assigned to each and especially the / is made bootable, take a piece of paper and write down the / partition number, it is something like sdaX where X is a number
- proceed with writing the new configuration to disk and follow the install prompts UP TO GRUB INSTALL SCREEN --> STOP!!!
- pay special attention to the prompt where would you like GRUB TO BE WRITTEN TO -THE DEFAULT IS MBR- PLEASE --> DO NOT ACCEPT THAT!! instead say NO and a new screen will open up where you enter /dev/sdaX where sadX is the string that you have written on paper a couple of steps before.
- after a short while the install is finished. remove the CD and reboot --> if everything was done properly you should have the grub booting screen displayed with winxp option. that's all.

hope this helps.

peter b

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Lelouch (argusster) said :

I'm going to write your advice on a piece of paper and keep it around, Peter. When I re-do my 'puter to get Windows and Ubuntu, I'll heed your advice. Thank you very much.

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Olivier (olivier-lacroix) said :

in ubuntu, you can install gparted to do partitioning.

for the size of / , I never used more than 8Go. So maybe 20GO is to much, unless you get polenty of space.