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I installed UBUNTU 8 to an external drive... a Memorex FLASH drive, not a HD. I do not recall being asked by the install whether or not I wanted to install GRUB to the HD MBR... it just did it automatically! Now I MUST have the flash drive inserted at bootup or grub just hangs.
I'm well acquainted with deleting/resizing/moving partititions (Partition Magic) and have NOT done that yet to my flash drive pending advice about MBR restoration.
I gather from other posts that I should boot to XP (with the flash drive inserted...see above), then use the "run" (or old DOS like window) and enter fdisk /mbr to restore the MBR. I think that's right, right?
My question: If I do that, does XP keep all my other settings, partitions, registry, etc. intact? I don't want to have to restore the whole installation from the original discs and start all over!
Please advise then: 1. is the command correct? "fdisk /mbr" w/o the quotes, and... 2. will that leave the XP installation "as is" without destroying any files or settings?
If this works, I'd still like to re-install to a flash drive without altering XP's MBR. I'd like to ONLY run GRUB's menu of boot choices when the flash drive is present at bootup, and have the whole GRUB/UBUNTU OS disappear when the flash drive is NOT present at bootup, so I guess that's question #3.
Thank you all for your help... buncha' very helpful generous folks on this site, and it's much appreciated!
I haven't installed Ubuntu for quite a while but, usually with any Linux install you get a choice about installing to mbr. Not giving you the choice would be an un-Linux like thing to do. That being said, install to mbr is the default.
According to Microsoft, the fdisk /mbr command will only work on the first drive so if you only have one drive, you should be alright. You can also use your xp install CD, you should have an option for Recovery/Restore. Choose that option and enter command 'fixmbr', if that doesn't work you can try 'fixboot'. Any of these commands SHOULD simply restore your windows mbr without changing anything else, and this will simply overwrite the GRUB part of your bootloader and revert to windows ntldr.
If you want to be able to boot Ubuntu from xp when you have the disk attached you can do that by modifying the boot.ini file or you can change the boot order in BIOS when booting to the flash drive.
Well, fdisk /mbr didn't work. Booted to XP thru GRUB, both regular boot and "safe mode", went into command prompt (I use the windowed version (like a DOS window), not the Run popup in the Start menu) and wasn't allowed. First, there was no Fdisk.com or .exe in the usual spots... found it in a Partition Magic folder, but system rejected it. Probably, I later figgered out, 'cause it's a laptop and something's different, as you said, about the disk. There's only one physical disk, but multiple partitions. It seems that C: isn't the first parttition?
Anyway, http://www.supergrubdisk.org/ saved my ass, but I had to make the partition Active. I tried so many things that didn't work, so I can't detail in what order I did what. Musta' rebooted 30 or 40 times.
Bottom line: I'm back to normal (for me, hehehe) and will later try to reinstall Ubuntu to that flash drive without screwing up my HDD's MBR.