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Old 09-17-2011, 02:35 AM   #1
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Registered: Sep 2011
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Error 18 : Selected cylinder exceeds maximum supported by BIOS


I have been using Ubuntu 11.04 on my laptop for some time now without any problems. However, two days back I started getting Error 18 when I boot the system. I do not have any other OS installed in my system.

Last thing I remember doing with the system was that I had run the regular updates with the update manager. While the update manager was running, someone switched off the power and when I came back I found the system off. I guess the battery must have died after sometime.

I ran a live CD of Ubuntu 9.04 and I was able to boot as a live user. I could also access most of my files in my hard disk.

Someone please help me how to resolve this error. I am a newbie to linux and not good with technology in general. So I would appreciate if someone could help me in simple language. Thank you all in advance for you patience.

Old 09-17-2011, 04:04 AM   #2
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Registered: Oct 2005
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It sounds very much like your system lost power before the update was finished. Recovering from such a failure is possible, but most likely not easy.

Since you are not so experienced with Linux my suggestion is to use the livecd boot to copy any file you want to keep, and then reinstall the system. A recent backup will of course make the copy easier. You can copy to memory sticks, other local computers, burn CDroms, use cloud storage or whatever is easiest for you. Remember mail archives and such ...

I don't know how much you've customized your system? You might have account information (eg. mail), netbanking files - but such are usually fairly easy to redo. You might want to take a copy of the entire subtree under /etc - that is where most system configuration is stored.

If you want to try to recover your system anyway, you can try that from the livecd (after copying files of course!). Even better, make a new livecd from 11.04 to make it as close as possible to your system. From the livecd you can use chroot to get a shell "in the installed system" - something like

sudo chroot /tmp

It will start a new shell, which is basically running in your installed system, but with kernel from the livecd (that's why it's best to use an 11.04 livecd. Inside this new shell you can use dpkg*, apt*, aptitude or whatever you use for package management to finish the upgrade. Most likely the upgrade failed while installing files, and the package management system *should* be able to pick up from where it left off. Sorry, I haven't done it all the way myself, so you'll probably need to poke around some in the system and read some man-pages ...

I hope this helped,
Anders Pilegaard
Old 09-17-2011, 10:59 AM   #3
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Registered: Sep 2011
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Hi Anders,

Thank you very much for your assistance.

I tried to copy my files from my laptop to an external hard disk after booting with a live CD. However, I realized that most of my folders do not have permissions to be copied. Is there a way that I can copy all my files?

Thank you once again for your help.

Old 09-20-2011, 04:55 PM   #4
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Registered: Oct 2005
Distribution: Debian, Ubuntu
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The most likely reason is that they are not owned by the user you are in the live CD. On UNIX systems all users have a userid which is a number. And on the livecd you are another user with another id.

There are several ways around that. The easiest way to handle it is to do the copy as root. If you know how to copy using the commandline you just prefix whatever command you want to use with 'sudo' - then it will run with root permissions. I'm not so sure how to do that graphically - I almost always use command lines.

I would normally either copy the toplevel directory recursively (similar to copying an entire folder graphically). Something like:

sudo cp -pr /home/myusername/somefolder /path/to/destination/folder

Or pack the directory as a tar archive (similar to winzip):

sudo tar -cvzf /path/to/destination/myfiles.tgz /home/myusername

The last command will pack (and compress) your entire home folder and place it in the file myfiles.tar at /path/to/destination. Such archives can be opened in the graphical environment later on.

If you are unsure what all this means, the safest way forward is to find someone near you who can help you. But if you are a bit adventurous you might also use this as an opportunity to learn a lot more - reading man-pages (eg. command lines 'man cp' or 'man tar') will tell you more ... :-)

Hope you make it work!
Anders Pilegaard


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