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Old 12-15-2009, 03:20 PM   #1
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Issues recognizing operating system

I recently decided that I should jump on the linux bandwagon and install Ubuntu since it seemed the most user friendly. When I first tried to install it, it informed me that there was no operating system found on the hard disk. There used to be a dual boot of XP and Windows 7, until I deleted the XP partition using the Windows 7 disk management tool. Unfortunately I believe that thats where the bootloader was, because when I try to boot now it tells me that the there is no OS on the hard disk. When I try to install ubuntu, it only give me the option to format the hd, which is not an viable option. I can see and mount the 200 gb filesystem which has my Windows partition. I have tried using gparted and have had no luck installing a partition table. Is there any way to do this, or at the very least make my Win 7 bootable so i can set up a partition for Linux?
Old 12-15-2009, 05:23 PM   #2
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I found the Ubuntu installer failed at finding my Windows partition, and also failed to recognize some other hardware (I forget now, what hardware it failed at), but OpenSuse 11.1 found windows and correctly set up a working Win/Linux dual boot. I did not have to intervene with any advanced/expert level installation instructions. I have installed numerous dual-boot systems using other distributions, and always had to babysit the installer, or flat-out configure everything manually.
I am totally happy with OpenSuse as a distro overall.
--- rod.
Old 12-15-2009, 06:17 PM   #3
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Issues recognizing operating system

The most common problem when you try to do some sort of non-standard
install is that the master-boot record is not written properly -- or
not written at all, leading to the message that you have no OS
(even though you do).

If you want to be a master of master boot records -- you need to learn about

The Linux installer and GRUB can do just about anything. You can certainly
fix your MBR after completing an install. You can reformat and
change partition sizes, and you can dual-boot Windows and Linux.
Unfortunately, those who wish to do the dual-boot WinLin thing are usually
newbies and the last thing they want is something tricky -- which dual
boot can be (for one thing, Windows does not play nice with other OS's --
I mean -- why should you need them?).

The worst thing about the dual boot problem is when you have Windows stuff
that you really wanted to keep, and now you are halfway into an install
and worrying you are going to lose your data. If the cost of failure was
not so potentially high, dual boot would be lower stress!

Anyway -- You really ought to just dedicate a machine to Linux. Then you can play and learn to your heart's content with no fear of loss, AND you can use just about any distro (including Ubuntu) in its most automatic
mode -- and it will just work. You don't want to have to learn about
an OS before you install it. You want to install it and THEN learn about it.

If you are really stuck and worried about getting your Windows data back -- post some more. If you can just reformat the HDD -- do it. ALSO --
for $40 you can get some old HDD and throw it in there. Pull your windows
drive out and put it on the shelf to allow going back to it. Now you can
play to your heart's content.

Last edited by pcardout; 12-15-2009 at 06:19 PM.
Old 12-15-2009, 06:41 PM   #4
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Don't go doing anything that'll destroy that data. From the Ubuntu liveCD open a terminal and run "sudo fdisk -l"
Post all the output here. If you installed Windows 7 as a dual boot it would indeed have upgraded the XP boot files (in the XP partition) and used those to load Win7. We'll look at that one later.
What messages did you get from gparted ?.
Old 12-15-2009, 09:17 PM   #5
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There are a few key points that you need to be aware of, to avoid "a system that will not start."

Don't try to dual-boot... cast-off computer systems are cheap: Okay, that's just my personal opinion, but it's a good one. "Don't screw-up the only system that you have! How else will you be able to reach to ask questions?"

The disk must be correctly 'partitioned.' This refers to a table of information that the low-level disk drivers will use to locate the information on your disk, and to recognize that it, say, "belongs to Linux vs. belongs to Windows," and to recognize whether or not it is bootable.

The "master boot record" must be correct. This specially located block of data on the disk contains the bootstrap record which is used to find and locate the actual software (the so-called boot loader) which loads and runs the operating system.

The "boot loader" must also be correct. The usual Linux boot-loader is called "GRUB." Windows uses something called "NTLDR." The purpose of this program, which is loaded by the master boot record, is to find and load the operating system that you choose.
Old 12-15-2009, 10:25 PM   #6
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I thought the Ubuntu installer gave you three options when it got to the partitioning stage: use whole disk, use free space, and manual.
Old 12-16-2009, 01:21 AM   #7
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Brian L's point is good. There are choices of how to partition your drive as part of Ubuntu install.
Probably you were too nervous about your Windows partition to try them. [Thus my earlier point, repeated by
sundialsvcs ... don't bother w/ dual boot!], but if you must, you can repartition in Linux, and you can do it
w/o trashing your Windows partition, and you always get a chance to bail out before your partition table changes
are committed.

I do recall that when I have elected manual partitioning or generally interrupted the default flow of the Ubuntu
installer that it didn't always install GRUB and then I could not boot. I just had to poke around on the install
CD for how to install GRUB and setup an MBR.

Let me extend my do not dual boot thesis.

Reason's to dual boot -- and counter arguments:
Only one computer. You can run Linux on just about any old junk. It's fairly easy to
get a hand-me down from someone who had to throw out a very good machine just to handle
the demands of Vista or Win7. You can do perfectly well with six or
ten year old hardware --
which is almost free.

Want to share files between Windows and Linux. Whereas Windows is hostile to networking unless you buy various upgrades or add-ons, Linux is not. As soon as you get Ubuntu installed,
add open-ssh (if its not already there). Then add Winscp to your Windows machine.
You will immediately be able to log onto your Linux machine and swap around all the files
you might want to swap around.

Hope I've convinced you that dual-booting just isn't necessary.

Last edited by pcardout; 12-16-2009 at 01:31 AM. Reason: More information
Old 12-16-2009, 03:29 AM   #8
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When I first tried to install it, it informed me that there was no operating system found on the hard disk.
This is almost impossible so long as one knows how to interact with Ubuntu installer. However the safest way is to run first a livecd, then, using gparted you can set the HDD in order --create and format partitions for ubuntu to sit on, mark the partition ID then only you may install ubuntu into it directly. Another way is to use the CLI (command line) tools: fdisk, cfdisk or parted. Linux/*nix disk tools can well read NTFS and FAT formatted partitions, and bear in mind, at this stage it is still premature to judge whether an O.S --M$ or Linux-- sits there or not, only the partitions are being read.

Once Linux is installed make sure Grub is installed into the MBR, you must never allow a microsoft boot loader to tarry within MBR as this lame-duck will never see anything other than microsoft.

After booting Ubuntu you may now configure Grub menu.lst to chainload other microsoft systems. Grub is capable to do just anything you want for booting multiple systems.

Though I agree with others above: multibooting with M$oft is useless: just save/move your old data/files into safer partitions, you can use them later with linux. There is one ubuntu based distro that I would recommend you with confidence: use GNU/Linux-Mint. I never had any trouble controlling the HDD at pre-install preparation by its gparted; installation is smooth and hardware support is as good as Debian. This is only a personal experience though.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
Old 12-16-2009, 04:59 PM   #9
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My preferred option for installing a dual-boot system is to put Windows on one drive (not just a partition), and linux on a different drive. First, install Windows on the primary drive. Then remove the Windows drive, and install linux on a new primary drive. Next, re-install the windows drive, as the secondary drive. Finally, add the requisite entries to the grub configuration file to make grub swap logical drives and chainload Windows.
This has two advantages: whenever Windows does something that re-writes the MBR, it will only write to its own drive, leaving grub untouched, and also that the Windows drive can become the only drive in the system, simply by removing the Linux primary drive and making thew Windows drive the new primary drive.
If two disks are a possibility (like if this is not a laptop), then I recommend this method.
--- rod.
Old 12-16-2009, 05:27 PM   #10
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If you originally had xp and then installed windows 7, win 7 installed its bootloader files in the root (C:\) of your xp partition. win 7 can boot xp but xp won't boot win 7 without going through manual configuration of files. vista and win 7 use an entirely different bootloader and different configuration files than xp and earlier. When you deleted the xp partition you deleted some of your boot files from win 7 which is why you get that error message trying to boot windows. You should be able to repair with your installation CD or, if you don't have one with the recovery CD you created or if you didn't create one try EasyBCD to repair the win7 bootloader.

I've never seen a Linux installation CD with only one option? You might need to select Manual or Expert to get options.


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