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Old 05-04-2005, 11:04 AM   #1
trey31357
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Unhappy MAJOR booting problems


Storytime....I decided I would try to install Slackware 10.1 over my Fedora Core 3 partition on my desktop. I successfully did this, leaving Windows intact while Slackware took over the Fedora's old partition space with the same size swap and everything. Everything had gone well until I rebooted the computer after the Slackware install, when I was greeted with the line:

grub>

Now, I knew that Slackware used Lilo as a boot manager, while Fedora used Grub, and I figured that Grub must be around somewhere forcing its hand. Lucky me, I had made a floppy boot disk during the Slackware installation, from which I then booted and tried to uninstall Grub. I ended up getting a message in terminal that said that was successful, and that Lilo was installed, so I rebooted.

grub>

At this point I did something that I had been trying to avoid, which was writing Lilo to the MBR. Long story short, I ended up clearing the MBR to try to force the computer to boot from the Linux root partition where Lilo was, and later found out that have no clue on how to rewrite partition tables. So, basically, my computer just freaks out everytime I try to start it.

I have enlisted the help of a friend to come over and hopefully do a "low-level format" or some such similar performance, after which I will reinstall Windows.....I would like also to give Slackware or another distro that I haven't used yet (the ones I've used being Mandrake and Fedora), but I would really like to better understand how the bootloaders and such work. When I put Fedora over my Mandrake partition a month or so ago, it had no problems booting back up, and if I remember correctly, Mandrake used Lilo as well. I definately was not expecting this, and if I tried to install Slack again after getting everything back running I would like to better know what I was doing. I've read many many man pages on this topic, but still don't understand things well enough to pin down my own problem.

Please offer any suggestions, comments, opinions, etc, in complete newbie terms.

Thanks so much to anyone who replies to this post.
 
Old 05-04-2005, 11:17 AM   #2
syg00
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Don't fsck with the MBR.
*Especially* if you don't know what you are doing. That includes most of us by the way ...
Contrary to what the name suggests, the MBR contains more than just boot-loader code. As you found out, the partition table also resides in that sector.

If you want to replace a boot-loader, replace the boot-loader.
By definition, this requires writing the new boot-loader to the MBR.

If you install Windows, it *WILL* overwrite the MBR.
No ifs, no buts.
When you (subsquently) install Slack, you need to specifically select installing to the MBR to get the lilo code as the default boot-loader.
Not required, but probably preferable.
 
Old 05-04-2005, 12:44 PM   #3
WhatsHisName
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Before you repartition the disk, try linux parted and/or PartitionMagic to recover the deleted partitions. Both are capable of recovering some deleted partitions by scanning the disk for them.
 
Old 05-06-2005, 12:46 AM   #4
trey31357
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I managed to do a low-level format, and reinstall Windows. I'm not worried about the data loss, I have everything backed up on my laptop, and will transfer it back over via Linksys router. I also (successfully) installed Slack to another partition, yet, with kernel 2.4.29 (isn't that just a little bit old?), many things like my audio were not supported. So, using a Googled forum, I managed to compile the 2.6.11 kernel, and actually boot to it. Apparently, though, I didnt compile certain modules...something like that...I just followed the instructions on the website...but anyway, many things, including audio, are still not working. So, just in an effort to get back to using Linux as opposed to Windows I think I'm going to switch back to a more user friendly distro.

So, having learned my lesson the other night, I'm not going to %^&* with important things I don't know about. I wanted to throw out this idea as a way of removing slack from the partition I want the other distro on. My idea was to use fdisk to make again the Windows partition active, as the Linux one is now so it can find Lilo. After that, simply pop in the XP install disc simply to delete the Linux partitions. Then, pop in the installation discs for a new distro to install to the free space. I just wanted to know if this method would work, and if there is an easier or better but equally as simplistic method of doing this.

Thanks.
 
Old 05-06-2005, 01:19 AM   #5
syg00
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Let's see if I get this right - you have Lilo booting Slack and 'doze ???
Again - er, still, ... whatever ...

If you blow Slack away, you will get boot failures in lilo for exactly the same reason you got boot failures in grub previously. You will have boot-loader code in the MBR, but no executable (stage) files for it to use to do the major part of the boot sequence.
Hence you won't be able to boot *anything* from your hard disk.

When you do the next (Linux) install, merely tell it to use the partitions you used for Slack, and install it's boot-loader to the MBR. Nothing else to do.
XP will not deal with Linux partitions - don't bother trying. Setting the boot flag on the XP partition is o.k. - has no affect on grub/lilo either way. They also don't need the flag, BTW.

As for your trials with Slack - have a look in the Slack forum here on LQ. There's a good "How I install it all" (or somesuch) thread that's pretty good as a 2.6 how-to.
That's a pretty big jump (2.4 to 2.6), with a *lot* of kernel option changes. But you should be able to make it fly - I installed Slack for the first time a few weeks back, and got 2.6.11 going pretty easily.
You may be able to get that working without the pain of yet another install.
 
Old 05-06-2005, 02:17 AM   #6
trey31357
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Thanks for the advice....I'll give all this a shot, but if I still decide to switch distros, I'll just do it the way you said. Thanks again.
 
  


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