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Old 03-07-2008, 02:06 AM   #1
Registered: Dec 2005
Location: Moscow
Distribution: Ubuntu 8.1
Posts: 104

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GRUB ERROR 18 - Cannot install Linux after Vista had been installed


A friend had windows XP installed in his system, dual booting with Kubuntu. Then he updated to Vista, only to findout he couldn't dual boot and that Vista was really unstable. So he asked me to get him Kubuntu installed and forget about windows or dual booting.

So I tried to install kubuntu in the whole disk (Guided - use entire disk).
No problems during install but when I restart I get this GRUB Error 18.

I thought that Vista could have messed something up so I tried to install XP in the whole disk and then Install Kubuntu, but the XP install also failed. So I tried to install Vista again and it installed normally. Ok, tried to install Kubuntu again in the whole disk and got the same thing... No problem to install but cannot load Grub... Error 18

Anyway, Kubuntu was working before, so is not a hardware issue. Any ideas on how to get Kubuntu installed in his system? Maybe I need some really powerful formatting tool to get all this Vista disease out?!

Old 03-07-2008, 03:49 AM   #2
Registered: Apr 2003
Location: Wisconsin
Distribution: Switched to regualr Ubuntu, because I don't like KDE4, at all. Looks like vista on crack.....
Posts: 675

Rep: Reputation: 31
Looks like a bios error.

Error 18

Error 18: Selected cylinder exceeds maximum supported by BIOS
This error is returned when a read is attempted at a linear block address beyond the end of the BIOS translated area. This generally happens if your disk is larger than the BIOS can handle (512MB for (E)IDE disks on older machines or larger than 8GB on others.). In more practical terms this means the BIOS is unable to start executing the kernel because the kernel is not located within the block it can access at boot up time.

This can be circumvented by creating a boot partition at the beginning of the disk that is completely within the first 1023 cylinders of the harddrive. This partition will contain the kernel.

The kernel itself does not suffer from the same limitations as the BIOS so after the BIOS has loaded the kernel the kernel will have no problem accessing the whole harddrive. Newer BIOSes will automatically translate the harddrives size in a way that it can be completely contained within the first 1023 cylinders and hence modern computers do not suffer from this problem.
The same error can happen when the BIOS detects a disk in a different way as Linux does. This can happen when changing motherboards or when moving a GRUB-bootable disk from one computer to another. If this happens, just boot with a GRUB floppy, read the C/H/S numbers from the existing partition table and manually edit the BIOS numbers to match. If using a SUSE linux and installing on VM Ware this problem is solved by creating a small partition at the very beginning of the harddisc, and mounting it as /boot.

I got that here...

There should be a simple setting in the bios to solve this, or you could just set up kubuntu when you do the install to create a small (200MB) /boot partition, then a / partition, and a /home partition. Anyway, if you can't figure out the bios setting, that's a quick and dirty fix. And it'll work.


P.S. Friends don't let friends install Vista. OH, make sure the /boot is at the beginning of the hard drive, and make sure you leave enough space to install more programs. I use 15 gigs, because I don't want to run out of space.

Last edited by budword; 03-07-2008 at 03:51 AM.
Old 03-07-2008, 06:00 AM   #3
Registered: Sep 2006
Location: Munich, Germany
Distribution: Debian / Ubuntu
Posts: 297

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another (quite likely) possibility is that Vista did some weird trickery with the partition table and now Linux and XP try to work with it, but fail.
Completely wiping the MBR should help in this case.
Assuming that your disk is e.g. /dev/sda, run the following from a rescue system or live cd: (Warning: This will erase all partitions on the specified disk, making it appear completely blank!)
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=512 count=1
Old 03-07-2008, 06:08 AM   #4
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Make it count=2000 - just to be sure
Old 03-07-2008, 06:43 AM   #5
Registered: Dec 2005
Location: Moscow
Distribution: Ubuntu 8.1
Posts: 104

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
Hi! Thanks for all the info!

Budword is right, how could I ever let this happen! Where was I when he installed this evil system ! But I think he learnt his lesson and will spread the word!

I'll try all of the above tips when I get home and I'll let you guys know the results.
Old 03-07-2008, 03:12 PM   #6
Registered: Dec 2005
Location: Moscow
Distribution: Ubuntu 8.1
Posts: 104

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
Hey guys!

I'm writing this from Kubuntu. It just feels so good to be back in Linux !

I looked in the BIOS but could not find anything other than "Enable SATA" (which was already enabled). So I tried to reinstall Kubuntu and created a 32Mb /boot partiton at the beginning of the disk, using Kubuntu manual partion option.... Now I have the whole 250GB HDD using Kubuntu.

Thanks again for your help!



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