Hazards of Half-hazardly Installs

Well another lesson in listening to my instincts (when am I gonna start doing that?). I thought for moment when I started this whole quad-booting experiment that perhaps I should back everything up and start with fresh, properly sized partitions. But in the end I just went for it. Unfortunately all the moving to and fro of the partitions scrambled things a bit.

When I had OS X up and working perfectly I decided to check on the other operating systems. I knew that all the data was there because after each partition adjustment I could still access the data, but I hadn’t tried booting the operating systems. Ubuntu was fine, I had been going back and forth to it before and during the OS X install. When I tried to boot windows seven it balked. All the data was intact, but the vista boot loader wouldn’t boot the OS. I checked XP and it was fine as well, and indeed it allowed access to the windows 7 partition.

Following the directions from when the Vista loader  balked at the windows 7 boot, I inserted the installation disk and then chose the repair option. One thing I never liked about windows repair wizards – they never tell you what they are going to do and they never give you a choice about it, you jut click Ok and cross your fingers. Well it ran for a few minutes and then rebooted, and that’s when grub broke. Now I had assumed that the repair wizard would purge grub from the MBR and that I would have to reinstall it. However that is not what happened, it left grub on the MBR but ‘fixed’ the partition table, unallocating the Ubuntu partition and the swap partition. To be fair it must have been scrambled by gparted when I was adjusting the partition sizes before the OS X install, but it worked untill the MS Disk Doctor touched it. Adding insult to injury, it didn’t even fix the Vista loaders problem with windows seven.

I looked around and found testdisk for fixing this exact problem. It takes a while to scan the hard drive, but will allow the repair of unallocated partitions and more, saving the data. I found that I was able to get to the files on the missing partition, and it did give me the option of backing them up or repairing the partition, but only at the price of destroying my backup partition. It seems that they some how overlapped, I suppose that eventually this would have caused problems anyway. Since the Ubuntu install was pretty new I already had a backup, so it seemed that the best thing to do was a fresh install of Ubuntu.

When I had Ubuntu reinstalled, I found that Seven still wouldn’t boot. There was no way that I was going to try the ‘repair’ option again, so I also did a fresh install of it. Finally several hours later they all work again.

So recap:

  • Always keep backups up-to-date.
  • Just because parted is capable of resizing partitions nondestructively, doesn’t mean its a good idea. Start with a clean partition table.
  • The best install order;
  1. Windows XP
  2. Windows Vista/7 (c’mon admit it, 7 is Vista SP2)
  3. OS X
  4. Linux

In this order each OS can import user settings and each boot loader imports OS boot options.

  • Never interrupt the OS X installer media check – it will cancel the install
  • Never use the Windows Vista/7 repair option – it doesn’t work
  • And most important always keep backups up-to-date

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s