Linux Newbie

Discussion in 'Acronis Disk Director Suite' started by erg57, Aug 1, 2007.

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  1. erg57

    erg57 Registered Member

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    I am thinking of purchasing this software. Would this allow me to dual boot XP and Linux without installing Linux GRUB to the MBR? I would like to install GRUB to Linux /root on second HDD so I don't have to mess with my XP MBR. Will the OS Selector recognize the GRUB on separate HDD and allow me to do select the Linux boot? Is this enough info?
     
  2. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    OSS usually does not have problems detecting GRUB installed into a Linux partition. I have three setup on my computer, each with GRUB installed separately in each partition.

    OSS will, of course, be installed to the MBR if you use it. Only one program will be in the MBR at one time, either XP's, OSS's or GRUB's.

    Note that GRUB can recognize your XP installation and add it to its menu so that you can use GRUB to boot into XP or Linux without needing to use OSS (if you install GRUB to the MBR).
     
  3. erg57

    erg57 Registered Member

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    Thanks MudCrab,

    If the OSS is installed on the MBR does Acronis have a utiltity to recover the MBR to its "pre-OSS" state? I would like to keep XP on the MBR but would also like to dual boot with the the option of getting back to my current 'single boot state' (i.e., my current MBR) should I not want to keep a linux partition. This is the only reason I have not installed linux. I do have it on a virtual machine, but I am getting tired of it. Heard many stories of folks screwing up there MBR when uninstalling Linux. I cant use FIXMBR because the recovery console wants an admin password which I never set up (stupid on my part). I hope this makes sense. Your reply did make sense to me, I just wanted to make sure that I was clear in what you mentioned.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2007
  4. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    When you uninstall OSS, you can select which OS you want to be the default OS. OSS will then put the system in a state were that OS will boot.

    In your case, if you selected XP, then the XP MBR would be restored to the hard drive.

    Is this a "Brand Name" computer (Dell, HP, Compaq, etc.) that contains "special" stuff in the MBR? If it's just standard Windows, then the MBR can always be repaired by booting from the Windows CD and using the Windows Recovery Console. Also, XP boots fine with a "generic" MBR (like TI will place on the drive if your drive doesn't have one and you just restore an XP partition). I don't know why the Recovery Console is asking for an Admin password. I've never setup a password and it works fine. Also, if you run it from a standard XP cd (retail or OEM), why would it have a password?

    You can also copy the MBR to a file using DD's Disk Editor and then restore it yourself later if necessary. Note that if you made any partition changes after you saved the MBR, restoring it will corrupt your partitions. You have to be careful when making manual changes to the MBR.

    If you have True Image, then my recommendation would be to create an entire disk back (check the Disk # checkbox) of the drive before installing either OSS or GRUB. That way you can return to your current state easily if something goes wrong.

    If you install OSS, do it before you install Linux and make sure it boots to your Windows okay. Then install Linux and (if given a choice) choose to have GRUB installed to the Linux partition and not the MBR. If GRUB does get installed to the MBR, then you'll need to boot from the DD cd and reactivate OSS.

    What distro of Linux are you installing? If it's Ubuntu then you'll get the most control using the "Alternate" install cd.
     
  5. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

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    erg57:

    There is another way to keep the current MBR in place while still installing Linux with GRUB, and without installing OSS. Basically you would keep the existing MBR, install Linux to a primary partition, install GRUB to this same partition, and make the Linux partition ACTIVE.

    Upon booting, the MBR code would find the active partition (Linux) and jump there. GRUB would start and display its menu from which you could choose which OS to boot. To undo this you would use a disk editor like DD10 to make the Windows partition ACTIVE. Then your PC would boot directly into Windows. The MBR code would remain unchanged if done this way.

    Here are the steps needed to do this. (By the way, this is how I have my machine set up). I am assuming here that you already own DD10 and have created a recovery CD to use if needed. First follow MudCrab's advice about making a backup.

    1a. Create the desired partition layout first with DD10 and direct the Linux installer to use your already-created partitions, or:

    1b. Run the Linux installer. Most Linux installers contain their own partitioning tools that can create the partitions while installing.

    2. When you get to the step that asks where to install GRUB, install it to the partition that Linux is installed to. Note that for this method to work, the Linux partition that contains the /boot files must be a PRIMARY partition.

    3. When finished, reboot and you should boot directly into Windows.

    4. Using DD10, make the Linux partition ACTIVE.

    5. Reboot and you should boot directly into GRUB. From there you can choose to boot into Linux or Windows.

    6. To undo your changes, boot from the DD10 recovery disk and make the Windows partition ACTIVE. The Linux partitions can then be deleted and the space given back to your Windows partition(s). The MBR is never modified if done this way.
     
  6. erg57

    erg57 Registered Member

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    Thx to both of you. Asked and answered. I think I have this covered now. I do have a Dell OEM and I have tried to FIXMBR and it does ask for admin pword which makes me unbelievably irate. MS says its for my own good. I think otherwise. I would have to do a repair install to set an admin pword which absolutley screws your machine up. I cant even make a boot floopy with fdisk.exe on it to do a fdisk /mbr....so I really thought ahead about contingencies if I wanted to delete a partition. Utlimate BootCD does not work with dell machines at least not mine. I hate OEM machines

    But I digress. I do have an external HDD that I use for backup images but I assume that the boot is not imaged along with the C drive.


    I am thinking of installing Mepis. I have it on virtual machine now. But I am taking recommendations for Linux beginners--ease of install, setup and use. I use an ATI Radeon X600 video card and I know Linux has soem issues with this series of card. I have Ubuntu (regular version?) on live CD at this time. Why is the alternative recommended? Thx
     
  7. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    When installing Ubuntu, the Alternate Install CD will give you a lot more control over the install options. An important one, in your case especially, is you can choose exactly where you want to install GRUB.

    If you use the Live CD to install, it runs in more of an automatic mode. If it finds XP it should ask if where you want to install GRUB, but it may end up in the MBR anyway if you're not careful.

    Be aware that the options presented when using the Alternate Install cd can be "over your head" or confusing for new Linux users (especially if you select the "expert" mode). The first few times I went through it I just selected the default values for the options I didn't understand and everything went okay.

    The Alternate Install cd also allows you to specify your partitions manually during the install process. If you have your partitions already setup (like with DD) then you can use those. You can also setup a separate /boot partition or /home partition if you want. You can choose if you want to have access to the XP partition by selecting whether or not it gets mounted. There are a lot of options that are available that you don't get with the Regular install cd or the Live cd.

    Since you are worried about your MBR, I would suggest that you visit the support forum for whichever distro you decide to install and search (or post) for installing GRUB to the Linux partition. Different distros have different methods of installing.

    I have installed Xandros 4 OCE and let it go through the automatic install (GRUB to the MBR) and OSS had no problems with it.

    As before, I always suggest you have a backup of your current system before making these types of changes. That way you can return to your current state and try again if something goes wrong. True Image works extremely well for that (if it runs well on your computer...).
     
  8. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

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    Actually, it is with TI9 and TI10. The first 64 sectors on the disk are saved as "Track 0 and MBR". You can restore this and it will put the MBR back in place without touching the partition table, so it's a good way to back up your bootloader.

    The Alternate Install CD for Ubuntu is more flexible and will give you more choices during setup than the regular installer, which just runs on autopilot.
     
  9. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

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    I was thinking more about this and wondering why you couldn't do the following. If your current account on WinXP has administrative privileges, then can't you add a password to it and then be able to log into it from the recovery console? If I recall correctly, the recovery console asks for an account name and password, so any account with admin privileges will do.

    The supposed reason for blocking access to the NTFS filesystem without a password is so that you can't gain access to other people's files on a multiuser PC using just a recovery disk. Of course, none of this makes sense on a single-user PC, which is probably the vast majority of Windows PCs in the world.

    Further, if you can't get access in Windows to the account named "Administrator" because you've lost the password, and your account is a member of the administrators group, then try logging into your user account, go to the Control Panel > System > Advanced > User Profiles and delete the Administrator account. Then create a new account named "Administrator", give it a password, and add it to the administrator group. Then you can remove the password from your account and have password-less login for you and a password for the Administrator that can work with the recovery console.

    If you just plain don't have an Administrator account on the machine then just add one as above.
     
  10. erg57

    erg57 Registered Member

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    Thx again. Hey, can you recommend three Linux distros by chance? Three you dont like?
     
  11. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

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    I like Kubuntu personally. Xandros is pretty nice for someone coming from the Windows world, and Knoppix is the "Swiss Army Knife" for fixing any PC.

    I don't care for Red Hat or Fedora.
     
  12. erg57

    erg57 Registered Member

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    Thx..I think its b/w Mepis and Knoppix for me. Probably try Mepis first since I am a bit familiar with it. Knoppix had been on my radar too.
     
  13. erg57

    erg57 Registered Member

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    Bought Acronis DD10. Installed it and installed Mepis. Installed GRUB to root and not MBR. Had to install OSS because even though Linux partition was active, GRUB did not activate and Windows booted. figured if I uninstall Linux then I will have to unistall the OSS then the Linux partitions. Looks like OSS lets you choose where to boot after it is uninstalled. Is this the same as it "pre-restoring" the MBR before you remove it? Probably not...

    I thinks its a success. Not sure. Now, what do I do with Linux? I dont even know where to begin....I was so concerned with the install that I did not prepare for configuring it. Should I download all updates, etc. from synaptic?
     
  14. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    If you want to uninstall OSS later, it will let you select which OS you want to boot (if you only have one, then that's the one you'd select). It will set the MBR and the necessary partition active for the selected OS.

    If you want to try a different Linux or remove Linux, you don't really need to uninstall it. You can just use DD to reformat the partition or delete the partition. If OSS still shows the menu entry, just delete it.

    I would recommend you do download the updates as they probably include security patches and program fixes as well as updated kernels/drivers. If you have True Image (or another imaging program) you can make a backup of the Linux partition before downloading and installing the updates. Sometimes updates can "break" your system. I've never had this happen, though.
     
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