Crashed Windows laptop: Linux to the rescue!

Posted on 2008-11-02 20:33:13

Last weekend, my mum’s family was visiting at our place for mum’s birthday. My little nephew had brought his broken laptop along so that my big nephew could take a look at what was wrong. He had most likely hosed it by downloading lots of stuff from the big bad internet and installing it all, so Windows XP wouldn’t even boot.

After trying it a few times with the Windows XP installation CD, it consistently hung at “Detecting previously installed versions of Windows…”. My big nephew then concluded “broken harddisk: it probably can’t read stuff from it so it hangs”.

My reaction: not so sure, so I got out my Kubuntu “rescue” CD and booted the laptop with it. It took a while to boot up, but when I finally got myself a root prompt, I could mount the harddisk, though with the warning that it had an unclean shutdown. Viewing files on it worked perfectly as well. I thought that maybe the unclean shutdown was causing the XP installation to hang, so we tried it again. No luck.

Finally, I decided to try a little trick: set the partition flag for the windows partition from NTFS to Linux swap; that way Windows will assume the partition contains garbage and not try to detect previous versions of Windows!

Booting up again using the Windows XP install disk… and… it worked! Windows totally ignored the partition and allowed us to delete the Linux swap partition, and create an NTFS one to continue installation.

The end result: Linux saves the day again, and I have one happy little nephew.

Posted in: Computers, Linux