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 Forum index » House Training » HOWTO ( Solutions )
Accessing Windows hidden partitions after GRUB/fixmbr
Moderators: Flash, Ian, JohnMurga
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paulh177


Joined: 22 Aug 2006
Posts: 918
Location: ST862228

PostPosted: Wed 25 Jun 2008, 03:27    Post subject:  Accessing Windows hidden partitions after GRUB/fixmbr  

This is just a word of caution (or a bit of extra information) in case anyone experimenting with Puppy on a Windows machine finds that they can't access a Windows "rescue partition" after reinstalling the MBR.

Often enough, there are posts on the board saying something like "I installed Puppy (or GRUB) to my hard disk and
now Windows 98/XP/Vista won't start".

One solution to this is (for XP at any rate) to repair the MBR using the Windows fixboot and/or fixmbr utilities.

It certainly corrected a problem I had some time ago on my Acer laptop after some Puppy-experimentation.

However I recently had occasion to re-install XP on my laptop, and Acer do not supply XP disks. Instead you have to rely on booting a hidden partition which contains a factory image of the default configuration, and the user accesses this by hitting a key-combination during POST which starts an automatic reinstallation. Many other manufacturers do the same thing I understand.

Unfortunately I discovered that I couldn't boot into my hidden partition. It was there OK -- Puppy could see it for instance -- but nothing I could do would make the machine boot into it.

After a bit of googling it turns out that Acer (perhaps others) don't use a "standard" MBR. In order to activate and boot from the hidden partition, Acer seem to install their OEM version of the MBR, and by using fixmbr I had inadvertently overwritten it. It appears to have had no other problematic effects (I've been booting XP on this machine for 2 years using the "standard" MBR). I was able to find the right utilities to reinstall the Acer MBR (they're on the hidden partition, accessible thanks to Puppy).

I won't post the details but instead refer you to my PS

I assume that installing GRUB will also overwrite the OEM MBR and therefore prevent access to the hidden partition, but I haven't tested that.

That's all. Hope this helps someone.

Paul

PS
For Acer laptop users in particular, this thread on the "NotebookReview" forum was helpful
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Flash
Official Dog Handler


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 13048
Location: Arizona USA

PostPosted: Wed 25 Jun 2008, 11:39    Post subject:  

Since Puppy can see the hidden partition, maybe you could edit GRUB to boot from that partition?
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runtt21


Joined: 07 Jun 2008
Posts: 1651
Location: BigD Texas

PostPosted: Tue 08 Jul 2008, 19:41    Post subject:  

Or just make a supergrub disk, it can boot windows and linux...
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paulh177


Joined: 22 Aug 2006
Posts: 918
Location: ST862228

PostPosted: Wed 09 Jul 2008, 02:11    Post subject:  

The difficulty I'm addressing is not dual booting, which is the subject of many a post and is relatively straightforward to achieve, but that of some users of OEM Windows losing the ability to boot into an "autorecover" system and return a machine to "factory settings".
It might be a minority requirement, but not every person will install Puppy and want to retain it.

paul
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nooby

Joined: 29 Jun 2008
Posts: 10548
Location: SwedenEurope

PostPosted: Wed 09 Jul 2008, 02:35    Post subject:  

I have a Packard Bell Easy Note A6 that is like that.
So if I want to do a Puppy400 frugal install that might change the mbr?
So this info you provided is most helpful

I have no clue what you refer to when you write.

Quote:
I won't post the details but instead refer you to my PS


ps sometimes means post scriptum? Where is that text then?
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paulh177


Joined: 22 Aug 2006
Posts: 918
Location: ST862228

PostPosted: Wed 09 Jul 2008, 03:08    Post subject: Re: Accessing Windows hidden partitions after GRUB/fixmbr  

paulh177 wrote:

Paul

PS
For Acer laptop users in particular, this thread on the "NotebookReview" forum was helpful
Very Happy

nooby, you are quite correct PS=post scriptum -- as above. Perhaps I should have written my post more simply, and I apologise if it has confused you.

If you install GRUB as your bootloader, I would not be surprised if it has the effect I describe, but I haven't tested that exact situation.

Note also that I wrote only from my experience with a single Acer laptop. It is perfectly possible that Packard Bell and other manufacturers implement their recovery system differently. What I do know is that there is a helpful user forum at http://forum.packardbell.com/ where you might also get advice.

paul
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ICPUG

Joined: 24 Jul 2005
Posts: 1305
Location: UK

PostPosted: Wed 09 Jul 2008, 08:35    Post subject:  

nooby,

I have previously helped you install Puppy frugally by the Lin'N'Win method. This method does use a version of Grub but does NOT alter the MBR.

Consequently, the problem paulh177 refers to will not happen as a consequence of Lin'N'Win.

There are other methods of frugally installing Puppy which DO alter the MBR and for this reason I don't like them if they are being used when Puppy has to coexist with Windows.

ICPUG
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nooby

Joined: 29 Jun 2008
Posts: 10548
Location: SwedenEurope

PostPosted: Thu 10 Jul 2008, 01:10    Post subject:  

Yes and that is why I am thankful to you guys and to Barry for Puppy
cause it helped me to abandon Ubuntu for good.

So it was not Puppy nor Lin'nWin that did it it was WUBI that
did it or maybe it is't altered. I have found no way to find out
how it is supposed to look like in original.

But I have no wubi or ubuntu at all now on my box.
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paulh177


Joined: 22 Aug 2006
Posts: 918
Location: ST862228

PostPosted: Sat 19 Jul 2008, 03:02    Post subject:  

Flash wrote:
Since Puppy can see the hidden partition, maybe you could edit GRUB to boot from that partition?

Interestingly, I was playing with Lin'n'Win last night and found that the Windows entry in the default menu.lst that ICPUG suggests boots straight into the recovery procedure on my laptop ... this gave me a bit of a start (as in shock) to say the least ...

paul
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