Broken Grub Bootloader: Super Grub Disk to the Rescue!

Warning: The following post contains some seriously boring information. Do not read while operating heavy machinery.

At my apartment, my desktop has moved off my desk and into the closet as a media server. This same desktop is my only machine with a Windows XP partition. The new location keeps the heat and noise in the closet, but means that I can’t play (Windows) computer games anymore.

I was halfway through Deus Ex when I moved the computer, and I need to finish this game. To accomplish this, I decided to put XP on my laptop, in addition to Ubuntu 7.10. The common wisdom is that installing Windows after installing Linux is generally more of a hassle than installing Windows first. The Windows boot-loader doesn’t play nice with Grub, the default Ubuntu boot-loader.

Sure enough, after installing Windows and rebooting, I got the I got the typical “Missing Operating System” message.

I used the Ubuntu live CD to restore Grub, and was able to boot into Windows, once. But after restarting, I saw the same Missing OS message. This repeated several times, and nothing seemed to fix it. The Ubuntu forums contained lots of helpful information that should have worked, but no such luck.

It is possible to install Grub to the root Linux partition, rather than the master boot record, and use the Windows boot-loader to launch Grub, but I didn’t want to mess with that.

After a couple hours of screwing around, with no progress, I decided to try the Super Grub Disk, a boot disk for repairing Grub. The disk locates the menu.lst file and can boot Windows or Linux. It can also re-install Grub to a partition or the MBR, and can restore the Windows boot-loader as well.

The interface is text only, and the menus aren’t terribly easy, but it works great. It installed Grub to the MBR, and it worked even after booting and restarting Windows. I had to run it again, after installing Service Pack 2, but I had expected that.

All things considered, Super Grub Disk is a decent tool. It makes a good addition to any computer repair kit, especially for anyone who dual-boots. Give it a shot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *