My main machine is primarily used for websurfing, ssh and games, and because the first two are OS agnostic and the third isn’t, it runs Windows 7. Clare’s PC, however, runs Windows XP for games, and she would like it also to run Ubuntu, because it’s the OS she’s most familiar with.

(Yeah, I know).

So while she’s away at a LARP event for the weekend, I decided it was a good time to put the newest version of Ubuntu on her machine. When I built the Windows install, I left a partition at the end to put it on, so I booted from my handy 9.09 CD and installed it there. Ran though the install, answered all the questions, booted into shiny Linux install. Boom, multiboot.

No, wait. Hmm. The install process usually recognises Windows installs and adds them to the menu. Where is it?

Aha, they’re using the new version of grub. Maybe the detection’s not quite perfect. I’ll add it manually.

Menu item doesn’t work. Odd.

What do you mean “isn’t a valid NTFS drive”?

There is nothing quite like the sinking feeling when you realise that the drive that isn’t working anymore is the one that has your SO’s data on it. I mean, there are backups in place and everything, but still. There might be stuff not backed up.

Eep.

This is when I discovered that Partition Magic-, my go-to software for “My Windows partition is hosed” – no longer exists, and that my old copy no longer works. So, I have a weekend of alternately trying not to think about it and tracking down things that might work that have no possibility of hosing the rest of the drive (I’m still pretty sure it’s just the partition table at this stage).

Fixed it in the end, though. I’d tried the Windows XP Recovery Console, because I’d assumed it was just the MBR broken and “fixmbr” repairs that. I had, however, not gone far enough.

Microsoft Windows XP(TM) Recovery Console.
The Recovery Console provides system repair and recovery functionality
Type EXIT to quit the Recovery Console and restart the computer.
1: C:WINDOWS
Which Windows installation would you like to log onto
(To cancel, press ENTER)? 1
C:WINDOWS>fixboot
The target partition is C:.
Rre you sure you want to write a new hootsector to the partition C: ?
The file system on the startup partition is NTFS.
FIXBOOT is writing a new boot sector.
The new bootsector was successfully written.
C:WINDOWS>_

And relax.