Sunday, June 14, 2009

.. just when you think, it is all set

With all herculean efforts and exploration to set the netbook with tripple boot - Win XP (which was preloaded), Win 7 (it's just because I loved it at first login) and Ubuntu (old love, and also because I wanted to solve some different set of problems than usual XP issues!).

Ran out of disk space on Linux Root partition
Everything was set ... finally. I updated all the packages on Ubuntu and suddenly Firefox started acting funny. It wouldn't allow me Then it started refusing browsing intermittently. I first thought, it is because of bad network drivers - which by the way was another battle I had fought while setting up the things on Ubuntu Linux. Obvious thought was, damn, how can I miss something there? I thought, maybe I have to install Java Runtime Environment to make cricinfo and google mail working. Synaptic Package Manager also showed that JRE6 was not installed on the system. Though I distinctly remembered that I had never installed JRE6 in any of my previous attempts on neither Kubuntu nor Ubuntu but still went ahead and started installation of JRE6.

It failed. By the way, it was the first software installation error I saw in the whole operation. All the while, I was messing up things in some other basics, but Linux installation was simply great this time. It reminded me of all the pain, I had to go through 4-5 years back when you start installing with some "make" or "make install" and then ultimately series of errors lead you to incompatible gcc version and then you hunt for that. Well, coming back to JRE6. The error was insufficient Disk Space!!

Decided to Resize the Partitions
How could that happen? I had created a 10GB EXT4 partition for root file system! Linux running out of 10GB space!! No way. But somehow I had to solve the problem at hand which was clearly saying "Insufficient Disk Space". Gparted - One of my discoveries in this whole venture helped.
This tool does what Partition Magic 8.0 used to do (that was the last partition magic version I had used - well cracked version. Not sure if later versions were able to do something additional). This tool detects the HDD, creates, resizes, moves the partition like a walk in a park. It takes time. But it does the job right. It supports FAT32, NTFS, EXT2/3/4, XFS (even more than these, but I specifically remember these). Best thing is I could burn its ISO (which is not more than 90MB on USB Flash Drive and boot the machine from that. I can even use the old dumb 128MB flash drive for this.

Gparted showed that Ubuntu installation had not even touched the partitions I had formated earlier for Linux. You see one option while installing Linux that says "install side by side and you will be able to choose them at start ups". What this option actually does is, it applies its own smartness and creates its own partitions for root and swap. In my case, it did create some tiny partitions, and hence I ran out of the space quickly. Since it did not take much time for partitioning while installation, I always thought, it used the preformatted partitions that I had made.

As a quick fix, I deleted the 10GB EXT4 partition that I had made earlier and grew the EXT3 partition that the installer had created. To add to the misery, these partitions were not adjacent - A big fat 90GB partition was sitting between them. Something like this

|-23GB(XP)-|-25GB(Win7)-|-12GB(swap and root partitions I had made)-|-89GB(data)-|-2GB(swap and root partitions that Ubuntu made)-|

It seems that the Ubuntu "Side by Side" option creates partition at the end of the drive - but still not sure why such a small partition! (I later found this link which throws more light on this "side by side" installation). I deleted the 12GB partition that I had created for Linux. Movied the 89GB partition to the right and grew the root partition to occupy 11GB and 3GB for Swap. Since I was only growing the partition size, I could not think of any other danger. Because the operation involved moving 89GB partition, it took significant time. I rebooted the machine after the completion. Boot Loader threw another tantrum

GRUB Loading Stage 1.5

GRUB Loading, Please wait...

Failed to boot - GRUB Error

Battle wasn't yet over. Now I could not even go to XP/Vista. It would just throw this error and refuse to boot. Google helped with this link. This error means following

22 : No such partition
This error is returned if a partition is requested in the device part of a device- or full file name which isn't on the selected disk.

I think, because of the whole partition moving part (I do not think, it was problem with growing the partition size), GRUB was not able to find the right partition. I almost deleted 2 partitions on the right side of the Linux root partition - I presume, that must have made it sda5 from sda7 or whatever and that's why it failed. I do not have any way of confirming this fact - but I guess, that's what it could be.

2 options to come out of this situation - either play with grub and fix the boot loader - I was not too sure about following concern - even if I fix the grub and point it to the right Linux partition, would it have referred to the right Vista Loader or not? The other option was to reinstall Ubuntu on these new partition because it generally recognizes the Vista Boot Loader and makes proper entry to Grub Loader. Also I had nothing to lose if I reinstall Ubuntu - it was fast and simpler than ever.

Reinstalled Ubuntu and all became fine

I burnt the Ubuntu 9.04 ISO on the same thumb drive, and installed Ubuntu - not more than 15 min. It recognized my Vista Loader as expected. This time instead of choosing "Side by Side" installation, I checked the "Manually select partition (advanced users) option and chose the partitions that I wanted Ubuntu to use for installation. Everything finally went well and Ubuntu again popped up smoothly as always. My tripple boot was all fine - Ubuntu, Vista and XP - living happily together ... so far.

In sum,

Ran out of space on Root Partition,
after resizing the partitions, ran into GRUB error

This is how I fixed it,
used Gparted to resize the partitions however deleted some partitions during the operation which lead to grub error,
reinstalled ubuntu and manually selected partitions instead of "Side by Side" option.

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