So I spent the past couple days helping my brother-in-law try to figure out why he was having issues booting not one, but two Ubuntu installations…
They were both Ubuntu 9.04, one being a single OS machine and the other a dual boot with some flavor of Windows (I never asked as I didn’t think it relevant, and it wasn’t). All of our correspondence was done via email and facebook.
I’m going to post a very ugly overview of the situation below (for anyone desperate, bored, or just curious), but it’s going to be ugly (at least for now) as I have little to no time to format it or include relevant commands and other details.
I have asked him to compile his experience into something useful/readable, but he’s very busy… I’m not sure who is more busy, he or I… So we’ll see…
The single boot machine… The problem was that when he booted the machine up, instead of loading the GRUB menu, it dropped to the GRUB prompt.The cause was an issue (probably an update gone-wrong and/or that was interrupted) where his menu.lst was truncated and lacked significant boot settings/options as well as menu items. The solution was to recreate his menu.lst which I did with help from some output he sent me, and he had to modify because I goofed on the hd’s as I put (hd0,1) when it should have been (hd0,0) and then replacing the old truncated menu.lst with the correct one.
The dual boot machine… The problem was that Ubuntu would not boot up at all and he was unable to access the files (even with a Live CD). The cause was actually fairly easy to determine. On this machine he used Wubi to install Ubuntu inside Windows. This meant that not only does (Wubi) Ubuntu rely on the Windows MBR to boot, but the file system for Ubuntu is stored inside the Windows partition as a virtual disk! Windows is notoriously bad at managing file systems (hence why you need to defragment the hard drive/partitions at frequent intervals). Windows caused an error that essentially moved his Ubuntu virtual disks and renamed them as something like “found.000” (or something like that). Anyway, you can find more about that here: http://blog.taragana.com/index.php/archive/wubi-install-ubuntu-in-windows-partition/ and here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/WubiGuide#Cannot%20boot%20into%20Ubuntu