Saturday, November 29, 2008

Partition and MBR Restore Using TestDisk

After a little poking around with my Windoze PC, the one that would not boot, I decided that either the partition table, or the Master Boot Record (MBR) were somehow corrupted. The machine would boot using other disk drives, so the motherboard was not bad. The manufacturer sent this machine without any restore disks, or Windows XP disks, so I was pretty much SOL in simply re-installing the OS.

After backing up the data that i needed from the drive, I decided I would try to rebuild the partition table and boot record using an open source software package called TestDisk.

Here is the general procedure, I booted the PC using an Ubuntu Live CD. I went to the menu: Sytem --> Administration --> Software Sources

and enabled the Universe Repository and re-downloaded the available software information. Then at a command line: sudo apt-install testdisk

Then ran testdisk from the command line by typing

sudo testdisk

Then I followed the step by step instructions for restoring a partition table here.

This utility worked like a charm! The computer is back up and my wife is happy. When the wife is happy, the husband is happy!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Using Ubuntu to Recover Data from an XP Drive

I have several PCs in my house. One of them, a Microsoft Windows XP stopped booting for me. I was not sure if the motherboard went bad or the disk drive. This PC had a lot of files on it that were important for my wife and her on line studies. Unfortunately, I was a little re-miss in making routine backups. I did not want her to lose here files, and wanted to at least get the latest copy of her files saved off before I performed major surgery o

Luckily, I had a couple of Ubuntu Live Cd's on hand.

I simply placed a live CD in the bad computer and booted into Ubuntu. The live CD noticed the bad drive, which was no longer bootable, and mounted it. It seemed that just the boot record od the drive was bad, as all of the data was still there. I sort of lucked out, that I was able to recover all of the data in her Windows directory.

I copied the files I needed from the disk that was not longer bootable onto my usb thumb drive. This is done under the "Places" menu. The process was really easy, as you can just use click and drag.

Once I had the file copied I exited out. I am not sure if the motherboard is bad, or if it is the disk drive. I may just wipe the drive and start fresh. Still have to make a decision on that one.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Find Your Hardware and Parts in Ubuntu

In Ubuntu, the best information can be gleaned from the system using the command line interface.

Here is an Ubuntu command that will tell you just about every thing you need to know about the hardware that is running on your system

From your desktop hit -F2. Check the "Run in Terminal" check box

and enter:

sudo lshw |less

Then enter your password when prompted.

You will then get a listing of all the hardware and parts that make up your PC or laptop

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ubuntu vs. Centos

I have been using Ubuntu at home for my desktop, while at work, it has mainly been Redhat.
In recent years, we have not had to build systems at our site, since they were sent to us pre-loaded with the OS, or we just install a CD, run a script, and the OS and associated software self installs. So easy a monkey can do it.

Today I had the chance to set up a server using CentOS. If you do not know, CentOS is basically a Redhat OS with all of the branding removed. CentOS is built from Redhat source code, so it is essentially completely compatible with any Redhat system. I have installed a lot of systems in my earlier days, but have been out of the fresh install game for quite some time since all of our programs and operating systems come pre-loaded. My recent install experience has been confined to just Ubuntu on a couple of home PCs.

Well, as mentioned, today I had a pile of CD's downloaded from the Centos site and proceeded to set up CentOS 5. Everything went as planned. The only difference I noticed was that the disk partitioning portions was not quite as intuitive as with Ubuntu. In addition, the number of CD's that were needed was a little bit of a pain.

I find that the method that Ubuntu uses for software updates a little more intuitive. Plus, it is easier to find information in the internet if something goes wrong. On the plus side, since there are so many initial packages to choose from (with all of the CD's), you get a much more complete installation for development work.

With CentOS, it was a just little struggle to compile some needed software from scratch where a few header files were missing. With Ubuntu, I thing I would have a much greater problem, since it is "desktop centric." Not really a bad thing, just a different focus.