At my apartment, my desktop has moved off my desk and into the closet as a media server. It keeps the heat and noise in the closet, but means that I can’t play computer games anymore. My desktop had a Windows XP partition that I used for the occasional game.
A couple days ago I decided to put XP on my laptop, in addition to Ubuntu 7.10. The common wisdom is that installing Windows after installing Linux in generally more of a hassle than installing Windows first. The Windows bootloader doesn’t play nice with Grub, the default Ubuntu bootloader.
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.
It is possible to install Grub to the root linux partition, rather than the master boot record, and use the Windows bootloader to launch Grub, but I didn’t want to mess with the Windows bootloader.
After hours of screwing around, with no progress, I decided to try the Super Grub Disk, a boot disk for repairing Grub. The disk was able to locate my menu.lst file and boot Windows or Linux. It can also re-install Grub to a partition or the MBR, and can restore the Windows bootloader 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 works even after booting and restarting Windows. I’ve had to run the boot disk twice more, after installing updates, but both times it repaired Grub quickly.
My guess is that Windows flagged it’s partition as the active boot partition after updating, even though there was no working bootloader. It seems to be working now, but I’m glad I don’t boot Windows very often.
My laptop isn’t much of a gaming rig (crummy integrated graphics), but it should handle Deus Ex, which I am halfway through.