Ubuntu – the dualbooting installation saga continued…

To briefly recapitulate, here are the relevant details: I installed Ubuntu alongside Vista on my laptop and the first things I noticed were:
1) My screen resolution was detected as “1440 by 900” which was not the case with my Ubuntu virtual machine. It was ‘stuck’ at 800 by 600 and this was a welcome change. πŸ™‚
2) My HP bluetooth laser mouse was detected without problems and when I found out about the HP Linux Image and Printing Toolbox, my life was complete. πŸ˜€ What? I’m a nerd. I use HP printers and having their extended capabilities possible on Ubuntu made my experience that much better.
3) The X-Sane Image scanner worked OOB (out of box) and man, I love NOT troubleshooting sometimes. πŸ™‚ Sadly, OCR capabilities suck (I loved the I.R.I.S. OCR that came with my HP printer software for Vista).
4) GIMP (the awesome and free image editor) was about three times faster on Ubuntu/Linux.

However, all would not be complete without a small disappointment. When I logged back into Vista, certain programs quit working. My initial instinct was that the partitioning did not sit well with Windows Vista, but it didn’t help that the following things happened before I ever partitioned the hard drive:
1) I was never able to finish a manual defragmentation. My PC was set to automatically defragment on a schedule, but when I tried to do this manually, I lost patience after an entire day was gone without any idea of how far the defragmentation had gone.
2) I had previously attempted to partition my hard drive with the Live CD’s GParted tool and I aborted that attempt.

So I’m pretty sure that somewhere along those lines, I lost some data. However, I didn’t lose any sleep because:
i) I have my computer’s recovery DVDs.
ii) I have an image of my computer’s hard drive before I started slicing and dicing at it. πŸ™‚
iii) I have copies of my important files on DVD and my external hard drives.

After testing out Ubuntu on a 25GB partition on my hard drive, I decided that it was time to dive into Ubuntu completely and that merits another post all by itself. πŸ™‚

Dualbooting Ubuntu and Vista … the installation blues.:)

Well, well. It has been a very interesting week, to say the least, for me. On Monday, I got this bee in my bonnet that I would like to give the Linux operating system a really good shake. Earlier this month, I had installed UbuntuIntrepid Ibex” on my 64-bit Vista laptop via Virtual PC 2007. I fell in love with the operating system, but there were niggling problems like my screen resolution and speed that truly prevented me from observing how powerful this system was. So, I decided to dive into the world of dual-booting. It was simple in theory until I embarked on the process. I popped the Ubuntu desktop cd (the “live cd”) into my CD/DVD drive and restarted my computer.

Note: before I started any of this, I fired up Acronis True Image and made a whole disk backup of my laptop and I also copied all my important files to an external hard drive. Additionally, I had all the programs that I’d purchased for my Vista Ultimate laptop so that if I needed to, I could simply use my computer’s recovery disks and not have to pay extra to get my installation files. So to recap, before embarking on any ‘dangerous’ operations like partitioning your hard drive, please do the following:
1) Make sure you have lots of time to troubleshoot any missteps. This is vital.
2) Have at least 2 backups of your important documents (I had a complete PC backup through Acronis True Image as well as copies of my important files on my external hard drive).
3) Ensure your hard disk has been defragmented and it would not hurt to run a disk check (rightclick your C: drive and go to “Tools”). There should beΒ  a section to schedule or start a disk check; You should also allow the disk check to scan and fix any errors it finds.
4) Have access to another computer for getting online and troubleshooting when things go wrong or have a printout of relevant answers to questions you are anticipating.

The first mistake I made when attempting to install Ubuntu on my laptop (along side Vista) was selecting the “Install” option right after the Live CD menu came up, upon restarting my laptop. The fallout (from not selecting “Try Ubuntu first”) was that the partitioning of my hard disk stalled at about 1%. Actually, I’m not so sure if it stalled as much as I panicked that it was still at 1% after 15 minutes. In any case, I restarted my computer (this was a huge risk!) and I was able to get back into Vista. This is the reason that I recommend you be a very patient person when it comes to these things. πŸ™‚

So, I was back in the Windows operating system without Ubuntu installed. I tried using Vista’s inbuilt partitioning feature, but I kept getting a “logical disk access denied” error. Now, I started getting frustrated, but I quickly remembered that I’d purchased the excellent Acronis Disk Director Suite!! I quickly fired the Acronis Disk Director suite up, but I was alerted to the fact that my C: drive had been marked “dirty”. This alert came about because I wanted to defragment my C: drive after the botched Ubuntu partitioning. That was when I ran the disk check tool on my C: drive and then, used Acronis Disk Director to carve out a partition for Ubuntu (~ 25 GBs). I left the partition unformatted because I wasn’t sure what file format to select) and the Disk Director program did its thing.

After the disk check and the disk partitioning (w/o the installation of Ubuntu yet), I restarted my computer with the Ubuntu Live CD in my CD/DVD drive. This time, I selected “Try Ubuntu” and after the Live CD loaded up, I clicked the “Install” icon on the Ubuntu desktop.

1) It helps to have an internet connection while you are using the Live CD for troubleshooting purposes as well.
2)Β  After answering some preliminary questions, the time came for me to select a partition to install Ubuntu to and I selected the 25GB partition and allowed the Live CD to format the partition as “ext3”. I got thrown a curveball when I was told that there needed to be a “swap” area for Ubuntu (analogous to the paging/hibernation files in Windows). So, I fired up GParted (a partitioning utility for Ubuntu/Linux) and further carved out 1GB of space from the 25GB partition. In the GParted dialog, you will have the option to format any partitions you create and for the new 1GB partition, I selected “swap area” and formatted the 1GB partition.

After creating my partitions, I started up the installation program again and this time, I selected my now-24GB partition to install Ubuntu to and the 1GB partition as the “linux swap” area. In hindsight, I suspect that Ubuntu may have carved out its own swap area from the partition it was installed to, but nothing was harmed by manually creating my swap area out of the original 25GB partition. The installation progressed seamlessly after this and I was instructed to restart the laptop and my face lit up when I saw the GRUB bootloader. πŸ™‚

To be continued (I’m such a tease. :P)

Using Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 & VirtualBox

So, for a long while, Sun’s VirtualBox xVM has been my ‘virtualization’ product of choice. Mostly because I had tried the much talked about Microsoft Virtual PC product and couldn’t figure out how it ran. Then, I read about VirtualBox (which had been owned by Innotek before it was bought out by Sun) was perfect for running ISOs of Ubuntu or whatever Linux distro I had on hand. It has USB support which I had also read was something that Microsoft Virtual PC lacked (it has an alternative called Virtual Machine additions). However, I had never been able to run a virtual Microsoft operating system via VirtualBox primarily because I didn’t know that unlike Linux, ISOs of Microsoft operating systems were not free. My desktop computer came with a pre-installed Microsoft operating system (Microsoft Windows XP) so I didn’t have an installation CD. Nevertheless, I scoured the internet, but stopped short of using warez because I’m very careful not to break the law and more than anything, infect my computer. Fast forward to over 2 weeks ago when I lost my data during a botched driver installation of HP drivers for the Officejet J6480.

Prior to this particular incident, I’ve had to reformat my vista laptop a few times and I lost no sleep because I always had current file backups of my data as well as complete image backups. However, after suffering through HP’s installation of drivers for their printer, my PC refused to start point-blank. I was essentially fucked because I didn’t think toΒ  make a file backup of my computer before embarking on the installation. To cut the long story short, I knew that even though I didn’t have a recent file backup, I had a fairly recent Windows Complete Image backup on one of my hard drives. All this while, I had assumed that I could somehow pull files off a Windows Complete Image backup, but I chose the wrong time to test this assumption. The bitter answer was: I could not pull individual files off a Windows Complete Image Backup (they should put that on the label, in the words of a commercial or insist on customers who can’t read white papers to steer clear of their products. :D).

Not being one to easily give up, I scoured the web again via my favorite search engine (Google) and came across a website where the writer said he had been able to access his Windows Complete Image backup image via Virtual PC 2007. Imagine my joy and immediate dismay because I didn’t care to use Virtual PC 2007 due toΒ  my previous difficulty in learning how to use. Nevertheless, I deciced to try Virtual PC 2007 again so that I would give a last ditch effort at recovering some files. I also took the plunge and ordered an XP Pro SP2 disk because I knew that somehow I needed said disk although I didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully, the disk arrived in time and I set about making my XP Pro SP2 virtual machine. The first time I tried to install XP Pro SP2, I panicked because I thought it would actually install XP Pro SP2 on my machine (kinda like Wubi for Ubuntu which I’m steering clear of after powering one of my Vista bluescreens & subsequent reformatting). So, I killed it and did some more reading. Then, it hit me that, “No, Silly. It’s a virtual machine and you won’t get in trouble for me. lol.” So I crossed my fingers and started the process again.

This time, the installation completed. I exited Virtual PC 2007 and ejected my XP Pro SP2 installation disk. I restarted my computer and closed my eyes while waiting for the inevitable bluescreen. Surprise! I didn’t have any nasties waiting for me and I started up Virtual PC 2007 again. I was like a kid in the candy store when I was able to browse XP Pro in my Vista laptop. I showed it to my husband and he kept commenting on how excited I seem. Yep, I’m the kinda of girl who’d be happy if she got a gift of RAM, never mind what JC Penney says about how men get in the doghouse. LOL. As a random aside, check out the video “Beware of the Doghouse“. It’s hysterical. πŸ™‚ Back to the topic, I also was able to install Virtual Machine additions which works by mounting the iso for Virtual Machine additions inside the virtual machine! Pretty cool and I was able to access my Vista files and use a shared cursor which was a welcome change from VirtualBox.The end to this saga (maybe? I haven’t totally given up yet) has not come as I still wasn’t able to access my Windows Complete Image backup VHD file. However, I don’t regret shelling out ~ $60 for that XP SP2 installation CD because I’m sure it’ll come in handy someday. In the meantime, my hard drive will be getting some major use.

Now, before I achieved success in installing XP SP2 virtually, I had actually installed Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 in my computer. All I can say about that was: please, do not try this at home, kids (meaning you, Jane). It was overkill for my purposes and it was quickly uninstalled with some major praying along the way (it installs IIS services and I don’t like turning Windows features on/off because in Mos Def’s words, “I had a bad experience“. My next stab at accessing the VHD file in my Windows Complete Image backup will be installing just VHD mount which is a component of Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. With that, wish me luck!