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 be  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. 🙂

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)  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. 🙂

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

FeedDemon 2.8 RC1 is out, Snagit 9.1 is in and more

Well, well, Whaddaya know! FeedDemon 2.8 Release Candidate 1 is out and it now contains ads. Wow. I feel like I’ve dodged a bullet with switching to RSS Bandit. Seriously, none of the applications on my laptop contains ads simply because: (a) they’re free or (b) I paid for them. FeedDemon used to be shareware i.e. free for 30 days and about $30 to register. I paid for FeedDemon back then and was ecstatic when they made it a free program because it freed me from having to pay for upgrades. Now, the author of FeedDemon, Nick Bradbury, feels the need to insert ads into this product because they need a source of revenue. That’s his prerogative. I’ll install FeedDemon on my Windows XP Pro SP3 virtual machine and see what the hubbub is about. In any case, I don’t think I’m going back to FeedDemon till I read about serious rss-bandit-quibbleimprovements in the stability & handling all sorts of feeds. So far, beyond some minor User Interface gripes, I’m liking my switch to RSS Bandit. Whenever I click “mark all feeds read”, it happens without locking up and forcing me to use Windows Task Manager to kill the process unlike *cough* FeedDemon *cough* 😀 On a serious note, it’s not all roses with RSS Bandit though. Here’s one of  my pet peeves in the picture on the right. Continue reading FeedDemon 2.8 RC1 is out, Snagit 9.1 is in and more

Resolved: Making your user folder visible in Vista

So, the weirdest thing happened to me a couple of days ago: My entire user folder stopped being indexed by Windows Search Indexing service. I visited C:Users and I couldn’t find my user folder at all! The panic didn’t start yet. Then, I calmly proceeded to look at my “Folder Options” and on a hunch, I allowed protected system files to be viewable. To my horror, I found out that my User Profile/Folder had somehow become: (a)hidden and (b) a protected system folder.

I don’t recall doing anything to make it change from a regular user folder so I was baffled. Now, I would not have worried so much if not for the awful fact that my files were no longer being indexed because Windows doesn’t index protected system files because under normal circumstances, your user files are not protected system files. So, I set about finding  a solution to my problem and after a couple of days & false moves, I hit upon a simple solution (thanks to Google). Here are the steps to “unhide” and remove the “system file” attribute from your user profile/folder:

  1. Hit “Start” and type “cmd” into the search box (on Vista/Windows 7 systems)
  2. Your first search hit should be cmd.exe; Right-click cmd.exe and run the program as an administrator. command prompt
  3. You will see something like this: C:\Windows\system32:
  4. Change the directory using the “cd” or “chdir” command; What you type should look like this: “cd C:\Users\YourUsername” (without quotes).
    change directory command
  5. Before I proceed, I’ll give you a short overview of the commands that you’ll be using. The main command is the “attrib” command which allows you the change properties of the file or folder. To see the list of commandline arguments that you can pass to the attrib command, do the following: type in “C:Users\YourUsername attrib /? and hit “Enter”. The following items should be displayed:
    Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7600]
    Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation.  All rights reserved.
    C:\Windows\System32> cd C:\Users\Jane
    C:\Users\Jane> attrib /?
    Displays or changes file attributes.
    ATTRIB [+R | -R] [+A | -A ] [+S | -S] [+H | -H] [+I | -I] [drive:][path][filename] [/S [/D] [/L]]
    +  Sets an attribute.
    -   Clears an attribute.
    R  Read-only file attribute.
    A  Archive file attribute.
    S  System file attribute.
    H  Hidden file attribute.
    I   Not content indexed file attribute.
    [drive:][path][filename]  Specifies a file or files for attrib to process.
    /S  Processes matching files in the current folder and all subfolders.
    /D  Processes folders as well.
    /L Work on the attributes of the Symbolic Link versus the target of the Symbolic Link


  6. To cut this narrative short, the relevant command for removing the hidden file attribute & system file attribute from your user folder, enter the following command:
    attrib -H -S "C:\Users\YourUsername" /S /D 

    Unhide User Folder in Vista

It seems rather self-explanatory in retrospect, but I totally bombed during the first few days of trying to figure out the solution. I didn’t arrive at this solution by dint of my “smartitude“. God, I love the Urban Dictionary. lol. I’ve always sworn by this phrase, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing‘ so I don’t even want to leave the slightest intimation that I am the source of any of these epiphanies unless I explicitly tell of how I discovered so-and-so. The following links were invaluable to me during those trying days. 😀 In retrospect, I think why I didn’t happen on the solution sooner via Google was because of the way I crafted my inquiry to Google. If I’ve learned anything from the web, it’s that to get the right answers, you have to ask the right questions. Without further ado, the gurus:

  1. Tim Sneath at Musings of a Client Platform Guy. The relevant article is titled: “Windows Vista Secret #11: Deleting the Undeletable” His suggested solution didn’t work right away for me, but it was good reading it. His post will help you if you are dealing with screwy ACL permissions.
  2. The How-To Geek on removing hidden file attribute.