Talking tech since 2003

Yesterday evening, I was in need of something to do and every now and then I get these urges to try out Linux as a desktop OS again. I saw that they had released a new beta version of Ubuntu (the Gusty Gibbon release – which is scheduled for final release sometime in October) and decided I’d try it out in a dual boot with Vista Ultimate and Ubuntu. Anyway, I download the ISO file, burn it to a CD, stick it in my CD drive, reboot and boot the CD.

Okay, so now I’m on the Live CD and I’m going to install it, so I click the Install button. Next, I go through the setup and select one of my 320GB SATA 2 HDD that I’m currently not using as the drive to install Ubuntu on. So that goes fine, it installs and tells me to reboot to boot into Ubuntu. It installs GRUB and everything too which in theory should allow me to select whether I want to boot to Vista or Ubuntu, correct? Right.

So now, we’re rebooting… I get to the GRUB screen and I see that Vista isn’t even listed in the menu to choose as an OS to boot to. I thought well that’s OK I’m going to reinstall the Windows Vista boot loader anyway in the end so I didn’t worry about it.

Alright, so we’re past the Ubuntu loading screen and BAM! it errors. Apparently X didn’t install properly (for those who don’t know what X is it’s essentially the basic framework for building GUI environments in Unix-type operating systems). Now, I think to myself, well, for something that’s supposed to be competing with Windows this sure isn’t a good sign. If you installed Windows and you didn’t have a GUI when you booted up Microsoft would never hear the end of it. It would be on every major Tech news site. Oh, but since it’s Linux “oh, that’s okay…Linux rocks! I’ll just spend 10 hours trying to find out how to get my GUI back.” Yes, I realize you can reinstall configure X, however, the average user (let alone the brand new user) looking to make the switch to Linux will most likely have no clue how to do so.

Moving on… Basically what I ended up doing is saying “Screw it.” and I popped in my Vista Ultimate DVD, booted to it, and went to the recovery portion of the DVD and opened the command prompt, where I proceeded to open BootRec.exe, and used the following commands bootrec /fixmbr and bootrec /fixboot. /FixMbr will overwrite your MBR (Master Boot Record) and /FixBoot will write a new boot sector to your system partition. Then all was fine.

I found out from a friend who uses Linux pretty much daily has never had a Ubuntu install where they didn’t have to reconfigure X. He said he had that issue on 3 different machines. I have another story that’s actually almost the same with a Dell machine I bought (one of those machines with Ubuntu preinstalled…) but I’ll write about that another time.

I’m curious has anyone else had any similar experiences? Maybe not just with Ubuntu, but any distro of Linux. Please share your feedback as I’m curious to know.

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