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Re: help! install with DOS-lost HD on boot

kaynjay@igalaxy.net wrote:
> Home with the school computer for summer... I wanted to redo my drive layout
> due to very limited space, squeezing out OS/2 and Windows for Linux.  I've
> lost my Linux drives, though.  I am hoping someone could point out where I
> screwed up, and suggest a way to avoid reinstalling (or doing it right ;).

If you haven't written to those ext2 partitions since the screw-up, you
*should* be able to recover...

> After backing up critical files to a new-but-old 430 Mb HD (hdb), I wiped all
> partitions on hda, created a 100 Mb fat DOS partition, 2 primaries for root
> and swap, then 3 logicals on the rest of hda for /var, /home, and /usr.
> Install of 2.1 went well from CD.  Set up LILO as my boot manager.
> Rebooted to a DOS floppy to check, and then format C (it saw the partition as
> 90 Mb instead of 100--did I choose the wrong fs type?)...

Probably not, we'll see soon... more likely the FORMAT program counts 
differently or measures its "usable" space.  Also remember that 
100,000,000 is really about 95 megabytes (where a megabyte is 1024*1024 

> ...Booted into Linux.
> Untarred the old DOS system onto the "C" partition, modified lilo.conf, and
> ran lilo.  This led to the inability to boot DOS ("non-system disk or disk
> error" ... or whatever it was).

So LILO was able to boot at this point, right?  But when you told LILO to
start the DOS partiton DOS didn't see it as a "system disk," correct?
I think there's a DOS command "sys"  (sorry, it's been a 
long time) that copies (from a bootable floppy) the necessary stuff to
a hard drive partition -- so you could boot from a DOS A: drive, be
sure you can see C:, and then say "sys C:" -- it should say "system
files transferred" or something to that effect .   Someone else more
familiar with (recent versions of) DOS can probably offer advice here.

> Using cfdisk I reset both hda1 and hda2 as bootable (1st-->DOS, 2nd-->Debian)
> and wrote to disk.  Re-read error reported by cfdisk.  Reboot led to an
> inability to boot LILO at all.

AFAIK the "bootable" flag isn't used by LILO or by Linux -- I wonder whether 
DOS is confused if you more than one "bootable" partition at the same time?
I seem to recall switching "the bootable partition" from one partition to 
another back in my pre-Linux days, but never having more than one bootable
at the same time.  Maybe someone else knows whether that's part of your mistake.

> An old Linux rescue disk taught me to make a new one at some future point :(
> I didn't realize it was "set" to another partition, and I don't know how to
> change that.. ).
> A DOS floppy allowed me to again reformat the C drive, install DOS/Win31 for
> my kids' games, and boot directly to DOS.  But I'd like to get the drive back
> to Linux control without a reinstall, if possible.
> Can I make a rescue floppy from the DOS partition, using the CD and skipping
> all other installation steps?  Can someone let me know what step I would take
> to get this working afterwards?

If your old Linux rescue disk is a Debian rescue disk, you should be able to 
bring up a command shell (with alt-F2, for example) after you tell it whether
you have a color monitor or not (maybe even before)...certainly before it
does anything to your hard drive.  If you don't have a debian rescue disk,
create one from the CD or download and create one from ftp.debian.org ...
you probably just need resc1440.bin and a working linux/unix system (to
run the 'dd' command) or the DOS "rawrite.exe" from the same ftp site
to create the bootable debian rescue disk under DOS.

In either case, boot from a recent debian rescue disk, and get yourself
to the shell prompt.  Run 'fdisk /dev/hda' and use (ONLY!) the "p" (print)
command to see what your partition table looks like.  Post that output here
(if necessary, you can mount a scratch floppy drive (the debian rescue disk
can be removed) and copy the fdisk output to the floppy to transfer it to
your working system ).

IF all your partitions are still correctly allocated, skip the next paragraph.

If you find that not all your partitions are listed by the "p" command, 
there's a nice tool called 'gpart' that "guesses" the partitions on your 
hard disk, by reading the raw disk and looking for various fingerprints,
and tells you what it thinks it found.  I have recently debianized that 
tool, but have not been able to upload it (still waiting for "maintainer"
status).  If you need it, call or write and I'll help you get it and use it.

So now your partition table is correct, right?  All you should have to do
is edit your lilo.conf and run lilo to install it.  *Something* like the 
following is probably what you need.  Post your previous lilo.conf here
and maybe we can figure out what you did wrong the first time.




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