It was bound to happen eventually … I finally broke my Master Boot Record! For those that haven’t been following my other posts, I’ve been running a dual-boot system of Ubuntu 16.04 and Windows 10 for a few months now. I had been a Windows user since 95, but I’m learning Linux because it’s one of the more popular OS environment for software development. I initially gave my Ubuntu ‘/’ directory 50 GB of space, but I’ve since used all but 1 GB of it!

I decided to just add more space, so I booted from my Ubuntu live USB stick and ran the Gparted utility. It wouldn’t let me add more space to my ‘/’ directory because Windows was immediately to the left and my Ubuntu Swap File was immediately to the right. I first made a copy of my ‘/’ to recover from if I failed and then I deleted my Swap File (to make room for resizing Ubuntu). I could have just resized my Ubuntu ‘/’ by adding size to the right, but I didn’t want to deal with a resizing issue if I wanted to make my Windows partition bigger in the future.

I first decided to create a 20 GB Swap File on the right-most section of my hard drive. Then I copied my 50 GB copy of my Ubuntu ‘/’ directory directly to the left of the Swap File AND I resized the 50 GB partition to 100 GB. I saved changes and ran them and thought I’d be done with it … I was INCREDIBLY WRONG, hahaha. I turned off my computer, removed the USB of Ubuntu live and tried a clean boot and was greeted with an error message of “error: no such partition”. Sure, there was a terminal available with a starting phrase of “grub rescue>”, BUT that terminal wouldn’t recognize any commands! no such partition

Some quick Googling pointed my in the direction of this Ubuntu Forums ‘lilo’ Recommendation. It was recommended that I install lilo and use it to fix my Master Boot Record, so I followed the instructions and was ready to be done! The terminal commands (from below) were suggested:

sudo apt-get install lilo

sudo lilo -M /dev/sda mbr

BUT, there was also a cautionary suggestion to check that your Master Boot Record was on the sda drive … so I did that: lilo correct drive

Checking on the drive was a good call because my Master Boot Record (MBR) was actually on sdc! I think this is because, when I built my computer, I randomly connected the SATA cables. I could’ve been careful to have the MBR drive on the SATA 0 port, but I had already installed my video cord … out of laziness I just plugged in wires without looking at what I was doing! Hahaha, I thought it wouldn’t be a problem because I could just change the recommended terminal commands to use sdc, like this:

sudo apt-get install lilo

sudo lilo -M /dev/sdc mbr

install lilo

Again, I thought I had fixed the problem! I was ready to start coding again, but I was greeted with the same “error: no such partition” screen! I did some more Googling and found a new Stack Exchange post that suggested using EasyBCD from within Windows, so I tried doing that. On my first try I added Linux to the Boot Menu with a Boot Type of ‘GRUB (Legacy)’; I didn’t intentionally do that. That was just the pre-selected option.

BC2 Windows Fix Attempt

I restarted and was excited when I was greeted with the new BC2 bootloader screen! BC2 Bootload Image

Again, I thought I’d fixed the problem. HOWEVER, selecting ‘Ubuntu’ just lead to my computer restarting! Windows worked fine, but I don’t really care about Windows … these days all I use Windows for is Microsoft PowerPoint … I need to learn how to use Windows within a Linux Virtual Box! Anyways, enough of this tangent!

I tried adding my Ubuntu Live USB stick and restarting into Linux Live, but that wouldn’t work either! My computer was not being responsive to F2, F11 or Del … it wouldn’t even respond to combinations of those keys! WHAT?!? I have never been unable to change my default boot order before … I had no idea what was going on … I figured that the Windows BC2 Bootloader program may have disabled those keys, so I tried a variety of BC2 options:

  • unchecked ‘Use BC2 Bootloader’
  • tried having Ubuntu as the default
  • tried having Windows as the default
  • tried having no default
  • tried deleting the Linux MBR record and re-loading it

None of those options worked! And then I tried to do something silly: I swapped my keyboard USB connection with my Ubuntu Live USB connection and that fixed my F2/F11/Del issue! I think it may have been because my keyboard was on a USB 2.0 connection and my USB stick was on a USB 3.0 connection, but I never bothered figuring it out. The important thing was that I could now use F11 to boot from my Live Linux USB stick!

Once I got Ubuntu Live to boot, I tried this How-To-Geek article about restoring the GRUB2 loader. Here are the terminal commands that I ran:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair

boot-repair

And that did it! I restarted my computer and was greeted by this beautiful Ubuntu Grub screen! Ubuntu Grub Works

When this all started, I thought all I’d need to was use Gparted from a live Ubuntu USB session to make my ‘/’ directory bigger. However, I ended up spending the better part of 2 hours troubleshooting a series of weird errors. I figured out how to get things working through experimentation. That’s always been the best way of solving problems for me.

  • Google the error
  • attempt the first suggestion that makes sense
  • if that doesn’t work, try the next suggestion
  • if that doesn’t work, start playing:
    • what does this check box do?
    • would a different key combination do something?
    • use the Windows utility
    • try switching cables

^ I never thought switching cables would work … it was just this random idea that I had and it worked. I like to think of this method of troubleshooting as iterative, creative experimentation. Sure, I has a lot of other things planned today. And, I definately found myself getting angry at times, but the important thing is that I learned a lot today!