Friday, September 28, 2007

Wubi Dangers

So yesterday I had a rather tense time trying to help Overlord fix his laptop. He covered the story in his blog but I figured I'd blog the solution we came up with here too for everyone's benefit.

He had installed Wubi (warning: read this first and remember it is an unofficial beta product) on his new laptop and it was all working fine. That is until the next morning when he switched his machine on to find it stuck in a loop running the POST, searching for an OS, failing to find it, and rebooting to start the process again.

The first thing to do was obviously a Google search, which resulted in several hits. The first hit gave us a vital clue: partition boot sector corruption was occurring. After some fiddling this eventually triggered a memory of a similar experience I had once with Wubi causing partition table corruption after a lockup and unsafe reboot. That time I had used a tool to manually recreate my partition table (luckily I didn't have a complex setup) and write a functioning boot sector to the relevant location. That wasn't an option this time as the tool wasn't immediately available, so I suggested my old backup option. This involved using the XP install disc to fix the corrupted boot sector via the Recovery Console. I only had an XP Pro install disc and the installation on the laptop was XP Home, but luckily that isn't an issue for this type of operation. The first thing we tried was chkdsk to find any obvious filesystem errors, but this did nothing. Running map showed why: the filesystem type could not be detected (a previous data gathering mission [not mentioned above] with an Ubuntu Live CD was able to extract the filesystem type strangely). Knowing that the most likely cause of the troubles was the partition boot sector being corrupted, the next program to run was fixboot, which confirmed the corruption, detected the filesystem as NTFS, and wrote out a new (supposedly working) copy of the boot sector. With fingers crossed we rebooted and waited... only for it to continue happening. Suppressing some combination of cursing and tears we booted once again into the Recovery Console for another try. Again the first thing to be run was chkdsk and this time it actually did something and mentioned fixing some errors, though it didn't say what they were. At this point I was silently praying it knew what it was doing because if it had picked up the wrong filesystem type it could be happily trashing the files on it. map was then run again and still no filesystem type being shown for that partition ("I have a bad feeling about this", praying again I wasn't right about chkdsk being bad). As a last ditch we ran fixboot again (again, seriously, fixing this was enough to induce OCD in someone) and then map and... WOOT! The filesystem was shown as NTFS. Crossing our fingers again for the reboot we waited for the POST stuff to happen and then... Windows. Lovely lovely Windows. I never thought I'd say that. Overlord understandably purged all trace of Wubi from his system and vowed never to use it again.

I think the magic combination was the fixboot-chkdsk-fixboot, though I can't be sure. I certainly don't want to have to do this again.

I should note that I am using Wubi on my machine here (not only that, but running Ubuntu Gutsy beta under it) and I have only had the problem resulting from the lockup-reboot, but I may very well have just been lucky. Basically, an OS with reverse-engineered drivers for a badly documented filesystem with no journalling/transactions available running under a beta installer/loader isn't the best thing to have on your machine. You have been warned.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bouncers Fail

There is a popular drinking establishment near to me. I won't say which one, but it has an attached Weatherspoons and is a mere few minutes from my place, you should be able to guess. Actually, I say "popular" but to be honest it's not all that good and has been getting rather dead. It has come to my attention that towards the end of the night when it's a bit quieter (and presumably easier to get people individually) at least one of the bouncers has been hanging around outside the female toilets and not allowing girls in unless they do certain things. My sources include an actual near-victim. Now you can write this off as typical bouncer behaviour all you want, but this place isn't a night club (where people seem to accept this sort of behaviour for no good reason). As far as I'm concerned, this is sexual harassment at best and potential rape charges at worst. Needless to say I will not by spending any of my money there in future. And no, I won't be revealing my sources, nor are they probably anyone you could easily guess. I encourage anyone who receives this type of behaviour to speak out and make a fuss, don't let them get away with it quietly.

So as the number of places I am willing to spend money continues to shrink, Whitefriars wins and will always win. Give them all your money =P

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Blame Iris. I'm happy with the result either way. And it's nerdosity, not nerdousity. says I'm a Cool Technology Geek.  What are you?  Click here!