Triple-boot problem [solved]

We have a box running Xubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 14.04 and Windows XP as a triple boot.

Xubuntu is backed up via Redo Backup, and XP via Norton Ghost, both to the same external drive.

Yesterday I tried to do a ghost restore to the XP partition and it failed. I now have an un-bootable XP which equates to a wasted 50gb of disc space.

I’m willing to forget XP, but I’d like to tidy up and reclaim the space. However, Linux can no longer mount that partition, suggesting instead that I run ‘fdisk /f’ in Windows. I can’t get into Windows anymore, but even if I could, it occurs to me that I’m in danger of wrecking my access to Ubuntu/Xubuntu.

It seems to me that multi-boot scenarios are fine until one of the operating systems needs reinstalling, then all bets are off. I think I’m going to give them up. Or am I missing something?

Meanwhile, can anyone suggest a way to reclaim the disk space and retain Xubuntu and hopefully also Ubuntu?


You could try to fix the XP partition (assuming you want to)

sudo ntfsfix -b /dev/sdaX

Replace sdaX with whatever partition XP is installed.
for that to work you might need to install ntfs-3g (if not installed already)

sudo apt-get install ntfs-3g

On the other hand if you still want to rid of XP then we need few more details before advice can be given:

sudo fdisk -l

this should list all partitions and their usage.

Thanks SeZo,

Ideally I’d like to preserve the triple boot, so I’ll try the fix first. That will break Grub though and I can’t boot from DVD to restore it in Xubuntu.

I’m thinking of getting XP running again, then installing EasyBCD to give access to the two Linux distros. Can you see any reason that wouldn’t work?


Running the ntfsfix on the XP partition should not effect the grub. It is only to fix file system corruption (assuming that is the problem).
Once that done you may be able to mount it in Linux and move/copy files you deem to be important.

Ok. But just in case something goes wrong and grub gets broken (which it will anyway if I have to reinstall XP which may have been messed up by the failed Ghost restore), I need a plan B.

I had thought that RedoBackup might be the answer, but it seems it only restores at disk level, not partition level, which doesn’t help.

Something has just occurred to me though. If windows boot loader was on sdb1 along with XP, and sdb1 is inaccessible, that means grub is independent of sdb1, because grub still works. So if I reformat sdb1 and install XP on it, will Grub still be able to load Xubuntu/Ubuntu (as now)? And would the option (in Grub) for XP start working again, because XP would be reinstated where it was?

I suspect not, but I can’t quite see why not. I suppose installing Linux after Windows must modify or disable Windows boot loader in order to allow Grub to take over the job…

Is XP on a second drive with nothing else on it … if so carry on below…

If GRUB is your bootloader then YES it will be completely independent of the XP drive … the XP bootloader will just be being chainloaded by GRUB.

Easy way to confirm this would be to shut down, remove the XP disk, and you’ll see Linux will still boot.

Once you’ve confirmed that … shut down … disconnect the Linux drive … reconnect the XP drive (so it’s the only drive attached) … reinstall XP … shut down … reconnect the Linux drive (making sure it’s the first boot device in your BIOS) … boot into Linux … and run:

sudo update-grub

to re-add XP to the GRUB configs.

Unfortunately Xubuntu, Ubuntu and XP are in separate partitions on the same drive…

Wouldn’t your solution still work just the same - as long as I make sure to reinstall XP on the correct partition?

Theoretically YES, but I’m not going to guarantee that :wink:

Fair enough. I think I’ll grit my teeth and go for it though.

After all, XP wont boot and Linux can’t mount sdb1 anymore, which is pretty much the equivalent of disconnecting a physical disk, yet Linux still boots…

I’ll back up some data, then try SeZo’s suggestion - sudo ntfsfix -b /dev/sdb1. If that doesn’t sort it, I’ll reinstall XP and run sudo update-grub.

By the way, I’ve got a Redo Backup copy of XP as well as the Ghost. When I tried to restore from it, it gave me only the option to specify a destination drive, not a partition, so I abandoned the restore. There’s not much help on the Redo forum, but I seem to remember that you use Redo, Mark. If so, can you tell me whether it’s possible to restore at partition level?



I’ve used Redo many times in the past, but not enough to remember its interface off the top of my head I’m afraid … IIRC you can only restore a partition if you created a partition backup … so if you did a full disk backup you’re probably screwed.
(unless of course you have a spare drive to do a full disk restore, then a partition image from that drive)

No, I did three partition backups. One each for XP, Ubuntu and Xubuntu. the filenames reflect the respective partitions.

I’ll have another look at this tomorrow. Maybe I’m missing something.



Ok, I tried SeZo’s suggestion but with no luck…

mike@mike-c2duo:~$ sudo ntfsfix -b /dev/sdb1
Mounting volume… ntfs_mst_post_read_fixup_warn: magic: 0x00000000 size: 4096 usa_ofs: 0 usa_count: 65535: Invalid argument
Index buffer (VCN 0x0) of directory inode 0x5 has a size (24) differing from the directory specified size (4096).
Attempting to correct errors…
Processing $MFT and $MFTMirr…
Reading $MFT… OK
Reading $MFTMirr… OK
Comparing $MFTMirr to $MFT… OK
Processing of $MFT and $MFTMirr completed successfully.
Setting required flags on partition… OK
Going to empty the journal ($LogFile)… OK
ntfs_mst_post_read_fixup_warn: magic: 0x00000000 size: 4096 usa_ofs: 0 usa_count: 65535: Invalid argument
Index buffer (VCN 0x0) of directory inode 0x5 has a size (24) differing from the directory specified size (4096).
Remount failed: Input/output error

Any ideas guys? Or shall I just try to reinstall XP from scratch? My data is safe - or rather I have copies of it, so it’s as safe as it can be. All I’m trying to do now is a) avoid reinstalling all 3 operating systems and b) establish a setup whereby I can periodically restore one of them without getting back into this mess…

Have you got a Windows PC and an external USB HDD enclosure ?

Or a Windows PC that you can connect this drive to internally … then see if Windows can fix the file system ?

If not I think you’re going to have to consider the Windows partition toast.

Sorry about the prolonged absence, and thanks for your replies folks.

Yes I have, Mark - both. But before I go any further and do yet more reinstalls, I need to find a solution to the fundamental problem.

That is, how to have a dual, or triple boot machine where one of the systems is XP, but keep the ability to restore each OS from backups without breaking the bootloader.

If anyone has a solution to that, I’d be delighted to hear it…

Ok. I used Mark’s suggestion and hooked the disk up to a windows PC using an external caddy. Explorer couldn’t access the first partition either, but Disk Manager said it was healthy and allowed me to reformat it. Now the disk is back in the Linux PC and Ubuntu and Xubuntu still boot. Interestingly, XP has disappeared from the Grub screen…

So I’ve reclaimed the 50GB of space but lost XP. I think I’ll leave it that way. Maybe I’ll use the space for another Linux distro.

Thanks Mark and SeZo.

Great news Mike :slight_smile: