Mostly Harmless

Mostly about my amusement

Ubuntu on a USB stick with XPS 720

Fixing the MBR on Vista 64 bit or how to remove GRUB from Vista. Keep this link handy, it saved me a lot of time.

Well running Ubuntu 7.10 beta did not work as well as I planned.

The 2 GB USB memory stick I had laying around was too small. This caused the installer to just stop and die around 70% or so. I printed out the coupons of the day and took them with me to BestBuy. I purchased a PNY 8 GB OPTIMA Pro Attache USB stick. It’s as no-frills as you can get and does not come with any software.

This time the installer ran, copied all the files, etc. It also installed GRUB into the MBR of my first hard drive.

Remember I thought that Vista would not play well with other operating systems? Oh, yeah that. My system could not boot off of the hard disk anymore.

This is how you can uninstall GRUB from a Vista partition:

I went to and read the whole page. I then downloaded and extracted MBRFIX.ZIP onto another USB stick. This stick was FAT32 formated and I put the contents into the directory called SAVED.

I booted off of my Vista 64 install DVD, ran the command prompt located the directory on that USB stick and ran

MbrFix64.exe /drive 0 fixmbr /vista

And all was right in the world. XP comes with FIXMBR but I could not find Microsoft’s equivalent for Vista 64.

After I booted up Vista a few times, I went back to the Ubuntu install CD. I mounted the 8 GB USB memory stick (it mounted it on /media/disk from /dev/sdc1) and ran

grub-install –recheck –root-directory=/media/disk –no-floppy /dev/sdc

On my system this put the root as (hd2,0) which just plain won’t work. While I was still on the live system I ran from a terminal window

sudo vi /media/disk/boot/grub/menu.lst

and located the entries I needed. All (hd2,0) had to be switched to (hd0,0) because in my BIOS when I select “Boot from USB device” that USB device gets treated like the first hard disk. I also removed the Vista section just because it makes sense.

I’m running that installation right now and doing a software update. On the 8 GB stick I have 4.4 GB free. Once I have it up to date the fun can really begin. Wonder if Compiz will like my setup?

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