[SOLVED] Problems with USB installation

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afora
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[SOLVED] Problems with USB installation

Post by afora » Mon Aug 26, 2019 7:44 pm

Hi guys, I have just started with Linux Mint and I'm loving it. However, as a newbie I have a problem and I really need some help.

I have a USB installation of Mint 19.2 which works fine as a dual boot on my machine (let's call it PC1).

However, when I try to boot it in a different machine (let's call it PC2), it allows me to select to boot from the USB drive but after that nothing happens, only a blinking underscore cursor on the left top side of the screen at the boot time.

I have another peculiar issue with the original PC1 - if I remove the USB stick from it, I cannot boot to Windows any longer. The system boots to a GNU GRUB screen and offers a grub> prompt. I have no idea how to boot to the Windows install without the USB stick.

Many thanks!
Last edited by afora on Wed Aug 28, 2019 10:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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pbear
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Re: Problems with USB installation

Post by pbear » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:18 pm

Alas, you have run into a bug in the Ubuntu/Mint installer. I've written a tutorial collecting methods for getting around the bug, so that's how to solve that part of the problem. As for Windows not booting without the USB attached, that's going to require boot repair and I've not yet found simple and clear instructions for how to do that. I'll look through my notes to see what I can find.
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pbear
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Re: Problems with USB installation

Post by pbear » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:35 pm

Okay, here's what I have for Windows boot repair, ultimately successful in a prior thread though it took a lot of work. OTOH, the OP in that thread was unable to utilize the simple option, so maybe your case won't be as bad.

For starters, you will need a Windows installation disk, a Windows recovery USB or a system repair disk. If you don't have any of these, boot with the Mint USB attached and create a recovery USB (Control Panel > Recovery), as that's something you should have anyway.

Simple Method. Get to a command prompt, (i) by opening PowerShell from right-click of Start or (ii) from UEFI, Troubleshoot: Advanced Options: Command Prompt; or (iii) accessing Command Prompt with the Win recovery USB. Run bootrec.exe /fixmbr. Yes, that's what it's called even though there isn’t an MBR in UEFI. If that doesn’t work, try Automatic Repair, another option under Advanced Options. See How-To Geek and It’s FOSS.

Advanced Method. If neither of the foregoing work, Nicholas Dionysopoulos gives an elaborate manual procedure. Complicated, but he seems to know what he’s doing. Boot using recovery USB. Select Repair your computer, then Command Prompt. Run diskpart, then sel disk 0 and list vol. EFI will have a volume ID, say 99. Assign a drive designation, sel vol 99, assign letter=z, then exit. To fix boot record, type z: (note colon), then cd EFI/Microsoft/Boot and bootrec /FixBoot. Finally, recreate BCD store: ren BCD BCD.old then bcdboot c:\Windows /l en-us /s z: All. If doesn’t work, try ren BCD BCD.old then bootrec /RebuildBcd. Exit command prompt and shut down.

By the way, if anyone knows a better solution, do please jump in.
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Dot_mdb
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Re: Problems with USB installation

Post by Dot_mdb » Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:41 am

Too late now but in the future always make sure you have an image, using something like Clonezilla. That way when things go bad you just restore the image which doesn't take much technical knowledge.

Bill

afora
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Re: Problems with USB installation

Post by afora » Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:05 am

pbear, wow, that's a fantastic tutorial. I guess it's just too late now as I have an image already created, and I don't feel like going the third option as a root canal does seem to be a better alternative. The solution in my case, I suppose is no solution, but start from scratch.

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Re: Problems with USB installation

Post by afora » Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:15 am

Also, before I go and nuke it, I need to ask something else.

When I created the USB installation (created as a dual boot setup on a UEFI hardware) my intention was to play around with LM and then clone it to a couple of systems if I was happy about Linux - one i envisaged to have a dual boot, the other as a single boot LM machine. I spent quite a little bit of time configuring the USB installation, so I hesitate throwing it all out and starting from scratch. So two follow up questions then:

1. Can I may be move this USB installation to the HDD on the UEFI machine on which it was created making it a single boot setup? I'm happy wiping off everything which is in it's hard drive right now.

2. Can I at some stage clone this machine (from Q1) to another legacy boot non-UEFI machine? Or it's going to be as difficult as your threat has explained so eloquently?

Many thanks!

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Re: Problems with USB installation

Post by pbear » Tue Aug 27, 2019 11:32 am

It's not clear to me whether you understand you are in the root canal scenario. The installer bug has modified NVRAM in such a way as to require the USB to be attached for the machine to boot. To solve that problem, you need to do boot repair or a complete bare metal reinstall. If it's any consolation, a system image wouldn't have helped with this problem, as NVRAM is a chip, not a file on your hard drive.

If you don't care about Windows on this machine, there's probably a way to migrate your USB installation to the internal hard drive. I've not done it, so no guaranty, but I've done similar and I'm willing to give it a shot, on the understanding you may end up having to do a from-scratch installation after all. The method I would suggest entails setting up the hard drive, copying in the system with rsync, updating a config file called fstab, and reinstalling the bootloader. That last step will be the tricky one, as it's the part I've never done in UEFI (my Linux machine uses BIOS).

As for your second question, I don't know of a simple way to clone a UEFI system to BIOS (or vice versa), but maybe someone else does. What I would do instead is something along the lines laid out in the preceding paragraph, where I have the advantage of knowing how to reinstall the bootloader in BIOS. Once you have a BIOS machine, cloning that to other BIOS machines should be relatively simple.
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Re: Problems with USB installation

Post by pbear » Tue Aug 27, 2019 11:49 am

By the way, independent of all this, I would strongly encourage you to write up a detailed installation script (in the nontechnical sense), with all the steps, all the setting changes, all the Terminal commands, all the apps you install (and their settings), etc. I have such a script, plus robust data file backups. I can reinstall my system in less time than it takes to restore from system image. Meanwhile, I save myself a lot of time and effort making image backups I end up not needing. Last but not least, I don't have to worry about major upgrades (e.g., to LM20), for which upgrade in place often is unreliable.
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afora
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Re: Problems with USB installation

Post by afora » Wed Aug 28, 2019 8:29 pm

Thanks pbear - I guess I will have to nuke it now. I do not have a few days to grind through the problem

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pbear
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Re: [SOLVED] Problems with USB installation

Post by pbear » Wed Aug 28, 2019 11:38 pm

Fair enough. Frankly, I think it's irresponsible of Ubuntu that this bug has survived for six years. Also, irresponsible of the Mint team that the issue isn't at least mentioned in the release notes. Anyhoo, good luck.
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afora
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Re: [SOLVED] Problems with USB installation

Post by afora » Thu Aug 29, 2019 3:00 am

No rootcanal was required - thanks to pbear.

These were the steps:

- created a USB recovery disk from Win/Control Panel/Recovery
- removed the USB with Linux install from the PC
- inserted the recovery USB disk and booted up the PC in manual boot - now I can see the CD Rom attached to the PC (prior to that it would not show it)
- selected the CD Rom with gparted on it
- started gparted
- wiped off the first drive on the PC (it has 2 drives)
- restarted and installed a clean LM installation

Done

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