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Thread: System won't boot (stuck at GRUB RESCUE> prompt)

  1. #1
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    Default System won't boot (stuck at GRUB RESCUE> prompt)

    A little background, so you understand how I ended up here...

    I'm a total noob to Linux. Been a Windows user since at least 3.1...and just got a Mac a few years ago (but know nothing about how it works, I just use it). Recently I've been playing with the Live CD of openSUSE 12.2/12.3 (on a USB flash drive) on my Windows XP laptop and was wanting to get a little more experience with Linux, so I tried making the Live CD persistent so I could save my setting and new software. When I wasn't having any luck with that, I moved over to SUSE Studio and built my own appliance and downloaded the "USB stick/Hard disk image" and wrote that to a second/larger USB flash drive. It worked...but I was having some issues getting all the software I wanted/needed installed. So, I decided to take the plunge and install openSUSE 12.3 (from the Live CD on the first USB flash drive, which has most everything I wanted/needed...it just wasn't persistent) onto the second/larger USB flash drive.

    Now, on to the problem...

    I went through the install of openSUSE 12.3 (from the Live CD) and everything seemed to go smoothly, it created 3 partitions on the second flash drive (swap, boot and home) and when installation was finished it said to reboot and remove the Live CD to complete the installation. So, I rebooted...pulled out the Live CD USB flash drive...and left the other USB flash drive (the one I just installed to) in the system. I sat on a blank screen for quite a long time. It seems that installation never finished writing the boot menu for GRUB to load the system...and now I have a system which won't boot, except from the Live CD (on the first USB flash drive)...otherwise I end up at a GRUB RESCUE> prompt.

    I figured since I was installing to the USB drive that it wouldn't make any changes to my internal HD...looks like I was wrong (I guess I should have removed the hard drive...but I really wasn't looking forward to tearing my laptop apart). And now I have no way to boot Windows XP Pro SP3. I tried booting from the Windows XP installation CD and choosing the Recovery Console, but because of the changes openSUSE made during installation the Windows and IBM utility partitions aren't visible to my system, so I can't use that method to replace the MBR. Fortunately I have a USB floppy drive, so I created a bootable floppy from my Windows XP virtual running on my Mac and tried using a couple of programs (MBRFIX and EasyBCD) to replace the MBR, but they either don't see the partitions, or say they won't run from DOS. I've even tried using YaST Boot Loader, but it says "Because of the partitioning, the boot loader cannot be installed properly." Perhaps that's the root of the problem...it never installed properly in the first place?

    Most of the solutions I'm finding involve using the Windows Recovery Console...so, I'm stuck. The installation to the USB flash drive doesn't boot, and the computer will only boot to a GRUB RESCUE> prompt. The only way I can access the system now is with the Live CD on the first USB flash drive. I've found some instructions to attempt recovery of the MBR from a command prompt, but they are for other flavors of Linux and the commands don't work.

    I really don't want to re-install Windows on my laptop...there may be files on it that I don't want to lose, and it has my only remaining installation of Adobe Photoshop on it (which I really need to get back into as soon as possible as I may need it at work this week or next week).

    Any options? Should I re-attempt the installation of openSUSE to the second USB flash drive and hope that I can get the system to boot up? If I do get it to boot up, how would I go about un-installing it to get my Windows system functioning? Or, hopefully, if it does install properly I'll get an option to boot Windows from GRUB and I can somehow replace the MBR from there.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.


    It's times like this I wish I wasn't so brave about trying new software.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: System won't boot (stuck at GRUB RESCUE> prompt)

    You have probably tried to perform one of the more complex of procedures and one I wouldn't really recommend.

    Can I say, just for now - don't panic.

    Isn't there room on the real HD to make a install there?
    Do you have a working live USB that can be used to run and install openSUSE?
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: System won't boot (stuck at GRUB RESCUE> prompt)

    Quote Originally Posted by caf4926 View Post
    You have probably tried to perform one of the more complex of procedures and one I wouldn't really recommend.

    Can I say, just for now - don't panic.

    Isn't there room on the real HD to make a install there?
    Do you have a working live USB that can be used to run and install openSUSE?
    I'm trying not to panic...trust me.

    There is no free space on the internal hard drive...it's all allocated to either the Windows partition, or the IBM Utility partition.

    I even dug out an old copy of Partition Magic and I'm trying to see if I can get the system going with that...no luck so far. But it does see the two partitions on the hard disk...both primary...however, even if I set one of them bootable the system still boots to a GRUB RESCUE> prompt.

    I do have the Live CDs of openSUSE 12.3, and 12.2, which will boot the system. I believe my only options would be to install to one of the USB flash drives that I have...or purchasing an external USB hard drive to install to (I'm not sure if that would be any different than installing to the USB flash drive).

    Thanks for the reply...hopefully we can come up with a solution.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: System won't boot (stuck at GRUB RESCUE> prompt)

    The problem is down to where you install grub
    And your install is far from typical. I would expect that if all the devices that were present at install were now present, it should boot. Assuming those devices are unchanged from that at time of install
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: System won't boot (stuck at GRUB RESCUE> prompt)

    Today is going to be a long day at work since I'm only going to get a few hours sleep tonight...

    I'm bootable to Windows XP Pro again!!!

    It only took about 8-10 hours to find the right solution...an old Win 98 SE boot disk which had FDISK on it. Good old "FDISK /MBR" fixed my problem!! Why do they (M$) take these useful commands away from us?

    I can't get to the IBM Utility Partition...but I'll troubleshoot that with IBM/Lenovo after I've gotten a few good nights sleep.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: System won't boot (stuck at GRUB RESCUE> prompt)

    Those utility partitions are next to useless IMO. In many instances I make a backup of the contents and delete the partition. Especially where I need to eliminate the problem of where the vendor has already used up 4 primary partitions on a MBR table.
    Parted Magic can get to anything you have there as it mounts partitions with full r/w access
    But if you don't have any space you can shrink off your windows install (C) then it's a bit of a fruitless discussion.
    But if you want to boot and run from a USB you need to make sure you set grub to sd?
    So if the device for install is sdd then grub should be set to that
    But, if you are running live from one usb and installing to another. The live usb will not be present post install when trying to boot the installed usb and sdd might not be sdd but sdc
    So can you install from DVD?
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