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Thread: Borked MBR - Windows XP!

  1. #1
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    Default Borked MBR - Windows XP!

    Hi everyone,

    First post here and it’s a doozy

    My other half has a Dell Optiplex 755 with Windows XP on it, and this is her main machine - please don’t judge. She has decided to go the OpenSuse route and after installing into VirtualBox and liking it decided that she’d like the dual boot option, so off she went and did it. Kudos to her for that.

    However, while Tumbleweed works very nicely, there is no option for Windows XP in the grub menu and I’ve come to the end of my very limited understanding of Linux to help progress any further.

    As it’s a fresh install of Tumbleweed there’s no real concern in losing that if necessary but she can’t afford to lose the windows side as her work is on it. Is the best option to go via a Windows XP install disc and look at recovery options to see if that’ll repair the MBR?

    Other salient points:
    - there was no backup made of windows (beyond copying contents of the partition to external hard drive, has anyone got further suggestions?);
    - the partition is visible and can be mounted to view files, but it still isn’t discoverable via os-prober/YAST boot loader;
    - it doesn’t appear to be set up for efi;

    On a positive note, she’s very happy using Tumbleweed and I’ve installed it on VirtualBox myself and am quite enjoying it, but we’re both still very new to it, so any guidance would be really appreciated.

    Many thanks,

    Jes

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Borked MBR - Windows XP!

    You have mentioned EFI. Is openSUSE using EFI booting on this system? If so, that would explain the problem.
    openSUSE Leap 15.4 Beta; KDE Plasma 5.24.4;
    testing Tumbleweed.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Borked MBR - Windows XP!

    There is no EFI on a 755. ISTR that putting Windows into the boot menu is something the installer forgets to do, maybe because probe other OS isn't preselected, or first boot isn't a real boot but a kexec boot. After an operation that regenerates /boot/grub2/grub.cfg Windows should appear in the boot menu. Check /etc/default/grub to be sure GRUB_DISABLE_OS_PROBER="true" is not present in it. If it is, remove it or change true to false. If you need to change it, follow that up with sudo grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg. Following that there should be a Windows selection in the boot menu.
    Reg. Linux User #211409 *** multibooting since 1992
    Primary: 15.3, TW, 15.1 & 13.1 on Haswell
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Borked MBR - Windows XP!

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmazda View Post
    ... Check /etc/default/grub to be sure GRUB_DISABLE_OS_PROBER="true" is not present in it. If it is, remove it or change true to false. ...
    Some time ago GRUB2 changed the default behaviour for os-prober. If GRUB_DISABLE_OS_PROBER is not set to false in /etc/default/grub then os-prober will NOT be run (see here)!

    So GRUB_DISABLE_OS_PROBER="false" is necessary in /etc/default/grub to have os-prober searching for other OSs (e.g. Windows XP) and include them in the boot menu.

    Regards

    susejunky

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Borked MBR - Windows XP!

    General note Linux will not see other OS's if they use different boot methods. ie legacy/EFI. The openSUSE installer will set boot based on how the Installer is booted. I'd expect XP to us legacy booting but your mileage may vary.

    In any case you should be able to select the boot OS in the BIOS/UEFI

  6. #6

    Default Re: Borked MBR - Windows XP!

    In Tumbleweed open YaST -> Boot Loader

    Go to tab "Bootloader Options" and look if the tick box "Probe Foreign OS" is set. If not: tick it.

    On the same tab under "Default Boot Section" you should be able to choose the default OS, i.e Win XP or TW to boot into if nothing is chosen manually in booting the machine.
    Kind regards

    raspu

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Borked MBR - Windows XP!

    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for the responses but having followed all the advice so far, there's still no sign of Windows.

    I'm not there at the moment but will post the config files in a couple of days to see if that highlights any issues.

    Thanks for all the suggestions, the support is very much appreciated.

    Jes

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Borked MBR - Windows XP!

    Well are you sure it is still there??

    Show fdisk -l ( lower case L) as root

    I believe that if you take pure defaults on install it will use the whole disk thus overwriting XP or other OS

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Borked MBR - Windows XP!

    Quote Originally Posted by gogalthorp View Post
    Well are you sure it is still there??
    Quoting from the original post:
    Quote Originally Posted by Jes View Post
    Other salient points:
    - there was no backup made of windows (beyond copying contents of the partition to external hard drive, has anyone got further suggestions?);
    - the partition is visible and can be mounted to view files, but it still isn’t discoverable via os-prober/YAST boot loader;
    - it doesn’t appear to be set up for efi;
    So if the files are still there it looks like a GRUB / os-prober / overwritten MBR problem (BTW I had a similar problem _many_ years ago with Win-Vista).
    Tumbleweed Gnome on i7 4720HQ + Geforce GTX960M
    testing Leap 15.3

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Borked MBR - Windows XP!

    If you can see the Windows partition then it is probably mixed boot methods. XP is probably legacy (ie MBR) boot if the hardware supports EFI it may be set to default boot external drives in EFI mode and the installer will then default to install openSUSE in EFI mode which is incompatible with the presumed XP MBR boot mode thus osprober will not see the XP installation. In any case you should be able to boot to any OS via BIOS options

    Show us
    [CODE]
    fdisk -l ( lower case L) as root[
    /CODE]

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