Total crash and HD damage after reordering the GRUB list

Desperately need help!

Total crash and HD damage after reordering the GRUB list in a dual boot installation.

I had just successfully installed and activated OpenSuse11 via a double-boot configuration on a primary VISTA partition and obtained a GRUB list:

a) OpenSuse11
b) Windows 1
c) Windows 2
d) a fourth item which I do not remenber.

All this before doing my first complete backup, which I was about to do using some tools to produce the necessary image file.

Then I had the unfortunate idea of reordering the GRUB list in order to show a) Vista and b) OpenSuse. All this following the OpenSuse menus and commands.

This caused a total system crash.

I am convinced that this operation damaged the MBR and probably the containing sector.

The main harddisk is NOT even visible and never accessible.

Is there any way/tool to repair the master boot record, at least to try to reset it back to the original VISTA configuration?

Thanks and best regards


> I am convinced that this operation damaged the MBR and probably the
> containing sector.

i doubt that…BUT, the more you try to “fix it” and not knowing
exactly HOW, the more likely you are to “fit it” beyond repair…

i’d suggest you WAIT until competent help wakes up, checks in here and
offers some help…

my advice, if the help arrives and doesn’t BEGIN by asking you some
question, then don’t be so fast in trying whatever they
suggest…(in other words, it is kinda hard to know who to trust here,

on the other hand, you are not likely to make it worse if you insert
the install DVD and select the “Repair Installed System” option, see

i do not know if that is on the Live CD or not…if you don’t have the
repair option, then WAIT for real help!!


Grub configuration settings are not actually stored in the MBR only a pointer is added providing the location to the GRUB configuration files located on the partition containing the /boot directory. openSUSE default location for /boot is on the partition configured as root /.

What do you mean when you say the hard drive does not show up? Are you not able to see the drive through the BIOS or are you referring to a live CD, Install Disk or repair tool?

Did you install from LiveCD, installation CD’s or installation DVD?

If you installed with installation CD’s or DVD you can use the rescue system program on the disk to check the GRUB configuration and if necessary write the pointer to the MBR.

If you do not know the setup you used for your partitions running a repair install or upgrade install from the openSUSE installation CD’s or DVD will automatically detect your windows partitions and add them to GRUB. If you are not sure of the GRUB configuration syntax you can modify it after through YaST2 to reorder and rename the entries as well as set the default, etc.

Boot from a live cd, any will do. And from su terminal do:

fdisk -l

post result

Changing the grub configuration, or even installing grub anywhere on the disk, will not damage the contents of the disk or make it inaccessible. Grub only writes to reserved areas either in the disk boot sector (the MBR) or to partition boot sectors.

It is possible that installing grub to the MBR caused a problem on a Vista machine. That is fairly easy to repair. On Vista, it is much more likely that the problem is with the Vista boot manager’s database. Also not that difficult to repair (i.e., returning Vista to its original configuration). But . . .

Unfortunately, Microsoft’s licensing rules for manufacturers prevents them from giving you Vista recovery media. Unless you buy Vista retail, usually all you have is a “recovery image” or “recovery partition”, which restores the machine to its original factory state. Fortunately, you can download a Vista Recovery Disc iso to burn to CD; the link is here Windows Vista Recovery Disc Download. There is an automatic option, which may or may not work. There is also the option to run a command window; there you can execute commands that will restore the Vista code to the MBR and other commands which rebuilds its boot manager database.

Once you have your immediate problem resolved, just fyi it is easy - and often desirable - to use Vista to boot Linux rather than the other way around. The tool EasyBCD is excellent for doing this. You can get it at the same website above. You will need to install grub to the openSUSE root partition. From there, EasyBCD takes care of everything (the site also has a good tutorial).

Convinced you have not lost anything. Years ago (SUSE 9.3 Professional) I thought I understood the lines in GRUB’s menu.lst and ‘reordered’ them, with an unbootable system as the one single result. Even then it could be solved by, I copy from an ancient email:
Boot from install-DVD
Start installer
During install check for ‘Repair installed system’
Not knowing what to repair, Automatic repair

Did that, repair fixed at least SUSE’s booting, fixed the rest with help from

And, about booting Vista, there’s a sticky about multibooting with Vista. Check that and you won’t need anything else.

Hello You All,

Thanks for your help.

I have solved this problem, in fact bypassing it and discovering, as you correctly had pointed out, that probably nothing was damaged on my hard disc.

As I had no self-loadable CD/DVD at hand, and no original Microsoft backup disc to try and restore the original VISTA resources (MS no longer provides any separate O.S. disc with new PCs, as they used to do in the past - I am told to combat sw piracy?), first I tried an old Linux Mandrake 9.2 and then the associated System Diagnostic and Rescue CD, with no success.

In fact, it was the last one that diagnosed a damaged boot sector.
But these were just too old and obsolete (from 1973!).

Finally, being too impatient, I bought the latest version of Linux, on a DVD containing a loadable Ubuntu with a wonderful set of test and installation procedures.

Ubuntu did read, right away, the whole configuration of my hard disc, with all the partitions, logical units, directories and files. Nothing had been lost.

So I just installed it, replacing the OpenSuse set up. The only critical operations were a) the erasure of the existing OpenSuse partitions and b) the manual setup of the new partitions needed for Ubuntu.

Every thing went perfectly OK.

Now I am planning to reinstall OpenSuse on another new machine.

This time with all the necessary precautions and sw resources.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Again, thank you so much for your support and best regards.

Thx for the update, glad to hear all is OK after all.

To your question re Windows media not being provided as a piracy protection measure - no; that protection is done via WGA (“Windows Genuine Advantage”). Rather, this is due to licensing rules: The copy installed on the PC is “oem”, costs the manufacturer substantially less, allows the manufacturer to customize it, and requires the manufacturer to provide support (rather than MS). This results in a lower cost to the consumer, at the sacrifice of not having the media. The Vista Recovery Disk I ref’d above is the counterpart to the “Recovery Console” that was on the XP CD; manufacturers don’t provide that because they believe it would drive up their support costs (it is much cheaper for them to just require you to re-image the OS from a hard disk recovery partition).