dell recovery partitions - any complications?

#1
I have dual booted with XP before, but this is my first attempt to dual boot with a pre-installed version of vista, on a recent Dell laptop, and the partitions are different. I seem to have:

/dev/sda1 125.5 MB
/dev/sda2 10.0 GB - corresponding to the D: drive, containing the factory restore files
/dev/sda3 138.9 GB - corresponding to the C: drive, and labelled by the ubuntu disk partitioner as Windows Vista (loader)

The modern Dell factory restore system does not provide the option to create a set of restore CDs. Instead, a special boot option invokes the restore system residing on the first partition, and uses the files stored on the second partition to restore vista to its original condition, on the third partition.

This is completely new to me, and leaves me wondering where is the correct place to install grub, (or easyBCD) to provide me with a dual boot menu on start-up?

A suggestion was made on the Ubuntu forums that easyBCD might be the answer. However, knowing nothing about how it works, I am just looking for
reassurance that installing easyBCD will not disable the dell restore routine on the first partition

Many thanks in anticipation.
Alan
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
Hi Alan, welcome to NST.
Installing EasyBCD 2.0 on your Vista system will do no more harm than carrying a spanner in your car.
(Of course, like the spanner in your car, it could be used inadvisedly to immobilize you, but as long as you're not in the habit of clicking on buttons like "uninstall Vista bootloader" just to see what happens, there's not a lot of danger of that.)
It's a tool for managing the Vista BCD without the need for knowing BCDedit command-line syntax, and it contains many extras that will enable you to chain to grub in a Linux partition, auto-configure all the necessary steps to dual boot XP, etc.
EasyBCD is not a boot manager, it's a tool for managing the Vista BCD. You install it like any other app wherever you keep such things on your Vista partition.
Creating a space for Linux can be done directly from Vista disk management with "shrink".
Grub is a boot manager. Don't Install a linux system and allow it to take all its defaults. Use the "advanced" options when configuring grub and do not allow it to install grub to the MBR.
Make linux place grub in the Linux partition bootsector, and your system will continue to boot as it does now.
You can then use EasyBCD to create an entry in the VIsta BCD which will chain to your new Linux and this will appear as an option when you boot.
 

JustinW

Super Moderator
Staff member
#3
Before you begin to install linux backup your mbr with mbrwizard (gui frontend for it here), so you'll be able to restore the mbr if you make a mistake and continue to be able to boot from the recovery partition in the future if case need be should something go wrong. Ideally i'd just recommend having the OS CD/DVD that came with your computer handy (so you can fresh install in a disaster without all the pre-installed junk they throw on there).