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  • Reinstall GRUB menu for dual boot Linux Mint and Windows?

    Posted on jburk07 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Other platforms – for Windows wonks Linux for Windows wonks Reinstall GRUB menu for dual boot Linux Mint and Windows?

    Topic Resolution: Resolved

    This topic contains 23 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Ascaris 2 months, 1 week ago.

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    • #1874246 Reply

      jburk07
      AskWoody Plus

      I’ve been exploring Linux for possible use on our Windows 7 laptops (both MBR) after end of support in January. After trying a couple of distributions with live persistent USB’s, I decided to install Linux Mint 19.1 in dual boot with Windows XP on an older laptop to explore further. That went well and I felt like I was making progress.

      Because my Windows 7 laptop has an MBR disk with the maximum 4 partitions, I’m trying to figure a way to keep all 4 (planning to dual-boot Linux) using an extended partition, so I decided to experiment on the old XP. Before I installed Linux Mint on the XP machine, I made an image of the hard drive, which also has 4 partitions, using Macrium Reflect. Then I cloned just the first 2 partitions (a Dell Utility and the C: partition) to an extra (and larger) hard drive, leaving the additional space unallocated, and replaced the original drive with this new one. Then I installed Linux Mint using the installer option “Install Linux Mint alongside the current OS,” which is handy because it automatically creates an extended partition for Linux. I configured a couple of things and installed just a few updates, for Firefox and the Software Manager, and made a Timeshift backup.

      My idea was that I could restore the third Windows partition from the Macrium image as a logical partition to the right of the Linux installation, and eventually restore the 4th Windows partition, which is a Dell recovery partition, as the 4th primary partition. (The 4th partition on my Windows 7 disk is an HP recovery partition.)

      However, when I restored just the 3rd Windows XP partition into the extended partition where Linux Mint is installed, for some reason Macrium Reflect also overwrote the MBR, so I lost the GRUB menu. The machine just boots directly into Windows XP now.

      At this point I guess I have 3 options:
      1) Try to restore the Linux installation using Timeshift, which I hope would restore the dual-boot GRUB menu;
      2) Delete the entire extended partition and start all over with the installation; or
      3) Somehow restore just the GRUB dual-boot menu, if there’s a fairly simple way to do that.

      I tried to do a little research about the problem online and saw some complicated-looking command-line solutions, but given my inexperience I’m worried I’d make the problem worse or mess up the Windows partition, since in XP the boot partition is C: itself. So I thought I’d see if someone here has faced a similar problem before and has some solution for a newbie like me, before I start over. Or should I just learn how to use Timeshift and see if that restores my dual-boot menu?

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    • #1874296 Reply

      jburk07
      AskWoody Plus

      P.S. to my post above: In case anyone is concerned, I don’t let XP go online. I’m just using this machine for testing for eventual dual boot with Windows 7. After Windows 7 EOS, I don’t plan to use Windows 7 online, either.

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    • #1874298 Reply

      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      I would suggest you download Super GRUB 2 disk, which comes as an .iso image, then write that to a USB drive or optical disc of your choice.  Boot that, and one of the options in the menu it presents should find your Linux installation and allow it to boot.  Once that’s done, use the ‘disks’ utility from the Mint menu to verify that your hard drive is /dev/sda (with only one drive, it almost certainly is).  If it is named something else, use that name instead in the command below.

      Once that is verified, just copy and paste this into the terminal:

      sudo grub-install /dev/sda

      It should find Windows and configure GRUB to allow dual-booting again.

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      • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  Ascaris.
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      • #1874321 Reply

        jburk07
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks for the help. I looked at the site and will have to study the documentation a bit to figure out the menus after I create the bootable disk. It helps to have your overview and reassurance that this should work for the dual-boot menu. The hard drive is definitely /dev/sda. I’ll report back after I figure out the Super Grub 2 disk.

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      • #1874350 Reply

        jburk07
        AskWoody Plus

        Hmm. I downloaded the super_grub2_disk_hybrid_2.02s10.iso, which appears to be the latest stable version, and added it to my existing YUMI USB, following the instructions on the site. The laptop booted from the USB, and I can choose the super grub 2 choice, but when it comes up it only displays a “GRUB4DOS” screen, with choices for a BASH-like screen but with no graphical user interface like the screens illustrated on the site.

        I tried the suggested commands:
        find /menu.lst
        find /boot/grub/menu.lst
        find /grub/menu.lst,
        but each returned only the following:
        Error 15:(http://grub4dos.chenall.net/e/15)
        File not found

        The site says that XP is supported, but maybe it only supports a terminal screen? I’m not sure where to go from here. Should I try downloading a different iso, like the …x86_64_efi_2.02s10 version? The processor is 64-bit but of course the system boots MBR/legacy, so I don’t know if the “EFI” means it wouldn’t boot. Or there’s also an …i386-pc… iso.

        Before trying any of those alternatives, I booted a live USB to look at things and discovered that the Linux partition, which used to be /dev/sda4, is now /dev/sda5. Could that be the problem? I had created a small swap partition that used to be /dev/sda5, but it’s gone now. The partition I copied from the Macrium image is now sda5. In the file system, the root folder is shown with an X in a gray box; does that mean it’s missing?

        I’ll try to post screen shots in another post.

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        • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  jburk07. Reason: slight editing for clarity
        • #1874419 Reply

          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          I would try it on a USB drive by itself first and see if you can get it to work with the interface shown on the site.  I have never used YUMI in that way (and it was a long time since I used it for anything), so I don’t know why it didn’t work, but I have used Super GRUB 2 to rescue an overwritten bootloader numerous times.

          It’s normal for partitions to change names when changes are made.  It should not make any difference in a modern Linux installation, as fstab (file system table) lists the partitions by UUID, not by the /dev/sdX name.  At the very least, if this was causing issues, it would attempt to boot GRUB and fail, not just go to Windows without asking.

          You can rescue the GRUB from a live session too, but you have to issue a few commands to mount your Linux folders on your hard disk in place of the live session ones.  These are probably the commands you wrote about above, but you don’t have to type them… just cut and paste them one by one.  This site has a pretty good write-up of the process.

           

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          • #1874465 Reply

            jburk07
            AskWoody Plus

            @ascaris,
            Thanks, I’ll try it on a separate USB as you suggested. I had just used the one I had created earlier for a couple of Linux live installations since the instructions on the site said to use YUMI, and since YUMI creates a multiboot drive. It will be worth a try anyway. If that doesn’t work I’ll take a look at the link you provided, but I have to say that strings of commands that involve sudo and /dev/sda are pretty scary for me since I have no idea what I’m doing with those!

            Thanks also for the explanation about how the partition numbering/name shouldn’t matter. Maybe then I could still try Timeshift, too.

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            • #1874526 Reply

              Ascaris
              AskWoody_MVP

              Timeshift should work to get GRUB reinstalled correctly too, but let me also explain what the commands do on that page I referenced, in the hope that they won’t be so intimidating anymore.

              You should absolutely be cautious cutting and pasting commands into the terminal, especially where superuser permissions are in use.  Be wary of sources that may not be reputable.  It’s important to know what the commands do, even if you don’t have the syntax memorized.

              In the case of the series of commands in the page I listed about using the live session, the first command is:

              sudo mount /dev/sdXY /mnt

              In this case, X is replaced by the letter of the drive (not the same as in Windows, but the same idea… more below) and Y is the partition number of the root partition.

              In Linux and other Unix-like operating systems, the ‘sd’ bit above stands for ‘SCSI device,’  but it also covers SATA drives. For this post, I will assume that the system has only SATA drives, which is probably accurate.

              The first SATA drive that is found by Linux will be named /dev/sda, meaning it is a device found on the PC (/dev), and that it is the first SATA/SCSI drive (sda).  The next SATA hard drive, if there is another one, will be sdb, then sdc, and so on.

              The first drive discovered (sda) will generally be the one plugged into the first SATA connector on the motherboard, but not always.  Like with drive letters auto-assigned by Windows, the /dev/sdX names can change if the hardware configuration changes.  Because of this, it is important to verify that the drives are actually named what we think they are before doing anything important, like we are here.

              While /dev/sda refers to the first hard disk drive (the physical drive itself) that Linux found, /dev/sda1 refers to the first partition (or what was initially the first partition!) on that drive, and so on.  The partition numbers can be changed when partitions are added or deleted, but otherwise, they will remain as they are.  If you have sda1, sda2, and sda3 on a disk, in the usual order, and you then create a new partition before sda1 (to the left of it, on gparted), the new one would be sda4.  It doesn’t renumber them all to reflect the new order.

              As you’ve discovered, adding or removing partitions can make the numbering weird like that, but that doesn’t generally matter.  When Linux boots up, it uses a file called /etc/fstab to tell it what to do with the volumes (partitions, more or less; the two are not exactly the same, but close enough for what we are doing here) it finds (whether and where to mount them).  Because the drive and partition letters/numbers can change easily, it’s not a good idea for fstab to identify volumes using those.

              Most Linux distributions, thus, use UUIDs to identify and mount volumes.  Each one has a random UUID assigned when the volume is first created, and that will not change even if what used to be /dev/sda1 became /dev/sda3 or /dev/sdb4 (or anything else).   This is not just for GPT partition tables, but MBR ones as well.  You can see that in your screenshot above, where /dev/sda5 has the UUID starting with D54A.

              Now, back to that command above.  From the screenshot, we know that /dev/sda5 is the only Ext4 volume on the drive, so that must be the Linux root.  Thus, the command to paste into the terminal would be:

              sudo mount /dev/sda5 /mnt

              That mounts your permanent Mint installation to the live session’s file system so that the live session can interact with it at the file level.  We need that because we want the live session to be able to write the GRUB bootloader to it, and the bits it needs to do that have to be mounted where the GRUB installer expects them to be.  The above command does part of that… it makes your Mint installation accessible, but all the things are not where the live session installer expects just yet.

              When you’re running Mint normally, your root directory contains several subdirectories, like /home, /etc, /usr, and a bunch of others.  After you use the command above, the ones from your hard drive’s Mint installation will be mounted in the live session at /mnt/home, /mnt/etc, /mnt/usr, and so on.  That’s because we mounted the Mint root to /mnt.

              The next series of commands:

              sudo mount –bind /dev /mnt/dev &&
              sudo mount –bind /dev/pts /mnt/dev/pts &&
              sudo mount –bind /proc /mnt/proc &&
              sudo mount –bind /sys /mnt/sys

              Those commands point the live session at the bits of the permanent Mint installation that are required to install GRUB correctly to your hard disk.  Otherwise, when you tell it to install GRUB to /dev/sda, it will install the GRUB that would be correct for the live session, not the one that would work for your actual Mint installation!

              The –bind option tells the mount command that you intend to mount one directory (and its subdirectories) in place of another.  Otherwise, mount would expect the first parameter to be a device, like /dev/sda5.

              The ampersands (&&) at the end of each line just enable you to cut and paste the entire thing, all four lines, in one cut and paste operation.  It tells the shell to act as if each of the four lines was entered separately.  If you wished, you could omit the && at the end of each line and cut and paste the four lines individually, and it would work the same.

              That’s all that rather intimidating bunch of code really means.  It looks like a bunch of weirdness, but you don’t have to remember it or type it in.  Cut and paste is much easier, and it prevents typographical errors.  Just make sure the things you are about to enter apply to your situation first… you can always paste them into a text editor first to get them in shape for your needs, then copy from there and paste to the terminal when ready.

               

               

               

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            • #1874615 Reply

              jburk07
              AskWoody Plus

              @ascaris, thanks for this very detailed and clear explanation. Over the years I’ve used simple DOS commands in Windows and in general I’m fairly comfortable using such terminal commands, especially with specific, reliable guidance like this. I am definitely interested in learning about the Linux bash commands as I go along. And I will definitely remain wary and cautious, as you recommend.

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    • #1874356 Reply

      jburk07
      AskWoody Plus

      Here is what I’m seeing when I boot into the live USB.

      The first screenshot shows the partitions using GParted. The Linux partition is /dev/sda5.

      GParted

      The second screenshot shows the File Manager, with the Root folder showing a gray X.

      Root - X

      The third screenshot shows the view using Disks.

      Disks

      Any ideas as to how I should proceed?

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    • #1874410 Reply

      johnf
      AskWoody Lounger

      You could also try Boot-Repair. The link to a iso you can download and burn to a USB Drive or CD is here:

      https://sourceforge.net/projects/boot-repair-cd/

      Just make sure to backup your data, and you should be fine. I think it’s pretty easy to use, just make sure you download the correct iso (usually 64 bit.)

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      • #1874466 Reply

        jburk07
        AskWoody Plus

        @johnf, thanks for the suggestion for Boot-Repair, which I’ll also try if I can’t get the other one to work. I would probably try the 64-bit first since the processor supports 64-bit and it’s Linux Mint 64-bit which is installed.

        I have both the old hard drive (still working) and an image of the Windows partition, which is where the data is, and the Linux partition pretty much just has only the initial installation on the Linux partition, so I could start all over if things go wrong.

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    • #1874416 Reply

      anonymous

      ? says:

      not to add to the confusion for t-shoot maybe look at /etc/fstab?

      https://www.poftut.com/what-is-linux-fstab-file-and-how-can-we-configure-it/

      from googlin’ “linux mint /etc/fstab”

      i was having boot problem and misconfigured fstab was the root cause. when you are in your disk program you can click on the gear icon and look at the config there as well. the link has a terminal cmd that puts everything up for you to examine…

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      • #1874467 Reply

        jburk07
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks, ?. It is probably beyond me but I’ll definitely take a look, since I’m definitely in favor of learning whatever I can.

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    • #1874503 Reply

      dg1261
      AskWoody_MVP

      jburk07,

      I’m not a linux expert but I am intimately familiar with Dell’s XP machines (see here), so perhaps I can offer a few observations not directly related to your linux issues.

      As was standard, your XP machine appears to have come with 4 partitions: DellUtility (partition type “DE”, in hexadecimal notation), an OS partition (type “07”), DellRestore (type “DB”), and MediaDirect (type “D7”). “07” is a standard NTFS partition, but “DE”, “DB”, and “D7” are all proprietary Dell “inventions”, meant to obfuscate the true nature of those factory partitions.

      I don’t know how smart grub is, but even after it’s installed it may not be able to figure out what to do with those strange Dell partitions anyway, so even though you may restore those partitions they likely won’t function properly.

      “DE” is meant to be booted via the Dell BIOS, not the MBR or partition table, so that likely would still work as long as you still have a Dell BIOS and if you munge the partition type entry in the partition table to “DE” instead of “06” (it’s actually a FAT16 partition).

      “DB” requires a Dell-specific MBR, so will not work if that is replaced by grub.

      “D7” is meant to be booted from the MediaDirect button (the little “house” icon) on your laptop keyboard, which tells the BIOS to look for a “D7” partition in the primary partition table, so it won’t work from an extended partition.

      As for the value of those Dell partitions, I don’t consider any of them to be indispensible, and they just get in the way if you’re multi-booting.

      The DellUtility partition contains nothing more than a hardware diagnostic utility, but that same utility can be downloaded from Dell’s site and run from a DOS-bootable CD or USB stick when necessary, so it doesn’t need to be on the hard disk and taking up a slot in your partition table.

      The XP version of the DellRestore partition contained a FI.GHO recovery image in Ghost 8.x format, but you can simply copy that image (and the recover.exe utility) to somewhere else and restore from a DOS-bootable CD/USB stick when needed.

      The MediaDirect partition simply booted a stripped-down version of XP that ran the Media Center utility, enabling you to use the laptop as a dedicated music or video player without booting fully into XP. As such, that was of dubious value right from the start.

      Now, from your first post it sounds like the XP laptop may be just an experiment to familiarize yourself with grub and creating a dual-boot system, so perhaps the contents of the other Dell partitions aren’t really relevant and are nothing more than place-holders to be experimented with. If so, this may all just be an academic exercise, but I thought I’d warn you lest you become concerned that they aren’t working when you’re done configuring everything.

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      • #1874506 Reply

        jburk07
        AskWoody Plus

        dg1261,

        Thanks so much for all of this interesting information, most of which I didn’t know. When I was actively using XP, I wasn’t even aware that these Dell “functions” were in separate partitions.

        You’re right that I’m just using this as a test machine right now, so the true nature of those partitions isn’t necessarily important. I was mostly trying to see if I could restore other partitions after a Linux dual boot when it comes time to deal with my Windows 7 laptop, which is an HP. It has two partitions which I will need to keep for running Windows 7, the System Reserved partition and the OS (C:) partition, and then it has two HP partitions similar to the Dell’s: an HP Tools and an HP Restore partition. After reading your post I can see I probably don’t really need those HP partitions, like their Dell counterparts on this XP laptop, but was just interested in seeing if it would be possible.

        At any rate it’s helpful to know that those Dell partitions aren’t really needed, that I can download the Dell diagnostics from the Dell site, and that the Dell Restore can be stored externally (as it is at the moment) and run from a rescue disk or reinstallation disk, maybe? – which I have for that computer.

        The interesting thing about the Media Direct feature is that it was actually set up by Dell as the only logical partition in an extended partition, even though that was only the 4th partition. (Hopefully you can see the screenshot from Macrium Reflect below.) In the past it did start up independently from the operating system with that little button on the front, but now when I press that button it first displays the Media Direct page but then moves on to boot fully into XP, so you’re right that it doesn’t work anymore. No loss there since I never used it.

        So thanks for explaining these things. Your post, along with my experience trying to restore the partition after installing Linux, is helping me realize that it’s probably best to give up those HP partitions on the HP later, when it dual boots Linux. And the old Dell Inspiron does run Linux Mint very well, so if nothing else it’s really nice to be able to make the old machine useable again!

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      • #1874545 Reply

        Ascaris
        AskWoody_MVP

        I don’t know how smart grub is, but even after it’s installed it may not be able to figure out what to do with those strange Dell partitions anyway, so even though you may restore those partitions they likely won’t function properly.

        GRUB should ignore the proprietary partitions, so they won’t work anymore, as you said.  The custom Dell bootloader would already have been wiped by the initial Linux Mint installation, and then again when the Windows bootloader (the standard one, not the Dell one) overwrote it.

        I personally find little use for such partitions, and I remove them right off the bat on any of my laptops… though I do perform a backup of the “out of the box” configuration first, which I restore (if possible) before sending the unit in for warranty service, if it should be necessary.  In this particular case, the Dell partitions are already orphaned, I think, so if it were me, I’d remove them with Gparted and reclaim the space for the other partitions, but it’s not my PC!

        EDIT: For future readers of this thread, the text with strike thru was not correct, per post #1874646 .

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        • #1874599 Reply

          jburk07
          AskWoody Plus

          Thanks, @ascaris, this is helpful. Of course, it’s different for me since I don’t know enough to figure out the alternatives to these partitions, but it will certainly be much simpler if I don’t have to worry about preserving them (though I’ll keep an image backup!).

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    • #1874546 Reply

      dg1261
      AskWoody_MVP

      The interesting thing about the Media Direct feature is that it was actually set up by Dell as the only logical partition in an extended partition, even though that was only the 4th partition.

      Oops, you’re right. I forgot that MediaDirect 3 was configured as the sole logical volume in an extended partition, not as a primary partition. MediaDirect 1 and 2 were not primary partitions, either, but hidden in a “Host Protected Area“–a totally batty idea that’s a whole other topic entirely. IIRC, MediaDirect would be a primary partition in the event you were to install it (any version) from the MediaDirect Reinstallation CD, such as might be done if you were upgrading your hard disk.

       

      and that the Dell Restore can be stored externally (as it is at the moment) and run from a rescue disk or reinstallation disk, maybe?

      Just as a point of clarification, the image cannot be restored from a rescue disk, but from build-your-own DOS boot media. Norton Ghost 8 was actually a DOS program, and recover.exe (which you’ll find in one of the folders on the recovery partition) is a limited Dell variation of the Ghost program. It will run from any ordinary DOS media. Create your own DOS-bootable CD or USB stick (plenty of resources on the web) and put a copy of recover.exe on it. When the need arises, you’ll boot the DOS media, launch the recover.exe program, point it at the fi.gho image you saved from the DellRestore partition, and tell it which partition on the hard disk to overwrite. It’s a manual process.

      The original DellRestore partition was designed to be a little more automated, so the rest of the files in the recovery partition are there to facilitate scripting. But automation won’t be an option in your case because of the changes you’re making to the hard disk, so the rest of the files are of no use to you. The only pieces you need to save from the DellRestore partition are the fi.gho image (which may be split into multiple .ghs segments if it’s a large image) and the recover.exe utility.

       

      Your post, along with my experience trying to restore the partition after installing Linux, is helping me realize that it’s probably best to give up those HP partitions on the HP later

      Dell and HP have taken different philosophies on the recovery process. A Dell factory recovery will overwrite just the OS partition and leave the others untouched. If you’ve modified your partition layout, your changes will not be undone.

      In contrast, on the HP laptops I’ve worked on a factory recovery has always wiped all partitions and restored the original factory partition layout.

      Thus, if you plan to make any partitioning changes to an HP computer my recommendation is to burn a copy of HP’s recovery media, then eliminate the HP partitions and go about your business, rebuilding a new partition layout the way you want.

      If the option to create recovery media has disappeared from your Win7 Start menu, you can do a factory restore to get it back at least long enough to create the media. Once you have HP’s recovery media, you can boot from it and it will restore all factory partitions on a completely blank disk, if the need should ever arise.

       

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      • #1874600 Reply

        jburk07
        AskWoody Plus

        Create your own DOS-bootable CD or USB stick (plenty of resources on the web) and put a copy of recover.exe on it. When the need arises, you’ll boot the DOS media, launch the recover.exe program, point it at the fi.gho image you saved from the DellRestore partition, and tell it which partition on the hard disk to overwrite.

        Ah, thanks for the clarification about needing a DOS-bootable USB or CD to run the Dell Restore partition. It’s doubtful that I would need it for XP, and I do still have a couple of backups of the original hard drive if needed, but you never know.

        Thus, if you plan to make any partitioning changes to an HP computer my recommendation is to burn a copy of HP’s recovery media, then eliminate the HP partitions and go about your business, rebuilding a new partition layout the way you want.

        I did already make a set of HP Recovery DVD’s, so I am OK on that. Since the Windows 7 is an OEM copy and I don’t have a Windows 7 installation disk, I tend to overdo things with redundant backup systems and thought it would be good to have the Recovery partition also. But I have images of that hard disk also and will hold onto a couple, plus the original SSD which I’ve replaced, when the time comes to make partition changes.

        Thanks again for your very clear explanations. This information really helps as I make plans for the transition.

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    • #1874637 Reply

      jburk07
      AskWoody Plus

      Update:

      I decided to take Ascaris’s suggestion and try first to install Super Grub2 Disk on a separate USB using YUMI. This one worked and came up with the Super Grub2 user interface. It found the Linux Mint install and booted it. Then I followed Ascaris’s instructions to use the terminal command sudo grub-install /dev/sda to reinstall GRUB, which did the trick. When I rebooted, the dual-boot menu was back, so I’m back in business!

      Part of me wanted to try Timeshift to see if/how it works, but I figure I can try that later after I install the rest of the Linux updates.

      Thanks to everyone who responded for all the information and suggestions. I learn a lot from every post.

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      • #1874646 Reply

        jburk07
        AskWoody Plus

        Just a side note:
        I noticed that the GRUB menu includes an entry for booting into the Dell Utility partition, and it works. I realize that those same diagnostics are probably available on the Dell site, but at least that partition is not just taking up space. I found it interesting, anyway.

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        • #1874725 Reply

          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          Wow, that’s interesting.  I wasn’t aware GRUB had that ability!

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    • #1874661 Reply

      anonymous

      ? says:

      excellent! thank you for the sucess report jburk07 and thanks also for the skillful helpers. personally when setting up windows i wipe everything off the drive and start with a clean slate

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