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How My Linux System Fixed My Windows

Updated on January 5, 2014

Lenovo G500, dirt cheap, runs like a champ

My cheap little dual-boot
My cheap little dual-boot | Source

I recently bought a Lenovo G500. Not the best machine around but it was 50% off at Best Buy. The new economy makes us do things we wouldn't normally do. I usually go for mid-priced machines because I find it's just worth it.

It came with Windows 8. I am not a fan of Windows but it doesn't hurt to have a backup system. I even keep a jump drive with Puppy Linux on there just to make sure I got a backup for my backup. As it turns out, the machine came with some cool games my kid liked so I installed Linux side by side with Windows doing what is called a "Dual-Boot." That is to say I can use either system interchangably. I just have to restart to go to the other OS.

I installed Ubuntu 13.04 which was about to be out of date. The release cycles for Linux are so close together these days, by the time I figure out the changes, it will be time for 14.04 to come out. I then booted back into Windows to make sure it still worked and it did- for a few weeks.

Then one fine morning at the coffee shop I said to myself "Self, I would like to listen to Winamp, play Subway Surfers, and use my text editor Crimson to code today." All of those programs have a tough time running in Linux so I rebooted into Windows (not!) It just wouldn't boot. Rather than running the Windows recovery partition (another backup upon backups I mentioned before) which would wipe the Ubuntu I spent 40 hours messing with to make it work perfectly, I just gave up because I didn't have time.

Another few weeks went by and Ubuntu was acting up. The X-11 server which serves all of the graphical programs kept freezing. The error logs didn't give me much information so I went to the Ubuntu forums for a quick fix. I found the post with the same problem. It said to upgrade to Ubuntu 13.10. Upgrading an entire system takes about 4 hours.

During the upgrade they give you the option to view the terminal output to see if everything goes well. To be honest it flashes by so fast it's hard to keep up reading all of it. We are talking thousands of lines of output. One interesting line I caught was "Detected problem with Windows boot loader- attempting to reconfigure--" some time went by, then came the message "Windows boot loader reconfigured."

Well, that's never happened. I didn't even know Linux could dig into Windows on it's own, look at the files, and rewrite them. What a pleasant surprise I found when it actually worked. I rebooted into Windows, and then got right into all of the programs, and they all worked fine. To think I couldn't figure out the problem myself even after working with Windows for over a decade now. I ought to be ashamed of myself. I should know the Windows boot loader by now.

I hope this little anectdote was entertaining. And remember sometimes the most unexpected things happen when you are not even paying attention. Good day, and happy hunting.

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