Sunday, July 19, 2009

One nerd, one computer and "no bootable partition"

If you don't like to read much, skip that block down there till the double-space and "tl;dr".

Well, I'm not sure what caused that, but I just stood up and the computer wouldn't boot. After two retries and the message "No bootable partition in table" I figured that it wouldn't fix itself.
I checked the cables to the hard-drives and the IDE configuration list when you start the computer and everything looked right, but it also wasn't some loose cable. That's when I started worrying about my data, especially about the Dreamball-code. Everything else would be a pity, but loosing that code would be really bad.

I dug up a Windows CD, put it in the drive, rebooted the computer to find out that this CD does not provide this option to re-copy the Windows core-files while keeping everything else, including the registry 'n stuff intact.
But I also didn't want to reinstall and setup the whole Windows, since I'm planning to do that once Dreamball is at VALVe for testing and we have faster internets (should be kinda soonish; more about that later).

After lunch I tried my luck on the Windows Recovery Console. I was happy that it recognized C:\Windows so far, but my code is on the second partition (I: for some reason).
Well, I logged into that and ran chkdsk with /P /R (find & repair invalid sectors). It took about 3.5h, by which time I took a shower and read a book about C++ for game programmers, which was kinda annoying because my chair (& table) is not comfortable for reading, leaving the bed in which it also gets uncomfortable after a time plus I already know about 70-80% of the stuff, and after that I just thought that I'd try to access the drive I, which I couldn't view the directories in because it was somehow broken.
So I wanted to run chkdsk on that drive, but it told me that this drive has one or more irreparable damages.
Well, I tried booting windows again, but no luck on that.

By that time I was going to a friend for a movie night. After I came home I started the Recovery Console again and tried my luck with fixmbr and fixboot (note here that I have GRUB since I had been using Xubuntu (Linux) in the past) and then bootcfg, but bootcfg told me that it didn't have enough memory or something.
Rebooting still displayed the error. So I read till I got a bit sleepy and slept.

In the morning I read the book, hopelessly that I'd fix the problem.
After lunch I tidied my cupboard a bit and having found an Ubuntu 7.10 CD I decided to boot that up and listen to some music from my USB stick.
Well, maybe it'll boot normally this time, but nope, it didn't fix itself.
I tried the Recovery Console again, which took me a step further to GRUB, which told me it's having the error 15. I then booted up Linux so that I can look up what that means (was pretty useless) maybe I could even fix the problem or at least recover my data.

The Live-CD told me that it couldn't find a fitting driver & configuration for my display and thus is only available in low-graphics mode. I wanted to at least set a better fitting resolution (because 640x480 or whatever it was looks really shit on a 1680x1050 widescreen LCD), but the test crashed to the console.

Not having used Linux in quite a while I forgot how to open up the GUI again, but I remembered the X server. So I tried xinit and startx, but both told me that there is no confuguration file.
With the man-pages I found out where it should be (it wasn't there) and how to confgure a new one. I did that and was finally able to open a GUI with the command xdm, which I also found while reading the man-pages. But the screen was pretty much empty and as such useless.
In a rather short time I found the command gdm, which did the trick after some flickering. The same dialog as before popped up, so I just selected continue, which led me back the the console again.
After some different display and driver settings, which all didn't work, I found a something at last to do what I want - some flag (I don't remember) in gdm did the trick.

Instead of listening to music I opened the partition manager to find that everything looked pretty much ok. I tried the file manager to mount the drives and at least could access I, but not C.
Well, the Dreamball-code is save.
I checked the man-pages for the mount-command and with help of the internets I figured out again how to use it.

So it told me that it couldn't mount it due to Windows being in hibernation mode. I tried the force-flag, but that didn't work. Then force and read-only, which did the trick. I could access all my data.
So I thought that it has to be fixable then. I just re-booted, but the same error came. Then Recovery Console again, where I used fixmbr and fixboot, but not bootcfg, which finally fixed the problem and here I am on my crappy Windows again. YAAAAAYY!!!!
Please note that I'm referring to my Windows, not to Windows in general, here. I have my reasons to like, but also very much hate Windows - please don't think I'm a bandwagon hater here though. But still, after just this little escapade I miss Linux a little.

I also remember tying the command ntfsfix in Linux, but that didn't help either.

tl;dr: Couldn't boot because of seemingly serious harddrive-error, I was worried about the data, the Windows CD couldn't help, booted Linux, which ran after some complications, fixed the error with no data-loss and I'm back online :)

I said earlier that I'll loose a few words about why I want to reinstall my computer and why I didn't do it now.
Well, my current setup was intended to run for only a month or two, until I can re-download all my old stuff when we get faster internets, which was kind of planned (we have a T1 atm). We didn't do much about that, so I ran my Windows along, downloading all the stuff time-by-time and it worked. Steadier slower, but it worked. Needless to say that I never defragmentated.

The real pain came when my graphiccard broke. I got a new one (nVidia GeForce 9600 GT), that old one didn't like shaders much anyways (as in running very slow) (an ATi X1900 XTX 512) and I'm pretty happy with it.
I didn't remove the ATi driver properly or something and because of that DirectX likes to complain with certain applications, sometimes causing Direct3D no stop functioning and me not being able to change the display-mode until a restart, which takes quite long for my PC, since I didn't take care of my Windows (which Linux does automatically, by the way! And yes I know that Linux is just a kernel and that there might be deviates not doing that, but that's not my point and it doesn't make it invalid).

So yeah, we've at least ordered faster internets. I was hoping for 1024/128 (down/up) kb/s, but the hardware connection (cable 'n shiz) doesn't support more than 384/48 kb/s. So we pay for a 768/96 kb/s (because 256/32 kb/s is too slow and that was the next one), get 384/48 kb/s(, which is still cheaper than right now because of reasons I find to be unneccesary to mention here) and when the cable connection shiz gets updated we'll have even faster internets
Better than out old one (a 128/16 kb/s) :)

I also bought 3 books, one on C++ programming specific for games (not a C++ starter-book..!), one about OpenGL (because lots of the internet tutorials use OpenGL 1.1 stuff with immediate mode, which is not really good in todays graphiccards) and one big (relative) about AI programming.

Yes I know A FRICKIN HUGE POST, but hey, it was a kind of long story :3