[conspire] Pancake story: Xubuntu multi boot custom partition install

roger at rogerchrisman.com roger at rogerchrisman.com
Fri Jan 20 15:53:32 PST 2012

In which *Ubuntu custom partitioning installer flips but fails to
serve pancakes.

As discussed by others here before, *Ubuntu's custom partitioning
installer option can fail to flip pancakes (partitions), ie the
installer's custom partition option is willing to try, if you ask it
to, to delete a partition out from between current partitions and
format a new root (/) partition there and install there. However, this
may fail or at least the installer may fail to inform Grub2 where boot
is after such a custom partitioning install. I tried such an install
on my multi boot laptop and got:

error: incompatible license.
grub rescue>

So I tried some "grub rescue" commands ("set" and "ls") that I found
in the section about "grub rescue" on the following Ubuntu Community's
rather long Grub2 page:

However, I don't know how to tell Grub2 where boot is, nor do I know
for sure where it is, although I think it may be at the beginning of
the sda drive. So I decided to redo the install, this time without
checking the "[  ] install proprietary software and drivers" box.
However, I still used the custom partitioning option to install
between existing partitions. After this re-install, at reboot I again

error: incompatible license.
grub rescue>

The install media I am using is a CD with
xubuntu-11.10-desktop-amd64.iso on it that I checked with md5sum.
Should work. So... remembering reports some time ago on this Cabal
mailing list of others' similar experiences, I thought a bit... I am
installing on a pre-existing multi boot setup using the Xubuntu 11.10
desktop installer's custom partitioning install option... something
about pancakes...

I had been trying to pancake a new install between existing partitions
using the installer's custom partitioning option. Installer didn't
like that and tried to pancake down the other partitions, sda6 to
sda5, sda7 to sda6, etc. and put my install above them, on sda10,
instead of on sda5 where I had told it to. (Sorry, I do not recall how
I discerned that; perhaps I noted it during my next re-do with the
custom installer.) Result was "grub rescue" prompt on reboot and thus
no access under my current level of knowledge to any of the three
installed operating systems on my multi boot setup. I don't know how
to "reinstall" Grub2 although that _might_ solve this problem; I did
that once years ago at Rick's get together using an install CD, but
don't remember the details.

So I gave the install one last try using the installer's custom
partitioning option. _But_, this time instead of trying to pancake my
fresh install into /dev/sda5, between other existing partitions, I
told the installer to delete all partitions above sda3 (sda1-3 are my
Windows 7 stuff), create a swap partition at sda5 (sda4 is of course
used for the magic that does logical partitions), install Xubuntu
11.10 on sda6 and leave only free disk space above that.

That worked!

Simple strait up stack, like serving pancakes. On reboot, Grub2
presented my multi boot choices as expected. Windows 7 is on sda3 and
boots. My new Xubuntu 11.10 is on sda5 and boots. And I have plenty of
free disk space above sda6 to add other Linux distros if/when I like.

Conclusion: when using the *Ubuntu installer's custom partitioning
tool to install on a multi boot setup, I will ask it only to delete
partitions (pancakes) from the top down and to only put new pancakes
on top of that reduced stack. I will not ask it to delete and replace
pancakes in the middle of the stack.

_If_ I knew how to do it with another tool, I might organize the
partitions how I want them before I start an install. I don't. So I
will be happy only asking the *Ubuntu custom installer to put one
pancake on top of another. Does this make sense, technically?

Roger Chrisman
With dual boot Windows 7 and Xubuntu 11.10 on circa 2010 Acer Aspire 5742 laptop
///////////////////// Roger's Easy Pancake Recipe /////////////////////
// -- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (plain white flour is okay
//                 but isn't as yummy; also, you can mix in stuff
//                 like blue berries, banana slices or rolled oats)
// -- 1 tablespoon baking powder
// -- hungry pinch of salt (~ 1/8th teaspoon)
// -- 1 cup milk (add a little more if/when the batter gets too stiff)
// -- 1 egg
// -- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter
// Mix dry ingredients. Separately, whisk egg and mix in milk and
// oil. Now mix wet and dry ingredients together, lightly. Cook your
// pancakes in lightly oiled pan at ~medium to low heat. Flip when
// bubbles start to pop on surface. Takes practice; yummy with
// 100% pure maple syrup. Have fun!

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