Parnaparnti and the Tale of the Repartitioner

Posted on Monday, May 24, 2010 | | In , , , ,

Having received a new Dell Inspiron laptop from one generous friend, I'm working on refitting the IBM Thinkpad another generous friend gave to me a couple of years ago. I have great friends. The Thinkpad will be going to yet another friend who's in need of a laptop, as hers died a while back.

When I used the Thinkpad, I had a 4GB Windows 98 partition and a 7GB Xubuntu Linux partition on it. My friend doesn't want to use Linux, so I'm removing the Linux partition. Easier said than done, for me.

I'm still fairly new to Linux, and partitioning still makes me nervous. I used a Puppy Linux CD to get access to Gparted (my Gparted live disc was a bad burn or something, as it tosses I/O errors everywhere when I try to run it on any of my machines. I got tired of sweeping the I's and O's off the floor, so I switched to Puppy). I saved a session file on Saturday in the hopes of speeding up the boot process the next time I used Puppy. Puppy gave a kernel panic on loading the file, but deleting it solved that issue. Partitioning time. Oh dear.

I couldn't unmount sd6, the swap partition, for some reason, and therefore couldn't delete sd5, the main Linux partition. Gparted said to unmount partitions higher than 5, which was already done - the system was running off the CD, not the Linux on the hard drive. I shrugged and tried the other partitioner that comes with Puppy, pdisk. Choosing the cfdisk option, I didn't see the swap partition at all, and was able to remove the Linux partition. I think my mistake was in maximising the Windows partition with cfdisk. It said that a reboot was necessary, and warned me the partition might be unusuable. Greeeaat. A reboot showed that Gparted didn't know what type of partition remained: the type was black - unknown - instead of the FAT32 that was there before. I rebooted without the disc and confirmed that the Windows partition was unusable. I said a few choice words and went to get the Windows 98 setup disc.

I had originally planned to just reinstall Win98 from the CD anyway, but was worried (and still am) about any proprietary drivers that might have gotten eaten up when the partition exploded. I have a disc with a bunch of files for this machine, given me by the generous friend who gave me the Thinkpad, and I hope that the Windows install will go smoothly and that the machine will not have any hardware issues. It's less of a concern with Windows, of course, but I want to present my friend with a fully working machine, not a machine that she'll have to hand to her husband and say, "Hubby, fix this."

I've utilised fdisk in DOS to delete all the partitions and created one that spans the entire disk. It's formatting in Windows Setup now. Time will tell if this reinstall will go smoothly and my friend will have a nice old Win98 lappy to play with. Personally I think Linux is a better choice for an old machine, but I'm not the person who'll be using it.