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I have a particularly challenging issue with my windows boot loader on my Dell Latitude e6520. I have two drives, an internal HDD and a SSD installed into the system device bay in a caddy.

Here's my configuration:

HDD: Windows 7
SSD: Ubuntu 13.10

I tried to, using EasyBCD, add an entry for my Ubuntu installation. I set it to perform a GRUB2 boot and changed the drive to the partition labelled as "linux". I applied my settings and rebooted. To my mild horror, two boot options listed both had the name "Ubuntu" (which is what I had set as the name for the Ubuntu boot.) Selecting the first one gives me a boot error, something about \NST\somethinglinuxrelated.mbr (forgive my not wanting to reboot entirely to get the proper filename) not loading. The second option booted Ubuntu, which I am using now as I apparently have no way to access Windows anymore.

Upon booting Ubuntu, further horrors ensued wherein I found that I was unable to click on 99% of things and had to navigate solely using my keyboard. I'm going to assume it's an Ubuntu issue unrelated to this one, but I was able to repair it temporarily by pressing ctrl-alt-f1 ctrl-alt-f7 and that was good enough for now since at least I can access this site.

Googling the issue, every path lead back to using or making a windows installation cd and hitting "repair". This is not an option, as since I have mentioned, my SSD is in my system device bay and I bought a rather crappy caddy which I physically cannot remove without demolishing, plus I am home on winter break and my disk drive is back at my college.

If I change which drive the laptop boots from initially over to my SSD, I am presented with the Ubuntu boot loader. This has an option for Windows 7, which throws me back over to the broken loader in windows.

This situation feels almost comical, in that Murphy's law has certainly applied today.

My question boils down to such: How do I fix my windows MBR and be able to boot into windows 7 again, preferably keeping the working ubuntu option intact, without having access to a working CD drive or installation CD of any kind?

EDIT:

Here's the boot option for windows from within Ubuntu, which does not actually work:

insmod part_msdos
insmod ntfs
set root='hd0,msdos2'
if [ x$feature_platform_search_hint = xy ]; then
  search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root --hint-bios=hd0,msdos2 --hint-efi=hd0,msdos2 --hint-baremetal=ahci0,msdos2  9640AFC840AFAE05
else
  search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root 9640AFC840AFAE05
fi
chainloader +1
  • Feel free to correct any terminology I misused, I'm new to screwing around with boot stuff. – Cyclone Jan 7 '14 at 21:50
  • Isn't that file ntldr ? – morTie Jan 7 '14 at 22:05
  • Not the one that was generating the error, no – Cyclone Jan 7 '14 at 22:07
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Well, without access to a Windows DVD, the only way I can imagine is using a Linux utility than can modify the Windows Boot Loader. A Linux version of EasyBCD or equivalent? Unless there is a way to modify the Windows entry in Linux boot loader to bypass the Windows Boot Loader and load Windows directly. I'm not sure of how to do that, but in Windows terms the correct path is C:\Windows\System32\Winload.exe If only there was a way to directly load this file (as if you had selected it from Windows boot loader), your problem is solved! You boot into Windows, load EasyBCD and then remove all entries. You create a Windows entry pointing at the correct partition and then a Linux entry. Provided you do it right, it will work.

Sorry for the bad news, but I think the chances of finding a Linux utility to modify the Windows Boot Loader are remote. I would download a Windows ISO, burn it to a DVD and try repairing Windows. This is much faster and easier and safer. After being able to boot properly into Windows, load EasyBCD again. But this time DON'T TOUCH the Windows entry. Just delete anything else and add a Linux entry.

  • Okay, so the correct path sounds right to me, but which file is that inside of for windows and how can I access it without a boot cd? – Cyclone Jan 7 '14 at 22:08
  • Please see my update, I put up the boot loader info for Windows from within ubuntu. – Cyclone Jan 7 '14 at 22:25

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