Q&A with Ubuntu contributor Mike Basinger

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GRUB Issues

?Mike: I have an old computer with two hard drives. I have Windows XP SP3 on one drive and I had Ubuntu 9.04 that had upgraded to, I believe, 10.04. A while ago, I bought issue 11 of Ubuntu User to get a newer version of Ubuntu. When I tried to upgrade, it said I had "unresolved issues" and would not upgrade, so I set it aside for a (long) while. This week, I'm on vacation so, I decided to try it again.

I unplugged the Windows drive, put the Ubuntu 11.10 disc in the drive, and loaded it onto the drive that had previously been the Ubuntu drive. I did all the updates but when I plugged the Windows drive back in and started up the computer, when it gets to the GRUB loader, I get Error Message #15 . If I unplug the drive with Ubuntu so that the Windows drive is the only drive, I get Error Message #21 . My Windows drive is totally inaccessible. Can you help me get the GRUB loader back working so I can have both drives and both systems? Thanks so much, Dave

AFirst, try running Boot Repair from a CD/DVD/USB [1]. This utility should be able to detect your Ubuntu and Windows installations and repair your GRUB settings to make them work (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Boot Repair is an Ubuntu tool that helps troubleshoot boot problems.

Another option I would try is installing Ubuntu 12.04 or newer and see if it can detect your Windows drives properly. That might be the best way to detect the Windows drive and get it configured in GRUB. GRUB in 12.04 is much more robust, so I hope it will help with the issues you have been having. Also, Ubuntu 11.10 will be out of support soon, so Ubuntu 12.04 or newer will get you security updates as needed.

To do this by hand, you will need to know what drive your Windows drive is (hd0, sd0, etc.), and that can be hard to figure out.

Nervous Switching

?Mike: I have been a Windows user for many years and an AOL subscriber for almost all of those years. I have become quite disillusioned with Windows and Microsoft and quite interested in Ubuntu 12.10. I want to make the switch but have some fears. If I clear everything off my computer and install Ubuntu does my AOL email go away? Do ALL of my contacts go away? Years worth of contacts? Can I convert them over to Ubuntu? In addition, I am a Ham Radio Operator and have some very secure information data on my computer. Do I lose this? Some of this involves the transfer of data to a worldwide very secure database called "LogBook of the World," which requires a special "signature" to verify identity. This comes from a special "KEY" installed on my hard drive. I am totally unsure of what will happen with this. Am I worrying over nothing? Are there solutions to all of this?

Respectfully, Tony

AAOL Mail, like most webmail services is a cloud-based solution. So your mail should be safe online, unless you used a third-party email client to download your email locally via POP [2]. Same with your contacts; if you only use the AOL webmail interface, your contacts should all be in the "cloud," but if you use a separate email client, they may be local only. The best way to find out is to get on another computer you trust and login to AOL mail via a web browser and see if all your email and contacts are there.

As an amateur radio operator myself (callsign N9YY0), I know there's a ton of ham radio software you can use under Ubuntu, but I'm willing to bet none can use the signed database for LogBook. You might want to Google to see if this software will run under Wine [3] or see if the software vendor has a Linux-based version of the software you can use.

For transferring contacts and calendars, I suggest syncEvolution. Configuring it is not difficult, but the topic could be an article of its own and is more than I can cover in this column. I suggest going to the syncEvolution website [4] or the man page for the program and reading how to detect your phone and set up a sync configuration for it.

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