Last night I missed the vice-presidential debate, thanks to Bill Gates and his cadre of ace (ass?) programmers at Micro$oft. I was trying to simply reinstall my Windows operating system, with which I still have to share disk space on my Fedora Core system. The Windows installer popped up a message (without any opportunity for me, the user, to intervene) that it was “repairing my disk,” and proceeded to trash my entire partition table setup.
Partitions on an Intel x86 hard disk are set up as a linked list, with additional tables spread down the length of the disk. The more partitions you have, the more tables there are. Windows managed to screw up almost all of mine without even asking me if it was OK to make those changes. When it finished, not only could I not boot Windows, but I couldn’t boot my pre-existing Linux system either.
Fortunately, with Linux and a couple hours of time, which I would have preferred to use watching Vice President Cheney open a can of whup-ass on Senator John “Gone” Edwards, I was able to reconstruct the partition setup. I used the Linux rescue image from Red Hat Linux 9, along with ssh (to one of my other Linux systems), GNU bc, and sfdisk.