Windows 7

Windows 7 – “setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition” [solved]

When trying to install Windows 7 to dualboot with Snow Leopard on an existing partition on a Dell Mini 10v, I kept getting this error:

“Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition.”

No matter how many times I deleted, created, and reformatted the partition using Windows’ installer or OS X’s disk utility, Windows 7 said it could not install to Partition 0.

I also got the error “Windows cannot install to a GPT partition”, and when I tried converting it to MBR in Diskpart, the error “Cannot convert partition”.

The solution was really, really, really stupid:

In my BIOS, I had my boot order set as USB drive before hard drive so I could boot from it. Apparently, that confused the installer. I set the hard drive as the first boot device, and then selected to boot from USB by hitting F12 when the POST screen appeared.

Windows is almost 30 years old, and it still has these types of problems? Really, Microsoft?

Dual boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu, fix Windows MBR issue [solved]

I went through a heck of a time getting Windows 7 and Ubuntu (actually eeebuntu) to dual boot on my new Asus Eee PC. Either would work fine alone but liked to overwrite the other’s boot loader.

I’ve read that it’s easier to install Windows first and Ubuntu later, but even though I installed Ubuntu later, Windows failed to boot after I installed it.

My first lesson through all of this: Don’t customize, save any documents, or install any software until both OS’s are installed and dual booting. I went through two windows installs and 3 ubuntu installs to get it all to work.

You can use either Windows or Ubuntu’s installer to partition the drive. I formatted 40 GB in NTFS for Windows 7, 10 GB as ext3 for Eeebuntu, 2 GB for Eeebuntu swap, and 5 GB in Fat32 for a shared partition between the two drives.

Even though I was careful not to format, resize or overwrite the windows drive, Windows 7 booted into a startup repair, and failed with the message “startup repair cannot repair this computer automatically”. My additional info was StartuprepairOffline and CorruptRegistry. I ended up having to reinstall Windows.

In hindsight, I would have installed Ubuntu first and then Windows. Windows is more picky when its boot record is overwritten, and ubuntu’s is easier to fix.

I tried a couple of solutions first – this article, “How to fix your windows MBR with an ubuntu live CD”, has been mirrored everywhere, and no longer works. ms-sys is no longer included with Ubuntu, is not available in the Ubuntu software repositories, and when I tried downloading and compiling from source I got missing libraries errors.

My efforts to use Super Grub Disk also failed. Supposedly Super Grub Disk makes it easy to edit your master boot records and boot menu, but it only runs from windows. After I reinstalled windows, and installed Auto Super Grub Disk, when I tried booting and chose it as an option, I simply got to a DOS-based menu screen saying Windows cannot start normally. I’m also finding it hard to uninstall super grub disk.

What finally worked was installing Ubuntu, installing Windows, booting from an Ubuntu live disk, reinstalling grub, booting into Ubuntu, and editing the Grub menu to make Windows 7 active (“makeactive”) again. No special software required, just some command line editing. This tutorial from the Ubuntu site walked me through it.

Finally, the steps:

1. Install Ubuntu (partition the drives first)
2. Install Windows into one of the partitions (format it as NTFS)
3. Boot into the Ubuntu live CD. In terminal (Accessories > Terminal) run these commands:

sudo grub
find /boot/grub/stage1
root (hd0,0) [or whatever the find command listed]
setup (hd0)
quit

4. Reboot back into Ubuntu (not the live CD)
5. Open terminal again, and edit your boot menu:

sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

Add an entry for Windows 7 above this line:

### BEGIN AUTOMAGIC KERNELS LIST

Here is my entry:

title Windows 7
rootnoverify (hd0,0)
makeactive
chainloader +1

Your (hd0,0) may be different.

Towards the top of the file, I also changed my timeout from 10 to 5, so that it only takes 5 seconds to choose a custom default OS to boot.

I also deleted the other entry at the end of the file, below the lines:

### END DEBIAN AUTOMAGIC KERNELS LIST

# This is a divider, added to separate the menu items below from the Debian
# ones.

because that entry didn’t work anyway. It’s similar to the Windows entry we added but uses savedefault instead of makeactive; I believe makeactive is what Windows needed to make it work correctly.

That’s it! Now you should be able to boot into both OSes.

Edit: I got super grub disk to stop showing in my boot menu in Windows by running this in a command prompt:

bcdedit /enum

That lists the identifiers in your menu. Then:

bcdedit /delete {super grub disk's super long identifier string with curly braces}

That got Windows to boot normally again.