TG (from itailers.com), having read an article I wrote about making a dual-boot Windows XP / Ubuntu Linux laptop, asked a question about the required procedure for replacing the Ubuntu Linux with another Linux distribution. Here are excerpts from our exchange.
The original question:
Hello Mr. Farnham,
I have read and followed your instructions on how to install ubuntu as a second OS. I have successfully done that. Now as I attempt to test out other linux distros, I want to uninstall it and just play around with some live cds. I did decide to install GRUB however. I was wondering if I could just reformat my partitions or if there was some other way to uninstall Ubuntu safely without messing up my boot process. Thank you for your article and your time. — TG
What I’ve typically done when installing a new Linux installation is to let the new distribution prompt me for where it should be installed, then let it reformat the partition as part of its installation. Just make sure you don’t let it reformat your Windows partition, of course!
Do you have GRUB installed on your boot partition? I mean, is GRUB doing the bootloading for both Windows and your current Ubuntu installation? If so, then after you install your new Linux distribution, GRUB’s menu may still have a reference for your old Linux distribution, along with a reference to the new Linux distribution. So, when you boot, you’ll see options for both Linux systems, even though only one of them actually exists. If this happens, but it doesn’t really bother you (because you just select the correct system), then you can just leave it.
I don’t know how much you know about GRUB. But, you can remove the old, invalid Linux distribution entry from your boot list if you very carefully go into /boot/grub as the root user and edit menu.lst. First you’d want to save a backup of the working menu.lst, just to be safe. You’ll see sets of entries beginning with “title” and ending with “boot”, one for each operating system that shows up when GRUB displays your system options. You can delete the entry sets related to the Linux distribution that is no longer on your system.
I’m supposed to write an article for Oreillynet.com about GRUB. I really should do that! But, in the meanwhile: can I take your question and my answer and turn it into a little post on my eQuickFixes.com blog?
Hey Kevin –
Wow that was a ton of info … you rock!
Let me try and answer this …
No problemo on the formatting issue. I guess Grub is installed. After reading your email and the article, I at least understand what it is and what it does. I know nothing about it other than that however. It sounds to me like it operates in similar fashion to boot.ini but is perhaps more robust. And you absolutely can use any communications with me and use them to your liking. Since you are so helpful, perhaps I’ll bug you some more!!! Never feel obligated and I’ll update you on my progress when I return home early next week. (I’m traveling for business).
TG’s web site is itailers.com, an “online fine goods auction house.”