Monday, February 24, 2020

Windows Upgrade Killing Linux Partition

I noticed Windows 10 version 1903 was the beginning of something beautiful again for Microsoft Windows.

Coming from me, that is a HUGE deal.

I mean, Windows 10 has been around for 5 years already, so it's about time they got it right for the "900 million devices using it".

But, I was reminded that this is STILL a Microsoft product, and it STILL has the good old Windows temperament.

Of all the computers I own and maintain, my Media PC attached to my TV in the living room was the only computer that had this glitch - when Windows upgraded, it deleted the Linux partition on the drive. When the Linux partition is deleted, it causes a GRUB error, and the computer will no longer boot. And, all of this, right smack dab in the middle of a Windows version upgrade.

Worthy of noting, this computer is a Dell Optiplex 780. It is pre-UEFI so everything should be simple and robust. As was with all computers that I configured in this particular period in time, it was a "dual boot" with Windows 10 Pro and MX 17.

Interesting side note: I started using MX Linux in 2015, the same year that Windows 10 was released. Since then, Windows has become simply amazing and MX has rapidly declined in function and support. I swear I live in a parallel universe sometimes where everything is upside down to reality...


To fix my Dell, I reinstalled Windows 10. This has always been the best treatment - to wipe the hard drive and install a fresh copy of the most recent version of Windows 10.

Some time later, a customer with a Dell laptop was experiencing a similar problem. Her laptop got all jammed up on a Windows 10 upgrade. The laptop was a pre-UEFI also. This time Windows did not delete the MX partition, but it did make life difficult.

Then, this past week, a customer called with a boot issue. He has a Dell Optiplex 780 also, the only difference being it is a Small Form Factor, whereas mine is the Mid Tower configuration.

It was a dual boot also, Windows 10 and MX 17.

Right in the middle of upgrading to version 1909, it deleted the MX Linux partition and made itself unbootable.

So, that's 2 Dell Optiplex 780's with Windows 10/MX 17 (and a Dell laptop from the same era of Dell) out of countless different models and manufacturers of computers that I set up in the same fashion.

Why the Dell Optiplex 780?

Or is it the combination of Windows 10 and MX 17?

Why have there been not other incidents with other makes and models?

I have no idea.

To fix the latter 780 I booted a Live USB of Xubuntu 18.04, installed Boot Repair, and ran it.  This recreated the MBR. Upon restart it picked up where it had left off in the Windows upgrade.

The MX partition was wiped by the Windows upgrade and marked as "unused space".

I'd love some answers to the why's...

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