Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ubuntu Rescue Remix helped factory reset my Acer Netbook!

I've had an Acer Aspire One Netbook for a bit longer than a year now and I finally have no more use for it. It's been a fantastic little computer, serving its purpose in letting me take notes in grad classes when I've needed it. It's incredibly light (2.2 lbs), runs Windows XP, has a big enough hard drive (120 GB), 3 USB ports, digital camera memory readers and a wifi Anyway, it's not my intention to sell my netbook over my blog. I am however intending on selling it to people over craigslist. In order to give it to someone, I needed to restore the netbook to its manufacturer intended state. Conveniently, Acer shipped these things with windows install files on a separate partition. Not so conveniently, their "erecovery" program they make available to download for this purpose doesn't do a thing! I was very frustrated and wanted a way of getting to those install files on the separate partition.

Along the way I thought of using a Live USB version of linux to somehow get to those files. At first I tried Ubuntu Rescue Remix version 9.10. The website provides you with an ISO, which you then use in conjunction with USB Startup Disk Creator (accessible by clicking System > Administration > USB Startup Disk Creator).

You press the Other button above in order to load up the ISO file that you downloaded. Then you look for your USB stick partition at the bottom (you probably have a pet name you assigned to it) and click Make Startup Disk. This organizes your USB stick accordingly and allows you to boot using Ubuntu Rescue Remix. Weirdly, version 9.10 didn't work for me, but 9.04 worked just fine. Be warned, it does boot you into a command line interface, but you don't have to know very much to proceed. All I had to do was:
  1. Press the Enter key when the login screen showed up
  2. Type in sudo parted to load the Partition Editor
  3. Type in print all in order to list my partitions
  4. Type in set 1 boot on to make the windows installation partition bootable (I think it was partition 1, you'll probably have to play around to be sure which is the windows installation files partition)
  5. Type in quit
  6. Then I shutdown my computer, made sure the USB stick was out, turned it back on and voila, the Acer windows restore utility started running!
Once it's finished installing, you actually have to boot back into Ubuntu Rescue Remix and make it so that your main windows partition is bootable again. Go through the above list of instructions and you'll have your Acer Aspire One Netbook restored to it's manufacturer's intended state!

Ubuntu saved Windows, how about that?!!?


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