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If you have ever made a typo when deleting or restoring the MBR, you probably also have trashed your partition table. Use gpart, included on the Knoppix disc, to restore lost partition tables .
OK, so you had a little too much fun with the previous hack, ignored the warnings, accidentally typed 512 when you should have typed 446, and now your partition table is gone. Or maybe you accidentally ran fdisk on the wrong drive. No problem. Just restore from the backup you made before you started. You did back up your MBR, right? Don't worry; it happens to the best of us. The last time I trashed my partition table, I was trying to update grub on my laptop using dd . Like an idiot, I followed the instructions to create a grub boot floppy and applied them to install grub on my laptop's hard drive. Overwriting the first 512 bytes of a floppy with the grub boot sector is fine; overwriting the first 512 bytes of my hard drive is not. I was unable to boot and had no partition table. For many people, this might have been the time to reinstall, but I knew the files and partitions were thereI just couldn't get to them. If only I had a tool to figure out where the partitions began and ended, I could then recreate my partition table and everything would be back to normal.
Lucky for me, there is such a tool: gpart (short for "guess partition"). Gpart scans a hard drive for signs of a partition's start by comparing a list of filesystem-recognition modules it has with the sectors it is scanning, and then creates a partition table based on these guesses. Doubly lucky for me, gpart comes included with Knoppix, so I was able to restore my laptop's MBR without having to take apart the laptop and hook the drive to a desktop machine. I ran gpart , checked over its guesses, which matched my drive, and voila! My partitions were back.
Gpart is an incredibly useful tool, and I am grateful for it; however, it does have its limitations. Gpart works best when you are restoring a partition table of primary partitions. In the case of extended partitions, gpart tries its best to recover the partition information, but there is less of a chance of recovery.
To recover your partition table, run gpart , and then tell it to scan your drive:
knoppix@ttyp0[knoppix]$ sudo gpart /dev/hda
By default, gpart only scans the drive and outputs results; it does not actually write to the drive or overwrite your MBR. This is important because gpart may not correctly guess all of your partitions, so you should check its guesses before you actually write them to disk.
Gpart scans through the hard drive and outputs possible partition tables as it finds them. When it is finished scanning the drive, gpart outputs a complete list of partition tables it has found. Read through this list of partitions and make sure that it reflects the partitions you have created on the disk. It might be that gpart can recover only some of the partitions on the drive. Once you have reviewed the partitions that gpart has guessed, run gpart again but with the -W option to write the guessed partition table to the disk:
knoppix@ttyp0[knoppix]$ sudo gpart -W /dev/hda /dev/hda
This isn't a typo; you do actually put /dev/hda twice in the command. You can potentially tell gpart to write the partition table to a second drive, based on what it detected on the first drive. Once the partition table has been written, reboot and attempt to access the drives again. If you get errors when mounting the drives , check the partitioning within Knoppix with a tool like fdisk , cfdisk , or qtparted to see whether gpart has incorrectly guessed where your partition ends. I've had to modify a partition that gpart ended 4 MB too early, but afterwards, the filesystem mounted correctly, and I was able to access all of my files.
It is scary to be in a position where you must think about partition-table recovery. At least with Knoppix and gpart , it's possible to recover the partition table without completely reinstalling the operating system.
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