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When prompted about the upgrade to 12.04 I clicked yes. All went well until during the cleanup mode an error appeared in the terminal that said something like "too many errors were encountered." A few minutes after that I lost all video. After a few more minutes I did a hard shutdown of the computer and restarted.

Now, it boots to UI very quickly. The buttons are there but they are all white. Background is white. No icons. No mouse or keyboard. (cursor appears on screen but no response.).

None of the previous kernels will boot either. I can start the grub loader...choose one and I briefly see the Ubuntu progress meter (which I don't with upgraded install) then black screen with mouse (which does respond) but then nothing.

I am OK with reinstalling but there are some virtual-box images I DESPERATELY want to get off of there first.

I boot to bootable (12.04) usb. I also attach another external hd. I boot to usb without installing it shows my 500 GB disk that the upgraded install is on. But whenever I click on it it says "The folder contents could not be displayed. You do not have the permissions necessary to view the contents of "500gbDrive".

How can I mount that disk to save my data off onto the external drive before I reinstall?

What is the best way to recover from this. If I reinstall will my old file system (with the VBox HD) be preserved? (I am backing it up no matter what though.)

I am a pretty new to Linux. Help!

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It's not clear to me if you see the folders on the drive and get the message when you click on them, or if you see the message before that.

If you can see the folders the drive has been mounted but the ubuntu userid number doesn't match the userid number that had been used to create the folders on the drive. In that case try this without ejecting the drive:

gksudo nautilus

Click on the drive on the upper left and you should then be able to open the folders.

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For the record, I was able to see the drive but got the error when clicking on it (before browsing any folders.) But your solution worked. Thanks. Seth – Seth Spearman Aug 25 '12 at 19:02
Any thoughts on my reinstall. Can I reinstall with same username and things will be preserved? – Seth Spearman Aug 25 '12 at 19:03
Sorry, but I think that's a different issue. – John S Gruber Aug 25 '12 at 19:14

Try mounting via terminal (Applications->System tools->Xterm) as super user. Open xterm and write:

sudo mount /dev/<our device name> /mnt

Your device name will probably be sda1. Then you can open folder /mnt and your file ought to be there.

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