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I had Windows 8 installed with 2 Ubuntu parititions in dual boot, everything running well. I hated Win 8 so I installed Win 7 over it by deleting my 80gb Windows partition and installing it in there.

But now I can't boot Ubuntu up, since obviously Windows has overwritten Grub. Routine stuff, so I booted into a live CD, opened up GParted, and I see that the 80gb space that is supposed to be two 40gb Ubuntu partition is showing up as Unallocated!

What's happened here? Is there a possiblity that there's some error in detecting the partition? I'm 100% sure I didn't delete that partition in the Windows installation process!

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It's entirely possible that there's a bug in the Windows installer that trashed your partitions, despite your not telling it to do so. Whether it's that or user error, I have two suggestions:

  1. Try another partitioning tool. Most tools in Linux (parted, GParted, etc.) are based on libparted, and so are unlikely to help; but one family that's not is GPT fdisk (gdisk, cgdisk, and sgdisk). These tools also have the advantage of a disk verify function (v from the gdisk main menu, for instance), which can point out errors. gdisk also has options to load the backup partition table, although if a Windows tool trashed the partitions, that probably won't do any good. If you can see the partitions in gdisk or one of its family, but it reports errors, chances are saving the table back (via the w command) will fix the problem. I wouldn't hold out much hope that this will help, but it's worth trying, and it's likely to be safer than the next option, so I recommend trying it first.
  2. You can use TestDisk from a Linux emergency disk, or similar tools for Windows (I know they exist, but don't have any URLs handy) to scan for your Linux partitions and generate new partition table entries for them. There's a good chance that this will work, although if you've done much partition-juggling, there's a possibility that the tool will recover the wrong partition(s), so be cautious.
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