Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. It's 100% free.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a netbook running Windows XP. I'm trying to install Ubuntu on it but am running into the same error message that's described on the following post:

Hard disk error

I basically booted from USB and then once Ubuntu was loaded, i tried to install by creating a separate partition. It failed with the hard disk error. Now I'm in a situation where Windows XP won't start either. I just get a flashing white cursor on my screen.

In the above post, one of the suggestions is to check out the disk utility in Ubuntu. i'd like to just format the drive altogether and only have Ubuntu on it... but i have a basic question if i format the drive, will the computer still have the smarts to boot from usb so that i can then retry installing the Ubuntu OS? sorry for the remedial questions but i haven't tried anything like this before. I've always bought windows machines that came pre-installed ... thanks in advance for the help.

share|improve this question
The computer is smart enough to choose the device from which it can boot. It can be done from the BIOS interface. Are you familiar with BIOS settings? – saji89 Mar 9 '13 at 4:59
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Just like the other guy said. You most likely want to hit F2 repeatedly (could be another key depending on your system) as soon as the netbook boots up, then you'll get into the BIOS (a blue menu with options about your computer's hardware) and you can alter the boot list. For example the boot list has booting from the hard drive, CD/DVD, USB, Network, etc.

Anyway, if you've gotten into the Ubuntu installation before Windows XP loads at all then you've already succeeded in doing this, so I don't know why these guys just left it at that. If you try to install Ubuntu and still get error messages, I would say you should download a fresh version of Ubuntu and make a bootable USB on another computer. Just google "how do I make a Ubuntu bootable usb." Sometimes downloads are corrupts or something goes a bit wrong and it doesn't want to work.

If you don't mind using only Ubuntu, then yah, do the whole disk, because that will be more straightforward and less problems with a boot menu to choose your OS.

Can you get into the Ubuntu installation? If you can, then wipe the whole thing if you don't mind losing all your XP data.

Also, if your computer is an older model, I highly recommend using Lubuntu, the lightweight version of Ubuntu, which works in much the same way.

share|improve this answer

The boot sequence used by your computer is mainly a function of the BIOS, see a basic explanation here, when you first turn the computer on, as the BIOS posts, you should be able to access the settings to verify the Boot Sequence, and ensure that it will boot form USB so that you can continue with your Ubuntu installation. Most computers will briefly display some sort of message telling you which key to press to enter the bios, but I am sure if you look up the make/model of your netbook you will quickly find how to access the BIOS too.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.