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I am kind of a noob at Ubuntu/Linux, so please forgive any of my mistakes.

So I have an old Dell Dimension 2400 which dual boots Windows 7 and Xubuntu. It used to have a partition for Ubuntu 13.10 which acted up, so I formatted it as NTFS in GParted. Then, in Windows 7, I used AOMEI Partition Assistant to merge the two partitions together so that I could have more disk space for Windows 7. When I rebooted the system, I got stuck at a grub rescue prompt which luckily I was able to fix. Then, when I opened up GParted to shrink my ext4 Xubuntu partition (to give more space to Windows 7), it gave me an error saying "Invalid partition table - recursive partition on /dev/sda" and it showed the entire disk as unallocated space.

Where did I go wrong, and how can I fix this?

  • If you run this: `sudo fdisk -lu', do you get an infinite list with several logical partitions as group repeating. Logical partitions are a linked list and if last one does not end but refers to first you have an infinite loop. – oldfred Dec 24 '14 at 20:39
  • @oldfred Here's what came up for "sudo fdisk -lu": pastebin.com/i8v7QfKz (/dev/sda5 is Xubuntu, I have no idea what /dev/sda2 is) – tomato500 Dec 24 '14 at 21:05
  • using bootrec.exe you need to fix the boot specifically you need to run the option fixmbr listed here: support.microsoft.com/KB/927392 – mchid Dec 25 '14 at 0:25
  • The sda2 is just the extended partition which is the one primary partition that then acts as a container for all the logical partitions. I do not see overlap issues, but did think there had to be one sector difference between ends & starts. And start of extended is exactly the same as start of sda5, again, usually 1 or more sectors. I might try fixparts and see what it says. rodsbooks.com/fixparts – oldfred Dec 25 '14 at 4:43
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I've seen a few partition edits go wrong and fixed them (without loss of data) a couple of way, but I had still backed up all data first just in case, even though it turned out I didn't need the backup. That said, I've never seen gparted go that far wrong. I can only imagine that there was a power interruption while it was working.

I will make a few suggestions, each with a link, none of which are remotely guaranteed to work, though I'm confident that what some of them reveal may help us all to help solve this.

I would first recommend you boot your computer to any live boot CD and open the included disk utility. The odds are your hard drive will again appear unformatted with unallocated space, but it is always the first thing I do when things look weird. It's like I want a second opinion just in case one program is acting wonky. In general, gparted works great, but a lifetime of experience has taught me never to assume that any one person or program is correct.

The next thing I'd try is the near-miracle repair disk. It makes a bootable cd which you first boot your computer to and then use the utility within to analyze your hard drive's boot issues. It is primarily made to fix problems with the grub, but I've seen it perform unexpected miracles. It is possible that in searching for bootable partitions, it will recognize the messed up partition table and restore it. Personally I doubt it will help, but it probably won't hurt anything. When it offers you a url for further diagnostics, please record it and post it here in case any of us can decipher it.

I will now list the utility most likely to help you. It is called Test Disk. While I like that it claims to run under everything, I dislike that it appears to need a working operating system to work, which seems stupid. I would run it under one of my live booting usb flash drives, personally, but most people aren't using those. I personally think this product would benefit more people if they offered it as an ISO image download from which we could make a self-booting cd or flash drive in the same manner we currently employ the boot repair CD.

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