Saturday, March 03, 2007

Booting the Thinkpad Rescue and Recovery with GRUB

The IBM Thinkpad laptops T40, T42, T42p, T43 and T43p that we use at our lab come with a 5GB Rescue and Recovery partition that can be booted up to restore the laptops OS to the pre-installed state.

In our lab the first thing our students do when they get one of these laptops is to wipe out the pre-installed Windows XP and install their favorite flavor of Linux. This is all good until I get the laptop back and have to restore it to the original state (school rules).

Our lab has the recovery cd's for the T40 and T42 series but not for the T43 series. And out of care I installed Kubuntu on a T43p laptop without creating the recovery CD's first. Even thought I left the rescue and recovery partition intact, Kubuntu by default writes Grub to the MBR effectively rendering it un-bootable.

Under the circumstances I was ready to ask budget to buy the recovery cd's from IBM (8,000~ Yen) but some research lead me to a better (free) solution using Grub itself.

Lucky me this thread on the Thinkwiki shows how to make Grub boot the rescue and recovery partition by editing it's entry on the menu.lst file.

title IBM Rescue and Recovery
root (hd0,1)
parttype (hd0,1) 0x0b
unhide (hd0,1)
chainloader +1

In the case of Kubuntu the rescue and recovery partition was automatically added to the menu.lst file during the installation and all you need to do is add the two lines in bold. After this when you boot the PC press ESC to get the Grub boot menu and select the IBM Rescue and Recovery partition.

With this I was able to create a recovery DVD's and save 8,000 Yen to the laboratory.

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