[TriLUG] OT: Dell desktop, recovering boot and partition info

Jason Evans jsevans at mises.com
Mon Aug 31 20:59:49 EDT 2009

A lot of machines don't come with backup disks anymore, instead they have
partitions with the OS image on it, so a factory refresh can performed from
the boot menu and/or BIOS (but that's rare in my experience).  My guess is
that this vfat partition is the recovery partition and those .mdm files are
the OS image in some sort of proprietary image file.

Best Regards,
Jason Evans


On Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 8:51 PM, Joseph Mack NA3T <jmack at wm7d.net> wrote:

> I have a 40G disk from a friend of a friend. The machine crashed in normal
> use (whatever that means), and the machine wouldn't reboot. The disk dd's
> just fine so presumably there's no fundamental problem moving heads and
> reading etc.
> The disk has no valid partition table and appears to he 255heads (specs say
> 16), and 63 sectors so presumably this part of the first sector has been
> zeroed out. fdisk -l tells me the disk is 797G (rather than 40G and I dd'ed
> the whole 797G when checking the disk, it really thinks it has 797G).
> I haven't been able to get much joy out of trying to mount the 797G copy of
> the disk, so reluctantly I'm working directly on the disk. I also don't have
> a spare disk large enough to make a bitwise copy.
> I can mount two partitions (mount with offset incremented in a loop)
> part 1 vfat of 48M
> about 100 empty blocks
> part 2 ntfs of 35G
> the vfat partition has command.com, mydos.sys, io.sys (DOS boot files), a
> bunch of *.mdm files (no idea), a file delldiag.exe, another dellboot.exe, a
> directory called "dell", with a bat file to reboot the machine (and write a
> logfile) and a few other files.
> the ntfs partition looks like normal windows.
> Anyone know what the small vfat partition is for? When you boot, do you get
> a choice of booting into the vfat partition or booting windows or is windows
> booted through the vfat partition (ie can I ignore the vfat partition?)
> Presumably I can write a partition table at the start of the disk to match
> the partitions I've found. Do I just copy a windows boot loader into the
> front of the first sector, make the 2nd partition active and let it boot?
> Joe
> --
> Joseph Mack NA3T EME(B,D), FM05lw North Carolina
> jmack (at) wm7d (dot) net - azimuthal equidistant map
> generator at http://www.wm7d.net/azproj.shtml
> Homepage http://www.austintek.com/ It's GNU/Linux!
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