When my son went away to college in 2009, if we wanted the IT department to support his PC in any way we had to buy one through them; having waited until the last minute, for various reasons, we got him a Dell laptop with (no choice here) Windows Vista - Business 32-bit version. He is now home after his Junior year and with him he brought his laptop, which had crashed during finals (of course).
Called Dell to set up an on-site technician visit earlier this week - he replaced the motherboard and adapter - Dell forgot to include the heatsink, and after the repair ths system wouldn't boot because now there was no hard drive detected. Dell asked if I wanted the replacement hard drive sent directly to me, which I did - so they sent me both the hard drive and the (had been backordered) heatsink. Not a problem.
I replaced both and the system booted ok, and the imaged hard drive went through some Windows configuration screens and then was ready to go. My son took the laptop to go and install everything he needed (a/v software first!) and that was that.
Until about half an hour later, he brought it back, saying it was 'stuck doing updates'. Turn it on and I get the message that it's doing Windows update 3 of 3, and is 0% complete. After about a minute it jumps to 100% complete and reboots. After rebooting, we get the same message - update 3 of 3, 0% complete. And so it goes, ad infinitum.
I searched the web for a reasonable solution, and most of them just say to reinstall the OS. unfortunately, he cannot find his Vista CD and while I know I have a couple sitting around from my job, it seems they are hiding at the moment. So I found an 'alternate' solution on the web:
I tried my own method first - mounted the hard drive in a dock and accessed it with my own PC, and tried to delete the 2 files identified in the article above - no luck, since they are controlled by SYSTEM. I didn't want to foul up the entire Windows installation by changing ownership, so I gave up on that idea.
Since we couldn't find a Windows CD, I opted for the Linux suggestion - my son couldn't find Vista, but happened to come up with an Ubuntu CD someone had burned for him - why, I don't know - he could care less about how a computer works, just as long as it DOES work.
Running off of the Ubuntu CD, I tried to use the commands outlined in the article to delete the files, but I couldn't even mount the installation.
Oni the first try I was identified as an "uinprivileged user" - not sure if that was because I was running off of the CD or not. I then tried using sudo, and got this back:
NTFS signature is missing.
Failed to mount '/dev/sda1': Invalid argument
The device '/dev/sda1' doesn't seem to have a valid NTFS.
Maybe the wrong device is used? Or the whole disk instead of a
partition (e.g. /dev/sda, not /dev/sda1)? Or the other way around?
(I got the same result following the suggestion to try sda instead of sda1)
I am now officially out of my depth. As usual, I took the long way around to get to this point, but I always figure it's better to have too much information than not enough. With no available Windows Vista CD to reinstall from, or to do a repair from, what are my options to recover this laptop from reboot oblivion?
Thanks, as always - and, as always ... cookies!