Updated Download Link: HAL.DLL

As promised, I’ve uploaded a copy of the hal.dll from my working XP machine. The file host I had been using died and disappeared. Hopefully, this new one lasts a bit longer. I wrote about my hal.dll issues in the past. The first one was about how I fixed the hal.dll error without using a cd. I was successful during that attempt but it just kept coming back. I then wrote another post about my problems with hal.dll with a lot more detail.

Here’s the download link to the copy of hal.dll: http://www.filehostfree.com/?d=51332A7C1

Best of luck!

Updated 03/03/13: Updated hal.dll download link. New link, verified working.


How I recovered my corrupted partition

I have a Western Digital USB Drive that I use for data and testing new Linux releases. It had one NTFS partition for files I could share with Windows systems, one big data partition that I use to designate /home and several smaller partitions where I install varied Linux distributions. I had just deleted a couple of partitions that contained older Linux Mint versions and moved my /home partition to the outside of the disk using Gparted when an error occurred. After refreshing the application, it showed that my /home partition was unreadable. If I had been using Windows XP or Vista, my first instinct would be to wipe out the corrupted data and start from scratch. Not so in this case, I searched for a recovery utility that worked with EXT3 filesystems and discovered Testdisk.

The creator of this nifty tool provided sufficient information for me to install, operate and succeed in my task. I only used two commands in the terminal: sudo apt-get install testdisk and testdisk. It did not even take 5 minutes for the program to be installed. In a few keystrokes, Testdisk was able to fix my partition table and I got all of my data back. There are no guarantees in recovery. The best course of action is still to back up your data before you move or make big changes.

Stage 1: Portable Multi-Distro Linux USB Drive

Like the title says, I want to install 5 Linux distributions on my USB drive. It is a Western Digital Scorpio drive with 80GB of space. I thought it was broken and unusable until I plugged it in recently. Seems it was the pc that wasn’t reading it right after all. Now that I have a new power supply unit in this old box, everything seems peachy. I was using the drive as a back up but I already have 3 hard drives and only 2 are currently plugged in. I ran out of IDE connectors. Did I mention it’s old? :p

I have my drives set up to work independently as I sometimes take them out and test them on other pc’s. I don’t need all of them to be hooked up just to boot up one drive or OS. I just invoke the BIOS Boot Menu using F11 during POST and pick the one I want. Simple and easy for me.

I used my GParted Live CD to make the partitions the way they are now. See image below. Shrunk my NTFS I use as a windows back up sometimes. Next up was 2 Gigs of swap then an extended 60GB partition for my /home and 5 partitions for the Linux distributions I want to try. Looks nice and organized and most importantly – it works fine.

GParted Screenshot of USB Drive Partitions

I got the torrent from LinuxMint.com and got some rest while waiting for it to finish. Burned it at the lowest possible speed using the simple CD writer in Linux Ubuntu 8.04, my primary distribution. I had some issues booting up the Live CD. I got an “(initramfs)” prompt instead of a regular desktop. Using the Compatibility Mode, I found out that it was some error with it not detecting the floppy and SCSI devices. I used the Live CD troubleshooting guide provided by nice people in the Mint Forums. Pressed F6 during splash, pressed tab, deleted “quiet splash–” and entered “all_generic_ide”. That worked and let me into the Live environment. I liked what I saw, was curious and proceeded.

The installation was smooth. My first boot was met with the famous Grub Error 17 and 18. The reason being how the BIOS and the Live CD arranged the drives. In the Live CD, the usb drive was third and my BIOS read it as the first drive. The solution was to edit the menu.lst and change all references to (hd2,4) to (hd0,4), which is where my Mint is.

Tried again and here I am posting the results. Four more distributions to go. I’ve narrowed down my choices based on release date, number of packages and most important is the community or support. I did not include Linux Ubuntu since I’m already using that and it has its own hard drive in my pc. The list goes:

  • ArchLinux – 10/07/2007 with 15,000 packages
  • Debian – 04/08/2007 with 26,000 packages
  • Fedora – 05/13/2008 with 8,000 packages
  • Mandriva – 04/09/2008 with 16,000 packages
  • Sabayon – 09/07/2007 with 12,000 packages
  • Sidux – 04/12/2008 with 22,950 packages
  • [Simply]MEPIS – 12/23/2007 with 20,000 packages

*data is based on http://en.wikipedia.org

I wanted the distribution to be recent, within the last year or 2 years, so I wouldn’t be learning something that’s at the end of its life cycle. I wanted as much packages as possible because… just because. I’m still a beginner and still have a lot to learn. Now I have not looked into the community or support sites for these distributions yet. Well, I went into Debian once but for after reading some threads, I felt unwelcome because of my choice of OS – Ubuntu. I will give it another go and keep an open mind.

That’s about it for today. The rest is yet to be determined. Hopefully, I’ll get more information in a few days and start installing a 2nd OS on my USB drive. Until then…