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Thread: Reading an unbootable Ubuntu drive in a USB external enclosure

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Red face Reading an unbootable Ubuntu drive in a USB external enclosure

    Hi people,

    I would appreciate some sage advice, since I'm relatively new to Ubuntu and am in a tough spot.

    I had a Natty install, my first Linux box, on a 2005 Gateway GT5040, but the upgrade to 11.10 was a disaster. If you know of a way to get the drive to boot, I would love to hear it but my research suggests this may not be possible. At this point, I would like to retrieve files created on the disk before reformatting/reinstalling.

    The broken install is on a single partition and the files I want are in the home directory, so I can't simply reinstall over the last OS, from what i understand.

    I removed the drive from the case, put it in an external enclosure, and booted an XP PC with my Natty install CD. I can now read the disk but when I go to the user folder it says I don't have permission to read it. I know the password but don't see anyplace to enter it. Is this a dead end or is there some way to unlock the data?

    Or should I look at Virtual Box? My reading leads me to believe that if I install virtual box on the XP PC I may be able to share files with another Linux computer through a network but I don't know if it will work through a USB drive. Is this a lot of work to get set up?

    I've also got a Macbook with OS X 10.4.11 tiger, if that would help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    surrey uk
    Beans
    2,057
    Distro
    Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal

    Re: Reading an unbootable Ubuntu drive in a USB external enclosure

    Have you tried booting from the cd as in live cd, You can run from the cd then mount your external drive, Was the home partition encyrpted
    DUAL BOOT XP & Natty, Trying LFS

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Upminster, Essex, UK
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    544

    Thumbs down Re: Reading an unbootable Ubuntu drive in a USB external enclosure

    Quote Originally Posted by irongiant14 View Post
    Hi people,

    I would appreciate some sage advice, since I'm relatively new to Ubuntu and am in a tough spot.

    I had a Natty install, my first Linux box, on a 2005 Gateway GT5040, but the upgrade to 11.10 was a disaster. If you know of a way to get the drive to boot, I would love to hear it but my research suggests this may not be possible. At this point, I would like to retrieve files created on the disk before reformatting/reinstalling.

    The broken install is on a single partition and the files I want are in the home directory, so I can't simply reinstall over the last OS, from what i understand.

    I removed the drive from the case, put it in an external enclosure, and booted an XP PC with my Natty install CD. I can now read the disk but when I go to the user folder it says I don't have permission to read it. I know the password but don't see anyplace to enter it. Is this a dead end or is there some way to unlock the data?

    Or should I look at Virtual Box? My reading leads me to believe that if I install virtual box on the XP PC I may be able to share files with another Linux computer through a network but I don't know if it will work through a USB drive. Is this a lot of work to get set up?

    I've also got a Macbook with OS X 10.4.11 tiger, if that would help.

    1) Boot from the live CD
    2) plug in usb drive (close the nautilus window it opens up)

    If you then launch a terminal and start nautilus with elevated privaleges ie:

    Code:
    sudo nautilus
    You should not encounter the permissions problem

    You could also then take the opportunity to back those files up onto your XP machine's hdd so you can format the usb drive with a clear conscience

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    England
    Beans
    Hidden!

    Re: Reading an unbootable Ubuntu drive in a USB external enclosure

    1) Boot from the live CD
    2) plug in usb drive (close the nautilus window it opens up)

    If you then launch a terminal and start nautilus with elevated privileges ie:

    Code:
    sudo nautilus
    You should not encounter the permissions problem.

    You could also then take the opportunity to back those files up onto your XP machine's hdd so you can format the usb drive with a clear conscience.
    Just to say that you should always use
    Code:
    gksu nautilus
    or
    Code:
    gksudo nautilus
    for gui applications like nautilus not just sudo.

    See Rootsudo in my signature for the details and reasons behind this.
    DISTRO: Xubuntu 14.04-64bit --- Code-tags --- Boot-Repair --- Grub2 wiki & Grub2 Basics --- RootSudo

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    10

    Re: Reading an unbootable Ubuntu drive in a USB external enclosure

    Quote Originally Posted by satanselbow View Post
    1) Boot from the live CD
    2) plug in usb drive (close the nautilus window it opens up)

    If you then launch a terminal and start nautilus with elevated privaleges ie:

    Code:
    sudo nautilus
    You should not encounter the permissions problem

    You could also then take the opportunity to back those files up onto your XP machine's hdd so you can format the usb drive with a clear conscience
    Thanks, Spikey, SatansElbow and AJGreeny. I appreciate your efforts a lot.

    I've just booted the XP box with the Live CD and and followed your instructions. I'm still getting only the Access-Your-Private-Data.desktop and README.txt files in Nautilus' Home/Kim directory, though. I've tried both 'gksu nautilus' and 'gksudo nautilus', too. Am I missing something?

    Would this be easier if, instead of having the drive in the USB enclosure, I put it back in the case and booted from the Live CD in that situation?

    Not to complicate the thread, but as I waited for your kind posts, I continued searching the boards for answers and came across this link to what they call an automated recovery app: http://blog.dustinkirkland.com/2011/...r-private.html

    I tried following the steps on that page and in the video with no success. sudo ecryptfs-recover-private was not found when I entered it into the Terminal, even though I've got the Natty Narwhal 11.04 Live CD indicated in the instructions. I think maybe I'm not properly mounting the volume, but it shows up just fine when I plug it into the USB port and I see it in Nautilus. Is this method worth pursuing? Your suggestions sound a lot easier.

    In the event that I get an opportunity to enter my password, I have learned that the Mount Password is separate from the User password. Is this mount password the string that Ubuntu install urgently asked me to record during set up? I have a note from the original install with a 30 digit string that I labeled "Home directory". Or is it something I create in this recovery session?
    Last edited by irongiant14; October 24th, 2011 at 11:39 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    10

    Re: Reading an unbootable Ubuntu drive in a USB external enclosure

    I figured I'd try the above method, with the drive in the case, instead of the external enclosure. The result is the same in the nautilus GUI but the Terminal gave me this:

    Code:
    ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ gksu nautilus
    Initializing nautilus-gdu extension
    
    ** (nautilus:4515): WARNING **: Failed to get the current CK session: GDBus.Error:org.freedesktop.ConsoleKit.Manager.GeneralError: Unable to lookup session information for process '4515'
    
    (nautilus:4515): GConf-CRITICAL **: gconf_value_free: assertion `value != NULL' failed
    
    (nautilus:4515): GLib-GIO-WARNING **: Missing callback called fullpath = /root/.config/user-dirs.dirs
    
    Nautilus-Share-Message: Called "net usershare info" but it failed: 'net usershare' returned error 255: net usershare: cannot open usershare directory /var/lib/samba/usershares. Error No such file or directory
    Please ask your system administrator to enable user sharing.
    Also many lines of:

    Code:
    (nautilus:4515): GConf-CRITICAL **: gconf_value_free: assertion `value != NULL' failed
    And two of:
    Code:
    ** (nautilus:4515): WARNING **: bookmark uri is file:///home, but expected file:///
    Does this give me anything to work with?

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Upminster, Essex, UK
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    Thumbs down Re: Reading an unbootable Ubuntu drive in a USB external enclosure

    Quote Originally Posted by irongiant14 View Post
    I'm still getting only the Access-Your-Private-Data.desktop and README.txt files in Nautilus' Home/Kim directory, though.
    You used the EncryptedPrivateDirectory on your last install? As per:

    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/En...ivateDirectory

    Can't say I have any experience of this although i'm sure someone around here will have

    edit: there appears to be some good info here: http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...tition-765465/ that refers back to a post on this forum too.



    As to "gksudo" ajgreeny is quite correct... let's call it a typo on my part
    Last edited by satanselbow; October 25th, 2011 at 05:15 PM. Reason: added link

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Distro
    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Re: Reading an unbootable Ubuntu drive in a USB external enclosure

    Try having a read through Bodhi.Zazen's (you'll find them in red on this forum) walkthrough of how to mount that encrypted home directory from your LiveCD environment at the link below.

    http://bodhizazen.net/Tutorials/Ecryptfs#Live

    It worked fine for me - but I was just messing around seeing how stuff worked rather than having to do it in a real life or death scenario

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Re: Reading an unbootable Ubuntu drive in a USB external enclosure

    Quote Originally Posted by cryptotheslow View Post
    Try having a read through Bodhi.Zazen's (you'll find them in red on this forum) walkthrough of how to mount that encrypted home directory from your LiveCD environment at the link below.

    http://bodhizazen.net/Tutorials/Ecryptfs#Live
    I am very happy to report that I've got all my data off the unbootable drive! The above Bodhi Method worked for me, after a lot of failures. One really must focus. Special thanks to Cryptotheslow for link!

    And to AJGreeny because without
    Code:
    'gksu nautilus'
    I wouldn't have been able to copy the files. The Bodhi method eventually let me view my home folder by entering /mnt/home/*my-username-here* but I lacked permission to copy the files to an external drive! Calling 'gksu nautilus' let me open the extrenal drive and copy the locked files into it.

    I'm really happy to have my and my girl's files back. Many thanks for your time and attention!!
    Last edited by irongiant14; October 26th, 2011 at 07:40 PM.

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