I’m a RedHat Linux guy, but I wanted to try out the Ubuntu Linux distribution to see if it’s an acceptable solution for Linux newbies (who would likely install a dual-boot XP system) or for cash-strapped non-profit groups (who would likely use it as their primary system).

I had no problems setting up the dual-boot XP/Ubuntu system using the provided Ubuntu installer – it’s a very easy step-by-step process that even installs a boot manager so users can easily run a dual boot system. When I went to get rid of the Ubuntu installation, however, I ran into a bit of a problem.

First a note about boot managers

There is no way to “uninstall” a boot manager – a boot manager is nothing more than a set of instructions written to a special place on a hard disk called the “Master Boot Record,” or “MBR” for short. The way to “get rid” of one boot manager is it overwrite it with another boot manager.

Restoring the Windows XP Master Boot Record (MBR)
It used to be that you could repair a damaged MBR from from MS-DOS using the command “fdisk /mbr“. Not so with Windows XP – apparently the Microsoft powers-that-be thought it prudent to remove any and every useful Windows utility in the XP release. In that vein, they got rid of fdisk. Boo!

Instead, the only way to restore the MBR is to use the Windows XP setup disk to boot to the Windows recovery console, which is sometimes easier said than done.

Error: INF file txtsetup.sif is corrupt or missing – Status 32768
I attempted to boot from my XP setup disks, only to receive the following error:

INF file txtsetup.sif is corrupt or missing – Status 32768

Oh great – a task that would have taken me about 3 seconds in Windows 98 is about to drag into an hour long ordeal in the “improved” Windows XP. Here are some options for working around this error:

  1. Got another XP setup disk? Try booting with that, even if it’s a different version. My installation is a XP Pro with SP2, and for some reason, the XP Pro with SP2 boot up disk gave me this error. I popped in an XP Home setup disk and had no problems. From what I was able to gather from the newsgroups, the problem likely wasn’t with my installation media – instead, it’s a “feature” included with SP2. Way to go Microsoft!
  2. If #1 isn’t an option for you, try Creating new XP setup disks using this utility at Microsoft’s website Wow, this might be the first time I’ve ever found one of Microsoft’s support pages to be useful.

Once you’ve booted the XP Setup disk
Choose “R” to enter the recovery console, then execute the command “fixmbr“, which should get rid of the Ubuntu boot manager. Your machine should now boot right into Windows XP.

Depending on how you first installed Ubuntu, you may now have to perform some partition maintenance to reclaim the disk space previously used by Ubuntu. That, however, is an article for another day.