Be afraid... be very afraid.
I recently removed (well, attempted to) Win2k from my IDE HD in disgust
at it's lack of speed and general performance. I used DOS fdisk to do
this... a thoroughly bad move.
I had the following partitions :
Extended (Win2k, Linux main, Linux Swap)
DOS fdisk (both in Win2k and Win98) refused to deal correctly with the
contents of the extended partition because it had an unrecognised
logical drive (Linux) in it. It did the usual :
Extended partition is empty
Can't delete extended partition because it's not empty
trick. After I rebooted, my machine refused to start : the BIOS
(Abit BP6 dual Celeron) ran through the start sequence, and then hung
while scanning local drives for bootable partitions in preparation
for the actual bootstrap. Basically, if the partition table got
scanned as a possible boot, the machine would refuse to start or to
boot from any media whatsosver.
This was eventually solved by attaching the drive to a second machine
as a secondary (i.e. not involved in boot scanning) drive and using
an IBM scannning utility to zero the first 128 sectors completely.
This removed the christmas-tree partition, whatever it was, and
allowed me to reinstall Win98 and Linux. I lost everything on the
disk, however. If I hadn't had access to a second machine, or at any
rate to a second bootable hard disk, then I would have had no solution.
So, another warning : never *ever* use DOS fdisk to mess with
extended partitions containing Linux. Use Linux fdisk only... at
least it doesn't destroy your machine.
Also, a word of praise for BeOS, which has a truly nice graphical
fdisk utility : it couldn't solve the christmas-tree settings, but
at least it can recognise all of the partitions correctly and allow
you to manipulate them in an intuitive and simple manner.
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