Ask the Doctor: Boot, Baby, Boot!


I was installing a Windows Update on my laptop, and I left it to finish making dinner, not realizing that the automatic update wanted to restart my computer.

While I was away, the computer restarted. From there, it basically locked up. I had recently purchased a hot-swap box that was compatible with laptop hard drives, so I put it in and completely formatted it. Now I can’t do anything with it. I have been trying to reinstall from a boot CD, but I get an NTLDR Missing error. I know this is a Windows issue, and I want to install Linux. Can you help?

—Nick Folts

NTLDR is the Windows boot loader. It isn’t that difficult to restore. But that’s only necessary if you are planning on reinstalling Windows; since you’re going for Linux this time around, you can bypass that step entirely.
First, the Doctor wants to make sure you’re not trying to boot your drive from the hot-swap box. If so, that’s the problem—put the drive back in the laptop and try again. Second, make sure your boot order is correct. All you need to do is go into your laptop’s BIOS and change the boot order to look at your optical drive first.

Then just put in the install disc for your Linux distro of choice (we like Ubuntu—go to for our step-by-step install guide). It should let you format the drive for Linux and install right off the bat!

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at for advice on how to solve your technological woes.

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