Reinstalling Mountain Lion

Upgrading from Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion has proven to be a lousy experience. The computer was much slower and the spinning wheel icon kept coming up. Endless frustration.

Before giving up on Mountain Lion, I decided to give it another chance by doing a fresh install. As with all fresh installs, start by backing up your stuff. I simply opened Finder and copied everything in each user’s Home folder over.

OS X has something called OS X recovery which allows recovery without any installation media. To access this, restart the Mac and hold down cmd + R until it boots into OS X utilities. From there, it is possible to erase the disk and select the option to install Mountain Lion.

The utility will ask for the Apple ID and password used to buy Mountain Lion, then proceed to download the whole thing before installing it. Just let it sit there and finish the whole process. It’s quite painless.

After Mountain Lion installed I copied the data back and reinstalled applications from their install discs. There was a bit of a problem with iPhoto at first when it refused to open the backed up libraries. It complained that the library was created with a newer version of iPhoto. Doing a software update solved the problem.

However, some old emails were lost. the ~/Library folder is hidden in Mountain Lion and thus was never copied when I first backed up the data. Mac OS stores mail somewhere in the Library folder in the user’s home directory. Oh well the perils of hiding “complicated” things from the user.

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Resize Linux Partition

My Linux partition was running low on disk space. A look in the Disk Utility showed that there were THREE swap partitions. They must have been created automatically when a free chunk of space was selected during a few installations.

I noticed that I could extend the partition if I deleted the extra swap partitions and moved the one in use over.

Which swap to delete?

The command cat /etc/fstab shows the partitions used during the install.

I simply used the Disk Utility to delete the other two swap partitions.

Moving the swap partition

It is only possible to move and resize partitions when they are not mounted. Use a Live USB stick to boot to Ubuntu and run the GParted Partition Editor.

To move the swap partition, it is necessary to unmount it first. Right click on it and select “Swapoff”. It is then possible to move it over to the free space area by using the “resize/move” command. Simply copy the value of “Space after” to “Space preceding”. GParted will automatically figure out that the swap partition is to be shifted.

Extend the Linux partition

Right click on the Linux partition and extend its size to take up all the free space.

Apply the changes by clicking on the green check mark in the toolbar.

Uh oh, the computer can’t boot!!

Rebooting after the changes were made resulted in a command prompt which just said “grub restore>”. Not good.

I booted back to the Live USB stick and googled around for instructions on how to reinstall the bootloader.

Unfortunately, the standard way of
sudo grub-install /dev/sda
did not work. It failed with an error message asking if the device is mounted.

I found some instructions at askubuntu.com. Basically I had to mount the partition to a mount point, then run
sudo grub-install --boot-directory=/mnt/boot /dev/sda
where /mnt is the location I mounted the Linux partition to.

That worked with no errors and after restarting, good ol’ grub comes up.

iTunes Library

After installing iTunes on a fresh install of Windows, the music library was empty! Apple has a support article explaining how to get it back. I had a copy of the XML file and could use it to recreate the Library according to the instructions.

Choose File > Library > Import Playlist.
Navigate to the “iTunes Library.xml” file on the Desktop and click Open.

I also had to manually change the location of “My Music” folder in Windows as my music files are on another disk partition.

Rooting the Kindle Fire

After owning the Kindle Fire for nearly a year, I’ve decided that it’s time to try what I got it for in the first place. Using it as a relatively low cost Android tablet. A few Google searches seemed to suggest that Android Jelly Bean is available for the Kindle Fire and it would be a relatively simple process.

Naturally that didn’t turn out to be the case.

I started with a nice short looking tutorial at liliputing.com

The first step is to download the Kindle Fire Utility, and I immediately got stuck on the first step when install_drivers.bat didn’t work.

So I found instructions for manually rooting the Kindle Fire, which explains how to install the Android SDK and manually install the driver. When you run the SDK Manager, just install the Platform Tools and the Google USB Driver.

Next, following the instructions on another forum thread, I edited the driver files and tried to manually update the Kindle driver. Here, Windows 8 threw an error about the driver file being untrusted and totally refused to install it.

For a moment, I thought I would have to dig up an old copy of Windows and install it on a virtual machine or something, but it turns out that it’s possible to disable driver verification on Windows 8. Follow the instructions at laslow.net through a series of never seen before options. Repeat the steps for manually installing the driver through the Device Manager and it should complete successfully.

Now when I start run.bat in the Kindle Fire Utility, the ADB Status says online 🙂

Although the post title says rooting the Kindle Fire, this is as far as I’ve got so far, so the post will be updated as more progress is made.

Additional Reading

I came across the Kindle Fire for Beginners Guide on the XDA forums. It gives an excellent explanation of all the terms used and how all the components relate to each other.

Install Bootloader

Using the Kindle Fire Utility, I installed the FireFireFire bootloader. Based on the beginner’s guide, this seems to be the first step to getting other stuff installed. This is WRONG, installing the bootloader first prevents anything else from getting in as fastboot mode cannot be entered.