Last weekend I installed OpenSUSE 10.3. It was a bumpy installation, since I was without any CD I could burn. So I downloaded the ISO image to FAT32 partition, two additional files (kernel + initrd) and started install. I added another (non-free software) CD image to the list of repositories, but the install had failed afted being done with the 1st CD (Because the CD image was on the partition that was about to be added to /etc/fstab, with no formatting or anything destructive. But that was enough to confuse the installer and make it exit with an error.). So I tried to boot into the installed OS and.. the boot failed. So I was only left with a GRUB command line (because the menu.lst file had not been created) and a WinXP partition which I had to figure out how to boot from.
GRUB built-in help is the most useless help ever.
I needed the chainloader command, ok, but that command wants "blocklist or file name". However, the blocklist syntax is nowhere to be found in the GRUB help. I was just about to go to work and burn the installation CD, when I saw another command (blocklist) which, given filename, prints out a list of blocks. I knew the kernel image filename on the root partition, so I finally got to see how the blocklist syntax is supposed to look like (ie. 0+1 = 1 sector starting from 0th). That enabled me to boot into XP, move stuff to unused partition and successfully install SUSE.
HOWEVER... I had a critical password stored on the root partition which got mkfs'd and overwritten several times.. and it was filled up to 60%, like never before. I thought that I had lost the password, but I tried my luck and used dd to make an image of the root partition into a file. Then I used the strings program to dump all printable strings in the partition image and, unbelievably enough, the password was there, not overwritten by the new data! WOW :) I had more luck than brains this time :)
As for SUSE, I'm running KDE now, and.. it's OK. Livable. Not bad. Portage broke down on my old gentoo installation and I finally got sick of it. Time to spend as little time managing my computer as possible.