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Why Is My Windows Link “Broken”?

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If you have a dual-boot system with Ubuntu (or a similar Linux distribution) and Windows, you may have files on the Windows side that you often want to get at from the Ubuntu side. An easy way to do that is to make a link (which Windows users would call a shortcut): in Ubuntu, right-click on the Windows folder for which you want a link, choose “Make Link,” and drag the link you’ve made to some convenient place in your Ubuntu home folder.

But sometimes the link won’t work: Ubuntu says it’s “broken.” Why?

Assuming you haven’t moved the original Windows folder, there are two main reasons for a broken link.

1. You haven’t mounted the Windows partition. That’s easy to fix: choose it from the “Places” menu (it’s named by its size in gigabytes).

2. The Windows partition is mounted under a different name. That’s a little more complicated.

When it mounts a volume, Ubuntu calls it “disk.” If you make a link to a folder on that volume, Ubuntu remembers that the link points to a folder on “disk.”

If you mount a second volume, Ubuntu calls it “disk-1.” The next after that is “disk-2,” and so on.

Once you’ve unmounted the volumes–which happens if you shut down the computer, for example–Ubuntu forgets all about them. The next disk you mount will be “disk,” and the one after that “disk-1,” and so on.

Suppose your Windows partition was mounted as “disk” when you made the link. Now suppose the next time you start your computer, you plug in a flash drive. That flash drive is “disk” now. If you mount the Windows partition with the flash drive plugged in, the Windows partition becomes “disk-1.”

There’s your problem: your link points to a folder on “disk,” so Ubuntu is looking for it on your flash drive.

One of the legions of people smarter than I am may know a good way around this difficulty. Please tell me what it is. The only solution I know of is to mount the volumes in the same order each time. Practically speaking, if you use the Windows side often enough to make a link, you can just mount it by habit at the beginning of each session, and it will always be “disk.”


Written by cbaile19

July 28, 2008 at 5:32 pm

I’ve Just Installed Ubuntu. Now What?

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If you’ve just put Ubuntu on your Windows PC, congratulations. I think you’ll like it. But you probably have lots of questions right now. Maybe these are some of them:

My touchpad is driving me crazy. How do I turn off tap-to-click?

System, Preferences, Mouse, “Touchpad” tab.

How do I associate a file type with an application?

Same as in Windows: Right-click, choose “Open with Other Application.”

How do I kill a program that hangs?

System, Administration, System Monitor, “Processes” tab. You won’t have to do this very often; usually the system knows that the program isn’t responding and will ask you what to do about it. And programs don’t hang very often.

How do I safely disconnect an external disk?

Right-click on the volume icon, choose “Unmount Volume.”

I installed Ubuntu as a dual boot with Windows. Where do I find the Windows partition in Ubuntu?

In the Places menu, named according to its size in gigabytes.

Why can’t I mount the Windows partition?

Windows must be shut down, not hibernated. For very good reasons, Ubuntu won’t fiddle with a hibernated Windows partition.

Is there a simple and easy way to use my Windows partition for Ubuntu storage?

I’m glad you asked that. Open your Windows partition in Ubuntu, make a link (a shortcut) to the folder you want to use in your Windows partition (right-click on it and choose “Make Link”), and put the link in the appropriate folder on the Ubuntu side. That makes the Windows folder as easy to get at as any other folder in your Home Folder. (You have to mount the volume first by choosing it from the Places menu. If you get a message that the link is “broken,” the volume isn’t mounted, or is mounted under a different name, like “disk-1” instead of “disk.”)

How do I get spinning cubes and other desktop effects?

Install Compiz Fusion through Add/Remove.

How do I set windows to windowshade the way they do on a Mac?

System, Preferences, Windows, Titlebar Action, “Roll Up.”

Applications I don’t use much are cluttering up my Applications menu. Can I get rid of the menu items without uninstalling the programs?

System, Preferences, Main Menu.

How do I deal with files that won’t let me touch them?

Right-click, “Properties,” “Permissions” tab.

What if I can’t change the permissions because the file belongs to “root” or somebody else?

Press Alt-F2 (notice this is the only time I’ve said that) and type “gksudo nautilus” to run the file browser as root. You’ll have to enter your password, of course. Now you can do anything to those files. Note that you can do dangerous things as root, so get your business done and close the browser as fast as you can.

How do I install new fonts?

It’s really easy. See this article.

How do I add weather reports and other odd bits to the panel?

The “panels” are those trays at the top and bottom of our screen. Right-click on one of them and choose “Add to Panel…” A long list of mostly useless panel accessories comes up. (“Eyes. A set of eyes for your panel.”) I love the Weather Report.

How do I add an application launcher to the panel or the desktop?

From the Applications menu, choose the application you want to launch, right-click, choose “Add this launcher to panel” or “Add this launcher to desktop.”

Ubuntu runs Gnome by default. Can I decide to run KDE or XFCE later?

Anytime. Just install kubuntu-desktop or xubuntu-desktop from Add/Remove. Then you can choose which “session” you want each time you log in. You might bloat your menu a bit, but the menu will still be better organized than your Windows menu ever was. For a leaner KDE, install kde-core, which gives you basic KDE without all the bloat.

How about Fluxbox or IceWM?

Get them through Synaptic Package Manager (System, Administration, Synaptic Package Manager), which is like Add/Remove but a bit more powerful.

How about Enlightenment?

Trust me, you don’t want it. It’s the window manager for fourteen-year-old geeks who like Japanese anime with shiny things in it.

No, really, how about Enlightenment?

If you must have the latest chronically unstable version, go to, find the location of the repositories, and add those repositories to Synaptic’s repertory (in Synaptic, Settings, Repositories). Then you can get Enlightenment through Synaptic and enjoy all its unstable shininess.

Do I have to use Add/Remove or Synaptic to get new programs?

You can try, where you can download programs and install them the way you would with Windows—often more recent versions of programs you can get through Add/Remove or Synaptic. You can also try (for “Click-n-Run”). You can use the terminal, if you like command lines better. Or you can compile the programs yourself, as long as you don’t expect any help from me. But the Ubuntu repositories are stuffed so full of programs (about 25,000 last time I checked) that you may never need anything more complicated than Synaptic, which is really simple.

Written by cbaile19

July 16, 2008 at 7:46 pm