Chapter 39. Removing Red Hat Enterprise Linux From x86-based Systems

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If you have data from Red Hat Enterprise Linux that you want to keep, back it up before you proceed. Write your data to CD, DVD, external hard disk, or other storage device.
As a precaution, also back up data from any other operating systems that are installed on the same computer. Mistakes do happen and can result in the loss of all your data.
If you back up data from Red Hat Enterprise Linux to be used later in another operating system, make sure that the storage medium or device is readable by that other operating system. For example, without extra third-party software, Microsoft Windows cannot read an external hard drive that you have formatted with Red Hat Enterprise Linux to use the ext2, ext3, or ext4 file system.
To uninstall Red Hat Enterprise Linux from your x86-based system, you must remove the Red Hat Enterprise Linux boot loader information from your master boot record (MBR) and remove any partitions that contain the operating system. The method for removing Red Hat Enterprise Linux from your computer varies, depending on whether Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the only operating system installed on the computer, or whether the computer is configured to dual-boot Red Hat Enterprise Linux and another operating system.
These instructions cannot cover every possible computer configuration. If your computer is configured to boot three or more operating systems, or has a highly-customized partition scheme, use the following sections as a general guide to partition removal with the various tools described. In these situations, you will also need to learn to configure your chosen bootloader. See Appendix E, The GRUB Boot Loader for a general introduction to the subject, but detailed instructions are beyond the scope of this document.


Fdisk, the disk partitioning tool provided with MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows, is unable to remove the file systems used by Red Hat Enterprise Linux. MS-DOS and versions of Windows prior to Windows XP (except for Windows 2000) have no other means of removing or modifying partitions. Refer to Section 39.3, “Replacing Red Hat Enterprise Linux with MS-DOS or Legacy Versions of Microsoft Windows” for alternative removal methods for use with MS-DOS and these versions of Windows.

39.1. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the Only Operating System on the Computer

If Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the only operating system on your computer, use the installation media for the replacement operating system to remove Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Examples of installation media include the Windows XP installation CD, Windows Vista installation DVD, or the installation CD, CDs, or DVD of another Linux distribution.
Note that some manufacturers of factory-built computers pre-installed with Microsoft Windows do not supply the Windows installation CD or DVD with the computer. The manufacturer may instead have supplied their own "system restore disc", or have included software with the computer that allowed you to create your own "system restore disc" when you first started the computer. In some cases, the system restore software is stored on a separate partition on the system's hard drive. If you cannot identify the installation media for an operating system that was pre-installed on your computer, consult the documentation supplied with the machine, or contact the manufacturer.
When you have located the installation media for your chosen operating system:
  1. Back up any data that you want to keep.
  2. Shut down the computer.
  3. Boot your computer with the installation disc for the replacement operating system.
  4. Follow the prompts presented during the installation process. Windows, OS X, and most Linux installation discs allow you to manually partition your hard drive during the installation process, or will offer you the option to remove all partitions and start with a fresh partition scheme. At this point, remove any existing partitions that the installation software detects or allow the installer to remove the partitions automatically. "System restore" media for computers pre-installed with Microsoft Windows might create a default partition layout automatically without input from you.


    If your computer has system restore software stored on a partition on a hard drive, take care when removing partitions while installing an operating system from other media. Under these circumstances, you could destroy the partition holding the system restore software.
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