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Thread: Ubuntu on external USB drive corrupts my EasyBCD/VistaHnS XP Win7 dual boot

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Default Ubuntu on external USB drive corrupts my EasyBCD/VistaHnS XP Win7 dual boot

    I have been dual booting Windows 7 and XP with EasyBCD1.7.2 and Vista Hide'n Seek for quite a while now, but I recently decided to try booting Ubuntu 11.10 from an external 3.5" USB drive. To install Ubuntu on the USB drive, I unplugged all my internal Windows drives.

    After Ubuntu was installed I shutdown, then re-connected all my internal SATA drives. Then I booted from Ubuntu again and everything was fine, until I shutdown, disconnected the USB drive and tried to boot back into Windows. VistaHnS was gone and I was sent to the XP login screen, but there were some file corruption errors, so I couldn't boot. I had to use the Windows Recovery disk and do:

    bootrec.exe /fixmbr
    bootsect.exe /nt60 all /force
    bootrec.exe /rebuildbcd

    Then I was able to get back into Windows 7 and restore my working dual boot. After a few suggestions on disabling Ubuntu's GRUB os-prober, I made the changes and once again booted into Ubuntu from the USB drive while my internal drives were connected. I shutdown and tried to boot into Windows again and found nothing but a blank screen and cursor. I repeated fixmbr, etc. and once again have my dual boot working.

    Any ideas what booting Ubuntu from the USB drive could possibly be doing to my internal drive MBR or EasyBCD/VistaHnS/GRUB4DOS? Booting the Ubuntu live CD doesn't kill my Windows MBR, but I'd like to be able to run off the USB drive.

    I haven't saved a copy of the MBR after the USB Ubuntu thrashes it, but I have saved a copy of the working MBR and other details. Please have a look and let me know if anything jumps out at you. I'm not sure of the inner workings of EasyBCD/VistaHnS/GRUB4DOS and also not sure how or why the Ubuntu GRUB installed on the USB drive would be writing MBR changes to the internal drives on its own. Or maybe it's caused by some other automatic Ubuntu background utility that doesn't like my Windows dual boot.

    If this isn't enough to go on, I can try to hook Ubuntu up again to get copy of the damage it's doing to the Windows MBR, though I'd prefer not to go through that again.

    Ubuntu Live CD output (which matches MBRFix backup output in Windows)
    Code:
    ubuntu@ubuntu:~/Downloads$ sudo hexdump -n 512 -C /dev/sda
    00000000  33 c0 8e d0 bc 00 7c 8e  c0 8e d8 be 00 7c bf 00  |3.....|......|..|
    00000010  06 b9 00 02 fc f3 a4 50  68 1c 06 cb fb b9 04 00  |.......Ph.......|
    00000020  bd be 07 80 7e 00 00 7c  0b 0f 85 0e 01 83 c5 10  |....~..|........|
    00000030  e2 f1 cd 18 88 56 00 55  c6 46 11 05 c6 46 10 00  |.....V.U.F...F..|
    00000040  b4 41 bb aa 55 cd 13 5d  72 0f 81 fb 55 aa 75 09  |.A..U..]r...U.u.|
    00000050  f7 c1 01 00 74 03 fe 46  10 66 60 80 7e 10 00 74  |....t..F.f`.~..t|
    00000060  26 66 68 00 00 00 00 66  ff 76 08 68 00 00 68 00  |&fh....f.v.h..h.|
    00000070  7c 68 01 00 68 10 00 b4  42 8a 56 00 8b f4 cd 13  ||h..h...B.V.....|
    00000080  9f 83 c4 10 9e eb 14 b8  01 02 bb 00 7c 8a 56 00  |............|.V.|
    00000090  8a 76 01 8a 4e 02 8a 6e  03 cd 13 66 61 73 1c fe  |.v..N..n...fas..|
    000000a0  4e 11 75 0c 80 7e 00 80  0f 84 8a 00 b2 80 eb 84  |N.u..~..........|
    000000b0  55 32 e4 8a 56 00 cd 13  5d eb 9e 81 3e fe 7d 55  |U2..V...]...>.}U|
    000000c0  aa 75 6e ff 76 00 e8 8d  00 75 17 fa b0 d1 e6 64  |.un.v....u.....d|
    000000d0  e8 83 00 b0 df e6 60 e8  7c 00 b0 ff e6 64 e8 75  |......`.|....d.u|
    000000e0  00 fb b8 00 bb cd 1a 66  23 c0 75 3b 66 81 fb 54  |.......f#.u;f..T|
    000000f0  43 50 41 75 32 81 f9 02  01 72 2c 66 68 07 bb 00  |CPAu2....r,fh...|
    00000100  00 66 68 00 02 00 00 66  68 08 00 00 00 66 53 66  |.fh....fh....fSf|
    00000110  53 66 55 66 68 00 00 00  00 66 68 00 7c 00 00 66  |SfUfh....fh.|..f|
    00000120  61 68 00 00 07 cd 1a 5a  32 f6 ea 00 7c 00 00 cd  |ah.....Z2...|...|
    00000130  18 a0 b7 07 eb 08 a0 b6  07 eb 03 a0 b5 07 32 e4  |..............2.|
    00000140  05 00 07 8b f0 ac 3c 00  74 09 bb 07 00 b4 0e cd  |......<.t.......|
    00000150  10 eb f2 f4 eb fd 2b c9  e4 64 eb 00 24 02 e0 f8  |......+..d..$...|
    00000160  24 02 c3 49 6e 76 61 6c  69 64 20 70 61 72 74 69  |$..Invalid parti|
    00000170  74 69 6f 6e 20 74 61 62  6c 65 00 45 72 72 6f 72  |tion table.Error|
    00000180  20 6c 6f 61 64 69 6e 67  20 6f 70 65 72 61 74 69  | loading operati|
    00000190  6e 67 20 73 79 73 74 65  6d 00 4d 69 73 73 69 6e  |ng system.Missin|
    000001a0  67 20 6f 70 65 72 61 74  69 6e 67 20 73 79 73 74  |g operating syst|
    000001b0  65 6d 00 00 00 63 7b 9a  a1 64 ca 75 00 00 00 20  |em...c{..d.u... |
    000001c0  21 00 17 fe ff ff 00 08  00 00 00 80 20 05 00 fe  |!........... ...|
    000001d0  ff ff 17 fe ff ff 00 88  20 05 c7 75 01 14 80 fe  |........ ..u....|
    000001e0  ff ff 07 fe ff ff c7 fd  21 19 e9 5b b7 03 00 fe  |........!..[....|
    000001f0  ff ff 0f fe ff ff b0 59  d9 1c 11 00 97 57 55 aa  |.......Y.....WU.|
    Code:
    ============================= Boot Info Summary: ===============================
    
     => Windows is installed in the MBR of /dev/sda.
     => No boot loader is installed in the MBR of /dev/sdb.
     => No boot loader is installed in the MBR of /dev/sdc.
    
    sda1: __________________________________________________________________________
    
        File system:       ntfs
        Boot sector type:  Windows Vista/7: NTFS
        Boot sector info:  No errors found in the Boot Parameter Block.
        Operating System:  Windows 7
        Boot files:        /menu.lst /BOOTMGR /Boot/BCD 
                           /Windows/System32/winload.exe /NTLDR /NTDETECT.COM
    
    sda2: __________________________________________________________________________
    
        File system:       ntfs
        Boot sector type:  Windows Vista/7: NTFS
        Boot sector info:  No errors found in the Boot Parameter Block.
        Operating System:  
        Boot files:        
    
    sda3: __________________________________________________________________________
    
        File system:       ntfs
        Boot sector type:  Windows Vista/7: NTFS
        Boot sector info:  No errors found in the Boot Parameter Block.
        Operating System:  Windows XP
        Boot files:        /boot.ini /grldr /BOOTMGR /Boot/BCD /grldr /NTLDR 
                           /NTDETECT.COM
    
    sda4: __________________________________________________________________________
    
        File system:       Extended Partition
        Boot sector type:  Unknown
        Boot sector info: 
    
    sda5: __________________________________________________________________________
    
        File system:       ntfs
        Boot sector type:  Windows Vista/7: NTFS
        Boot sector info:  According to the info in the boot sector, sda5 starts 
                           at sector 63.
        Operating System:  
        Boot files:        /NTLDR /NTDETECT.COM
    
    sda6: __________________________________________________________________________
    
        File system:       ntfs
        Boot sector type:  Windows Vista/7: NTFS
        Boot sector info:  According to the info in the boot sector, sda6 starts 
                           at sector 63.
        Operating System:  
        Boot files:
    Code:
    Disk /dev/sda: 1000.2 GB, 1000204886016 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 121601 cylinders, total 1953525168 sectors
    Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    
    Partition  Boot  Start Sector    End Sector  # of Sectors  Id System
    
    /dev/sda1               2,048    86,018,047    86,016,000  17 Hidden NTFS / HPFS
    /dev/sda2          86,018,048   421,658,054   335,640,007  17 Hidden NTFS / HPFS
    /dev/sda3    *    421,658,055   484,006,319    62,348,265   7 NTFS / exFAT / HPFS
    /dev/sda4         484,006,320 1,953,520,064 1,469,513,745   f W95 Extended (LBA)
    /dev/sda5         484,006,383   547,495,199    63,488,817   7 NTFS / exFAT / HPFS
    /dev/sda6         547,495,263 1,953,520,064 1,406,024,802   7 NTFS / exFAT / HPFS
    Code:
    ================================ sda1/menu.lst: ================================
    
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    # NeoSmart Technologies' Vista Hide 'n Seek Beta
    # DO NOT MODIFY!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
    
    timeout 10
    default 1
    splashimage=/vhns.xpm.gz
    foreground 000000
    background ffffff
    
    title Windows 7
    find --unhide /Vista.C.HnS
    find --unhide /Vista.D.HnS
    find --set-root /BOOTMGR.HNS
    makeactive
    chainloader /BOOTMGR.HNS
    boot
    
    title Windows XP
    find --hide /Vista.C.HnS
    find --hide /Vista.D.HnS
    find --remap-root /XP.H.HnS
    find --set-root /XP.H.HnS
    makeactive
    chainloader /ntldr
    boot
    
    # All your boot are belong to NeoSmart!--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    =================== sda1: Location of files loaded by Grub: ====================
    
               GiB - GB             File                                 Fragment(s)
    
                ?? = ??             menu.lst                                       0
    
    ================================ sda3/boot.ini: ================================
    
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    [boot loader]
    timeout=0
    default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINDOWS
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINDOWS="Vista Hide 'n Seek: Windows XP" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    ========================== sda3/grldr embedded menu: ===========================
    
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    default 0
    timeout 1
    fallback 1
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    ======================== Unknown MBRs/Boot Sectors/etc: ========================
    
    Unknown BootLoader on sda4
    
    00000000  00 18 c6 58 9b 01 80 55  d5 6c 08 32 42 d2 ba ef  |...X...U.l.2B...|
    00000010  f2 7a ae a4 53 82 80 04  00 80 80 30 40 1a 00 54  |.z..S......0@..T|
    00000020  00 68 20 03 00 06 08 03  06 00 00 90 04 00 a0 0d  |.h .............|
    00000030  00 18 80 01 c0 88 a0 04  00 18 a0 04 00 19 01 40  |...............@|
    00000040  1a 00 04 00 60 03 22 00  10 10 06 0c 50 06 00 06  |....`.".....P...|
    00000050  88 01 00 06 00 48 08 01  40 02 a0 05 00 08 05 00  |.....H..@.......|
    00000060  1a 00 04 40 02 00 01 02  00 c0 01 f0 40 60 80 c4  |...@........@`..|
    00000070  02 20 18 42 dd 00 60 00  55 60 00 59 20 34 83 02  |. .B..`.U`.Y 4..|
    00000080  de 0c 40 01 a0 04 00 60  14 04 83 10 00 80 41 82  |..@....`......A.|
    00000090  40 01 aa 72 bc 04 b1 16  85 e7 a0 45 70 60 10 60  |@..r.......Ep`.`|
    000000a0  24 19 01 85 86 20 80 34  54 00 8a 20 ac 40 00 c0  |$.... .4T.. .@..|
    000000b0  18 80 04 00 6a 00 45 00  18 80 01 04 00 88 80 34  |....j.E........4|
    000000c0  40 08 00 90 06 00 0c 00  01 8a 00 14 40 03 10 40  |@...........@..@|
    000000d0  1a 2a 00 52 20 80 31 00  03 10 40 0a 88 01 41 01  |.*.R .1...@...A.|
    000000e0  6a 00 05 56 a2 00 44 00  1a 20 04 01 22 a0 0d 14  |j..V..D.. .."...|
    000000f0  00 80 04 00 02 00 38 a8  03 55 00 2a 00 35 48 80  |......8..U.*.5H.|
    00000100  01 15 00 62 00 15 00 18  00 c0 80 d5 22 00 41 80  |...b........".A.|
    00000110  41 c4 44 00 80 04 10 00  18 08 01 00 b6 c1 80 00  |A.D.............|
    00000120  46 09 82 01 04 06 80 31  40 c6 12 38 e0 04 50 06  |F......1@..8..P.|
    00000130  02 45 00 6a 02 40 20 09  40 19 00 08 30 07 a8 03  |.E.j.@ .@...0...|
    00000140  10 02 a0 0d 56 02 00 c0  02 03 40 08 05 01 2c 18  |....V.....@...,.|
    00000150  03 03 b0 22 10 5a d7 96  04 12 b5 c7 d1 b5 65 c6  |...".Z........e.|
    00000160  8f 00 0a ac 00 1a 00 40  08 00 c4 00 80 01 01 aa  |.......@........|
    00000170  c0 80 0d 40 18 00 15 48  03 88 80 04 40 08 80 0d  |...@...H....@...|
    00000180  50 06 00 55 00 20 11 50  06 00 0c 50 06 a0 0d 00  |P..U. .P...P....|
    00000190  24 06 a0 01 55 f1 40 02  c4 00 18 22 0c 00 12 80  |$...U.@...."....|
    000001a0  02 45 01 1c 10 02 00 03  40 18 20 0c 00 28 09 10  |.E......@. ..(..|
    000001b0  04 a8 00 45 00 60 2d 56  00 26 08 01 00 60 00 fe  |...E.`-V.&...`..|
    000001c0  ff ff 07 fe ff ff 3f 00  00 00 31 c3 c8 03 00 fe  |......?...1.....|
    000001d0  ff ff 05 fe ff ff 70 c3  c8 03 a1 3c ce 53 00 00  |......p....<.S..|
    000001e0  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
    000001f0  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 55 aa  |..............U.|

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Wiltshire, England
    Posts
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    Sounds like you simply forgot to check the BIOS HDD boot sequence when you reconnected your drives (disconnected drives get deleted from the boot sequence and are not necessarily in the original or desired sequence when you replace them) so that you ended up trying to boot XP directly, not through HnS.
    Once you started trying to fix things via command prompt, it will have effectively removed HnS.
    HnS is a GUI which essentially just creates a grub menu.lst for you, but peripherally it also creates null files everywhere which the menu.lst can use to locate partitions, then ends by switching boot managers. It renames bootmgr to bootmgr.hns and renames grub4dos (grldr) to bootmgr, thus conning the Vista/7 IPL into executing the substituted manager, which then carries out the appropriate hide/unhide commands and chains to the real (renamed) bootmgr or NTLDR as appropriate.
    To get HnS back in working condition you should delete all .hns files and menu.lst to clean up, then run the UI.exe again.
    You might find that the XP registry hack
    System Restore Points - Stop XP Dual Boot Delete - Vista Forums
    will do the job for you, negating the need for HnS.
    Update your version of EasyBCD before adding XP to the BCD.
    1.7 is seriously out of date, without even basic W7 support.
    Last edited by Terry60; April 8th, 2012 at 06:18 PM.
    Terry

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    13

     

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry60 View Post
    Sounds like you simply forgot to check the BIOS HDD boot sequence when you reconnected your drives (disconnected drives get deleted from the boot sequence and are not necessarily in the original or desired sequence when you replace them) so that you ended up trying to boot XP directly, not through HnS.
    Once you started trying to fix things via command prompt, it will have effectively removed HnS.
    Thanks for the reply. Just to be clear, I'm not trying to integrate the Ubuntu USB drive into Vista HnS or GRUB4DOS. I'm trying to keep the two boot loaders separate. 1) Vista HnS for Windows 7/XP dual booting, 2) the Ubuntu on USB with its own GRUB2 on its own /boot partition only used for booting Ubuntu when I connect the external drive and manually select the USB drive from the BIOS during the self-test.

    I'll have a look at the BIOS. My BIOS doesn't support adding a USB drive to the boot device order, so I have to manually hit an F-key at startup to select and boot from USB. So, you're right that I haven't touched or changed the boot settings.

    If it is the case that my BIOS forgets the boot order and mixes things up when drives are disconnected, I'm not sure why booting works fine if I disconnect and reconnect the drives and only causes problems in the single case of manually selecting a USB boot device at bootup then returning to Windows. So, Windows boot problems don't happen after disconnecting and reconnecting internal SATA drives, but they do happen after booting Ubuntu from USB while internal drives are connected (and not disconnected before subsequently trying to boot to Windows).

    I will do a quick test to see if my BIOS is indeed removing and changing entries when I disconnect internal drives (to see if the same thing happens without ever booting from USB).

    I understand theoretically that my BIOS could be auto-selecting a non-boot drive if the BIOS boot order settings were forgotten, but in that case does the BIOS actually re-write the MBR or alter it in any way? Can I look for changes in the MBR hexdump after the BIOS has mistakenly tried to boot from the wrong drive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry60 View Post
    HnS is a GUI which essentially just creates a grub menu.lst for you, but peripherally it also creates null files everywhere which the menu.lst can use to locate partitions, then ends by switching boot managers. It renames bootmgr to bootmgr.hns and renames grub4dos (grldr) to bootmgr, thus conning the Vista/7 IPL into executing the substituted manager, which then carries out the appropriate hide/unhide commands and chains to the real (renamed) bootmgr or NTLDR as appropriate.
    So, when HnS is working properly and I backup the MBR with a utility like MBR Fix and look at the hexdump, what am I looking at and what should be in the first 512 bytes? Is it the stock, native Windows MBR or something else EasyBCD has written there? From your explanation it sounds like it should be the stock Windows MBR and it is only tricked into loading GRUB4DOS by the renaming of normal system files outside of the MBR.

    How about the PBR? Does Vista HnS or EasyBCD make non-standard changes to that or should the PBR also be the same as Windows default?

    Could you post a copy of your MBR or an example of how the MBR should look with HnS working properly for comparison?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry60 View Post
    To get HnS back in working condition you should delete all .hns files and menu.lst to clean up, then run the UI.exe again.
    HnS is already back and working now after the fixmbr recovery with out any additional configuration. And I've gotten it back twice that way. The only time it doesn't work is immediately after booting Ubuntu from USB.

    From looking at my MBR hexdump can you tell why it is working fine now, but doesn't work after booting a third system from USB? All the data I posted is from the state of the system when HnS seems to be functioning properly. Is it a fluke that my HnS is working after fixmbr?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry60 View Post
    Update your version of EasyBCD before adding XP to the BCD.
    1.7 is seriously out of date, without even basic W7 support.
    I will do that. I had no issues with my Windows-only dual boot and wasn't sure that the latest EasyBCD would work with the outdated HnS. As they say, "If it ain't broke..." And it wasn't broken until I tried booting Ubuntu from USB.

    If I don't track down the issue, I'll set aside the idea of booting Ubuntu from USB and stick with my current working Vista HnS and Windows 7/XP.

    One last thought, if I can't figure out what Ubuntu is doing to the Windows HnS boot, would it work to remove my external USB drive /boot partition and remove Ubuntu's own GRUB2 entirely (so it wouldn't boot on it's own)? Then could I add an entry to HnS for Ubuntu on USB (as opposed to being on an internal partition)? Or would I need to just remove Ubuntu's GRUB2, but keep the external /boot partition?


    UPDATE: I think the immediate issue is solved. I seem to be able to boot all three systems now without conflicts.

    I created the following file to block automatic mounting of my Windows drives in Ubuntu.

    /lib/udev/rules.d/81-nomount-win.rules

    (one line with the UUID for each Windows partiton):

    Code:
    # prevent auto-mounting of Windows drives
    
    ACTION!="add|change", GOTO="hide_partition_end"
    SUBSYSTEM!="block", GOTO="hide_partition_end"
    KERNEL=="ram*", GOTO="hide_partition_end"
    
    # xp
    ENV{ID_FS_UUID}=="6b7f8268-c6a2-4265-9563-78f808b3c1cd", ENV{UDISKS_PRESENTATION_HIDE}:="1"
    
    # win7
    ENV{ID_FS_UUID}=="6b7f8268-c6a2-4265-9563-78f808b3c1cd", ENV{UDISKS_PRESENTATION_HIDE}:="1"
    
    LABEL="hide_partition_end"
    This gives me a usable system, but I never figured out why the MBR or some part of the HnS boot loader was being altered when Ubuntu was connected.

    I tested the BIOS to see if it was mixing things up, but it wasn't. Through all different combinations I tested, it always had the right Windows boot drive selected as the 1st boot device. Even after booting into Ubuntu on USB and even after disconnecting and reconnecting internal drives.

    I was careful not to connect the internal drives until I had those new /udev/rules.d/ rules in place, but I looked at MBR hexdumps and logs before and after and on the Live CD and didn't see anything different or obvious that might be causing a problem.

    As for EasyBCD and Vista HnS, I haven't touched that at all yet. I will update though, because I imagine that might have been part of the conflict when Ubuntu was auto-mounting the Windows drives with read-write access.


    UPDATE 2:
    I was wrong. After having booted to Windows 7 and XP then shutting down, I tried to boot to Widnows a few hours later and it failed. No boot menu, just a blank screen with a cursor.

    I booted a Live CD, compared the current MBR to a working backup MBR, then manually copied that good MBR back onto the drive. After restoring the MBR backup, I am now able to boot with HnS normally for the moment.

    Code:
    cmp -1 MBRwin.bin MBRnoboot.bin
    
    447 200   0
    451   7  27
    467   7  27
    479   0 200
    
    1) 0x1be=446 to 0x1be=446 (1 bytes)    80 / 00
    2) 0x1c2=450 to 0x1c2=450 (1 bytes)    07 / 17
    3) 0x1d2=466 to 0x1d2=466 (1 bytes)    07 / 17
    4) 0x1de=478 to 0x1de=478 (1 bytes)    00 / 80
    I read that the PBR starts after byte 446, so maybe the PBR is being changed or corrupted somehow rather than the MBR.

    Any ideas on what could cause this? The only things I have done differently recently are booting from USB drive, booting Ubuntu and unplugging/re-plugging my SATA cables a lot.

    So, maybe it's a bad cable or the hard drive is developing bad sectors in the MBR? Or maybe the BIOS just doesn't like booting from USB and that's causing a new problem I've never seen before. I have been checking the BIOS on every boot and the drives and boot order are always correct.

    I asked above, but could you let me know whether EasyBCD or Vista HnS make changes to anything in the first 512K of the MBR/PBR? Or should my MBR/PBR be the same as a 100% stock Windows install? In that case, EasyBCD and Vista HnS should only be changing in the visible partition filesystem, right?
    Last edited by MWill; April 9th, 2012 at 08:51 AM. Reason: Automagically-merged double-post.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Location
    Chicago
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    EasyBCD and HnS both use stock/standard MBR/PBR/bootsector.

    When you hide a partition with HnS however, it modifies a single byte in the MBR to hide that partition (the visible flag). You must then unhide the partition with HnS again at some point in the future. Does that explain your problem?
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    13

     

    Quote Originally Posted by Computer Guru View Post
    EasyBCD and HnS both use stock/standard MBR/PBR/bootsector.

    When you hide a partition with HnS however, it modifies a single byte in the MBR to hide that partition (the visible flag). You must then unhide the partition with HnS again at some point in the future. Does that explain your problem?
    Good to know, thank you for explaining. So that should be a single byte per flipped partition, in my case I have 2 Windows 7 partitions which I hide from 2 XP partitions. I've been comparing more MBR dumps from my system and I am seeing 4 bytes changed when I go back and forth. Does that seem right or are more PBR bytes changing than there should be?

    Is there anything else HnS or GRUB4DOS changes in sectors after the first 512k MBR/PBR but before the start of the visible file partition?

    Win7 MBRwin7.bin / WinXP MBRxp.bin both working
    Code:
    1) 0x1be=446 to 0x1be=446 (1 bytes)   80 / 00
    2) 0x1c2=450 to 0x1c2=450 (1 bytes)   07 / 17
    3) 0x1d2=466 to 0x1d2=466 (1 bytes)   07 / 17
    4) 0x1de=478 to 0x1de=478 (1 bytes)   00 / 80
    The bad news is that I compared the MBR when the system would not boot (MBR saved while running a Linux Live CD) and it matched exactly the WinXP "working" MBR. Since it wouldn't boot, I manually restored the Win7 MBR backup which allowed me to boot both systems again.

    I'm wondering if I should always boot into Windows 7 (which unhides everything), then shutdown before trying to boot into my USB external Ubuntu drive. That might avoid any potential issues caused by the hidden flags.

    As I typed this post, I decided to try and boot again after working in XP and nothing is coming up again. I wonder if HnS might be writing a wrong bit or byte somewhere when hiding XP.

    I'm going to try starting from scratch with the latest version of EasyBCD2.1.2 and HnS 0.61 and see if that clears things up.
    Last edited by MWill; April 9th, 2012 at 10:59 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Wiltshire, England
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    9,398

     

    It's grub (masquerading as bootmgr) which sets/unsets the MBR hide bit. (because no Windows boot loader/manager of any vintage uses that facility)
    HnS itself is just the precursor app which sets up the grub environment for you (for Windows users with no grub expertise).
    You could do everything yourself with native grub4dos if you're happy with the syntax, without involving HnS at all.
    The versions of HnS or EasyBCD in use are of no consequence. Once the environment is set up and in use, neither plays any part in the act of booting the system.
    Terry

    Baker of fine scones.



    Please keep requests for help in the forums where everyone can see them, not in Private Messages.
    Posting a plea for help or information in the forum, will be seen more quickly by a widely experienced audience.
    A solution in the forum could also be useful to other future visitors, so PLEASE, no private requests. (they won't be answered !)

  7. #7
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    I really don't recommend using HnS. I don't see why you need it?
    Mahmoud Al-Qudsi, Director



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  8. #8
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    Terry60, thanks for the comments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Computer Guru View Post
    I really don't recommend using HnS. I don't see why you need it?
    Well, I was sticking with what had worked for years. I never had an issue like this until trying to boot Ubuntu from USB. I don't know if it's all coincidence or not.

    I have just finished cleaning the old HnS off and removing or renaming files back to their original names. I installed EasyBCD 2.1.2, tested one reboot, then reinstalled Vista HnS. It seems to be working again now after a handful of boots back and forth. Perhaps one of the related files was short a few bits after my initial test of Ubuntu on USB was followed by a run of CHKDISK.

    I'm going to keep an eye on it and maybe try out the registry edits instead if I have more problems.

    When I re-installed HnS, I noticed the warning about removable drives causing Vista HnS to incorrectly detect drive and partitions numbers. Is that warning only for the initial install or for every boot when using HnS? I ask because I haven't had any trouble until I decided to try booting from USB (with a separate boot loader on the USB drive).

  9. #9
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    Usually only for the initial install, but sometimes (depends on your motherboard and BIOS) for subsequent boots, too. HnS has so many layers of complication, so even though it works I generally advise against using it for this very reason. But if it's working for you now, I guess it's fine.
    Mahmoud Al-Qudsi, Director



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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Computer Guru View Post
    Usually only for the initial install, but sometimes (depends on your motherboard and BIOS) for subsequent boots, too. HnS has so many layers of complication, so even though it works I generally advise against using it for this very reason.
    Ok, thank you. I'll keep that in mind. Since my reinstall of EasyBCD/HnS, I haven't had any issues booting. I also haven't plugged in or tried to boot from my USB drive since then either. Considering my recent experience and your comments, I'll probably avoid another attempt to boot from USB with my current combination of USB drive, motherboard, BIOS and HnS.

    I'll look into another option for booting Ubuntu, perhaps a VHD or Wubi approach or finding some space to free up and make a new partition on one of my internal drives. I'll also read up some more and consider leaving HnS behind and switching to the registry fix to avoid XP conflicting with Windows 7 restore points.

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