Deleted main partition / can't boot

#1
Hey everyone, I'm in a rather interesting situation. I originally had Vista installed on hd0,0 (grub notation) and a bunch of various Linux partitions after it. Due to some bug a while back that Vista install became unbootable (well, it booted, but wouldn't start explorer, and couldn't ctrl-alt-del or anything) so I installed Vista to hd0,10 and reinstalled all my stuff. Earlier today I decided I wanted the space that the broken Vista was using back, so I formatted the partition to ext4 and went on my way. However, now Vista won't boot. The boot manager / boot sector apparently resided on the partition where Vista had originally been installed.

I've tried everything at Recovering the Vista Bootloader from the DVD - NeoSmart Technologies Wiki to no avail.

The Vista auto-fix tool claims (after reading a ridiculous amount of data from the disk -- 20 minutes) "The partition table does not have a valid system partition" and reports that the issue is fixed. Of course it is not. It will (apparently) do this same thing no matter how many times I run it.

/fixmbr works fine and the bootsect command too. But I cannot successfully run /fixboot or /rebuildbcd since they report "element not found".

Step 4 in the link also did not help. Nor did copying over /boot from my Vista DVD (might be worth noting that hd0,10 did not have a /boot directory.)

Summary:
Installed Vista to hd0,0
Installed Vista to hd0,10
Formatted hd0,0
Can't boot

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get this thing bootable again?


Edit:

Whooooa. I bet I know what it is. If I try to reinstall Vista to hd0,10 it reports, "Windows is unable to find a system volume that meets its criteria for installation." it must need to be installed on a primary partition. Given that I really don't want to do that -- anyone know of any hacky workarounds?


Edit 2:

Yikes, even if I deleted the ext4 partition on hd0,0 Vista still tells me that it's unable to find a system volume that meets its criteria for installation. This is getting kind of scary. Moreso because some fixmbr type tool errored two (of the six) disk 0+1 RAID array this is all taking place on top of and Linux is refusing to see it properly anymore (thankfully the Vista installer still does.) Anyone have any idea on even how to get Vista installing to hd0,0 again?
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
Hi Drom, welcome to NST.
You can install Vista (or XP) to a logical disk, but you can't boot any version of Windows from anything other than the "active" primary partition. You'll need an NTFS primary partition marked "active" and then the Vista "startup repair" will build the boot files there. The bootmgr will happily call winload.exe from your logical disk and load Vista, but bootmgr and the BCD need a Windows-readable primary partition, even if it's just 50Mb.
If you've put your hd0,0 partition back as NTFS, did you set it "active" before trying the repair ?

Once it's been successfully rebuilt, you can set your grub partition active again and chain to the Vista bootmgr, but the repair will need the partition to be active for the duration (do the repair 3 times btw, it only fixes one thing per pass)
 
#3
Hey Terry, I had not tried that. Unfortunately, upon doing so I'm greeted with a "startup repair cannot repair this computer automatically" message due to "boot manager is missing or corrupt" "repair action: file repair" "result: failed" "error: 0x15". Any tips on how to get around this? Do I have to populate hd0,0 with certain files before startup repair will fix it (I tried copying VistaDvd:\boot over, no change)? Edit: Also: Why upon trying to install Vista to hd0,0 does it complain that there are no suitable partitions? It's definitely a primary partition, formatted as NTFS and large enough (100gb.)
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#4
Have you tried the manual steps from the wiki guide, if the auto repair won't oblige ?
You said that nothing worked before, but that was when you were asking it to do the impossible (in the world according to MS of course), to repair the boot to a logical drive.
Try it now you've got an an active primary to point at.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#6
Glad it's all OK now.