Dual-boot 7-64 & XP-32 Setup Problem

#1
Forgive me if this has been covered previously. I didn't see it addressed but there are a lot of threads here...

I'm trying to use EasyBCD to set up a dual-boot, and I can't even get to the point where I can use EasyBCD. I already have Windows 7 64-bit installed on my C drive. I would like to install XP 32-bit on my E drive, which is a separate physical drive. I had already done this successfully with XP 64-bit previously, but alas it's 32-bit that I need instead.

After deleting the partition (on E) and creating a new one and formatting with the XP installer, I set it to install on that partition. After loading all the setup files it went to its first reboot, and then I got the "invalid BOOT.INI file" message, whereupon it tried to reboot, got the same message and tried to reboot... The only thing I could think of is to repair the Windows 7 OS from its install disc so it would at least boot into something.

I have seen references to the BOOT.INI problem and there's a whole page about it in the NeoSmart knowledge database, but everything I'm finding requires getting into the XP OS to repair the file, using the recovery console or other software or doing it manually. The problem is, there's no XP for me to get into to do this - it happens from the first reboot, before anything besides the initial setup info is actually installed. There's no operating system there yet.

Now that I have Windows 7 bootable again, is there something I can do from it to get the XP install to work, or will anything I do just be overwritten the next time I try to install XP? Or is there some other solution? I'm stumped and I've done a lot of googling so far. Thanks!
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
You have to ensure that your BIOS is set to boot from CD-ROM before HDD.
If you attempt any Windows install with a temporary BIOS override, setup will fail on the first reboot because instead of returning to the CD and detecting that it's part-way through an install, then continuing; it will try to boot the incomplete OS on the HDD, with inevitable failure ensuing.
Check the BIOS then start the XP install again.
 
#3
You have to ensure that your BIOS is set to boot from CD-ROM before HDD.
If you attempt any Windows install with a temporary BIOS override, setup will fail on the first reboot because instead of returning to the CD and detecting that it's part-way through an install, then continuing; it will try to boot the incomplete OS on the HDD, with inevitable failure ensuing.
Check the BIOS then start the XP install again.
Thanks for the very quick reply. As far as I know, it only boots from the install CD on the initial boot, when it dumps the setup files onto the hard drive. All reboots, including the first one, then go to the HDD which then accesses the CD as needed. Otherwise, booting from the CD every time would just keep starting from the beginning again.

Having repaired the Windows 7 loader, I found I'm back to the dual-boot screen I had when XP-64 was the other OS, though I'd since wiped the drive it was on so XP-64 isn't actually there anymore. About 10 minutes ago, just to see what would happen I put in the XP-32 install disc and chose the XP OS at the option screen. And sure enough, it went right into the next step of the 32-bit installation and accessed the CD as needed. So apparently all is well for the moment anyway. I'll know in about half an hour once it finishes installing.

Now I have to wonder if repairing the Win 7 loader set it up for a fresh dual-boot with this version of XP, or if that option was left over from what EasyBCD did when I had XP-64, and Win 7 just gave me back access to what was already there, and chosing the XP option basically just tells the computer to boot from the other drive. I don't know if it would have worked this way if I hadn't had the dual-boot before.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#4
You've got that backwards.
It can't go to the HDD and decide to get things from the CD because the HDD doesn't have a bootable OS yet.
The confusion is generated by the extremely ambiguous "Press any key to boot from CD" message.
That message is coming from the CD, so it has already booted.
It really means "Do you want to begin a Windows Installation, if so press a key"
By putting CD before HDD in the BIOS boot sequence, you'll see that message on every reboot.
You only press a key once. That initiates setup, and on the subsequent reboots (which you're generally not even needed to be present for) since no key is pressed, the setup program on the CD, determines how far the installation has progressed and what it needs to do next, up to the point where it knows that the HDD is now bootable and can complete the customization options itself.
You would be correct that the setup would just keep restarting if you keep "pressing any key", but you only do it once.
If setup doesn't return to the CD, you'll get some kind of "boot failure" error from the partial OS on the HDD.