Dual boot Win7 and Linux on Lenovo T430 - doesn't show boot choice

#1
I have a (spare) second-hand Lenovo T430 laptop with Win7 installed. I want to install Linux Mint alongside it and use EasyBCD to programme the booting so that I can boot into either OS. I have set up such an arrangement successfully in the past on my current daily-use laptop.

This time I have run into a problem. I carried out all the normal steps to install Linux Mint alongside Win7 and added it via EasyBCD (I have v2.4). But when I rebooted, the (Windows MBR) boot screen showed briefly, and then booted straight into Win7 again. No sign of Mint!

I can confirm that the laptop setup is traditional MBR, Legacy etc and not UEFI with all the other complications like Secure Boot.

It looks to me as if the Win7 MBR may somehow have already been modified, and that this may be (part of) the cause. Detailed evidence below**. But just to give the full picture, this is what I did.
  • I checked the original partition setup. It consisted of three primary partitions - System Reserved 100MB, Recovery 12.55MB, and Win7_OS about 210GB. The last of these has 'boot' listed when I look at it in disk-management.
  • I shrank this Win7 partition - which has only the OS and programs on it, no personal files (yet) - down to 65GB using Windows. This provided 145GB of unallocated space for Linux Mint;
  • From a Live session USB of Mint I installed in the usual way. I created a new extended partition (since there were already three primaries). Within that I created partitions for Mint's root (/) dev/sda5, swap dev/sda6, and /home dev/sda7, as normal. I then put Mint's GRUB2 bootloader on sda5.
  • then from within Win7 I ran EasyBCD, added Linux Mint - correctly, making it the default - and rebooted. But I did not get - as I had expected - a Windows MBR Boot menu showing the two systems Win7 and Linux Mint, and so no option to choose and get to Mint. It booted up into Win7.

**I have noted three clues, or pieces of evidence, which may point to an explanation - and I would welcome advice.

1) originally (when Win7 alone was installed) I noted that on initial boot-up, the Windows Boot Menu screen appeared fleetingly for about two seconds, and it listed two options: Boot to Windows, or Restore the original Windows image. The latter also displayed a warning that choosing it would result in the hard disk being wiped of all its existing contents! The default setting was obviously to proceed and boot normally into Windows. On my other Win7 computers I don't ever see this particular screen or choices;

2) during the installation of Linux Mint, I noticed that in the menu - which appears very early on - of options on how to install (alongside, or replace existing OS, or something else), it said that there were "multiple other OSs" already installed;

3) when booting up after installing Mint and adding it to EasyBCD, when I rebooted that same Windows Boot Menu screen appeared again for a couple of seconds with those same two options (Boot or Restore image) before then going on to boot into Win7 ..... and of course no Mint;

I don't understand the mystery of MBR and the Boot menu. I had assumed that the brief appearance of the Windows Boot Menu, and the Restore option within it, might be part of the Lenovo Recovery setup. And when I saw the Linux had found "multiple OSs" already on the system, I thought this just meant it was seeing the Win7 installation and also an 'image' (presumably in the Recovery partition) of Win7.

It now seems to me possible that if - or because - the Windows MBR has been tweaked to offer a Restore option, this has somehow interfered with, or prevented, EasyBCD modifying the MBR to include, or link to, the Linux Mint Grub 2 bootloader.

Is there any way I can examine or diagnose this without having to modify, rewrite or reinstall the Windows MBR?

Of course I do have the option of undoing/deleting the Linux Mint install (by removing it from EasyBCD, deleting the partitions it occupies and reinstalling Mint in the standard Linux dual-boot way under which the Linux Grub2 replaces the Windows MBR bootloader completely and takes over the entire boot process. But before doing that, I just wonder if there is a simple way of solving the current problem without having to conduct major surgery on the Windows bootloader itself?
 
#2
Bump.... I know that forum people are volunteers and thus not necessarily checking the forum all that frequently. But after four days with no replies of any kind, I'd really appreciate some kind of response.

Even a comment that I'm wasting my time, or that EasyBCD doesn't work well with Lenovo computers, or that I would have to delete the existing Recovery partition before I can dual-boot, would be something..... and preferable to the current situation of silence and suspense!
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through Hell, keep going.
Staff member
#3
I'm no Linux expert so have asked for help for you.
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through Hell, keep going.
Staff member
#5
You're welcome.
 
#6
A further week down the track and still no response to my actual questions....
If I had been holding my breath I would have suffocated by now.

I can't believe the problem I described in my original post is so complex, or so unusual, that no-one can understand or comment on it. It is not - as far as I can judge - a Linux problem. Rather I'm looking for an explanation as to why an unusual (to me) boot menu screen appears when I first boot up a Windows system. Is it something to do with the Lenovo Recovery arrangements?

It would be a pleasant surprise to get a reply or two!
 
#7
Oh dear. Almost two weeks now. Peter did post kindly saying he had asked for help. My hopes were raised. But his request seems to have fallen on the same stony ground as my original request.

Helloooo..... is anybody there?
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through Hell, keep going.
Staff member
#8
@mqudsi @Terry60 any thoughts please? I've never used Linux so don't have an answer.
 
#9
.... and just to add to Peter's comment above: I don't think this is a Linux issue at all.

I'm not an expert: but it looks to me to be something to do with the existing (Lenovo/Win7) MBR and the Boot Configuration Data - which is what EasyBCD is all about.

The problem appears to my inexpert eye to be related to the existing boot arrangements on the Lenovo laptop. Why does it show a boot menu screen fleetingly (with the option to restore a system image) before it starts booting up into Win7? Is this related to the Win7 boot process? Or the Lenovo Recovery arrangements?

And why does the Linux installer (before I do any installation) tell me that there are "multiple" OSs already on the laptop, when there is only one OS visible and active (Win7)? Is there a system image saved somewhere (eg in the Recovery partition)? Is this being seen as another OS? And has the MBR been modified to offer a data-wipe and Win7 restore-image as an alternative to a normal bootup into Win7? If so, why? How can I check this and - if so - undo the modification?

Whatever the present MBR/BCD configuration, it appears to be preventing EasyBCD from doing what it would normally do, which would be to add Linux Mint (when I install it) to the existing MBR. My basic objective is to have EasyBCD work as it should, and as it does on my other computers. But on this one, something is preventing it. I need help to diagnose the issue and figure out a solution without turning this laptop into an unbootable brick.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#10
Can you check in EasyBCD > Tools > Options that you don't have an entry in "automatically load..."
If you are successfully adding Linux to the BCD and that doesn't then appear in your boot menu, it implies that the BCD you're adding the entry to is not the same BCD which is booting the system.
You can also ensure that you're operating on the right one by EasyBCD > File > Load System BCD
 
#11
Terry - many thanks for your response.

Let me answer your first very straightforward question. I have checked as you suggest. There is no entry in "automatically load....".

Your second question takes me beyond the limits of my knowledge. I had not expected, or imagined, that it was possible to have more than one BCD. But that just underlines my lack of expertise in the mysteries of the MBR and BCD.

Anyhow, I did exactly what you recommended. EasyBCD > File > Load System BCD.

Nothing happened. The EasyBCD window remained at the "View Settings" display (the default shown when you open the program). Nothing else "opened" or "loaded". What else might I have expected to see?

I don't know whether it's relevant, but the 'View Settings' display overview says there are two entries in the bootloader. The default is listed as Linux Mint, with a Timeout of 20 secs, and below that it says EasyBCD Boot Device: C:\

The other entry is Windows7. Under each entry there are details, thus:

Entry #1
Name: Windows 7
BCD ID: {06f87eb4-4038-11e0-aecc-c1f066e6c02a}
Device: locate=\Windows\system32\winload.exe
Bootloader Path: \Windows\system32\winload.exe

Entry #2
Name: Linux Mint
BCD ID: {default}
Drive: C:\
Bootloader Path: \NST\AutoNeoGrub0.mbr

Obviously if I click the 'Detailed (Debug Mode)' button on that View Settings page, I get much more detail - none of which means anything to me. I can of course post all the info displayed in that more detailed screen if that would help to unravel the mystery.

I do also see that under 'File' there are other options including 'Select BCD Store' and Refresh BCD Store'. As I don't know what these might do, I have not selected either of them!
 
#12
@Terry60 ... I thought it might help in the search for an explanation and solution to the problem outlined in my OP if I actually posted up the full details of the BCD entries in this problematic Lenovo laptop.

The detailed settings are as follows:

Windows Boot Manager
--------------------
identifier {9dea862c-5cdd-4e70-acc1-f32b344d4795}
device locate=custom:12000002
description Windows Boot Manager
locale en-US
inherit {7ea2e1ac-2e61-4728-aaa3-896d9d0a9f0e}
default {a6ea9bab-24b4-11e9-8e96-f82fa8e876d9}
resumeobject {06f87eb3-4038-11e0-aecc-c1f066e6c02a}
displayorder {06f87eb4-4038-11e0-aecc-c1f066e6c02a}
{a6ea9bab-24b4-11e9-8e96-f82fa8e876d9}
toolsdisplayorder {b2721d73-1db4-4c62-bf78-c548a880142d}
timeout 20
displaybootmenu Yes

Windows Boot Loader
-------------------
identifier {06f87eb4-4038-11e0-aecc-c1f066e6c02a}
device locate=custom:12000002
path \Windows\system32\winload.exe
description Windows 7
locale en-US
inherit {6efb52bf-1766-41db-a6b3-0ee5eff72bd7}
osdevice locate=custom:22000002
systemroot \Windows
resumeobject {06f87eb3-4038-11e0-aecc-c1f066e6c02a}
nx OptIn

Real-mode Boot Sector
---------------------
identifier {a6ea9bab-24b4-11e9-8e96-f82fa8e876d9}
device partition=C:
path \NST\AutoNeoGrub0.mbr
description Linux Mint
locale en-US
custom:250000c2 0
I cannot interpret this information - but I hope an EasyBCD expert can!

I did however think of comparing these BCD entries with the equivalent entries in the EasyBCD on my main laptop, whose dual-boot setup under EasyBCD works happily and enables me to boot into either Win7 or Linux.

I can't cut-and-paste the full detailed entries from the EasyBCD screen on my other, main, computer. But I note at least one differences. In the "device" lines above for both the Windows Boot Manager and the Windows Boot Loader, the entry says
locate=custom:12000002
.
In the equivalent lines in the BCD on my main computer, the Windows Boot Manager "device" line says
partition=\Device\HarddiskVolume1
, and the line in the Windows Boot Loader says
partition=C:
.

Why these differences, and what does this signify?

There are other differences in the detail. In my main computer the BCD entry under Windows Boot Loader has two lines "recoverysequence" and "recoveryenabled". There are no such lines in the details quoted above for the problematic laptop.

Can those who invented, and programmed, EasyBCD explain what the details above reveal - and whether and how it might be possible to troubleshoot or modify any of the entries?
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#13
The custom entries you see, I would speculate might be Lenovo customizing the boot for system recovery/factory reset type functions, but I've only ever built PCs from components with vanilla OSs straight off the MS DVDs, so that's completely outside my experience/competence.
This URL I found might be of more help than me.
BCDEdit Notes
I stopped using Linux many years ago so am unable to offer any relevant advice on that subject (grub2 hadn't even come into being back then)
 
#14
Thank you, @Terry60 , for that response.

I'm still unclear whether - as your earlier post implied - there can be more than one BCD on the same computer, and if so how and why they can be modified.

Having also looked at the BCDEdit website to which you linked, I'm afraid it is simply incomprehensible to me. I don't have the expertise to understand it, never mind attempting any actual editing of whatever BCD(s) may exist on my computer. But it does rather reinforce your - and my - guess that the BCD configuration on this Lenovo laptop may reflect something related to Lenovo's inbuilt Recovery setup.

That being so, there are millions of Lenovo computers out there. At least some of their owners, like me, must have wanted to use EasyBCD to dual-boot additional OSs. Has no-one else ever raised with EasyBCD's creators/owners the issue of compatibility with Lenovo system-configurations and/or recovery programs? That does seem hard to believe. Is there not some justification for EasyBCD to at least offer guidance on how to deal with this particular issue?

At the risk of repeating myself, all this has nothing to do with Linux. The same problem would clearly exist if I had been trying to use EasyBCD to install Win10 or WinXP in dual boot on this Lenovo machine. All the more reason, surely, for EasyBCD to look at the question and figure out a solution or workaround which would be available to anyone with a Lenovo computer whose BCD is set up like mine....
 
Last edited:

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#15
One doesn't normally have multiple BCDs on a PC even with a multi-boot setup.
It is possible however if more than one Windows is installed in isolation and subsequently incorporated into a multi-boot.
Each OS installed without being able to see another pre-existing BCD will create one of its own during setup.
e.g. mount HDD a, install Windows, dismount a, mount b, install Windows, mount a.
You'll have two independent Windows, each with its own BCD, either of which when booted, can have an entry to the other added.
In that scenario, you have to be quite sure which BCD you are operating on and whether it's the same one that's booting the OSs
That doesn't seem to be the case with you which leaves me as puzzled as yourself why an entry in the BCD is not presented in bootmgr's menu.
The fact that I don't know doesn't necessarily imply that EasyBCD is incapable of dealing with a custom BCD, but it is outside of my personal experience.
The author knows the full ins and outs of the BCD and can no doubt solve your problem if he appears.
 
#16
Thanks again, @Terry60 , for that thoughtful reply, and for the explanation of the more-than-one BCD scenario.

In this particular case I don't think the Lenovo machine has - or has had - more than one Windows OS actually installed, so I don't think there are two BCDs. But as we both suspect, the Lenovo Recovery setup (which makes use of its own dedicated partition) may well have what looks like another Windows OS in it which is actually a saved image - created for recovery purposes. And the Linux installer "sees" that when it is going through the install process, hence the screen saying there are already multiple OSs on the computer.

That of itself should not be a problem. The detailed BCD display settings (copied and pasted in my post at #12 above) show that the Linux Mint OS which I installed has indeed been added to the BCD by EasyBCD in the normal way. The details under the heading Real-mode Boot Sector are exactly the same as in my main daily-use dual-boot computer which works normally. And that's where the entry for Linux (or any other OS) is supposed to be. However, the booting process has to go through the original Windows Boot Manager/Loader first, before it gets to the point where the option to select the additional OSs is displayed.

And the issue, as we seem to have worked out, is that the "device" lines in the original Windows Boot Manager (MBR) have already been modified - by Lenovo? - as described in my post at #12. It appears, from my reading of that separate BCDEdit website, that a custom entry there is like an instruction to scan for a particular location or file/application: the explanation in that site goes on to say that "In multiboot environments the 'locate device' may not load the desired operating system as the scanning process will stop as soon as the first path\file is found".

What this appears to suggest is that EasyBCD has indeed successfully added an entry for Linux into the BCD. But the configuration of the Windows Boot Manager (which still fires up as the first stage of the booting process) has been customised to go down the path to a particular file (which I guess is the boot screen offering Run Windows or Restore System Image) and to stop there. So the BCD/boot process never gets to the stage where the options created by EasyBCD, and the listing of Linux and the link to its Grub, are actually offered.

As you say, this confirms the need for the creators/developers of EasyBCD to have a look at this analysis and to figure out how to resolve the problem. I very much hope he/they will, as you say, appear - and add an expert assessment of my/our amateur investigations.
 
#17
Hellooo again.

Six weeks down the track, still no support. Some helpful input from @Terry60 , in which he admits the limits to his expertise.

So it seems we await the intervention of the author, @mqudsi ..... who apparently is the only person who can provide knowledgeable advice. Is NeoSmart/EasyBCD a one-man band, or are there other serious programmers, coders, and experts who might be capable of examining the evidence and providing both explanation and solution?

Or is the idea of "support" an illusion and a myth?
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through Hell, keep going.
Staff member
#18
#19
There's a song about life in the Arctic titled "Six months, no sun".

Here we are on the EasyBCD forum. Two months, no support, no answers, no sign of the (only?) person who is apparently able to help.

What to do?
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through Hell, keep going.
Staff member
#20
I've sent a message to a couple of people, hopefully they will answer soon.