Dualboot XP/Vista reboots PC

I'll start off by saying that I have done this before, just I don't remember how.

I have a primary SATA Windows XP Drive
I have a secondary SATA Windows Vista drive partitioned with Ubuntu 8.10.

I currently have the Vista bootloader show XP, Vista, Ubuntu. Ubuntu and Vista load up fine but when I try to load up XP, the computer just reboots. I have tried copying the boot.ini to the vista drive and have not seen it work. How do I get the Vista bootloader to load up XP, Vista and Grub (Ubuntu). I just want to fix the XP part of this now.

One more piece of information, I can boot up both OS's by setting them as primary in the BIOS. Currently though I have the vista bootloader installed on the vista drive and that drive set as primary in the BIOS.

Any help is greatly appreciated.


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Staff member
Hi core2kid, welcome to NeoSmart.

You're on the right track. I appreciate that you took the time to read over other threads.

At this point it is a matter of misconfiguration or missing files somewhere where they are needed. Open "Computer" and go to View>Folder Options>View tab and unhide hideen files, uncheck hide extensions for known file types, and hide protected operating system files. Click on XP's drive and verify that boot.ini, ntldr, and ntdetect.com are all there. Then you'll need to copy (not move) these files to Vista's drive. If they are already there then great. Now open the copy of boot.ini located on Vista's drive. You'll need to change all of your entries for XP's disk under [operating systems] from ...rdisk(0)... to ...rdisk(1)... as well as the default= setting under [boot loader]. You should then be able to boot XP from Vista's bootloader without any other issues.
Thanks, that worked wonderfully for booting the XP OS. Now the only problem is that I cannot boot the Recovery Console option in the XP bootloader. That has transfered itself to the Vista bootloader. Am I missing files again?

What I had done last time I remember is to install the Vista bootloader on the XP Drive and have it boot vista from there. That worked wonderfully, just if one drive was unplugged, it would show the options for the OS but not boot it. I guess it's better that way than not having it be able to boot at all.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Once Vista bootmgr is top of the boot program sequence, if you lean on F8 as you boot you'll get the Vista bootmgr options screen.
If you want XP's, you'll have to exercise a little patience and finesse. What you need to do is intercept NTLDR, not bootmgr, so you must select XP from the Vista bootmgr menu and then quickly hit F8 at the point where bootmgr chains to NTLDR.
You'll then have all your normal XP options.
I have a similar problem that appeared two days ago and is driving me wacky.

Primary drive with XP 32 installed first and Secondary drive with Vista 64. Everything worked fine for a month after I installed Vista 64. Two days ago on a restart out of Vista my CMOS reset. After rewriting the settings to what they were before, whenever I selected XP it wouldn't boot and the system would restart. Then It would try to access drive C and reboot a few times before bringing up the OS menu. If I selected Vista it would then start up. Selecting XP would begin the same reboot cycle. I tried cloning & replacing the XP drive on the assumption that the drive was going bad. I replaced the Li battery on the MB as well. Neither worked. Boot.ini points to the right drive and partition. ntldr and ntdetect.com are present.

I tried the solution above but after doing that I couldn't even get the OS menu. Just an endless cycle of not finding an OS to boot...even after loading the VIsta console and deleting the three files from the root Vista partition that I had copied from the XP root.

I've put back the original drive and can get the OS menu after one or two reboot cycles.

Arghh. I've never seen anything like this in 20 years of Windows.


Super Moderator
Staff member
I have a thread somewhere I posted on this problem. Its a glitch I can't seem to figure out, but here's a workaround:

a) The entry in vista's bootloader for it well work fine (or should anyway) but don't expect it to show in bcdedit ouput or EasyBCD.
b) Make the timeout= in boot.ini uner [boot loader] 0. You don't want to delete the entry because this'll also remove it from Vista's bootloader. Setting the timeout to 0 is good because it boots XP straightaway and the entry when ran from ntldr doesn't work anyway (no need for a second menu just to boot XP).


Link to my orginal thread on the issue: http://neosmart.net/forums/showthread.php?t=2090
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Alright, I figured out how to fix this. It requires reinstalling Vista, There may be other ways but I don't know them.

1)If you can boot up XP good, we will need to be able to. Boot up XP. When XP has loaded:
a. Delete the Vista partition through XP's computer management. (right click my computer->manage->disk management).
b. Go to C:\ in My computer. tools->folder options->view->uncheck hide protected operating system files. and show hidden files and folders.
c. Delete all extra boot entries and other stuff EasyBCD put in. All you should see is:
you may not see all the above files depending on your configuration.
d. backup to removable media (Don't use HD because it may interlink files)
BOOT folder
after backing these up delete them.
2)I don't know if this step is necessary but it's better to do it than to figure out you needed to at the very end.
a. load up a XP boot cd. Hit R. type in your ADMIN (not your user) password. It should show C:/ (if you have 1 OS installed. If not be sure to choose the right one when prompted.)
b. type in fixboot, fixmbr, fixboot. each command followed by enter and then hit Y to the prompt. So it should be fixboot <-enter, Yes to prompt
3)Go into the BIOS and make your XP drive your primary drive if not already. If you do not have that option make sure your XP drive is your primary SATA drive or IDE drive when wired inside your computer.
4)Install Vista. Now what it will do since your primary drive is your XP drive, it will automatically install the bootloader on that drive along with the option to load XP.

So far this is working perfectly for me. Just be sure that if you in the future install Linux, make the Vista drive primary, install Vista so the bootloader on that drive is modified, and then swich XP back to the primary drive. Then you can add the entry for Linux in the vista bootloader with EasyBCD.

I hope this helps anyone who had trouble.

One last point, this could be done by the "repair" function on the Vista CD but it is untested, if anybody trys that method let me know if it works/doesn't. If you cannot load XP start with Step 2 first, then go back to the begining and repeat the steps in order, making sure you still do Step 2 again.
I'm not sure if the responses following mine are directed at my particular problem which seems significantly different because of the 2-5 rebooting cycles necessary to get the OS loader menu. Wouldn't a bootloader problem be consistent? I'm starting to wonder if it's a PS issue or something else in hardware.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Core2kid, you don't need to reinstall Vista just to repair its bootloader. That's what "repair startup" is on the Vista DVD for. It's a standard part of getting a dual boot to work when XP is installed after Vista but it does normally need to be done at least twice before it repairs everything (possibly more than twice, but it does tell you that when you run it).
This is all detailed in the wiki.
Davidc, please copy/paste the boot.ini from the partition marked "system" in disk management on the HDD which is first in the BIOS boot sequence, and a screenshot of the dsk mgmt display, so we can take a look.
I know about the Repair but I've had it fail at times and I had just installed Vista with no drivers/apps so I could spare a reinstall. It takes about 10 mins on my PC.

I've attached a jpg of the Disk Management. Here's the boot.ini from drive D:

;Warning: Boot.ini is used on Windows XP and earlier operating systems.
;Warning: Use BCDEDIT.exe to modify Windows Vista boot options.
[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /FASTDETECT /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN /3GB /USERVA=2500

NTLDR and ntdetect.com are also in that root dir as well as bootmgr, grldr, and the boot subdir.

The other thing is I've only tried repair startup from the Vista64 disk once, not multiple times.



Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Core2, true it's no great sweat to start from scratch when you're creating a new system, but a different matter entirely when you've spent ages customizing Vista and you install XP later as a dual-boot. In that case the automatic repair is invaluable (and simple).


David. There's no way of telling what's what from that screenshot since you haven't labelled the partitions with any informative names and you haven't included the graphics, just the text.
I can see that the boot files are on D: ( the "system" flag) and that you're currently running C: (the "boot" flag) but since you're in "classic" appearance I can't even tell whether that's XP or Vista.
You need to make sure that the boot files (for XP and Vista) are in the D:\ root and that D:\boot.ini says rdisk(0) if D is XP or rdisk(1) if C is XP (in the screenshot you posted)
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Here's the jpg. I couldn't find a way to throw it out of Classic view but D is the XP drive and C the Vista 64.
Fro what you've said, everything in the boot.ini looks ok.




Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
David, you've got grldr in there too, which is grub I believe. Which bootloader are you actually getting at the moment ? If it's not Vista's, keep doing the "repair startup" till it is, and if it doesn't automatically detect the XP installation, use EasyBCD from Vista to add an XP entry.
Terry, I'm getting the Vista Bootloader. Repair startup tells me everything is OK. I've tried adding an XP entry in EasyBCD but it had no effect.

One thing. As it cycles through reboots I'm sometimes seeing for a second a half screen message about Vista Bootloader. I've tried hitting the break key but it's had no effect so I can't read the details.


I just saw a message flash about trying to boot grldr. I think I'll try renaming it and see what happens. I have no idea how it arrived on my system unless it was via EasyBCD, tho I've never told it to set up a Linux boot.


No joy with renaming grldr.
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Run the Fixboot and FixMBR on the XP Drive with that drive being primary. Then XP shall boot. Once you know it boots run a Vista MBR repair WITH THE XP DRIVE AS PRIMARY!
This installs the Vista bootloader on the XP drive allowing XP to run flawlessly. This is the easiest way I've seen. It worked fine for me.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
Core2, he's already got Vista bootloader on the XP drive, and XP is the primary boot drive.
David, hit F8 after selecting XP to get the NTLDR options page, and choose the option not to automatically reboot on error. You should then be able to see the messsages about why your boot is failing.
Also, please copy/paste the output from the EasyBCD settings display so we can see what your boot entries look like.
If the Vista bootloader is failing why not get rid of it completely with Fixboot and FixMBR? Once you know XP is fine and does load up properly, reinstall the Vista bootloader. If all fails you could just partition and install Ubuntu with the GRUB bootloader. I feel that GRUB is one of the best bootloaders out there.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
He's not a linux user, though somehow he's got grub on the system. He might very well need to fix the XP boot, but that's what we're trying to determine.
Quite a lot of the problems we spend days fixing on here are things that would have been a simple 1 minute fix, if the poster hadn't tried 5 or 6 speculative "fixes" before coming here. By the time we see the problem, it can be a matter of unravelling the effects of all the previous attempts first.
My motto is "find out what the problem is - then fix it"