Problem multibooting on RAID system

#1
Ok, this is my first post here in a while.
I hope you guys still remember me. :smile:

I just recently purchased a new laptop computer system, an Alienware M17x R3, which has a RAID 0 volume setup for 2 hardrives of 500 GBs each.
I'm attempting to multiboot Win 7 Ultimate (which came preinstalled on the laptop) with Windows XP Pro and Ubuntu 11.10. But I'm learning
multibooting is a lot tougher with a RAID system (which I figured it would be). Now let me describe the current state of where I am in the installation
process. I have installed XP, but not Ubuntu yet (since I'm having issues with the Ubuntu installer not seeing my RAID partitions at all, even though
I've already installed it once on this laptop, but then later removed it, since I forgot about the 4 primary partition limit, and ended up reaching the
max with the Ubuntu partition, which I stupidly selected to make primary instead of a logical partition within an extended, when I made the original
install happen). However, the problem is, Windows XP cannot see Windows 7, and vice versa. Basically, what I figure is the reason for that, is the
first time I tried to install XP, I hit a BSOD stop error with SATA RAID mode in BIOS, so I switched it to ATA mode instead, and managed to bypass
that and install XP. Now, the thing is, when you turn off RAID mode in BIOS, the computer no longer sees the RAID setup (though no surprise there),
and thus does not see both hard drives of 500 GBS as a single hard drive, and also does not see the partitions setup on that RAID volume. Thus,
when I installed XP, I ended up having to select to install it on the second hard drive (Win 7 is installed on the first hard drive of the RAID array).
And so now, when i want to boot into XP, I have to make sure SATA mode is ATA, not RAID, in BIOS, and I have to make sure the second hard
drive of the RAID array is set as first in the boot order. What also sucks is, since XP was installed outside of the RAID array, it basically only
sees itself as a single partition on one drive (with the drive letter E), and it sees a C: "unformatted" volume, which when I double-click to open
it in My Computer, it offers to format it (which of course I don't want to do, since I would overwrite Win 7, along with the Dell Utility partition and
the Recovery partition which is on there). Now, note that from Win 7 (which is installed on the first hard drive of the Raid 0 array), the C: partition
which contains Win 7 basically sees itself as having 852 GBs (roughly), which means its seeing the second hard drive of the RAID array (which
now contains XP) as part of the Win 7 partition, which obviously wont do for my multiboot.

So obviously, EasyBCD doesn't see XP at all, and thus wont allow me to create an XP entry for the XP installation in the BCD. And neither does
XP see Win 7, so the two operating systems can't copy files back and forth between each other, which is what I really need it to do. Also
note that Win 7 doesn't boot in ATA mode (no surprise there), nor does it (unfortunately) boot in AHCI mode either. It will only boot in RAID mode.

So how do I solve this problem? Basically, I want Win 7 and XP (and also Ubuntu, if I can ever install it again) to see each other, so that I can move
and/or copy files from one to the other without any issues. Also, I would obviously like to be able to select any operating system which is installed from the boot
menu of the BCD at startup. Anyone else get a RAID system multiboot working here?

Thanks in advance.

Note that I've considered creating another RAID volume with the Dell Configuration Utility which is accessible at startup by clicking Ctrl + I, and possibly installing
XP on that, but still XP doesn't seem to like RAID at all, so I imagine that probably wont work well either. I already went ahead (right before I installed it) and downloaded
the RAID driver for my system, and put it on a floppy disk, which I loaded during XP installation (by pressing F6 during setup), and selected it to install it, along with
some kind of hard drive controller which went along with it, so in theory it was installed (though the installer gave me no confirmation as to whether it did or not,
so I don't know for sure). But still it can't boot in RAID mode, it has to be ATA mode in BIOS. So that's a serious problem right there. But I might be able to work
around it by installing Intel Matrix Storage Manager (which fixed a similar issue on my other laptop, though it was AHCI, not RAID, that XP couldn't boot in), if I can
find one for this system. A quick Google search right now didn't turn up one in the first page of results anyway. :frowning:
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#2
Hey Jake! Long time no see, congratulations on the new PC.

You'll probably want to follow these instructions to get XP to see your RAID:
HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows - PC Perspective Forums

It'll be a little bit different since we're talking RAID and not AHCI, but the premise is the same. I don't know if you'll need to install any different drivers than the ones they list (hope not), but I am under the impression Intel's RAID and AHCI drivers are in the same .dll/.sys so you shouldn't have to.
I have (well, tbh, had) a RAID dual-boot working, but I installed both XP and 7 with RAID enabled from the start (needed to supply XP setup with the RAID drivers like you did)

The key is that installing the drivers on XP (regardless if during setup or after) isn't enough - they must be enabled as boot time drivers, which will only (by default) happen if the boot volume is on a RAID array.
 
#3
Hey Jake! Long time no see, congratulations on the new PC.

You'll probably want to follow these instructions to get XP to see your RAID:
HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows - PC Perspective Forums

It'll be a little bit different since we're talking RAID and not AHCI, but the premise is the same. I don't know if you'll need to install any different drivers than the ones they list (hope not), but I am under the impression Intel's RAID and AHCI drivers are in the same .dll/.sys so you shouldn't have to.
I have (well, tbh, had) a RAID dual-boot working, but I installed both XP and 7 with RAID enabled from the start (needed to supply XP setup with the RAID drivers like you did)

The key is that installing the drivers on XP (regardless if during setup or after) isn't enough - they must be enabled as boot time drivers, which will only (by default) happen if the boot volume is on a RAID array.
Ok. Thanks to your link, I found and downloaded an Intel Matrix Storage Manager which should work for my system, though I never got around to trying it out since my XP wasn't starting up anymore due to some process not being initialized, according to the BSOD I received. And that is with ATA mode on in BIOS and the second hard drive first in the boot sequence. I was seeing the Windows logo screen right before the BSOD, so I know nothing was wrong with the boot sequence, just with Windows, I guess. But anyway, I went ahead and deleted it, since your
suggestion is to basically install it in RAID mode, not ATA mode, so I'm going to try to reinstall it in RAID mode. Hopefully the installer will let me press F6 and load the RAID drive from floppy before hitting the BSOD again. I think (but am not completely sure) I tried that already, but it hit the blue screen first and I was unable to, but anyway I guess it wont hurt to try it again. Now for some reason, my Win 7 isn't booting anymore even after multiple times of Startup Repair from Win 7 disk, and RAID mode on. The BCD appeared to be messed up, so I went ahead and manually recreated one (with the help of the instructions in the wiki; I'm not always able to remember all the commands correctly myself), and added a Windows 7 entry in it, and made sure everything was pointing to the right places, but its still not booting or even giving any kind of error message. It just shows a blinking cursor. So now I'm running chkdsk on the D: volume which I believe is the Win 7 partition, but can't be certain since "diskpart list disk" or "diskpart select disk 0" are no longer recognized commands of Diskpart, I guess, which appears to be corrupted and
multiple errors which chkdsk has found and is attempting right now to repair. I guess we'll see how it goes...
 
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mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#4
Ouch. It sounds like your RAID was probably messed up when you were trying to boot into XP with it off.
 
#5
Shoot...
chkdsk completed, and said it fixed all the problems it found, but still all I got was a blinking cursor when attempting to boot.
I also ran the "bootrec /fixmbr" and "bootsect /nt60 D:" commands in the Command Prompt of the Win 7 reinstallation disk, but
that didn't seem to help anything either. So now I'm restoring my computer with the recovery disks I fortunately remembered to
create before attempting multibooting this time. :smile: So hopefully my computer will soon be booting Win 7 again. The cool thing is,
the recovery disks I created will restore not only the OS, but also my programs and settings I had at the time of creating the
recovery disks, so it should be mostly back to the way it was before being unable to boot. I haven't done much since creating
them.

I have a feeling what probably messed up my Win 7 was when I deleted my XP partition in ATA mode with Bootit NG.
Since XP was actually located in the same section of the system as Win 7's partition was supposed to own, deleting
it must have also deleted some files on the Win 7 partition, including the whole "Windows" directory on there! Once I was able
to mount the D: partition with the Win 7 disk, I tried cd'ing into the Windows directory, but it said it could not find
it, so I guess that means its not there anymore. And Startup Repair kept saying that there was no OS installed. So yeah...
 
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mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#6
Ouch. Good thing you have a backup.
 
#7
Woohoo! :sigh: I'm back online.
My Windows 7 is working again! I booted from the recovery disk, and ran the recovery process, selected to install the backup version with all of my programs and settings
at the time the recovery disks were created, and ran the recovery program. It said it completed sucessfully...but alas, when I tried booting, still the blinking cursor. :frowning:
So I went ahead and deleted my RAID volume (since you suggested it was messed up), which obviously wiped the data off of both hard drives, so I lost all of my partitions.
I then recreated the RAID volume, and tried the recovery disks again (this time selecting to restore my computer to factory condition, even though I knew I would lose my
programs and settings, but I figured there was a higher chance of getting my dell utility and recovery partitions back using that option instead, so I went ahead and did it), and thank God...it now
loads Windows 7 when I turn on my computer. I also have my dell utility and recovery partitions back too, so I just have to reinstall a few programs I had installed on W7, but that's not
really too big of a deal, so that's a relief. :smile: Better to do that than be stuck with a unbootable computer forever.

So anyway, once I get my W7 back to the way it was before I screwed it up, I'll take another shot at installing XP and Ubuntu and multibooting between them, though this time
being more careful to not screw up my RAID volume.
 
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mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#8
Perhaps it's wisest to do it all now before you invest the time and effort in installing everything the way you want it on Windows 7? That way, should anything (hopefully not!) go wrong...
 
#9
Alright. So I installed Ubuntu again, and its installer detected my RAID setup ok this time, so I was able to select 30 GBs of free space I wacked off of the W7 partition with Disk Management (along with 40 GBs which I turned into an NTFS partition to install XP on), and create a ext4-formatted partition for the OS, and a small 1.something GB swap partition from that space. Note that W7 (after the install) showed the XP partition as being still logical within an extended (which is how I want it), but shows the Ubuntu and swap partitions as primary (though I think its lying, and they're actually logical partitions within the same extended partition as XP).
Problem is, during installation, I selected my Ubuntu partition as where to install Grub, but it said it failed to install Grub there (maybe because its a logical partition?). I tried it a couple more times, but still the same error. So I removed the Ubuntu disk, and then the computer loaded W7. I went ahead, anyway though, and added an entry to the boot menu with EasyBCD 2.1.2 for Ubuntu, first trying the Grub 2 auto-configure option (which just went to a GRUB4DOS command prompt when selected), and then trying the Grub Legacy option with first the "Use EasyBCD's copy of Grub" option selected, and then (after that failed too), with that option deselected, and the Ubuntu partition selected as the device. I haven't tried into the last one yet, but I have a feeling that wont work either since Grub is not installed on the partition.
Do you know of a way to install Grub outside of Ubuntu, since I can't boot into it? Or maybe manually configuring NeoGrub to boot my Ubuntu kernel directly?
Note that from the GRUB4DOS prompt, I am able to mount the Ubuntu partition with the command "root (hd0,6)" and even run the commands:

Code:
kernel /vmlinuz
initrd /initrd.img
boot
which then acts like its doing something (i.e. scrolling text describing what's happening), but then fails to boot. I'm thinking since the screen looks similar to what my Ubuntu installer showed when it failed to install it several times (until I selected the "nomodeset" option with F6, which removed all of the scrolling text, and allowed me to get through the installation screens, and install Ubuntu), I may need to somehow boot Ubuntu the same way, with the "nomodeset" option enabled. But I have no idea
how to do that from NeoGrub...

Do you know??

Thanks.
 
#10
*2 days later...*

Bump.
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#11
I haven't been on for a few days.

I notice you're not passing root=/dev/sd.... in the kernel line.
 
#12
I haven't been on for a few days.

I notice you're not passing root=/dev/sd.... in the kernel line.
You're right.
So I went ahead and tried that:
Code:
root (hd0,6)
kernel /vmlinuz root=/dev/sda7
initrd /initrd.img
boot
But no visible change. It still shows the scrolling text screen, as if its trying to load Ubuntu, but then the scrolling text stops, and shows some kind of error,
and then it just hangs there until I press Ctrl + Alt + Delete to restart. I forgot to write down the exact error it was, so I'm going to restart now and try to write it
down.
 
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mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#13
Yeah, the error message would definitely help. I'm betting it has something to do with GRUB recognizing your RAID but Ubuntu not.
 
#14
Yeah, the error message would definitely help. I'm betting it has something to do with GRUB recognizing your RAID but Ubuntu not.
Ok, looking at it again, I realized its not exactly an error per se, but is a message indicating something going wrong:

(last part of text before hang)
udevd[124]: '/sbin/modprobe -bv pci: v000010DEd00001211sv00001028sd00000490bc03sc00:00' [224]
terminated by signal 9 (Killed)
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#15
Signal 9 is a force kill. (like using taskkill on Windows). Usually means something went wrong before that triggered a restart or abort.
Perhaps sda6 is wrong? The numbers don't translate directly to grub disk and grub partition + 1 if you have any extended partitions. The first logical partition is always going to be sdX5 (or is it 4?) regardless of whether or not the previous numbers are found.
 
#16
Signal 9 is a force kill. (like using taskkill on Windows). Usually means something went wrong before that triggered a restart or abort.
Perhaps sda6 is wrong? The numbers don't translate directly to grub disk and grub partition + 1 if you have any extended partitions. The first logical partition is always going to be sdX5 (or is it 4?) regardless of whether or not the previous numbers are found.
I actually didn't use sda6, but (hd0,6) when mounting the partition with the "root" command (which reported the partition as having an ext3 filesystem, though it was a little off since I know that the partition is actually ext4), and then I used sda7 in the kernel command in the root=/dev/??? part. As I'm fairly certain when I installed Ubuntu, it showed the Ubuntu partition as being sda7, so I'm pretty sure that is correct.
Anyway, I'm sure the problem is due to not having Grub2 installed on the partition (since the Ubuntu installer failed to install it). I'm going to have to try to install it after-the-fact from the command-line, which I'm getting help for from someone at the Ubuntu forums, so I'll let you know how that goes.
 
#17
As I'm fairly certain when I installed Ubuntu, it showed the Ubuntu partition as being sda7, so I'm pretty sure that is correct.
Ok, it seems I was wrong about that part. It turns out /dev/sda7 didn't exist, as I found out when I looked around on my Ubuntu partition from the LiveCD. It seems Ubuntu gives different device names when RAID is involved. My actual partition device name in the /dev folder is "dm-7". Anyway, I played around while running the LiveCD with Grub commands, and eventually discovered a way to install Grub2 to boot sector of partition:

Code:
sudo mount /dev/mapper/isw_bgajfdadfj_M17xRAID0Volume7 /mnt 
sudo grub-install --boot-directory /mnt/boot /dev/dm-7
Even though it gave me a warning (saying I was trying to install Grub to either a partitionless disk or a partition, which might be a BAD idea...) and an error (saying it could not be embedded), when I rebooted and selected the Ubuntu entry created by EasyBCD in my W7 boot menu, this time the Grub prompt that showed up was not GRUB4DOS, but GNU Grub version 1.99-12ubuntu5, so next, from that prompt (the commands that worked, anyway):

Code:
set root=(hd0,msdos7)
linux /vmlinuz root=/dev/dm-7 ro nomodeset quiet splash
initrd /initrd.img 
boot
And...presto!! Ubuntu loaded. :booyah:
So next, from Ubunu terminal:

Code:
sudo update-grub
which automatically created and configured a grub.cfg file (which I had noticed while running the LiveCD, didn't already exist), adding options for the OSes it detected (including W7 and Ubuntu, though I noticed the device for Ubuntu's boot entry is (hd2,msdos7) now for some reason?? :wtf:smile:. Now when I reboot, and select Ubuntu's entry, the Grub2 menu shows up, and I can select the first option and boot Ubuntu like its supposed to be.

So it seems I have got it working! :smile:

Thanks for the help.

Now its time to try installing XP again. I'll let you know how that goes.
 
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mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#18
Great news! I thought that might have been it.

Congrats on a job well done. Hopefully it's smooth sailing from here on out.
 
#19
Well, I tried installing XP again onto a physical partition with RAID mode on, and loading RAID drivers through F6 in setup,
but I still got a BSOD, so I dropped the idea of installing XP on a physical partition on this computer, and instead decided
to install Windows XP Mode, which I'm trying out now for the first time, and it looks like it works great right from W7's desktop. :grinning:

So in a sense, I have a triboot system now, only XP is on a virtual hard drive, instead of on a physical partition on the hard drive.
I guess I'll just have to settle for that. No sense in beating my head against the wall trying to install XP in the normal manner
when I can just use Windows XP Mode.