Solved: Win7/XP boot.ini won't auto configure or boot into XP

#1
System:
Q6600 4GB ram
Sata Disk1: OSX
Sata Disk2: Vista(C:\) / XP(D:\)
(Didn't want to triple boot. Manually press F12 to boot Disk 1 or 2. Works great.)

I had Vista/XP dual boot working perfectly on Disk2.
Win7 RC1 build 7000 came out got excited to try. Pop DVD in reboot.
Deleted Vista partition. Installed Win7. Booted up wonderfully. Sweet!

Beginning of problem:
Installed EasyBCD 2.0 Beta Build 60. Copied Ntldr and Ntdetect.com over to Win7(C:\) root.
Created XP entry.
Tried auto configuration for the boot.ini
EasyBCD said it created boot.ini fine, but what was weird was no boot.ini was created. Hmm.
Watever, I'll just make my own boot.ini

Code:
[boot loader]
timeout=20
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="WinXP Pro" /fastdetect
Rebooted. Tried to start WinXP.
Uhoh. Instant reboot. Didn't load.. arg...
Thought ntldr and ntdetect.com i got from my other computer was bad.
So I used http://neosmart.net/wiki/download/attachments/196612/Boot+Files.zip

Rebooted. Tried to start WinXP.
Uhoh. NTDETECT.COM FAILED.
WTH. Don't understand. Files i got initially was modified in 2008.
Files i downloaded in the zip were 2006.

More Problems!
So puzzled and frusterated I tried to user WinXP recovery console to attempt fixing it.
Did bootcfg /rebuild. It failed to find a window installation... errr

Nosing around I stumbled on this hidden partition Win7 created.
It seems to freak out WinXP attempt to fix its bootloader.
It also seems to prevent EasyBCD from making a boot.ini too.
Does some weird non-standard sector zoning format that confuses winxp.
http://www.mydigitallife.info/2009/...m-been-created-during-windows-7-installation/

Fueled with more hope. I tried to install Win7 again avoiding that hidden system partition.
Tried to do what the guide linked above suggested but It would not let me install with out the hidden partition. ARGGG. Press cancel and it just goes back to nothing. blah.

Got pissed. Burned Gparted and manually created the partition forcing Win7 to not create the hidden partition cuz there is no space left.
Installed Win7 again. Loaded up fine.

Used EasyBCD again like above. auto configure worked as it should.
Rebooted into XP fine.. SIGGGGGH!!!!!!

Moral of the story:
Becareful of Win7 new hidden partition feature. Doesn't play nice with XP.
It likes to create one on fresh unallocated space.
So pre-partition ahead of time if you want to avoid my pain. Win7 CD might not let.
(Spent 4 hours troubleshooting. More like hours waiting for multiple reboots/cdloads)
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
Glad you're all sorted now.
The important part of getting a Windows dual boot to work, is mentioned in point 3 of the sticky.
You've got to locate "system" first. That's where everything needs to be.
Unfortunately, as you found, an unguided W7 install creates the "secret system".
I did as you eventually did, and guided W7 to where I wanted it. (I always pre-allocate and label everything on a new HDD as I intend it to end up regardless of which OS(s) are involved), but you needn't have gone to all the trouble of the reinstall.
As long as you locate the hidden "system" partition, give it a letter to be able to access it, and make sure that all your XP boot files go there (the auto configure will find it if it's got a letter), the dual-boot would have worked fine.
The hidden boot defaults that way because W7 public Beta is "ultimate" and you might want to use bitlocker on the C:\ partition, so it hides the boot somewhere safe.
 
#3
Yea. I didn't have to reinstall again, but I gave up on Win7 and attempted to get WinXP back. Fiddled with its bootloader and it didn't work well. It screwed up the Win7 bootloader too and the Win7 CD repair didn't fix it. LOL.

Since it was a fresh install might as well redo it clean and nice as a last attempt. Thought the win7 install was pretty similar to Vista, but I guess not.

Maybe the final version of EasyBCD 2.0 could tell you where it wrote the boot.ini. In my case it went into the secret system partition but i assumed it was in C:\ . Also maybe add a note to the FAQ warning Win7 installers of the secret system issue.
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#5
Not done a lot of W7 documentation outside of active threads, while it's still Beta and subject to daily change, but that's an unpleasant prospect for the near future, the vast amount of editing when Vista is replaced.
Thanks for that thought !!!
I don't have ultimate Vista, just HP, so no bitlocker, but I don't know whether VU installed with a secret system too ?
 
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mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#6
EasyBCD doesn't have any problem with the hidden Windows 7 partition - it can access it, but you can't.

The problem was that it created Boot.ini there just fine and all, but your copy of NTLDR and NTDETECT weren't on that hidden partition - they were on C:\ where they don't belong.

Most likely EasyBCD 2.0 Final will also automatically copy NTLDR and NTDETECT to the hidden partition to avoid the problems users have getting those files to the right partition.
 
#7
Most likely EasyBCD 2.0 Final will also automatically copy NTLDR and NTDETECT to the hidden partition to avoid the problems users have getting those files to the right partition.
That's great. :grinning: Keep up the good work, CG.
It wont be long before we don't have anything to do here, because EasyBCD will be taking care of it all. Users will be able to just add an XP entry, and it will magically work. :brows:
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#8
that's the goal... that's the goal.


But in the meantime you guys are solving all the problems anyway - keep up the awesome work :grinning:
 
#9
Well, I try...:??
Care to mention some more of the new features 2.0 final will have? How about that option under the Linux tab "Grub is not installed..." support also Fedora, even with its separate /boot partition? :grinning:
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#10
That's the very next build :smile:
 
#11
Awesome! :joy:
 
#12
Additional note:

After I got Win7/Xp dual booting fine on my Disk2. I found that My OSX Disk1 bootloader got wiped. When i tried to boot to OSX it gave NTLDR error. Not sure what happened. Maybe Win7 did something. Maybe EasyBCD wrote over it. I'm leaning towards windows did something.

But i had to reinstall the OSX bootloader to get it back and going. Almost thought I had to reinstall OSX. Whew. Now I am able to boot to Disk1 or Disk2 again. All happy as before.
 
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mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#13
Did you reinstall the OS X bootloader from EasyBCD? or what?