Vista - Xp Dual Boot. Boot.ini Question


I have been having immense problems installing XP in a Vista pre-installed computer. After reading the many threads, I realize I am not alone!

After seeing some very useful threads in this Forum, I have the hope that I may find the help I need here.

Briefly, my computer is DELL XPS 420. It came with an 500 GIG HD. It had 3 partitions.
1. EISA Configuration 63MB
3. OS C: The remaining GBs.

To install XP in a separate partition, I have created one more partition F: 321 GB (The Disk Management identifies this as a Logical partition).

So, to summarize, I have (or I believe I have) 4 partitions. The Vista is in C:, and the non-working XP is in F: . I am not sure if the EISA 63 MB is counted as a 'partition' - you may enlighten me on that. (I am a novice).

I was able to install XP the first time with the bootable disk, but as Vista stopped working, I had to repair Vista and got it working, but then XP couldn't be installed. Since then, needless to say, I have not been able to re-install XP no matter what I tried.

To get Vista working I did the following in the command line

bootrec.exe /fixMBR
bootrec.exe /fixBoot
and after restarting,
and the following
bcdedit -set {ntldr} device partition =C:
bcdedit -set {ntldr} path \ntldr
bcdedit -displayorder {ntldr} -addlast

I must say I was playing with Vista Boot Pro 3.3 and EasyBCD 1.7.2 trying various things, but nothing worked.

The boot.ini file in C: according to EasyBCD is:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

I am wondering if 'rdisk' and partition () are correct in the boot.ini file for my computer.

EasyBCD gives this as well:

There are a total of 2 entries listed in the Vista Bootloader.
Bootloader Timeout: 30 seconds.
Default OS: Windows Vista
Entry #1
Name: Windows Vista
BCD ID: {current}
Drive: C:\
Bootloader Path: \Windows\system32\winload.exe
Windows Directory: \Windows
Entry #2
Name: Microsoft Windows XP
BCD ID: {48ce1b83-6271-11dd-bb38-fdaf693f6e83}
Drive: C:\
Bootloader Path: \NTLDR

According to PERFECT DISK 2008

The volume labels are :

for C:
volume {f21e2e65-53f5-11dd-9142-806e6f6e6963}
for F:

The EasyBCD info and Perfect Disk info do not seem to match.

Could you please help me to overcome this problem.
Will greatly appreciate it.
Make sure ntldr,, and boot.ini are at the root of C:. If not, copy them from the root of XP's partition. Delete the line containing ...partition(3\Windows... (First entry under [operating systems]) in boot.ini and change default=...partition(3)... to partition(4) under [boot loader]. If i'm reading your setup correctly, it appears as if XP is on partition 4, so the second entry under [operating systems] is correct. Then try booting XP again from the existing entry.
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Drvajra, welcome to NST.
If as you say, XP is on a logical drive, then it will be inside an extended partition, and that partition also has a number. It follows therefore that your XP might be partition(5).
Try that if 3 and 4 are not working.
Many thanks to Kairo and Terry.

Based on Kairo's advice, I made sure ntldr,, and boot.ini were at the root of C:.
I revised the boot.ini as follows:
[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

Here are the results:
When I started the computer, I got this menu:
Windows Vista
Microsoft Windows XP
When I clicked on XP, I got the following:
We apologize for the inconvenience, but windows did not start successfully. A recent hardware or software change might have caused this....
and then the following options came
Start in Safe mode
Safe mode with Netwworking
Safe mode with command...
Last known...
When I chose Normal start up, the XP logo came and quickly the "Stop error" message came for a split second and then the computer went off to re-start.
In the safe mode, the following appeared:
and under this, it listed
\config system
and many more.
If needed, I can write the whole list.
Taking Terry's advice, I changed the boot.ini to:
[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(5)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect
On starting, I got the following Menu:
On clicking XP, I got the options:
XP Professional
Windows Default
On clicking XP Professional, I got the following error message
"Windows could not start because of a computer disk hardware configuration problem. Could not read from selected boot disk. Check path and disk hardware....
On clicking Windows Default
I got the following
"We apologize for inconvenience..... " and then it gives te options
Safe Mode
Safe Mode with Ntetworking
Safe Mode with command Prompt
Last known good configuration
On clicking Safe mode, I got the same message as before
On clicking Normal,
the Windows XP logo appears for a short time and then the "Stop Error" message for a split second.
Just for the heck of it, I changed the boot.ini as follows:
[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect
This gave the error message:
Windows could not start because the following file was missing or corrupted:<Windows root>\system32\hal.dll

I checked in the computer and the file IS there:
the file size is 173 KB.

Please help!!

Foot Note: The volume identification given in EasyBCD and Perfect Disk are different, as stated in my previous message. Is this OK?

When you get "missing or corrupted file" messages, like your hal.dll message, it's an indication that boot.ini is pointing to the wrong partition (that's why it can't find the file).
From your description, partition 4 must be correct as you actually got into XP with that.
When you changed it to 5, but left the default at 4, it failed to find XP when you selected it, but found it again when it defaulted.
It sounds like your XP installation didn't complete properly.
Set the boot.ini back to partition 4 in both lines, and do a repair install of XP. You'll need to repair Vista's bootloader again after the XP install because it will overwrite Vista's bootldr again, but when you've had a successful Repair install of XP and a successful repair startup of Vista, follow Justin's advice and you should be OK.
Thank you so much Terry, for taking the time to help me.

I changed the boot.ini as you had advised. I then restarted the computer with the bootable XP cd and was able to get to Repair Console by tapping on F10. It gave the following options:


I guessed 1, so I entered it. It is hard for me to know eaxactly which one. You may please advise.

Then, it asked for administration password. I typed 'admin', but it refused to accept. I don't know how to get this password and it wanted to restart. Could you pls help how I can get the password?

Supposing I get through the password hurdle, can you pls give me the brief procedure as to how to repair the XP?

Will greatly appreciate it.

I'm not sure how to get past the password if you didn't set one in the first place. I class it as a bug in Windows that it asks for a password from someone who hasn't set one.
I don't know if anyone else on here knows how to get past it, but while you're waiting it might be quicker just to do a fresh install of XP from scratch.
There's a guide in the wiki here and full instructions on getting a dual boot working here.
Dear Terry
There is a free service , but it would take 3 days, unless payments are made for quick results. I don't mind paying, except that I did not input any password, and the XP is not installed properly, so I am doubtful if the password would be correct. Anyway, while waiting for it, the article by Mr. Al-Qudsi which you pointed to me, seems very interesting.
I am going to read it and do everything he has instructed to do, and see the results.
I had a quick look and need a couple of clarifications - I hope you will be kind enough to enlighten me on them.
He says "It's very important to make sure that this partition was created at the end of the drive, or else you might no longer be able to boot into Windows Vista because your partition numbers have changed."
As mentioned, I have four partitions:- one EISA, one D:Recovery, one C: Vista, and F: which I am trying to use for XP. F: is an extended partition and logical drive.
In this case, will the hard drive configuration of my computer satisfy Mr. Al-Qudsi's instruction?
The 2nd question is that Mr. Al-Qudsi says "If you're installing Windows XP to a SATA drive, make sure you hit F6 to load the SATA drives".

The problem is that when I press F6, it is looking for floppy drives, but my computer doesn't have it. So, I get the error message "F6 setup could not find a floppy drive on your machine to load OEM drivers from floppy disks..."

Even if I were able to burn the drivers on a CD, I do not believe the setup has a provision to allow me to install the drivers.

Is there any way to overcome this problem?

I will greatly appreciate your kind response.

Thank you
You need to do a repair install on your current installation, not use the recovery console. Get to the partition screen, highlight XP's partition, and press R to do the repair install if it doesn't automatically prompt you to do it.
Dear Justin
Thank you so much.
When you say "Get to the partition screen", did you mean START->right click COMPUTER->MANAGE->DISK MANAGEMENT and then the screen which appears?
I did that, highlighted the partition on which XP is, and pressed R, but nothing happened. Under ACTION, there are: REFRESH, RESCAN DISKS, HELP.
Clicked on REFRESH, nothing happened.
Did you mean something else?
Thank you
Sorry Vajra, was obviously very tired and not thinking last night at 3am.
Justin's quite right of course, you don't need the recovery console, that's a DOS type command line interface.
Use the 1st link I gave you and look at the 4th screen image - that's the partition screen Justin was referring to

Before you start, go in to Vista disk management and make a note of the partition sizes of Vista, XP, etc, so that you know which one is which when you're in that partition screen and about to repair XP.
Don't try to indentify them by drive letter. The drive letter is internal to each system you boot, including the Install setup program, and the install, Vista and XP will all call them by different letters.
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Dear Terry and Justin:

I am going to try what both of you have suggested, and will report back to you if it is a success or otherwise. (It really feels good to know I have two experts looking over my back).

Before doing a repair installation, I want to clean up the labelling of the partitions.

The present setup looks like this:

No Name partition for EISA |D: for RECOVERY | C: Vista | F: New partition | and E: for the cd/dvd rom
I want to install XP in F:

If I could rename D: to B:, I will have this neat configuration in ALPHABETICAL ORDER:

No Name | B: Recovery |C: Vista |D: new partition for XP | E: CD/DVD Drive

The concern I have is that since D: is for Recovery, if I changed it label to B:, will the Recovery function work?

I will appreciate your response.
If the partition is marked "system" "boot" or "page" then Vista disk management won't let you change it, otherwise you can reletter as you want. In XP however, the letters A and B are still reserved for floppy disks and you can't assign them to anything else, so you won't be able to have your alphabetical scheme duplicated in each system. If you want the mapping of letters to be indentical when you've booted either Vista or XP, you'll have to omit B:\ and think of some other scheme.
When you're booting from the recovery partition (hopefully you won't ever need to) , it'll be because you've lost the ability to get into Vista or XP, and therefore what they call the partition won't be of any relevance. It's only if your live system ever has to access the recovery partition that you will have a problem by relettering it.
I have always built systems from components and installed OSs from CD/DVD, so I have no practical experience of OEM recovery partitions and I cannot guarantee that the booted OS will never access it, though I don't think it should.
However, since your alphabetical scheme can't be used by both XP and Vista, I'd advise you to play safe and think of another scheme that leaves D: as it is.
Many thanks for the explanation. Based on this, I believe I should not change the D: to B:.

I followed your advice to 'Rapir Install'.

When it came to the Partition page, it did not give me the option for Repair. It gave 3 options ENTER= install, D=Delete partition F3=Quit
There was no R.
Under the circumstances, I chose Delete, and proceeded with reformatting and installation, but that did not help.

I read somewhere that if I could get into Recovery Console, then I could type
and that would repair / rebuild the boot.ini.

The problem is it is asking for admin password, whereas I did not type any when I installed XP in the first place.
Terry, is there any 'work-arounds'?
Is there anything EasyBCD to do to help?
Thank you
You should be able to make D: B: inside of Vista, but like Terry says, you won't be able to in XP because A: and B: are still reserved for floppy drives. I would really just remove D: and be done with it. There is no reason why you should need direct access to the recovery partition from the operating system. The recovery partition can still be accessed with the pre-defined keyboard command as you boot the computer.


If you deleted the partition then you'll need to do a new installation of XP again and repair the Vista bootloader.

I was afraid you wouldn't have the repair install option. Based on your configuration, I can tell you are running a Dell. I have a Dell XP Home CD myself and it seems as if the home version of XP doesn't provide a repair install option, so the fresh installation is prob. for the best anway.
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So nice to hear from you Justin. Many thanks to you and Terry for helping me through my "trials and tribulations of the Dell"!!

I will do a fresh installation. For this, I believe I should:
1. Format the partition where I have installed the XP.
2. Delete from C:\ boot.ini

Are there any other files I should delete from C:\ , like ntldr etc., so that the remnant files do not bring the same results? Are any files in the Registry which may be causing the repeated problems?

The reason why I am asking these questions is because I had done fresh installations several times. I had also formatted the XP partition. It just doesn't seem to work.

I will await your response.

So what's the current situation - are you back as described in post 4 ?
If so choose XP from the Vista boot menu, immediately hit PF8 to divert the XP boot into the options menu, and choose "disable automatic restart ......".
When XP fails, make a note of the failure code (this mode should stop it flashing and disappearing before you can read it) and post back here.
You could also post a screenshot of your disk management, and paste your c:\boot.ini and the "debug mode" output from EasyBCD "view settings"


You don't need to delete the files from c:\.
NTLDR and are the same everywhere and won't cause you any problems, and you'll only need to put them back again later to get your dual boot working. Boot.ini, if it's not correct is easy to fix with Notepad.


Have you put partition 4 back in both lines of boot.ini ?
That appears to be the correct setting from post 4.
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Hi Terry!
I started the computer, and the Menu gave
Windows XP.
Underneath TOOLS : memory check
I brought the cursor to XP and hit enter and F8 almost instantaneously, but to avail. The following page appears:
Windows Boot Manager
"Windows failed to start.A recent hardware or software change might be the cause. To fix
1. Insert win installation disk
2. Choose language settings
3. Click repair...
Info: The selected entry cannot be loaded because the application is missing or corrupt."
Below is the boot.ini file which I copied fom EasyBCD when I clicked on TOOLS, EDIT LAGACY ENTRIES:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect
Answering your question, yes, I put back partition "4".
Here is the EasyBCD View Debug mode view details:

Windows Boot Manager
identifier {9dea862c-5cdd-4e70-acc1-f32b344d4795}
device partition=C:
path \bootmgr
description Windows Boot Manager
locale en-US
inherit {7ea2e1ac-2e61-4728-aaa3-896d9d0a9f0e}
default {b78c570c-d2ac-11dc-aca7-e608095aa759}
resumeobject {b78c570d-d2ac-11dc-aca7-e608095aa759}
displayorder {b78c570c-d2ac-11dc-aca7-e608095aa759}
toolsdisplayorder {b2721d73-1db4-4c62-bf78-c548a880142d}
timeout 30
Windows Boot Loader
identifier {b78c570c-d2ac-11dc-aca7-e608095aa759}
device partition=C:
path \Windows\system32\winload.exe
description Windows Vista
locale en-US
inherit {6efb52bf-1766-41db-a6b3-0ee5eff72bd7}
recoveryenabled Yes
osdevice partition=C:
systemroot \Windows
resumeobject {b78c570d-d2ac-11dc-aca7-e608095aa759}
nx OptIn
Real-mode Boot Sector
identifier {48ce1b85-6271-11dd-bb38-fdaf693f6e83}
device partition=E:
path \NTLDR
description Microsoft Windows XP
You're back before post 4 now, with one of the standard XP boot problems described in the troubleshooter (NTLDR not found).
Your BCD entry for XP in the debug mode listing is pointing at E:\.
Start EasyBCD, go into change settings, and in "choose an OS.... " select XP, then in the drive entry, change it from E to C (or boot). You're not pointing it at XP (boot.ini does that), but where the boot files are.
Then if XP still doesn't boot, post back.
If it boots but fails (as per post 4) follow the instructions in my previous post.
If you havent done the complete reinstallation yet, then yes. Delete boot.ini and ntldr (most likely on Vista's partition) as you said before re-installing. Doing this well assure that XP adds new versions of the files that should be in working order. Make sure you can boot XP after the installation before recovering the Vista bootloader so that there is nothing more then settings that could be preventing it from booting.