Vista/XP Dual-Booting Solutions - HnS & More


Mostly Harmless
Staff member
So everything is working now to your satisfaction?

Also, a word of warning: If your boot drive (the one with boot.ini and bootmgr.hns) is the Vista one, it is highly not safe to run HnS from XP.

PC eye

Distinguished Member
I think I was seeing that when first trying it with Vista on the ide and XP on the first sata once XP was able to be added into the Vista boot loader. Both versions seeing a second copy of Vista on the second sata drive with XP being the one on the second partition saw the boot.ini.hns version with XP seeing the boot.ini too. The idea there is to still run Vista isolated from XP as a stand alone on the first drive while trying the dual boot on the second sata model when booting from that.

For some reason XP wasn't automatically added into Vista's own loader when the newer version whent on last. Any other time Vista would jumped all over an earlier version seeing it as an option. The boot files were also missing as well before HnS went on. First the recovery console to see XP loading again followed by booting with the Vista disk for the repair option again knocked XP out. Fortunately I saved copies of the boot files in a separate folder and copied them back to the root of D for XP to load again.

I most likely set XP as default assuming I could change that once in Windows. The effort to use HnS on XP would simply be to raise the 0 seconds up high enough to allow choosing Vista or XP as the default while softwares and drivers are being installed. For going back and forth between drives that's easy enough with the F8 boot menu seen on the board here. Others board obviously see F12 or even F1 for that if available.

The main idea is to always have a working host drive in some sense while trying out dual and multiple OSs on a second drive. A third large capacity drive will be a means of safe keeping files for both and other versions/OSs despite what goes on on the second one or if problems are seen on the first.

The HnS tool is an opportunity to work with that as well as seeing how the HnS turns out in the long run. If I can't get the time raised back up for Vista to load then I'll probably end up reinstalling the new version over again for the fresh attempt unless you can manually edit the menu.lst or boot.ini.hns and see that change made being a G4D entry into the mbr there.


Upon booting with the Vista disk the Install Now actually rejected that! But the startup repair to see if Vista would load after using HnS in XP saw some interesting results.

The one thing however that is missed about XP is the restart button.

Compare that to the awkwardness of Vista's.

The reboot into XP still saw the XP primary by itself since the other sata drive wasn't plugged back in but now can apparently. 1.7.1 saw the bogus entries removed with the boot time down to only 2 seconds while the G4D prompt now will be lowered a little from the default 30 seconds. Now to see what goes on when the other drive is plugged back in and visible to XP while not linked by mbrs.
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PC eye

Distinguished Member
"NTLDR MISSING"! I couldn't edit the last post to update that on what was seen again when going to boot into XP to take a look at what was seen. Yet the boot files are still plainly visible on both partitions. I don't believe that was from simply replugging the other drive in however since the second sata was set as default when first booting with the other plugged back in.

PC eye

Distinguished Member
Actually this was the "chainloader/ntldr missing" error seen when going to boot from the second without any 1.7.1 entries. While in XP before I was able to raise the boot time up in order to see those entires removed when rebooting into Vista. The dual boot was working until replugging the first sata back in and changing the boot order in the bios to make the dual boot drive default again.

If I had been able to boot up I would have captured an image of how the Vista partition was efectively hidden with HnS while the isolated copy of Vista on the first drive was visible while not being effected. Unfortunately I've been dealing with another unrelated problem with IE 7 working for awhile and then not at all even with a system restore! That's a bug that caused problems on the ide drive before removing that.

Presently after a fresh copy went on to a new primary created on the first now with the second unplugged again everything was looking good there until..... IE 7 failed again. Unlike XP you can't simply use the add/remove and install a fresh copy on Vista since that's default and no repair method found yet. Hopefully I won't reinstalling Vista over and over and ... just to get IE 7 to work each time. :rage: Gggrrr....

You won't have to worry too much about the dual boot working again however. That's simply the recovery console and Vista repair tool needed there. The G4D part is all set.

PC eye

Distinguished Member
A slight update to add in here namely with the title "Vista Hidden Twice"!

The "G" drive seen there is the second partition on a totally separate drive from the Vista/XP dual boot. If the Vista installation there was made visible that would be "G" bumping the storage partition to "H". That is seen in the next capture when booting back into Vista.


PC eye

Distinguished Member
The final results are in. Having finally rearranged the configuration of drives and now seeing Vista one of the two sata drives rather then the old ide model one other thing came up. With one of the two sata drives split in two for a dual boot I was back to "Square #1" as far as the needed drive space for the XP primary the reason why two 500gb drives have now replaced two 250gb ide drives.

What about the second sata used strictly for storing files and backing things up? With XP now back on the original location but now dual booting seeing Vista on the old storage drive a third 500gb model or larger was needed! 500, 750, and even a 1tb drive turned out to be an external usb model rather then seeing another internal drive. And what does it look like now you might ask?

(gee? now where did the first partition with Vista on it go? :tongueout: )

PC eye

Distinguished Member
With Wordpad that's easy enough.

# NeoSmart Technologies' Vista Hide 'n Seek Beta
timeout 15
default 0
title Microsoft Windows Vista
unhide (hd0,0)
find --set-root /BOOTMGR.HNS
chainloader /BOOTMGR.HNS
title Windows XP [XP HOME (F:\)]
hide (hd0,0)
map (hd0) (hd1)
map (hd1) (hd0)
rootnoverify (hd1,0)
chainloader /ntldr
# All your boot are belong to NeoSmart!

Besides seeing a few problems when trying to hide Vista on a drive unplugged from the dual boot configuration namely the ide being removed after everything is gone through there XP was the main hold up. First that was from a MOM implementation error where Net Framework 1.1 was required even though newer versions are seen.

As you can see here the earlier dual installation of Vista on both sata drives kind of flopped due to simply trying to copy the primary from the ide drive now out of the equation to see installed fresh without reformatting. Both of those drives saw two partitions each while moving files around with the dual boot seen on the boot drive. XP was seeing too many problems pluss the need for drive the additional drive space for that version saw a working dual boot across two drives over simply having two primaries on just one.

The former XP second primary as you can see is now simply some storage space for Vista there while an external drive was added into the equation. One last test will be seeing what happens when the ide drive is plugged back in now that I have a working dual boot running. The HnS tool did the job while XP is now running the way it should while being installed to the second drive shown here.

Where the hand is and with the hard drive count seen as 4 that is due to the second partition on the drive shown at the top in the capture there. Hopefully what is now seen in the menu.lst file shown here will help if you are ever running two drives with XP installed after Vista as done here as well onto a second drive to replace the problem copy on a second partition for some reason still not clear at this point. But Windows does favor the first primary whether XP or Vista.

The startup problem with Vista following an after install of XP is a simple boot with the Vista dvd in order to run the automatic startup repair tool. For XP after the recovery console for the Fixboot and Fixmbr commands once you log onto the correct installation. If you select the Vista copy you will see the incorrect password message and failed attempt for the automatic system restart. Once the correct copy is selected the screenshot above shows how Vista seems to "vanish"!

PC eye

Distinguished Member

One problem identified? With both versions now seen running well in the dual boot between two sata drives and Vista well hidden the old ide drive seeing Vista was introduced back in for file recovery in addition to existing software not quite ready on the sata installation at this time. The Vista installation detected the ide drive as expected but now stalls when going to shut Windows down. XP was tried first when reassigning the boot order and again saw the chain boot loader error message.

Apparently the temporary introduction of the ide drive causes an immediate dilemna while everything would otherwise be the way you would expect it to be. Restart HnS all over or simply remove the ide drive totally? is now the thought on this since the two drives were working flawlessly prior to this.


Surprisingly when restarting all over with HnS the chainloader error seen previously disappears fast enough allowing the dual boot to see normal functioning again. What is noticed however is that tagging the first sata with Vista on it hides the ide drive instead. When choosing to hide the ide drive the installation on the first sata is then hidden. Apparently the additional drive added in sees a reversal of some type.

The drives have been relabeled to show the type of drive as well as how they are configured with the two sata models each seeing only one copy of Windows for each. Here's how it looks while booting with the first sata drive's copy of Vista seen on that.

The second image now shows the Vista default hidden while intentionally leaving the non configured ide copy visible for access while booted in XP since that is not effected and restore points won't matter since the drive will soon be removed once and for all.

Once the ide drive is removed the start all over option will see the tagging of the Vista drive returned to the correct indicator. The Vista storage drive is a logical drive only being the second partition on the first sata drive.
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