Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Vista sorted

Have now got my multibooting Vista sorted. Once I got rid of Skype with its 30 kbytes/s upload and download I set about exploring the rules around location of files etc for the booting of XP and Vista in a dual (or more) boot situation.

Turns out that XP's boot.ini, ntldr.exe and have to be on the active partition which in my case is the Vista one, so I end up with these three files in the same partition as Vista's /boot directory. Once that was in place everything "just worked" with Vista's boot loader told that Vista and XP are on the same partition / drive. Obviously they aren't on the same partition but the entries in boot.ini define that with absolute reference to partitions.

With hindsight I didn't need EasyBCD and I didn't need to tell the Vista bootloader that XP was on a different drive. All that achieved was getting rid on the "ntldr bad or missing" error without actually allowing Vista's boot manager startup routine to boot me into XP.

So, to summarise :-

1. Format the partition you want to use for Vista using a Vista install CD / DVD, don't use 3rd party formatting tools yet as NTFS has changed with Vista.

2. Reboot into XP and make the target Vista partition the Active partition from within XP so that Vista will actually load into it. Vista install can format a partition but not make it active !

3. To dual boot succesfully put, ntldr.exe and boot.ini from the C:\ directory of the XP installation into the root directory of the Vista partition where the /BOOT folder will also be. This should be the active partition. It may be wise to do this as part of step 2 so that Vista has things in the right place from the word 'go'.

A 3rd party utility like EasyBCD may be required to add XP to the boot menu if it isn't there automatically, but it won't help you with the files in (3.) being in the wrong place.

Monday, February 12, 2007


OSS to the rescue

EasyBCD restored XP to the Vista boot manager in a way that avoided the "corrupt installation" error, but left me with a situation where selecting XP just takes me back to the boot manager :-(

Stuck the Freespire ISO in the CD drive and rebooted, using Gparted to select either XP or Vista as bootable allowed a reboot into a working version of either, although the "front door" method remains broken. Added Freespire to the 3rd partition and the resulting GRUB menu offers me Freespire, Vista and XP as a triple boot menu - all of which work - RESULT !!! OpenSource rides to the rescue and allows me to boot into XP or Vista via a menu.

After checking out the sound card in XP (updating its drivers to identify exactly which version of Soundblaster Audigy I have) I was able to download 40 MB of Vista beta drivers for the sound card  - now we have sound output and the microphone works too.

Lessons learned :-

1. Check out each item of hardware and look for Vista drivers, don't trust the Vista system scanning tools they may give you wrong information about compatibility. Do this while you still have XP and can specifically identify the model and version of each component.
2. Don't use anything other than Vista to format the disk or partition Vista is going on - NTFS has "evolved" under Vista and most if not all of the 3rd party tools are currently broken.
3. If dual booting Vista and XP expect to be told XP is broken when it isn't. Keep the XP Setup CD in its box and fix the boot manager references with EasyBCD
4. Vista isn't any more complete than previous versions of Windows, within minutes I was having to download utilities to perform tasks that other Operating Systems do out of the box.

I'm still in information overload seeking a solution to the circular booting situation with XP off the Vista boot menu.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


A little bit of Wow!™

 Thought it was time to look at Vista so ordered the OEM version of Home Premium for £70 off . The Vista compatibility wizard didn't like the RAID controller or the printer at home so decided to dual boot the XP machine in the office as that seemed OK.

DVD duly arrived, partitions setup with PartitionMagic and booted to the DVD. Vista installer saw all the partitions and I asked it to format the target one, which it did. It would then not install as it could find "no available supported hard drives to install Windows Vista on" or words to that effect. Presumably that excludes the one it just formatted :-)  Many dual-booters have hit this problem and it is well documented on the web - the partition you intend to use has to be Active in order for Vista to install so I rebooted to XP and set the target partition as active with Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Computer Management/Disk Management. Rebooted to the DVD and started the install.

After installation the machine rebooted straight into Vista. I had been intending to listen to a radio show while doing this so I was somewhat miffed to find I had no sound available. "No sound devices are installed" or words to that effect - Vista doesn't recognise my Sound Blaster Audigy card - so much for "Living your digital lifestyle in full" - more like "in silence" !!!

Creative look to have Beta drivers so I'll have to get back to XP to explore which one of those I need, as the software update utility "does not yet support Vista".

While faffing with Vista I took the opportunity to download a Freespire ISO as the 3rd OS on the machine is currently Linspire. Managed to do this OK but then discovered Vista doesn't know how to burn an ISO to a CD it simply created an iso file on the CD - another coaster !

Fortunately someone is on the ball and Iso Recorder v3 is Vista compatible. CD burned OK :-)

In an attempt to add an XP / Vista boot menu option (which I had expected to appear automagically) I downloaded EasyBCD to tame the all-new Vista bootloader manager, added the XP drive and rebooted.

Got the boot options menu up but it said XP was corrupted, went into Vista, set the XP partition to Active, rebooted straight into XP. I see a pattern emerging !

So Vista gives me no sound and can't burn CD ISOs out of the box. It can partition and format a drive but not set the partition to Active and hence it can't 
install into that which it just created - nice, not.

Not a good start. Now in XP trying to find Vista sound card drivers.

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