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.


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