Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Making a dual boot Windows partition bootable

As I mentioned in Part 1 of the HTPC saga I was recently faced with the problem of reducing a multi boot setup spread over two physical and three logical drives into two bootable disks in two distinct boxes.

The setup was as follows:

Physical disk #1:
GRUB boot loader
Win XP Pro

Physical disk #2:
Win XP Media Centre Edition
Linux Fedora Core 3

A small portion of the MCE drive was partitioned off with the Fedora distro, and in order to triple boot between XP, MCE and Fedora there was a GRUB boot loader in the MBR of the primary drive.

Removing GRUB was actually quite straightforward (this is detailed in a separate post,) and PartitionMagic dealt with the Linux partition nicely, absorbing it into the MCE partition. This left me with a standard dual booting Windows box: XP on primary and MCE on secondary.

To cut a long story short this is how I eventually configured the system to boot from the MCE drive.

1. Removed GRUB.
2. Used PartitionMagic to remove Linux partition.
3. Edited XP boot.ini file to remove the MCE install.
4. Booted from XP CD and repaired MBR on MCE drive.
5. Added boot files to the root of the MCE drive.
6. Edited MCE boot.ini file to point to primary drive (remember the partition array is 1-based!).
7. Unplugged ribbon cable from XP drive and plugged into MCE drive (changing the jumper to CS or Master).

Aside from replacing hal.dll (which was unecessary and meant MCE reinstalling a load of drivers), and not realising that the boot.ini partition array is 1-based, it all went pretty smoothly I thought :)

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