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aniss

invalid boot.ini file? any help?

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Hi,

Sorry about the long topic description, but I found it necessary to describe the whole process step by step.

I run Windows 7 on my notebook. I created a partition in order to install XP also (dual booting). The installation of XP went fine the only problem is that by doing that the XP overwrites the boot loader of Windows 7 so that the computer now boots from XP and you can no longer access your Windows 7 intallation. This is all normal and I was aware of that. So I used EasyBCD to restore the Windows 7 boot loader. But here something went wrong. When I rebooted again neither Windows 7 or XP loaded. Instead I got the message:

invalid BOOT.INI file

booting from C:\WINDOWS\

... And then nothing.

I then tried to reinstall the XP but the first time the setup had to restart I ended up with the same error as above.

Then I used a Windows 7 recovery CD and managed to restore the boot loader so that the notebook once again booted from Windows 7.

I thought OK all is well and then I tried to install XP again. But again the first time the setup had to restart I ended up with the same error as before and consequently had to use the Windows 7 recovery to be able to use Windows 7.

How can I solve this? I would really like to be able to run XP as well. Any suggestions?

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How can I solve this? I would really like to be able to run XP as well. Any suggestions?

What I miss is whether the XP was ever installed and ran properly. :unsure:

Also, can you provide some exact details on how the disk is partitioned?

Normally, when you install XP (I am talking of a "good" install) what happens is the following:

  1. the bootsector of the Primary, Active partition is changed to invoke NTLDR (and from it BOOT.INI and NTDETECT.COM) instead of BOOTMGR
  2. files NTLDR, BOOT.INI and NTDETECT.COM are copied to the Primary, Active partition ROOT

then one uses (even from the booted XP) the command bootsect.exe with the NT60 switch to re-write the original Windows 7 BOOTMGR bootsector (invoking BOOTMGR).

then an entry to boot from the BOOTMGR and \boot\BCD the NTLDR/BOOT.INI is added through BCDEDIT or similar tools.

What I suspect it is happening to you is that you have a "default" "new" install odf WIndows 7 featuring the ("stupid") windows 7 "100 Mb partition" and this somehow creates the havoc (possibly by writing the NTLDR invoking bootsector ont hat 100 Mb partition BUT writing a "wrong" BOOT.INI pointing to that same partition instead of the "third one" where you installed Windows XP)... :unsure:

jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz
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Hi thanks a bunch for replying ;)

I'll give you all the details I can think of...

1st of I have intalled XP many times in the past and even once installed it on a notebook with pre-installed Vista. This all went fine including using EasyBCD to restore the bootloader thus being able to dual boot.

On this computer I prevously had 3 partitions:

C: Windows 7 - 145GB

D: HP RECOVERY - 10GB

F: My general storage partition - 145GB

I then created a partition from C using the Disk Management tool in Windows 7 so I now have the following partitions:

C: Windows 7 - 120GB

D: HP_RECOVERY - 10GB

F: My general storage partition - 145GB

H: Windows XP - 25GB

Note: The drive letters are as seen from Windows 7.

I might also add that I was allready dual booting with Windows 7 and Ubuntu (WUBI -> That means that Ubuntu is installed on top of Windows 7 and not on a seperate partition... has worked fine always).

I then installed XP to the H partition and yes XP was running fine. At this point as I said the notebook automatically booted from XP. I then ran EasyBCD from within XP and here I did something wrong (not entirely sure what) and when I rebooted I got the "invalid boot.ini..." error.

Hope I made sense?!

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OK some more info...

I THINK I know what I did wrong when I used EasyBCD...

I added a new entry of type: Windows NT/2k/XP/2k3 and checked the "Automatically detect correct drive" option.

So far all good.

I then pressed entered the "Edit Boot Menu" and here I pressed "Save settings" which I shouldn't have done.

Here is what I should have done instead according to the manuals I've seen (which I didn't do):

Enter the "BDC Deployment" section. Check the "Install the Windows Vista/7 bootloader to the MBR" option and press the "Write MBR" button.

Pretty sure that is where I went wrong to begin with....

So perhaps it could all be solved if I simply run EasyBCD (from Windows 7) and press "Write MBR" thus overwriting ALL (?) existing boot information. But I don't know?! :/

Edited by aniss
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I THINK I know what I did wrong when I used EasyBCD...

IMHO the "wrong" thing you did was to use EasyBCD at all :yes: .

Mind you for a number of aspects EasyBCD is an excellent tool :thumbup , the problem with it is that most people will assume two wrong things about it:

  1. that because it has "easy" in it's name it is "easy" to use and that hence RTFM is completely unneeded :ph34r:
  2. that because it has "easy" and "BCD" in it's name it represents the "ultimate answer to all questions involving booting matters" :w00t:

EasyBCD is (or should be) simply a "more convenient" (which does not mean in itself "easier") way to edit the BCD (i.e. a GUI replacement to BCDedit).

BUT it has a number of additional (again "nice" if used correctly) features.

You will be surprised to know that you don't need (at first) *any* of these features.

You ALREADY have a valid BOOTMGR and \boot\BCD file (since you have Windows 7 installed and running).

The BOOTMGR is invoked by the bootsector (or PBR or VBR) of your active partition.

When you install the XP the bootsector (or PBR or VBR) of your active partition is rewritten to invoke NTLDR instead.

The MBR has NOTHING to do in this process as normally it does simply load the bootsector (or PBR or VBR) of the partition marked active in the MBR partition table.

DO NOT TOUCH the MBR! :ph34r:

An HP notebook may have a non-standard MBR code (used to load the Recovery partition), if this is the case and you accidentally overwrite it (unless you have a backup of it) it will be extremely difficult to rebuild it, or replace it with one with a similar functionality, compare with:

Open (under Windows 7) Disk Management and verify that your partitions:

  • C: Windows 7 - 120GB
  • D: HP_RECOVERY - 10GB
  • F: My general storage partition - 145GB
  • H: Windows XP - 25GB

Are in this order on the disk.

This could mean that they are:

  • Disk 0, Partition 1 - C: Windows 7 - 120GB
  • Disk 0, Partition 2 - D: HP_RECOVERY - 10GB
  • Disk 0, Partition 3 - F: My general storage partition - 145GB
  • Disk 0, Partition 4 - H: Windows XP - 25GB

(which I doubt).

Please post the above partition order with the values you find AND the current contents of BOOT.INI.

If I get it right you ALREADY have in the \boot\BCD an entry for the XP (i.e. when you boot you have a choice between 8 and XP and if you choose the latter you get the error "invalid BOOT.INI file booting from C:\WINDOWS\") :unsure:

Or, in other words, describe what you see when you boot now.

jaclaz

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Hi and thanks again for the reply...

And oops! I allready did do the "Write MBR" thing. I then tried to install xp again but the same thing happened: "invalid BOOT.INI file..." the first time the setup restarted the computer. In other words it didn't make any difference at all.

I again used the Windows 7 recovery disc to fix that so it boots OK from Windows 7 again.

And no I no longer have the Windows XP option in the bootloader. I deleted it again (using EasyBCD). So now I have the options I always had: Windows 7 or Ubuntu when I start up the computer.

As I said the XP installed fine but since I tried to reinstall it I formatted the partition (H) again during the XP instalation. So now I have an incomplete windows XP on the H drive.

I attached a screenshot of the Disc Manager. I hope that answers your question about the order of the partitions.

And currently I don't seem to have ANY file named BOOT.INI on any of my partitions. Where is it supposed to be?

post-358909-0-74945100-1343398616_thumb.

Edited by aniss
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Even Windows 7 has a boot.ini but it isn't used. But the one you are looking for (for XP) should be in the root of the volume XP is installed in. By default this file is attrib +System +Hidden... so if you turn on view Protected Hidden System Files in Folder Options, you should then find it.

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Like I said I currently DON'T have XP installed. I formatted the partition when I tried to reinstall XP again. So now there is an incomplete XP on that partition because the setup didn't complete.

And I allready have the option "show hidden files and folders" set, but like I said there is no BOOT.INI file on any of my partitions (atleast it doesn't show up when I search) :/

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And currently I don't seem to have ANY file named BOOT.INI on any of my partitions. Where is it supposed to be?

It should be in ROOT of the Active, Primary partition on that disk (should be your C:\ drive "Sistema, Arranque"), as well as a copy of NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM.

Mind you that these file are "system" and "hidden" normally and you will need to set Explorer to see those files and use attrib.exe to change the BOOT.INI attributes in order to Edit and save it.

From the screenshot, the partitioning is seemingly:

  • Disk 0, Partition 1 - C: Windows 7 - 120GB
  • Disk 0, Partition 2 - H: Windows XP - 25GB
  • Disk 0, Partition 3 - F: My general storage partition - 145GB
  • Disk 0, Partition 4 - D: HP_RECOVERY - 10GB

BUT the "XP partition" is a Logical Volume inside Extended.

Different OS (and tools) may list a Logical Volume inside Extended differently.

The BOOT.INI uses arcpaths as detailed here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/102873

So, what you really have is most probably:

http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/kb/article.php?id=159

  • Disk 0, Partition 1 - C: Windows 7 - 120GB
  • Disk 0, Partition 2 - F: My general storage partition - 145GB
  • Disk 0, Partition 3 - D: HP_RECOVERY - 10GB
  • Disk 0, Partition 4 - H: Windows XP - 25GB

So what you should make sure of is that in the C:\ drive you have:

  • BOOTMGR
  • \boot\BCD
  • NTLDR
  • BOOT.INI
  • NTDETECT.COM

The BOOT.INI contents should be:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS="Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="This should produce an error"

Then, you need to re-add /using easyBCD or other tool) the "Windows XP" entry to the \boot\BCD.

As soon as you have it working, you can delete last line of BOOT.INI, it is there only to verify that the BOOT.INI is actually loaded.

jaclaz

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As I find the Finder's finds... I see this in which you mention that it is not typically possible to boot an OS from a Logical (inside Extended) volume. Is this true in this case as well?

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As I find the Finder's finds... I see this in which you mention that it is not typically possible to boot an OS from a Logical (inside Extended) volume. Is this true in this case as well?

NO. :no:

Simply because that volume is never actually "booted". :whistle:

The booted volume is the first, active, primary partition (i.e. the "Boot" volume) where NTLDR, NTDETECT.COM and BOOT.INI are.

NTLDR then act as a LoaDeR for the NT system ;) on the logical volume, which is the "System" volume.

Of course :w00t: MS has it EXACTLY the other way round :ph34r: , JFYI:

http://www.multibooters.co.uk/system.html

jaclaz

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Ah.. while I had the "Show hidden files..." option checked I didn't have the "Show protected files..." option checked. I do now and I can now see all the files you mentioned:

BOOTMGR

\boot\BCD

NTLDR

BOOT.INI

NTDETECT.COM

They're all there (on the C drive). The BOOT.INI looks like this:

[boot loader]

timeout=1

default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS

[operating systems]

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

And yes the physical order or the partitions should be:

Disk 0, Partition 1 - C: Windows 7 - 120GB

Disk 0, Partition 2 - H: Windows XP - 25GB

Disk 0, Partition 3 - F: My general storage partition - 145GB

Disk 0, Partition 4 - D: HP_RECOVERY - 10GB

... since I created the H partition by shrinking the C partition as I described earlier (and according to the manual I linked to earlier).

But I get that the logical partition is the latter as the article you linked to mentioned:

"As a hard drive is evaluated for partition numbering, all of its primary partitions are numbered first; then, all of its logical partitions are numbered next; and extended partitions are ignored."

I don't know what it means that the H drive is an "extended logical drive" or whatnot?! Like I said I just followed a manual to create a partition for installing XP.

And I currently don't know how to add the "Windows XP" entry to the \boot\BCD. I used EasyBCD which automatically detected the XP installation. Currently there is no XP installation so I dunno?!

And again I did run XP from that drive (H) seemingly without problems. The problems started when I wanted to mess with the boot loader in order to dual boot XP with Windows 7. But whether this is the source of all my problems at this point I dunno?!

By the way.... I tried to format the H drive just now but I couldn't because seemingly another process is using the drive. I believe this has to do with the pagefile?!

Edited by aniss
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Hmmm... in both the manuals I used the created partition turns out as a "Primary partition" and not as an "extended logical partition" or whatnot :( Could this be the source of my problems to begin with? Is there a way to change it to a primary partition?

Here are the manuals I am referring to:

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/8790/dual-boot-your-pre-installed-windows-7-computer-with-xp/

http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/8057-dual-boot-installation-windows-7-xp.html

:no: Still complety stuck with this one....

Edited by aniss
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You are doing a SERIES of mistakes :w00t:.

Not a problem this happens all the time, it is "normal" :) .

You take a guide, (*any* guide) and instead of following it "to the letter" you introduce (by mistake, of course) some changes to it, and the result - strangely enough - is that the guide is seemingly wrong.

Now, as soon as you get your "first" error, you should STOP §@ç#ing doing random things and ask for help.

Once you have asked for help (and somene is willing to proveide it) you should §@ç#ing STOP doing ANYTHING BUT what is suggested to you.

You do understand that you post describing a given situation, and as soon as I try giving you a suggestion to exit THAT situation, in the meantime you do something and at your next post the situation has changed?

If you sum up the above, you should now STOP changing anything, describe your current situation, then go away, take a walk, get a life, whatever and wait for some suggestion on how to exit from a "now static" situation.

Since you are ready to re-format the partition and re-install the XP to it, I can give you EXACT instructions on how to make this, though how the pagefile.sys got to that partition is a mistery to me :unsure:.

jaclaz

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Hi again,

Sorry if it seems like I'm doing random things. I am simply trying to solve this the best I can. But in the end my current situation is the exact same as when I posted the topic:

I have an incomplete XP instalation on this H drive and a messed up boot loader that doesn't allow me to reinstall XP.

Since then I did the "Write MBR" thing and tried to reinstall XP which didn't work so I'm back to where I started. Sorry if that seemed like a silly thing to do but it did seem like the most logical thing thing to try to me since that was the only thing I didn't do according to the manual in the first place.

And then I noticed that the H partition was a logical extended partition and therefore I wanted to see if I could change it to a primary partition. In order to do that it seemed logical to format it since the Windows disc manager doesn't offer any options in it's current state. Besides I didn't think having an incomplete (to say the least) XP intallation on my H drive would somehow be important for the problem solving.

Besides that I didn't do anything at all. Just trying to understand what is going on.

And about the manuals... I DID follow them to the letter (except for pressing "Write MBR"). And while they aren't wrong they are simply incomplete. For example they do not explain this about partition "types" (primary, extended, logical, etc.) but rather says:

"The New Simple Volume Wizard launches which is a straight forward process. When you get to the Format Partition section, NTFS is selected by default as the file system and you can leave that as is. You might want to rename the Volume label something else like “XP Partition” so it’s easier to identify when installing XP. Also you’ll probably want to make sure to check Perform a Quick Format. "

And that's it! Anyway I get your point and as I said my situation hasn't changed the slightest bit since I first posted the topic...

And yes I am ready to re-format the partition and re-install the XP to it as you say since that has been what I have been trying to do all along. And I would be very happy to receive instructions as to what to do now. In the meantime I will not do anything at all ok?! :blushing:

About the pagefile.sys I don't know either. I have (as it is per default and is strongly recommended in general) allowed Windows to administer the virtual memory. But I can tell you that there is a pagefile.sys on each of the 4 partitions I currently have.

Peace!

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