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aniss

invalid boot.ini file? any help?

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Win7's Disk Management will create 3 primary (by default) partitions but will not let you create the 4th as primary, only as extended. Only through (command line) diskpart you can create a 4th primary partition.

Now whether Jaclaz had in mind to help you install XP on a logical volume or to let you follow the manual, we'll see.

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@all

There is nothing "bad" in having XP (or any other NT based system) on a logical volume inside extended, actually NT was designed to be installed on logical volumes and it is a type of setup that I often recommend.

@aniss

I would suggest you to re-start from where you early managed to succesfully install XP.

Go to System->Advanced options, use this:

http://ihaveapc.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/pagefile0.jpg

as a reference, UNcheck (if checked) the "Automatically manage.....", then set the pagefile on drive H:\ to "none".

Reboot.

Now re-format the H:\ drive (use "quick format").

You should be now in the same situation you were at the beginning, just after you created and formatted the new volume.

So, you should be able to install the XP just like you did the first time.

Before doing so, download this file:

http://code.google.com/p/grub4dos-chenall/downloads/list

http://code.google.com/p/grub4dos-chenall/downloads/detail?name=grub4dos-0.4.5c-2012-06-19.7z&can=2&q=

and extract from it just the grldr file, putting it in the root of C:\.

Try installing the XP, then, after you have successfully booted XP, do the following (mind you this is NOT the "solution", it is only an "intermediate" step to make sure to be able to boot temporarily both systems).

Modify the boot.ini as follows:

[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"
C:\grldr="grub4dos"

Reboot.

Choose the "grub4dos" entry.

You will get to a:

grub>

prompt.

In it type:

chainloader /bootmgr

[ENTER]

and you should boot the Windows 7.

If the above works, then we will see how to FIRST add the XP entry to the \boot\BCD, test that it works, and only later change the bootsector to have it load the BOOTMGR instead of the NTLDR.

jaclaz

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Hi and thanks again.

OK the pagefile thing is solved and drive H is formatted. And I'm glad to hear that it isn't a problem working on a logical extended drive as you say. I actually thought that was the cause of this whole mess.

But before I do anything more I just wanna make sure we're on the same page here. I sort of got the notion that I perhaps didn't make myself clear.

You say: "I would suggest you to re-start from where you early managed to succesfully install XP".

Hmm yes that is what I have been trying to do from the beginning. The problem is that I can't which is why I created this thread.

You say: "You should be now in the same situation you were at the beginning, just after you created and formatted the new volume. So, you should be able to install the XP just like you did the first time."

No, I am now in the same situation as when I started this thread except for the formatted H drive which as far as installing XP goes makes no difference at all since the XP setup formats it anyway in the initial setup phase. So if I install XP now the exact same "invalid BOOT.INI.." error will occur the first time the XP setup restarts my PC.

Just to make it clear. Remember that the XP setup reboots a couple of times during a setup. The FIRST time is after formatting the destination drive and copying/preparing the setup files. THIS is when I get the "invalid BOOT.INI" error.

Are we on the same page here?

You say "Before doing so, download this file"

Ok you provided 2 links to what seems to be different versions to the same thing? Why is that? I suppose I should use the version you linked to directly:

http://code.google.com/p/grub4dos-chenall/downloads/detail?name=grub4dos-0.4.5c-2012-06-19.7z&can=2&q=

In other words NOT the newest version.

That's it for now. Like I said I just want to make sure we understand eachother before I go at it again.

Thanks again....

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Hmm yes that is what I have been trying to do from the beginning. The problem is that I can't which is why I created this thread.

You say: "You should be now in the same situation you were at the beginning, just after you created and formatted the new volume. So, you should be able to install the XP just like you did the first time."

No, I am now in the same situation as when I started this thread except for the formatted H drive which as far as installing XP goes makes no difference at all since the XP setup formats it anyway in the initial setup phase. So if I install XP now the exact same "invalid BOOT.INI.." error will occur the first time the XP setup restarts my PC.

And this is what is currently escaping me :ph34r: , the sequence of actions that you reported - once reversed - should have no consequences in re-installing the XP (that is if it worked first time).

(attempting to do so on the unformatted drive AND with it holding the Windows 7 pageflile may)

Just to make it clear. Remember that the XP setup reboots a couple of times during a setup. The FIRST time is after formatting the destination drive and copying/preparing the setup files. THIS is when I get the "invalid BOOT.INI" error.

Are we on the same page here?

Yes, we are.

What actually happens is that a couple of directories, namely:

  1. $WIN_NT$.~BT - the boot folder
  2. $WIN_NT$.~LS - installation files folder

are created (normally on the Active partition, i.e. C:\)

these folders contain the actual installation files.

The BOOT.INI file is changed during the installation to boot (for second part) from these folders, a line similar to this is added (and made default).

c:\$win_nt$.~bt\bootsect.dat="Windows XP Installation/Upgrade"

Now, having formatted (BTW right now you have formatted it from the booted Windows 7, did you do this the first time or from within the XP setup?) nothing in the logical volume may have become "sticky" (and thus change the behaviour of the XP setup).

So it must be something on the C:\ partitiion.

Either the BOOT.INI or the two folders created by the previous install.

Check that you have no $WIN_NT$.~BT nor $WIN_NT$.~LS folder.

Delete the BOOT.INI.

Try again installing.

The fact that you reported having the multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS line might mean exactly this. The BOOT.INI was changed to it's "final" version by the initially successful install and for *any* reason, it does not the needed change during subsequent attempts to install, possibly a NTFS permission issue...

You say "Before doing so, download this file"

Ok you provided 2 links to what seems to be different versions to the same thing? Why is that? I suppose I should use the version you linked to directly:

http://code.google.com/p/grub4dos-chenall/downloads/detail?name=grub4dos-0.4.5c-2012-06-19.7z&can=2&q=

In other words NOT the newest version.

No, actually it is the newest version among the "release ones", and NOT the latest-latest which is ALPHA.

jaclaz

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Hi again,

You say:

And this is what is currently escaping me, the sequence of actions that you reported - once reversed - should have no consequences in re-installing the XP (that is if it worked first time).

(attempting to do so on the unformatted drive AND with it holding the Windows 7 pageflile may)

Like I said I followed the manual to the letter EXCEPT for not pressing the "Write MBR" button in EasyBCD. And yes XP was installed and running fine until I tried to retore the Win 7 boot loader. I even restarted XP several times while it was installed. No problems. The problem definately started when I used EasyBCD and 1) added XP to the list (as in the manual) and 2) pressed the "Save settings" (which isn't in the manual). After this I got the "invalid BOOT.ini.." error.

But to make sure I get you here is the XP setup process:

1) Checking hardware

2) Loading drivers

3) Choosing and formatting destination partition

4) Copying setup files

5) Reboot

6) The actual instalation

7) Reboot

8) Running XP for the 1st time

Now since the XP installation formats the partition in step 3 how can this possibly affect the further setup process? In this case the problem occurs in step 5.

And I presume that the XP setup overwrites/modifies the BOOT.INI file in step 4? So the BOOT.INI content I posted earlier would be what it looks like at this point? Or perhaps it has been overwritten again by the Windows 7 recovery I did afterwards? Or does it remain unchanged since the first succesfull XP install?

At this point the XP setup also modifies something so that the installation can begin after the reboot rather than starting up Win 7. That is telling the system to boot from the BOOT.INI rather that the BOOTMGR is that correct? Where is this information stored? In the MBR? PBR? VBR? Or? (just trying to understand)

You say:

BTW right now you have formatted it from the booted Windows 7, did you do this the first time or from within the XP setup?

Both. I formatted it when I created the partition in Win 7 and then again in the XP setup.

You say:

So it must be something on the C:\ partitiion.

Agreed!

You say:

Check that you have no $WIN_NT$.~BT nor $WIN_NT$.~LS folder.

I checked. There are no so named folder in the root of my C drive nor in the C:\Windows folder.

You say:

Delete the BOOT.INI.

Try again installing.

Ok! Now you're giving different instruction than in your previous post. Should I just delete the C:\BOOT.INI and try the XP setup again or should I add the grldr file also before doing so?

Edited by aniss
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Ok! Now you're giving different instruction than in your previous post. Should I just delete the C:\BOOT.INI and try the XP setup again or should I add the grldr file also before doing so?

I am simply trying to put your system in the EXACT SAME situation it was when you succeeded installing XP.

The Setup process, on a "completely" clean system works like this (simplified):

  1. the partition is formatted.
  2. The NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM are copied to ROOT
  3. the install files are copied to $WIN_NT$.~BT and $WIN_NT$.~LS
  4. a copy of the bootsector is made in $WIN_NT$.~BT (invoking the SETUPLDR.BIN INSTEAD of NTLDR)
  5. a BOOT.INI is written pointing to this latter copy of the bootsector c:\$win_nt$.~bt\bootsect.dat="Windows XP Installation/Upgrade"
  6. end of firs phase and reboot

At reboot, the SETUP is booted NOT anymore from the install media but form the internal disk, then the setup does it's job, deletes the $WIN_NT$.~BT and $WIN_NT$.~LS and writes to BOOT.INI the "normal" XP loading string, in your case multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS="Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

On a "second" install, the behaviour is exactly the same, but step #5 above has to deal with a pre-existing BOOT.INI.

Since you reported that after a failed reboot after the first stage the contents of the BOOT.INI are:

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

AND NOT:

c:\$win_nt$.~bt\bootsect.dat="Windows XP Installation/Upgrade"

I am suspecting that *something* is preventing the SETUP from editing the pre-existing BOOT.INI.

Since you originally had not any BOOT.INI and it worked, and now that you have one it doesn't work anymore, the obvious step is trying again without any BOOT.INI.

BUT, still something is not right.

The setup (first stage) does create the $WIN_NT$.~BT and $WIN_NT$.~LS folders.

Have you also checked on the "H:\ drive "? (or, better on "all" drives?) the location where these directories are made is - if I recall correctly - "automagically" determined by the Setup.

These files are deleted after the second (GUI) phase, so if you never get to it, they should remain there (and possibly cause issues).

Which means (like a PE of some kind) have you available when you, after having completed the first phase and you cannot boot anymore because of the error, you need to re-access the disk?

Alternatively to the above, and provided that you stil have currently the grldr in root of C:\ and that your BOOT.INI is still:

[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"

C:\grldr="grub4dos"

and you try again to install XP, at reboot after first stage you should be able, by QUICLY press the arrow down key, to access the BOOT.INI choices and chiise the grldr one.

The result should be a command prompt like:

grub>

can you confirm this?

jaclaz

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Hi again,

Well I tried to do what you said (well one of the things). I deleted the boot.ini file and formatted the H:\ drive just before I restarted the computer and started the XP setup. But no luck. The EXACT same thing happened. The first time the setup needed to reboot I got the "invalid boot.ini.." error again =(

I did notice some weird things this time though. When the setup prompted me to choose a partition I noticed that besides my 4 actual partitions there was 2 chunks of unpartitioned space. One of them was huge. Much larger than my actual harddisk. Come to think of it.. I think that this was there also the first time I did the setup (and actually got XP running without problems). But I'm not sure and I'm not sure what that means. It would seem that my harddikc is messed up somehow though =(

I also noticed that the my by Win 7 named H:/ partition was called the D:/ `partition in the setup. But I believe that is normal?!

I checked both all of my partitions and there are no folders called $WIN_NT$.~BT or nd $WIN_NT$.~LS on either of them.

There is once again a boot.ini file on the C:/ drive and the contents is the same as before:

[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

I noticed that once again there is a pagefile.sys on the H:/ drive after starting up Win 7 again. My current setting is "Let Windows administer the page file on all drives".

Should I go ahead and try the grub thing? Or have we now determined that the problem ISN'T the boot.ini file itself. Or?

Alltogether I must admit that I haven't got a clue as to what is going on here and I really don't know what to do at this point =(

Edited by aniss
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Just some additional info that may make sense to you...

The page file on the H drive is called PAGEFILE.sys (upper case) unlike the lower case pagefile.sys on the C drive. Besides the one on the H drive is only 40MB while the one on the C drive is 3GB....

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Hi again,

Well I tried to do what you said (well one of the things). I deleted the boot.ini file and formatted the H:\ drive just before I restarted the computer and started the XP setup. But no luck. The EXACT same thing happened. The first time the setup needed to reboot I got the "invalid boot.ini.." error again =(

I did notice some weird things this time though. When the setup prompted me to choose a partition I noticed that besides my 4 actual partitions there was 2 chunks of unpartitioned space. One of them was huge. Much larger than my actual harddisk. Come to think of it.. I think that this was there also the first time I did the setup (and actually got XP running without problems). But I'm not sure and I'm not sure what that means. It would seem that my harddikc is messed up somehow though =(

This is strange.

It is possible that you are falling into a queer issue that was found about DIsk Management differences (between the Windows XP and the 7 one, connected to cylinder boundaries) but it's "queer", such a problem should have surfaced also the first time.

I also noticed that the my by Win 7 named H:/ partition was called the D:/ `partition in the setup. But I believe that is normal?!

Are you positive (same size/label) that it is actually the same volume?

But yes, this is normal, since there is not "yet" a Registry (for the XP, nor a migrate.inf), the drives are assigned letters with the default scheme, which is, if I recall correctly:

  1. assign C: to first primary partition of first disk
  2. assign later letters to any first primary partition on later disks
  3. assign later letters to logical volumes inside extended on first disk
  4. assign later letters to logical volumes inside extended on later disks
  5. assign later letter to other primary partitions on first disk
  6. assign later letters to other primary partitions on later disks

So the partitions that you see under Windows 7 as C/H/F/D should become in XP setup C/D/E/F :unsure:

I checked both all of my partitions and there are no folders called $WIN_NT$.~BT or nd $WIN_NT$.~LS on either of them.

There is once again a boot.ini file on the C:/ drive and the contents is the same as before:

It seems like *somehow* the setup assumes that first stage has already been run.

But when you actually run the text mode part of the setup, can you see on the blue screen (at the bootom) the copying of files?

Can you try describing in your words what happens during the text mode part?

I noticed that once again there is a pagefile.sys on the H:/ drive after starting up Win 7 again. My current setting is "Let Windows administer the page file on all drives".

Well, starting from post #17

Go to System->Advanced options, use this:

http://ihaveapc.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/pagefile0.jpg

as a reference, UNcheck (if checked) the "Automatically manage.....", then set the pagefile on drive H:\ to "none".

You should have had that setting disabled.

Please do so and leave it disabled, or anyway set the windows 7 to have it's pagefile ONLY on the C:\ drive.

Should I go ahead and try the grub thing? Or have we now determined that the problem ISN'T the boot.ini file itself. Or?

That is an idea alternative to the answer (that I am still missing) to this question:

Which means (like a PE of some kind) have you available when you, after having completed the first phase and you cannot boot anymore because of the error, you need to re-access the disk?

If I get it right after the failed attempt you repair the 7 with it's install DVD to be able to boot again, and I wonder if this latter procedure *somehow* is connected to the issue.

jaclaz

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You said:

Are you positive (same size/label) that it is actually the same volume?

Yup! It currently has no label (it was deleted during a former xp setup attempt) but it's the only partition with 25GB.

You said:

But when you actually run the text mode part of the setup, can you see on the blue screen (at the bootom) the copying of files?

Can you try describing in your words what happens during the text mode part?

Nothing strange here. Like a normal XP setup. It is a blue screen as you say and after formatting the disk you can see at the bottom that it's copying a bunch of files for a couple of minutes until it reboots.

You said:

You should have had that setting disabled.

Please do so and leave it disabled, or anyway set the windows 7 to have it's pagefile ONLY on the C:\ drive.

OK! It has been done.

You said:

Which means (like a PE of some kind) have you available when you, after having completed the first phase and you cannot boot anymore because of the error, you need to re-access the disk?

Sorry I do not understand this sentence at all. I don't know what PE means for starters.

You said:

If I get it right after the failed attempt you repair the 7 with it's install DVD to be able to boot again, and I wonder if this latter procedure *somehow* is connected to the issue.

Well yes when I get the "invalid boot.ini.." error I fix it a Win 7 recovery CD (not Win 7 install DVD) so that I can boot from Win 7 again. But remember the first time I got the error I had never used that CD before!!

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You said:

Which means (like a PE of some kind) have you available when you, after having completed the first phase and you cannot boot anymore because of the error, you need to re-access the disk?

Sorry I do not understand this sentence at all. I don't know what PE means for starters.

You said:

If I get it right after the failed attempt you repair the 7 with it's install DVD to be able to boot again, and I wonder if this latter procedure *somehow* is connected to the issue.

Well yes when I get the "invalid boot.ini.." error I fix it a Win 7 recovery CD (not Win 7 install DVD) so that I can boot from Win 7 again. But remember the first time I got the error I had never used that CD before!!

A PE is a Pre-install Environment, as a matter of fact BOTH the Win7 install DVD and the "recovery CD" are a form of PE, to be exact a PE 3.x:

  1. PE 1.x <-based on XP/2003 sources
  2. PE 2.x <-based on Vista :ph34r: /2008 sources
  3. PE 3.x<- based on Windows 7/2008 R2 sources

I don't know how exactly a Windows 7 "recovery CD" would behave.

I like to give personalities to CD's.

These are the 2 current possibilities, as I see it.

The Windows XP install CD is a sort of good, well meaning guy, possibly a bit clumsy, like:

  • ok, let's see what I have to do
  • I see, I'll format this partition :yes:
  • Ok, now I am copying to it the install files
  • Ok, now I'll make a brand new BOOT.INI with an entry to boot the XP once installed
  • Temporarily I will add an entry to boot the install at reboot
  • Ok, now I change the bootsector (I don't really like doing this :( but MS makes me do it :ph34r: )
  • Ok, now i'll set everything for next reboot
  • Hmm, let's see if I everything is OK
  • ooops :blushing: , I seemingly did *something* I should have not done, let me delete the install files and revert the BOOT.INI removing the install entry

The Windows 7 recovery cd is more like an angry, nasty little supponent bastard:

  • Ok, let's see what the heck this moron :w00t: did to an otherwise innocent Windows 7 install
  • Ha!, the demented guy somehow rewrote the bootsector, let me fix it
  • Not only he did this but he also has an aborted installation of XP (that old scum)
  • Let me delete any trace of that install and do *something* that will prevent it running again
  • I wonder how the good MS guys didn't gave me an arm and a hand, I would have liked so much to slap the id*** user in the face, hard :realmad:

So, yes, next step is to add to the current BOOT.INI the line:

c:\grldr="grub4dos"

and add grldr in ROOT of the C: drive.

Then try installing again.

At reboot, choose the grub4dos entry.

at the:

grub> 

prompt type:

chainloader /bootm

and press [TAB] key, it should autocomplete to:

chainloader /bootmgr

press [ENTER]

then type:

boot

press [ENTER]

and you should be back to Windows 7.

This way you can examine the system after the XP install failed but WITHOUT having run the "recovery CD", i.e. understand if the install files/directories are deleted by the XP install itself or by the following "recovery CD" boot.

jaclaz

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Hey,

Sorry I disappeared. I have been quite busy with other things. I will try the thing you said ASAP and get back to you....

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