Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dual booting Windows Xp

This is part of the main project. I am trying to replace a drawer booting system with a multi booting system without to much difficulty. Background: in the past I've had a 3 computer system.
  1. Computer 1: Main computer, web sites, email, etc.
  2. Computer 2: Storage, uploading pictures, etc.
  3. Computer 3: Experimental installs, testing software, etc.
However, computer 1 was also a multi boot drawer system which enabled me to have an unlimited amount of operating systems to boot from. At the time I started this overhaul, I had 4 drawers: windows xp games, windows xp productivity, windows vista(with windows 7 installed on top in the beta testing program) and Linux. But I had problems that I traced back to the drawer system(mechanical, not software related) and decided for stability, so I set about setting up a dual boot windows xp system(productivity and games) on 2 different hard drives. Mind you, this was at the end of upgrading the hardware. I already had the motherboard, video card, 1 hard drive, the operating system and drivers installed and working. My first thought was to just put in another drive, install XP to that(it would have been D:) and then windows "should" know what to do. Well, the new motherboard only has 1 IDE channel on it and you can't boot from an add in card(not this one anyway) so, time to get tricky.

Tricky in this instance means, clone the c drive. The best free software for doing this is what Seagate gives you when you by their hard drive. The reason I like it is the versatility. Most of these utilities help you install and use your new drive. Most new drives are bigger than the old ones because this is America, Jack, home of bigger is better. Most software designed for this purpose has one limitation, that the target drive is bigger the original. Not Seagates though! The reason this is important is poor planning on my part. Yep. My "c" drive is bigger(250 GB) than my "d" drive(120GB). Who knew?

Another fine point to make is this process is fast and installing windows is like trying to get ketchup out of a bottle by turning it upside down. Just the install is maybe an hour and drivers and service packs can make it two. This took maybe ten minutes. Now, the final step is to alter your boot.ini file to look something like this:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XP Home" /NoExecute=OptIn
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XP Home" /NoExecute=OptIn

Change only the stuff in RED! The 1 would be the second disk because nerds sometimes start counting from 0 instead of 1! The "XP Home" stuff needs to be different, something like"work" and "games". After that, if something doesn't work right, make sure that in the BIOS settings, you can boot from either of your hard disks in some kind of order.

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