XP Won't Boot After Mint Installation

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XP Won't Boot After Mint Installation

Postby zero_gt on Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:02 am

I just installed Linux Mint 6 onto my computer using the option that uses free space (resize) so that I could dual boot with XP, but I get a blue screen when I try to start XP now. I gives me a sequence of errors and then restarts. I can access all of my files from Mint but I really want to be able to use XP also. Anyone know how I can fix this?
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Re: XP Won't Boot After Mint Installation

Postby Husse on Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:32 am

So XP tries to boot?
At worst this is one of the sad cases when things go really wrong.
There should be a strongly worded urgent request that you defragment your XP before you install - there may have been some files in what seemed to be empty disk space
To help you better I need to know as exactly as possible what happens and what you read on the screen
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Don't fix it if it ain't broken, don't break it if you can't fix it
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Re: XP Won't Boot After Mint Installation

Postby herman on Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:37 pm

Well, the 'Alternate' CD uses the 'Partman' partitioner, and that's the one which used to refuse to do anything (fail on the safe side), when the Windows partition required defragmenting.
The 'Desktop' Live/Installation Cds use GParted (Gnome Partition Editor), and GParted has always been able to resize FAT32 or NTFS without regardless of the state of fragmentation.
The GParted documentation does recommend running CHKDSK right after resizing and NTFS partition though.

I agree with Husse, no-one can help without knowing the exact error messages or a better description of what happens, (what you see in the screen when you try to boot).
The problem is more likely to have something to do with your partition and/or hard disk numbering and boot loader configuration.
In order to even begin, it would be important to know at least what hard disks and partitions are in the computer, the easiest way to express that is with the output from 'sudo fdisk -lu', if you could post that here,
Code: Select all
sudo fdisk -lu

Also, the bottom part of your /boot/grub/menu.lst file would be important,
Code: Select all
gksudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst


In case it's urgent, you can probably boot your XP with the CD you can download from: How to fix: NTLDR is missing, press any key to restart http://tinyempire.com/notes/ntldrismissing.htm
That CD contains NTLDR, NTdetect.com and a generic copy of boot.ini. Those are the three most important files needed to get Windows XP to boot. With that CD you can bypass the MBR, and Windows boot sector, and NTLDR, NTdetect.com and boot.ini, in case there's a problem with any of those.
Otherwise, CHKDSK /R from a Windows XP Recovery Console should fix it.http://www.kellys-korner-xp.com/win_xp_rec.htm
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Re: XP Won't Boot After Mint Installation

Postby zero_gt on Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:44 pm

Thanks for all the help. After surfing through an endless number of forums related to MBRs,partitions, and fdisk questions I had pretty well determined that Grub was interfering with the windows MBR. So I booted into Linux Mint from live CD then open the partition editor and removed all the linux partitions. Unfortunately Grub was still trying to boot but only displayed "Error 22" which based on forums was a bad thing. I kept researching into ways to recover the MBR and finally decided that the best way was to use the Windows XP disc from one of my other computer to try to access the repair command line. From the command line I was able to rewrite the bootfile and the MBR (scary) :shock: . I held my breath and restarted the computer and my lovely old windows XP came back. Amazingly everything is back to normal. I really like linux mint but I must say that I hope I never have to go through this again.
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Re: XP Won't Boot After Mint Installation

Postby herman on Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:15 pm

Thanks for all the help
What help?
Nobody could help you because you either weren't willing or weren't able to provide the basic information needed to even begin helping you.
You probably had a problem that would have been trivial to solve for anyone with a little dual booting experience.
The best advice I can give you is to look at some a good websites about to dual boot Windows with Linux and do a little bit of research first if you ever do decide to try again.
There's no such thing as a 'Windows MBR', Windows has a 'boot sector' though.
You will need to be able to communicate at least enough to describe what hard disk numbers and partition numbers you have if you need help with boot loaders and most other issues to so with dual booting, otherwise you will only be wasting your own time and evryone else's
time too.
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Re: XP Won't Boot After Mint Installation

Postby herman on Fri Jan 30, 2009 3:23 pm

Sorry if I came across a bit harsh there in my previous post, I hope you'll try Linux again sometime soon.
I have lots of time to help someone who really wants to learn, just no time for people who come to ridicule Linux and GRUB and don't really want help.
I thought you might have been a trouble maker here to try us out, giving us your problem but not enough info to solve it, then blaming Linux and GRUB.
Now I see that you have another thread here and you might be a person genuinely wanting to learn and needing a way to get started.

I'll try to explain a few things, it might help you or someone else.

I'm not sure what went wrong with your installation, but for most of us, the installer gets it right, and Mint will be installed and the boot loader set up automatically to boot either Windows, (if you have it), or Mint, plus any other operating system that might be detected in the computer.

Probably the most important information that boot loaders need is the information from the BIOS about what hard disk(s) your computer has.
After that, the partition information in the partition table of each hard disk(s) MBR is needed.

Most computers come with Windows in them when they are bought from the store, and the great majority of people don't know any better.
If you have only ever run one single installation of Windows in your computer, you probably think Windows is in 'Drive C:'.
It may never have occurred to you to question that.
Your 'A:' drive is your floppy disc drive if you still have one, and 'Drive B:' is reserved for those old 5 1/4" floppy discs that hardly anyone has anymore.
'D' drive is probably your CD/DVD drive, unless you have a logical data partition.

Windows XP has a boot loader called NTLDR, which is good for booting one Windows installation.
NTLDR can be configured to boot more than one Windows installation, but it's a little bit complicated to use. You need to be able to edit a file called boot.ini, which is a hidden, read-only, system file in most Windows systems.
To get boot.ini to tell the boot loader, NTLDR, which hard disk and which partition Windows is in, you need to know the hard disk number and the partition number.
If the partition number or hard disk number for Windows gets changed accidentally, or Windows is copied to a different partition somehow, you can't boot Windows.
But if you edit boot.ini with the right hard disks and partition numbers, you can fix the Windows boot loader to boot Windows XP in any partition or hard disk.
Now you can forget about any 'Drive C:' and other drive letters, those are only for people in computer user land, and drive letters don't have any real meaning as far as any boot loaders are concerned. Hard disks are numbered counting from 0 (zero), and so are partitions.
Most Windows boot error messages can be cured by editing the boot.ini file, and/or by running CHKDSK.
Examples of Windows boot loader error message are like 'autocheck program not found - skipping autocheck', 'hal.dll is missing or corrupt', and 'NTLDR is missing, press any key to restart'.
Those are normally caused by Windows not being able to find it's own files.
Image
A typical boot.ini file looks like this, (above), note the hard disk number is zero, (for 'first hard disk), but the partition number is 1, (for first primary partition).

Hard disk and partition numbers are really simple, hard disks are numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4 and so on.
Normally they are numbered automatically by the computer's BIOS, depending on the way they are plugged in to the motherboard and how the jumpers are set.
The computer's BIOS always looks at the first hard disk's MBR for a clue about where to find a boot loader.
The MBR's job is to direct the BIOS to the first sector of a partition (boot sector), or to a boot loader itself.
The MBR contains a little boot loader code, and the partition table to help it find the operating system, as the operating system could be anywhere in the hard disk.
Once the boot loader is engaged, if all goes well, the boot loader will find the operating system's kernel and load it into the computer's memory and the operating system will boot.
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Re: XP Won't Boot After Mint Installation

Postby herman on Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:13 pm

The Windows boot sector is the first sector of the Windows partition.
It is usually not possible to boot Windows without it, (but you can under special circumstances).
The Windows partition can be anywhere in the hard disk, but not before sector number 63, because the first track of the hard disk, (63 sectors), is reserved for the MBR and boot loader code.
It sometimes gets attacked by sneaky viruses so the virus will load before the operating system in order to take control before the anitvirus software has a chance to get started.
Sometimes, the virus is not successful and only succeeds in corrupting the Windows boot sector.
The Windows Recovery Console command 'FIXBOOT' is for fixing the Windows boot sector.


The MBR is the first sector of a hard disc and it isn't connected to the Windows partition. Some people call the MBR a boot sector too, but it's a special kind of boot sector, it contains the partition table for the entire hard disk.
The Windows Recovery Console command 'FIXMBR' is for fixing the hard disc's Master Boot Record to make it point the the Windows boot sector.
The use of the term 'Windows MBR', or to say 'Grub was interfering with the windows MBR', tends to imply that the user of that term is a Windows zealot and maybe someone who is an anti-linux extremist.
Probably you didn't really mean it, but were simply repeating terms you have read in other (Windows related) forums, not realizing what the implied meanings might be.
It would be more correct to say the MBR belongs to the hard disc, (or the owner of the hard disk) than to claim that the MBR belongs to an operating system that only happens to be installed in one partition.

When we install Linux, most people think they're installing the GRUB boot loader to MBR.

That's what we say but it's not really true, it's just a quicker to say that than to explain what we really mean.

Only a small part of the MBR is changed. The boot loader code in the MBR is only enough to direct the BIOS to somewhere else.
There isn't enough room in the MBR for a boot loader, it would be like trying to squeeze an elephant into a volkswagon. :D

The GRUB MBR code just makes the MBR point to either the first track of the hard disk, where the GRUB stage1_5 file is, or to the GRUB stage2 file the Linux partition.
It's the stage2 file that actually contains the boot loader. The stage2 file is usually located in the /boot/grub directory (folder).
The GRUB stage2 file looks for the menu.lst file for directions for booting the operating systems.

If you select Linux, the GRUB will boot Linux, and if you select Windows, then GRUB will point to the first sector of the Windows partition, which is called the boot sector, and wake up NTLDR.
Then NTLDR boots Windows XP. That's called 'chainloading'.
GRUB doesn't actually boot Windows XP at all, it only boots NTLDR at the Windows boot sector, then NTLDR boots Windows.

If we later decide to delete or reformat the Linux partition, we get GRUB Error 22, because the first part(s) of the boot loader, (in the MBR and possibly in the first track of the hard disk) still points to the Linux partition, but there's no boot loader there anymore. It was deleted when the partition was deleted or re formatted.
GRUB Error 22 can be solved either by re-installing Linux, or by running FIXMBR.
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