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A newbie friend (so some of the details are second hand) has set up XP and RedHat 8.0 together; at first he just let XP have the MBR and used a boot floppy to boot to linux.
He had the system working with XP on the first partion (NTFS); Linux defaultly set up in a boot partion and a root partion; he then added an extended partion with a single FAT32 logical partion to use as a swap space between XP and LINUX.
NOW THE TRICKY PART: he said that he found and ran some program in linux that was supposed to make it possible to boot to another OS -- I don't think it was lilo from talking to him; and I have no idea what it might have been but it seems to have crashed and left the partion table a bit of a mess. XP wouldn't boot directly from the MBR after this; he can still boot via floppy to red hat so that's not a problem. we used sfdisk to look at the partion table and sure enough the XP partion wasn't active any more; we changed that and it seemed to be ready to boot and indeed almost did; but then it crashed with a FATAL SYSTEM Error becuase it couldn't find something. When we boot in from the XP instal disk, we find that WIndows, though it is booting to the correct partion as we marked active, is still viewing that partion (though it began booting) as inactive and calls it F: while it calls the empty and logical FAT32 partion C: -- obviously this is why it has the fatal system error.
Can anyone give me advice as to what might be wrong with the partion table and how to fix it? Why didn't windows recognize the hda1 drive as C: if we marked it as active, and even the MBR recognized it as active???
I'm not very versed in XP but I think this will work if you have the XP install CD. If so I would try to replace the damaged ntldr and ntdetect.com files by copying the files from the XP CD using the COPY command. HOW? Boot with the XP CD and enter the Recovery Console. At the Command Prompt typereplace 'X' with your cd-rom drive letter).
If he can get a win98 boot floppy, boot from it without cd support and at the prompt type fdisk/mbr then reboot. He should go straight into XP then and still be able to use the boot floppy for Linux. Tell him to give GRUB a go for multi booting as it seems to work really well. I don't know about the sharing of a swap space for both XP and Linux though as Linux uses a type 82 file system for this and XP can't read that!!!!
You can remove lilo from the mbr with
You can remove grub or lilo from the mbr by booting with a Windows 98 boot floppy (at the prompt, type fdisk /mbr), or by using the Windows XP Recovery Console.
I have some questions regarding the boot floppy and fdisk/mbr solution. First of all, it seems that the problem isn't the mbr to me; it seems to be getting into the boot sector of the NTFS partion, at which point it is past the mbr??? Am I misunderstanding something?
How does he know it's not the mbr? He's only using a boot disk!!! fdisk/mbr will restore a windows mbr and allow you to boot straight into WinX, it will kill anything else living there though so you'll have to restore LILO, GRUB or any other boot loader you're using. By trying this he's not loosing anything and may not have to result to re-installing XP, it also only takes a min or so, so it's a bit of a no brainer really
Are you all saying that XP writes exactly the same thing to the MBR as the win98 version of fdisk would write to it?
Also, the system crashes after XP has started to boot; meaning, the XP splash screen has already come on. I don't know that this means that its still not in the mbr code, but if it is still in the mbr code, then isnt it different than what the win98 version of fdisk would write to the mbr?