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Old 05-12-2011, 12:54 AM   #91
Registered: Oct 2008
Location: Nevada
Distribution: Slackware 14.1
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That's a shame you are quitting. Since you are starting with a blank slate again, I highly recommend rereading thorugh this thread and doing exactly what everyone has told you... You were refusing to reinstall xp and dos and ubuntu in a specific order. Why not do it? You have nothing to lose now.
Old 05-12-2011, 03:47 PM   #92
Registered: Sep 2005
Location: Boynton Beach, FL
Distribution: Slackware
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Originally Posted by Engineeringtech View Post
Ok MORE grief. You'll recall I enabled the SATA AHCI support in my BIOS, and I was finally able to boot into Ubuntu for the first time in almost 15 months. But the system wouldn't shut down, and later, when I tried to boot into my DOS and Windows XP installations, I was met with a black screen and flashing cursor.

I figured I could switch the AHCI support back off, and recover my DOS and Windows boot. But no! Now with AHCI off, I can't get into ANY operating system. Apparently, my attempt to bring up DOS and Windows with AHCI enabled, damaged the MBR and/or partitions. Or is this just another random hardware failure like that which wiped out my SCSI controller? I don't know. I tried to recover the MBR using the repair function of the Windows installer. "FIXMBR" executed without an error message, but it still boots to a black screen with flashing cursor.

It was never my intent to drag the good people of this forum through six pages of posts. However, I just didn't know how screwed up this system was. And I didn't anticipate my health problems. So now I'm facing totally different PC problems. Are my hardware, drive partitioning and installations salvageable, or do I start from scratch? And do I drag the people along for the ride? I think not. So if it's alright with the people who tried so hard to help me setup my triple boot, I'm going to exit this thread, and work on this myself, on a schedule that my health problems permit. Maybe I'll eventually visit again as a Linux user. Maybe not.

Thanks again to everyone who worked so hard to try to get me up and running. Great forum!
Don't be discouraged. I have had to start over installing multiple operating systems on a few occasions. The first attempt is often a learning process to find out the issues for a particular configuration and the operating systems. Once the issues are identified then the second attempt can succeed.

The key is preparation. For Windows XP you will want to create and test a custom Setup CD that contains the SATA drivers for the computer. You should be able to download those from the manufacturer's web site. Download the nLite program and then use it to create your Setup CD. If you're lucky enough to have a floppy drive then you can use a normal Setup CD and make an OEM driver installation floppy. Press F6 during Setup from a normal Windows XP CD. When you install XP, make sure that your BIOS is set to AHCI mode for the boot hard disk.

You will also need a Linux boot CD and possibly a GRUB Legacy boot CD.

For DOS I recommend making a CD with a floppy emulation boot image or a thumb drive.

If you give me some warning, I don't mind helping you by creating some of those things. The Windows XP CD is going to be quite large (600 MB) so it is better if you can make that yourself. I can certainly get the correct files for your motherboard and help you with using nLite. It is important that you use the Windows XP Setup CD that matches your CD key when you create a custom Setup CD. There are different kinds of Setup CDs and the keys have to be used with the correct kind of Setup CD.

Decide what boot loader you want to use for Linux before you start. My suggestion is to use GRUB Legacy. It's simpler and can be installed or repaired from a boot CD. Whatever boot loader you use, learn about it before you install it.

Decide on a partition layout and create the partitions first. You can install and test GRUB to some extent before you even install Linux. Create a Primary partition for each OS, Windows XP, DOS and Linux.

If your computer does not have a floppy disk drive, check to see if it can support one. A floppy disk drive is inexpensive and makes installing Windows XP with special disk drivers easier. It's also a lot easier to repair DOS using a boot floppy. You can make a GRUB and DOS boot floppy. You can also make an emergency NTLDR boot floppy for when the boot sectors of XP are incorrect. Everything except the XP disk driver floppy can be done using a CD instead of a floppy by having the CD boot image emulate a floppy.

There are some things to think about before installing Windows XP. Windows Setup will always install NTLDR to the first Primary partition that has a compatible file system. You can move NTLDR later, but you have no choice about where Windows Setup will first install NTLDR. The drive letter assigned to Windows XP (when it is booted) will be determined by the partition where you originally installed it. For example, if you install Windows XP to the first Primary partition it has drive letter C: or for the second Primary partition it has drive letter D:. I always like the booted OS to use drive letter C: for its files. I install Windows XP to the first Primary partition and then move it later if it will be in a different partition. You might want to avoid the issue by installing XP to the first Primary partition and leaving it there. If you later move Windows XP to a different partition, it will continue to have drive letter C: (when it is booted).

DOS and Linux are a lot more flexible about drive designations. Moving them around poses no problem if you use the correct drive letter or device name. DOS drive letter assignments are determined at boot. You can have GRUB rearrange the drive IDs when booting DOS if you want some other drive letter assignments.

What software do you use to re-size and move partitions? You will want a boot CD that has the software. If you are considering commercial software for partition management and backup I can recommend Paragon Hard Disk Manager. There are plenty of good free programs as well. I typically back up each working OS after I install it in case the installation of another OS causes problems.

Windows XP has a backup utility that you can install (for Home versions) or is installed already (for Professional versions). The backup program will also save and restore the "system state" including the registry and system files. It can only back up to a file or tape, but you can later copy the file(s) to a CD or DVD, external drive, etc. To recover from a catastrophic problem you can re-install a vanilla XP system and then restore your backup of the OS. Having the custom Setup CD or the driver floppy is essential when your SATA controller is unsupported by the standard Setup CD.

Windows XP has a "Recovery Console" that gives you a limited command line interface to make repairs. You can install the "Recovery Console" as a boot option on the hard disk. It will go into a "cmdcons" folder of your Windows XP partition. You can use a program called "ERUNT" to back up registry files. ERUNT also creates batch scripts for restoring the registry using the Recovery Console.

Commercial software will let you create a complete hard disk or partition image backup. With a boot CD included in the commercial software you can easily recover from problems by restoring the entire partition or the MBR and first disk track. I finally concluded that this was worth buying because of the time saved and extra features.

Learn about the tools for booting, installing and recovering operating systems. A virtual machine program like VirtualBox or Virtual PC can be very useful for experimenting. You can install a complete OS to a virtual disk without the risk of harming your live operating systems. You can also test a boot floppy or CD using a virtual machine. You don't have to create an actual floppy or CD to test it in a virtual machine. Even though you might not activate XP, you can use it for 30 days after installing it in a virtual machine. That is usually long enough to test something.

Keep good notes when you're trying to install multiple operating systems. Then you will at least know the problems, and possibly the solutions the next time that you try.
Old 05-13-2011, 12:23 AM   #93
Registered: Jul 2009
Location: Kiev,Ukraine
Distribution: Ubuntu,Slax,RedHat
Posts: 289
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changing controller type is bad idea
installed systems like M$ can just broke OS boot process
older systems Like DOS could just refuse to work with this

IF you have made usb flash device with grub installed as i posed you can load all OS from commandline in grub even with damaged mbr on main hdd.

check that you not just turn SATA to no ACHI but also switched SATA controller mode to IDE (if it available and can be split to 2 menu options in different menus)
Old 05-13-2011, 05:41 PM   #94
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Registered: Apr 2011
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Erik FL.,

I had intended to leave this forum, and not waste any more of the members time. But when your post arrived in my email box, I had to reply.

Your post makes it sound like I was totally negligent in planning when I got started with this project. Ignorant too. The fact is, I've built computers before, both at home and at work. I've been working with Macs and PC's since 1984. Four of the PC's I've built have been triple boot systems, running DOS, Windows 2K or XP, and Ubuntu or Fedora of various versions. I've also put Mac 68k emulation on those machines. I've setup triple boot systems, and two years later when a drive failed, replicated the system on the replacement drive using notes I saved. So I DO keep notes. I've also setup hardware and software RAID arrays on MULTIPLE Macs and PC's. I'll admit however, to not having much experience with Linux. Linux was something I added to play with on rainy days. That changed however, because I grew disillusioned with Windows security problems. I NEED Linux for secure internet work.

When I start something like this, I sit down, and write a list of what I want the computer to do. I research the hardware. I build the machine. Then partition and format the drives (with a tool like Partition Magic, or Partition Commander). Finally, I install the OS's the accepted way. Oldest to newest. DOS, then Windows, then Linux. I'm not doing anything hodgepodge, or re-inventing the wheel.

I needed a reliable, fast, secure PC for my engineering work, and to upgrade my CAD skills. I planned and deliberated for months before I bought the hardware. I wanted a RAID array for data security. I already had a couple older generation, 10K RPM, server grade UW160 SCSI drives. Still in the original sealed packages. I got lucky and picked up a high performance RAID controller for a song. Setup the triple boot, and excepting a few minor hiccups, was up and running with all three OS's in a few days.

Then the SCSI controller died. Faced with buying a $400 RAID controller I decided to ditch SCSI, and go down the path of SATA, and FakeRAID. When I ran into big problems I enlisted a very smart man who has been doing Linux and other professional support for years. He was stymied for MONTHS. He thought it was the motherboard. So I got another motherboard. Wasted oodles of time on that. I ditched the fakeRAID and bought a HARDWARE SATA RAID controller. Wasted weeks more time on that. The holdout was always Linux. Regardless of brand or version, it installed smoothly, without error messages, but refused to boot.

I finally ditched RAID altogether because the folks at the Ubuntu forum said it was complicating my setup. It STILL resisted all attempts at a normal boot. Since the patience of the folks at the Ubuntu forum was wearing thin, I said my goodbyes, and went to the Fedora forum for a while. I tried to get Fedora 14 (Legacy GRUB) installed and booting. That went nowhere.

Finally I came to this forum and let you guys have a shot. I got plenty of advice. Some of it conflicted with other advice. I couldn't do it all, so I picked what made sense to me. My bad apparently... Through it all, I tried to avoid taking backwards steps. I don't have any problems double booting DOS and Windows. Why should I keep destroying that because I can't get Linux installed?

I greatly appreciate the time and effort of the people here and at the other forums, but the reality is, the stuff I was instructed to do, didn't work as advertised. At least on this box it didn't. This box has stumped a good many people. If I hadn't thrown $2000 at it I would have given up a long time ago. I stared at a black screen and flashing cursor far longer than most people would. It could be the motherboard. It could be the drives. A cabling, or a BIOS problem. Even an undocumented Fedora, Ubuntu, or GRUB bug. I'm not blaming myself for anything. I had to make a decision. So I did. This has now become a background task for me.

Old 05-13-2011, 09:38 PM   #95
Registered: Jul 2009
Location: Kiev,Ukraine
Distribution: Ubuntu,Slax,RedHat
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Yep some post are conflicting some post lack knowledge .. that where you need brain and time to get different more reliable approaches,then trow all rocks at problematic area until it falls. This is common way to solve problems or if you are lucky to find guaranteed tool fast in one shot. You have mistakes too... some of your steps was bad reported back so results where unreliable, some ways you completed partially and then just mixed with other ways that have own risks and complexity addons(raid controller,ide controller type(well partially)).
I could remotely connect to your box and fix at least DOS/linux (maybe windows) but.. then no efforts from your side(actually i take money for it, on rare cases as im programmer not a hardware admin, still like hard tech a little less then programming) and no info on this forum.
Also i had to note that it was probably to start thread from 'i want to build fast and reliable pc with multisystem boot support' despite your background you lack experience in this area.

TIPS from my POV:
windows and linux dual boot system with linux as default boot and grub as bootloader
DOS and maybe other windows copy in VMware/qemu emulator.

I used dual boot for long time(2005+).. linux host os proved(2008+) to be most reliable and secured(if you not perform system/distro updates (this could cause some handfix problems sometimes). I have one windows pc left (for photoshop (well im lazyy to install it in wine.. and rarely gaming(i own PS3 and some good titles on linx box).
Old 05-16-2011, 01:51 PM   #96
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Registered: Dec 2008
Location: root
Distribution: Slackware & BSD
Posts: 1,616

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Yep some post are conflicting some post lack knowledge .. that where you need brain and time to get different more reliable approaches,then trow all rocks at problematic area until it falls.
Got it sunny... Actually that had kept me in silence in order to avoid confusing the OP. I was glad in post#79 he was booting Ubuntu, though by the windows, I assumed that should have no more problem with respect to Xp or whatever M$, at least Ubuntu was there.


I finally ditched RAID altogether because the folks at the Ubuntu forum said it was complicating my setup. It STILL resisted all attempts at a normal boot. Since the patience of the folks at the Ubuntu forum was wearing thin, I said my goodbyes, and went to the Fedora forum for a while. I tried to get Fedora 14 (Legacy GRUB) installed and booting. That went nowhere.
Ubuntu --very nice, but I had an experience where Ubuntu failed Mint succeeded. I could hardly figure out why the derivative did better than the proto.

Fedora --all free, but might get some trouble when proprietary bombs are laid somewhere, both from the hardware or software side.

Have you tried the SMP kernel from Slackware 13.1 or 13.37? It generally boots most hardware types and configuration.

With your experience (as you have written above) you stand better off than most linux newbies like me at the time of migration. You can handle Slackware, and since your experience is with legacy grub you may not install Lilo when prompted, when installation is finished don't reboot yet, go "cd" to the //slackware/extra folder find the Grub legacy and install it first, slackware provides an installation script that will guide you up to writing grub into the MBR. To my experience I have never failed this procedure even once in the many instances I did; and for that reason honestly I have never used Lilo yet. As a preparation read the tutorial first I have linked above, it will help you much when you are facing slackware on the shell. When new problem crops up you start a new thread here or under Slackware in this site, at your choice. This thread has gone very very long, too confusing to follow, it will be easier to tackle new problems anew. There is a slackware sponsored tutorial also in the DVD installer, read that first.

Don't give up. It's a shame to give up something that is already within your grab (grub). Your experience with Mac, fedora and ubuntu should have provided you enough general ideas at how to overcome temporary challenges like simple booting. You can cheat from the proprietary handicaps laid in the hardware. I know you can do it. Because I was able to do it in my time. One last thing: choose your mentor wisely. I have noted some senior-members and gurus here whose solutions command the highest respect because they grasp the problem completely and give sound advice. It would be improper though for my part (I am sorry comrades) to say that but this is only to help you get the most from this forum.

Good luck. Hope it helps.

Last edited by malekmustaq; 05-16-2011 at 01:52 PM.
Old 06-02-2011, 08:36 PM   #97
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Registered: Apr 2011
Posts: 28

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Triple boot working. I'm not sure why. Thanks to everyone

Hello everyone. I thought you'd like to know that, as of 10 minutes ago, my system is now working as I intended! DOS 6.22, Windows XP, and Ubuntu 10.10 are all booting through the Windows NT Bootloader menu. I want to thank everyone here who did their best to help me. Unfortunately, I don't know for certain how this was fixed.

You may recall that I had a working dual boot (DOS and Windows) for months. I installed and reinstalled Ubuntu or Fedora (various versions) repeatedly, but neither Grub Legacy, or Grub 2 would detect any of my installations (DOS, Windows, or Linux). Nor did it deposit any detectable bootcode on the drive. There were never any error messages from the installer, or from Grub. It didn't matter if I tried to place Grub in the MBR, the Linux install partition, a floppy, or a USB drive.

With the help from people here at Linux and at the Ubuntu forum, I was able to remove the metadata left over from my aborted RAID installation. I learned how to use the Windows installer to fix the MBR, following unsuccessful Grub installations to the MBR. I learned how to use the Ubuntu LIVE CD to check my partitions, and use FDISK to get them reordered properly. I learned how to reinstall Grub. There were a lot of suggestions that I appreciated but didn't try for lack of time and energy. (This has been emotionally draining.)

At any rate, a few weeks ago, it was my idea to poke around the CMOS settings to see if there was something there that could account for the unsuccessful Linux installs. I turned on AHCI support for the SATA drives, and was shocked to see Ubuntu boot for the FIRST TIME! But it was unstable, and I no longer had a boot menu for DOS and Windows. So I switched off AHCI support, and then NOTHING worked! Back to the misery of a flashing cursor. I was devastated. I said my goodbyes to everyone here, and tried to ignore the anchor on my desk.

Last week, I tried a few things. I booted from the Windows installer and ran FIXMBR. Still no boot menu. I booted Partition Commander and checked the file structures on the partitions, and the partition map. No problem found. Finally, today, I figured I had nothing to lose, and threw caution to the breeze. Acting on a hunch, I got into the BIOS, switched the SATA support to RAID, and got a flaky, unstable DOS boot! Windows gave me a BSOD. (I considered that progress...) On another hunch, I went back into the BIOS and switched off the RAID support. NOW I HAVE A DOS, WINDOWS, and UBUNTU boot menu! I don't know what to think. Maybe the BIOS got "stuck"? Maybe I should have kicked the tires... I'm sorry I don't have a better explanation for everyone.

Anyway, I will now, at last try to put some applications on my "new", two year old computer and see if I can USE it for a while. I've backed up the CMOS settings to the BIOS, and to a file on the hard drive. If it fails again, I may just throw it out the window.

Thanks again to everyone.

I finally
Old 10-25-2011, 08:08 PM   #98
Registered: Oct 2008
Location: Nevada
Distribution: Slackware 14.1
Posts: 69

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Well I'm glad you got it working. I know this thread is now old but I just went through my subscribed threads an saw you posted one last time so I checked it out. Congrats!


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