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Old 06-30-2004, 01:15 AM   #1
Registered: Jun 2004
Location: Chicago, IL USA
Distribution: Mandrake 10
Posts: 103

Rep: Reputation: 15
Preparing to dual boot, partition question

Hi all -

I've spent the last 4 days reading everything I can get my hands on regarding dual-booting with XP and Linux. I've decided to try out Mandrake 10. The last time I touched Linux was about 5 years ago, and last week I was on a business trip using a Debian box exclusively, and it re-ignited my desire to make the switch away from the dark side. (If only I could either get Macromedia Dreamweaver MX working under Linux, or find a suitable alternative, I'd have no need for Windows at all!)

Anyway... my questions.

My XP install is a bit - shall we say - jacked up. I had a big crash a couple months back, and was able to recover, but my partitions just seem "wrong." (I didn't care - it worked, and I only lost one drive of data as opposed to losing everything, so I ran with it). Right now, I have one hard disk. It's got 60gb devoted to WinXP, and 20gb used for data now, which I've cleared off hoping to put Mandrake on. I'm using NTFS on both partitions currently.

The oddity is, Windows sees the partitions as C: and E: with C being marked as the boot partition (contains the windows directory), and E marked as the system partition. The E drive contains a copy of boot.ini and ntldr - that's the odd part - and my boot.ini file points to drive 0 partition 2 to boot up. The C drive must be being recognized as partition 2, because it's the only one with Windows on it. C is marked as a logical drive, and E is marked as the primary partition. I don't know why the C drive isn't marked as both the boot and system partition, and I'd like it to be - so if anyone knows how to change that, let me know! I think that would fix one of my concerns (read on....)

I booted Knoppix 3.4 off the CD and saw that my 2 Windows partitions were showing up as hda2 (the Windows C drive) and hda5 (the Windows E drive).

Huh??? (Why 2 and 5?)

In this machine, I also have 2 cd drives (a burner and a DVD). No other IDE devices.

Since my partitions are already goofy as it is, I fear that attempting to install Mandrake will hose my XP install. At first I was going to clear the E drive and delete the partition to make free space for Mandrake, but after investigating my current setup, it looks like that in itself will render my Windows install useless (since E is the system partition and therefore needs boot.ini there for Windows). Here's where I wish I could change C to be both the system and boot partition. Even so, I still fear that the way these partitions are being detected, Mandrake would kill my Windows install.

I read all about the problem with XP partitions and the bug with Mandrake 10, but it seemed to not affect systems that didn't require a resizing of the Windows partition (which I won't need to do, if I wipe that E partition and create empty space prior to the linux install).

Any advice is appreciated. I'm finding plenty of helpful posts and tutorials, but none with advice that is quite applicable to my goofy partition situation.

Thanks in advance!

-- Shelly
Old 06-30-2004, 03:49 AM   #2
Registered: Jun 2004
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 199

Rep: Reputation: 32
You might find it easier just to back up everything and do a fresh install, that is if you have a windows disk and there's not too much to back up.

When I was configuring my dualboot machine, I tried partitionmagic to move and resize some partitions, but I just ended up with some goofy numbering scheme. I think hda2 came before hda1 somehow. That's when I decided to do a fresh install.

I used slackware and ran cfdisk to create the partitions I wanted, but did not install yet. Then I popped in the windows disk, installed it to the partition I gave it, then installed slackware. That way windows' lousy boot configuration wouldn't overwrite any of what slackware configured.

I did read a tutorial that said to install in decreasing order of stupidity, i.e. DOS, then Windows, then Linux

I'm not sure what partition utilities are available on mandrake disks, so give them a look.

As for your partitions being numbered 2 and 5, usually primary partitions are numbered 1-4, logical partitions numbered 5+, and I don't think a computer can boot from a logical partition, not sure about windows though.

Last edited by elyk; 06-30-2004 at 03:50 AM.
Old 06-30-2004, 04:20 AM   #3
Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Denmark
Distribution: FreeBSD v6.0
Posts: 123

Rep: Reputation: 15
I have been fiddling with dual-booting, single-booting, and partitions also -- my experience says that:
-- if you have a shaky Windows, it ain't gonna improve by making it dual-boot. If you need it, make sure it's stable (hah) before you start adding Linux to the mix.
-- partition names ... On a freshly formatted and linux-only disk I've got hda1,2,5,7. I guess some things are just not meant to be linear.
Old 06-30-2004, 04:20 AM   #4
LQ Newbie
Registered: Apr 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Distribution: Slackware 10
Posts: 6

Rep: Reputation: 0
phlyersphan - ironicly enough I have a similar situation...although I have linux currently's a peak at my disk:

/dev/hda1 * 1 3648 29302528+ 7 HPFS/NTFS
/dev/hda2 3649 3661 104422+ 83 Linux
/dev/hda3 3662 7422 30210232+ 83 Linux
/dev/hda4 7423 14593 57601057+ f W95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/hda5 7423 7492 562243+ 82 Linux swap
/dev/hda6 7493 14593 57038751 7 HPFS/NTFS

I have a 120Gig drive...Windows on 30 of it...the linux in the middle (another 30) then 60 gigs on the end of the drive.

Things got messed up when I did the initial windows install. I originally wanted hda6 to be a FAT32 partition that Linux and Windows could share...I installed Windows, then Linux...I then went back to windows and created the large partition (hda6.) Windows got gready and decided to make it wouldn't even give me the option of making it FAT32...something about it being out of the range or that it was on an extended partition...I can't remember.

Anyways...if you don't want to trash your windows system there are some solutions out there.

You can modify your boot.ini to point to your system disc. I personally would do it in a cautious fashion!

First copy ntldr over to your system partition. Then APPEND the partition information to you boot.ini located on your boot partition...this way if it doesn't still have the option of booting off the other ntldr located on your boot partition.

If it successfully boots off of the other ntldr from the appended boot.ini entry then you should be able to move the boot.ini over, go into the Disk Management console and change your boot disk over to your system disk (I think it's located there...might be some place Linux now )

Here's some more info about the loader that Win uses:

There is an excellent link towards the middle of the page that goes pretty indepth about the ntldr.

Good Luck!
Old 06-30-2004, 09:15 PM   #5
Registered: Jun 2004
Location: Chicago, IL USA
Distribution: Mandrake 10
Posts: 103

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
I think what I'm gonna do is.....

1. back everything up
2. copy ntldr and a modified boot.ini to my largest partition
3. go into fdisk and mark my large partition active (which should mark it as the boot partition)
4. reboot and pray that it works
5. if so, format that smaller partition FAT32 to share between win and linux
6. add a second hard drive (new) for linux
7. load mandrake and pray that it works

and if all else fails, wipe out windows, reload just the vitals (namely the darn Macromedia studio), and then load linux.

you've all been hugely helpful!!!! any other nuggets of advice are of course appreciated - i'll check back here before i do any of this (probably tomorrow)

Last edited by phlyersphan; 06-30-2004 at 09:17 PM.
Old 06-30-2004, 11:53 PM   #6
Registered: Jun 2004
Location: Chicago, IL USA
Distribution: Mandrake 10
Posts: 103

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
Another tidbit of oddity.... both of my partitions show as NTFS in XP (as well as in Knoppix when run off the CD).

But in fdisk, my smaller partition shows as NTFS, and my larger partition (where the windows OS files reside) shows as EXT DOS. (Should it show as NTFS?)

I tried copying my ntldr, ntdetect, and boot.ini files to the root of my larger partition and marked it active in fdisk, but that led to a hang on boot - not even an error message - prior to the splash screen.


I really don't want to lose this Windows install before I'm ready to make the complete crossover, but that's not looking very likely....
Old 07-02-2004, 03:18 PM   #7
Registered: Jun 2004
Location: Chicago, IL USA
Distribution: Mandrake 10
Posts: 103

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
The result...

Hi all -

Just thought I'd update ya's on what happened.

I bought Partition Magic and a new 250gig hard drive. (Best Buy has 'em on sale for $159 - holy cow!! Only 1 year warranty - it's a Maxtor - but 7200 rpm, ATA133, 8mb cache, so I'l loving it Comes with a pci ATA133 card if your mainboard doesn't already support it).

Anyway... so I decided to merge my 2 partitions on my main drive, then install the new hd, then load linux onto the new drive.

I ran partition magic with the following operations requested: make the C partition a primary one, mark it active, and merge E into C.

That went fine - no problems, but upon reboot, I got the error: "A disk read error has occurred. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart."

Well that sucks! After much research (thank god I have a backup computer online), I discovered a tiny little bug in Windows whereby if you install NTFS from the get-go in XP (which I'm guessing most people do, since it's the default), you can have this problem (caused by a million different things - including resizing partitions) of the disk read error. The solution? Convert your drive to FAT32, you'll be back in business, then convert back to NTFS if so desired. Well, Partition Magic wouldn't even boot off the CD while this disk read error was going on, so that wasn't an option for me.... yet.

I screwed around with the Recovery Console for hours, trying fixmbr, fixboot, re-configuring boot.ini, to no avail. I then tried the "repair" re-installation option in XP. It worked, up until the first reboot - then the disk read error.

Here's where I f'd up. I then decided, screw it, I'll just reload XP onto itself - it'll wipe out all my apps and settings but I'll still have my data. Same problem - upon reboot, disk read error.

What I SHOULD have done before reinstalling was this. (I found the solution one step too late). I decided to install the new hd as my primary, make the old drive my backup so I could at least grab the data off of it. I plugged everything in and accidentally had my Partition Magic cd still in the drive and.... wait a minute!! It is working!! Huh??? That disk read error was causing partition magic to blow up upon choosing the language to use, but now it was working. So I decided to convert my old drive to FAT32 and see if in fact it would become working again. (I figured, at worst, I lose it, which at this point was what I expected anyway, and at best, I'll be able to read/write to it from Linux, and maybe even get the Windows install booting).

Well, it worked - because when I shut down and plugged that old drive back in as primary, it came up into where I left off at the Windows install. Damn it! Why is that bad?? Because, if I would have tried this before the clean install - when I was in the middle of the REPAIR install - I wouldn't have lost my Windows installation. Heart is breaking now, mad at myself, oh mad, oh mad...

I got my drivers loaded in my "new" windows, loaded a couple apps over themselves (the files are all still there in Program Files, but the registry entries are missing, rendering most of them useless now).

I didn't spend too much time on that, because I figured I could still blow the whole thing up again loading Linux. So I plugged my new 250gb drive in as secondary, and popped in the Mandrake 10 cd.

Installed Mandrake - it found all of my hardware without a problem (had some configuration issues with my Linksys WUSB11 wireless USB adapter but found the solution this morning).

After spending 8 HOURS trying to fix that screwed up Windows install of mine, I am now swearing that because I'm starting from scratch anyway, I might as well start from scratch in Linux. May I never again have grief caused by bugs that have been known about for over 2 YEARS and not fixed. Oh, it just kills me, how Windows users are at the mercy of Microsoft. I guess losing entire operating system installs is not a big enough problem or inconvenience for Windows users for MS to bother fixing it. (Or maybe they CAN'T fix it - could they be that incompetent?)

At any rate, I'm typing this now from Mozilla in Mandrake 10. I just finished importing my mozilla bookmarks from my old Windows drive, and am on my way to becoming a former Windows user.

Ultimately I'd like to run Debian , but with the shaky Windows install I had, I feared the Debian installer. Once I trash Windows for good, maybe I'll take a shot at it.

Thanks all for your help and for listening to me ramble!


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