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Windows 8.1 VHD default boot manager replacement


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#1 Porfyr

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Hi people. :hi:

 

I have a new(ish) Thinkpad T460s currently running a freshly installed copy of Windows 8.1 Enterprise out of a VHD.

 

Try as I might, I was unable to install a copy of Windows 7 in a similar configuration (mainly because setup always fails to see the internal NVMe drive, even after supplying multiple drivers)...

 

That's not my issue here right now: I have a similar setup of Windows 10 (v2004) running out of a VHD on a desktop machine, where I used an older version of Ventoy as the boot manager.

 

That setup works beautifully but, apart from being somewhat inflexible with partition geometry -- something I'd like to avoid now -- it isn't even supported anymore in later versions of Ventoy.

 

I have been searching around but have yet to find a viable alternative -- I believe grub4dos could replace Ventoy in a comparable setup, but my knowledge of it is very limited.

 

Could someone point me in the general direction of a straightforward tutorial for using grub4dos (or a similar boot manager) for booting VHDs from internal storage?

 

Any help appreciated. :)



#2 alacran

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Posted 3 weeks ago

See this topics:

 

The almost fully automated way to create your VHDs on internal or external drives (pdf file with instructions included).

VHD_WIMBOOT - Apply and Capture of WIM Files for OS in VHD by wimb, valid for MBR/CSM and UEFI

Latest downloads on this post.

 

NOTE: SVBus_INST_Trusted-20 is very useful to offline install signed SVBus driver (only required for Rambooting VHDs by means of grub4dos on MBR or on UEFI environments).

 

For additional info about grub4dos for UEFI :

GRUB4DOS for UEFI  and Grub4dos for UEFI for beginners [Questions and Help topic]

 

alacran


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#3 Porfyr

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Hi alacran and many thanks for your answer. :)

Please bear with me, as I struggle to find the answers in the packed to the hilt reboot.pro environment (I don't consider myself a complete noob but I repeatedly get disoriented around here).

 

I had previously seen the thread you directed me to, but sadly couldn't make head or tail of its content.

 

So I went to the download post you pointed at and downloaded the 'VHD_WIMBOOT.pdf' manual, only to find all the information in it immediately got me lost.

 

Going only by the headers, this is what it contains:

  • "How to Boot Mini 10x64 VHD with UEFI Grub2 and with UEFI Grub4dos from RAMDISK using signed SVBus driver"
  • "How to Boot VHD in WimBoot mode from USB Portable SSD as FILEDISK and with Grub4dos from RAMDISK using SVBus driver"
  • "VHD_WIMBOOT -- Apply and Capture of WIM Files for OS in VHD -- WimBoot Mode Background Info and Details"
  • "How to make Compact and Mini 7/8/10 VHD"
  • "How to Inject Win10 VHD System to Fix Computer"
  • "How to make Linux VHD for Multi-Boot with Windows using Grub2 and vdiskchain"
  • "How to make USB Drive booting with various Linux ISO files in BIOS and in UEFI Secure mode"

Although the information therein might prove valuable at a future stage, none of it appears to be readily what I am looking for right now.

 

Maybe if I state it more clearly any misunderstandings can be avoided:

  1. I have a working computer with a default install of Windows 8.1 to start with.
  2. I'm not looking to replace this OS, especially not with Windows 10.
  3. What I am trying to do is replace the Windows 8.1 default boot manager with anything more flexible allowing me to dual boot other OS.
  4. In previous computers with similar setup (e.g., Windows 7 and here the 4th entry in the guide may be useful), I was able to add other OS simply by attaching their corresponding VHD.
  5. Summing up, I want to still be able to boot the current VHD, plus and eventually add Windows 7 or Linux in their own VHD if I am able to achieve that.

Should I be unable to do this, I am unwilling to graduate on a full course of highly detailed special cases of booting other Windows a this time, because then I won't have a working portable machine to study them to start with.


Edited by Porfyr, 3 weeks ago.


#4 Porfyr

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Well, seems I'll have to scratch my own hitches, so I'll just leave a couple of resources in case someone comes looking for related easy-to-follow instructions.

 

Booting off "bare metal" with VHD without any third-party utilities and/or arcane operations:

§) While this can be applied to Windows 10, I'd advise against as it gets complicated very fast; instead, I'd recommend the Ventoy route for this:

As they say, YMMV... :coffee:



#5 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 3 weeks ago

What I am trying to do is replace the Windows 8.1 default boot manager with anything more flexible allowing me to dual boot other OS.

 

The point is that the Windows 8.1 bootmgr is AT THE SAME TIME a (limited) boot manager AND a bootloader (for the 8.1 vhd).

 

So you don't really-really want to "replace" it, but rather to "integrate" it with a more capable boot manager.

Typically you can add (via BootICE) an entry in the same BCD you are currently using to chainload grub4dos (i.e. grldr.mbr+grldr).

 

And from this latter you can chainload *anything*.

 

Still, the "another OS" (booting from VHD) is far from being "normal" or "common" so you need to be able to configure these "target" VHD's in a way that works, this needs not to be a full course, but you need to learn the fundamentals.

 

Ventoy is a (nice BTW) tool that simply hides the complexities, and while when it works, it works nicely, it may (or may not) deliver exactly what you want/need depending on a number of factors.

 

:duff:

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#6 alacran

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Posted 3 weeks ago

For newbies and lazy people that do not want to read or learn more deeply about multiboot environments, there are other options.

 

Dealing with Win OSs:

 

If having 7, 8.x, or 10 bootmanager installed, create and install your VHDs by means of WinNTSetup, it will create for you the BCD entries to Filedisk boot from the VHD on MBR/CSM and/or UEFI environments.

 

Of course to boot from your just installed OS in the VHD, it will need required drivers to be capable to boot from the Mass Storage device where the VHD is located.

 

NOTE:  Some versions of 7 are not capable to boot natively from VHD, and may also require additionally Firadisk or WinVBlock driver, better use Enterprise or Ultimate versions to avoid this limitation.

 

 

Additional boot loader alternatives, (no need to use Ventoy on your internal HD).

 

On MBR/CSM environments:

 

grub4dos (MBR version):

 

Latest version: grub4dos-0.4.6a-2021-10-15.7z 520K

 

Follow instructions from Wonko on previous post to let you load/run grub4dos (MBR version), and manually edit/create the entries in your menu.lst

 

Grub2 File Manager of a1ive

 

And you can additionally download your prefered language version of Grub2 File Manager of a1ive, from here, extract only grubfm.iso on same partition where Win bootmanager and grldr.mbr+grldr reside and add following entry in your menu.lst:

 

 

iftitle [if exist (hd0,0)/grubfm.iso] Grub2 File Manager of a1ive - (hd0,0)/grubfm.iso
map --mem (hd0,0)/grubfm.iso (0xff)
map --hook
chainloader (0xff)

Or

title Grub2 File Manager of a1ive - Find /grubfm.iso
find --set-root /grubfm.iso
map --mem /grubfm.iso (0xff)
map --hook
chainloader (0xff)

 

This will load/run Grub2 File Manager of a1ive from a virtual CD device. Please see first attached picture.

 

Then on the menu on your screen just navigate to your desired Partition >>> Folder >>> VHD or ISO file (or OS installed on a partition) you want to boot from.

 

This will avoid the need to create manually the respective entries for each one of the VHDs or ISOs (or OS installed on a partition) in your grub4dos (MBR version) menu.lst

 

NOTE-2: Grub2 File Manager of a1ive is also capable to boot Linux files. Please see second picture.

 

 

ON UEFI environments:

 

Win Boot manager do not allow to load directly grub4dos (UEFI version) or Grub2 File Manager of a1ive as it does on MBR/CSM environments.

 

Then it is necessary to boot first from Grub2 from A1ive and from it chainload to Grub2 File Manager of a1ive or grub4dos (UEFI version), but this is a little complicated procedure for non advanced users and it is preferable to use better the programs from wimb to do this automatically for you, please see info on my post No. 2

 

For additional and more detailed info of all more known recent tools to multiboot on different environments, and/or Win+ Linux multiboot please see this topic: Summary of new tools for UEFI and MBR/CSM boot and Ramboot

 

alacran

Attached Files


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#7 Porfyr

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Posted 2 weeks ago

So you don't really-really want to "replace" it, but rather to "integrate" it with a more capable boot manager.

Typically you can add (via BootICE) an entry in the same BCD you are currently using to chainload grub4dos (i.e. grldr.mbr+grldr).

 

And from this latter you can chainload *anything*.

 

I see. That looks to me as a viable course of action, chiefly because it doesn't impair my use of the machine, which I will now proceed to research.

 

And thanks for pointing it out for the clueless...

 

 

Ventoy is a (nice BTW) tool that simply hides the complexities, and while when it works, it works nicely, it may (or may not) deliver exactly what you want/need depending on a number of factors.

 

Totally agree, my point here being it just works and is rather easy to setup. It's a shame the relevant feature is not being supported anymore.


Edited by Porfyr, 2 weeks ago.


#8 Porfyr

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Posted 2 weeks ago

Dealing with Win OSs:
 
If having 7, 8.x, or 10 bootmanager installed, create and install your VHDs by means of WinNTSetup, it will create for you the BCD entries to Filedisk boot from the VHD on MBR/CSM and/or UEFI environments.
 
Of course to boot from your just installed OS in the VHD, it will need required drivers to be capable to boot from the Mass Storage device where the VHD is located.
 
NOTE:  Some versions of 7 are not capable to boot natively from VHD, and may also require additionally Firadisk or WinVBlock driver, better use Enterprise or Ultimate versions to avoid this limitation.


Thank you again for detailing the caveats of my intend setup and pointing to WinNTSetup as a possible solution, alacran, a lead I will surely try to follow.
 
I'm mostly aware of the obstacles I'm facing, my shortcomings residing more with the knowledge required to overcome them in a practical manner.
 

Additional boot loader alternatives, (no need to use Ventoy on your internal HD).
 
On MBR/CSM environments:
 
grub4dos (MBR version):
 
Latest version: grub4dos-0.4.6a-2021-10-15.7z 520K
 
Follow instructions from Wonko on previous post to let you load/run grub4dos (MBR version), and manually edit/create the entries in your menu.lst
 
Grub2 File Manager of a1ive
 
And you can additionally download your prefered language version of Grub2 File Manager of a1ive, from here, extract only grubfm.iso on same partition where Win bootmanager and grldr.mbr+grldr reside and add following entry in your menu.lst:
 
 
This will load/run Grub2 File Manager of a1ive from a virtual CD device. Please see first attached picture.
 
Then on the menu on your screen just navigate to your desired Partition >>> Folder >>> VHD or ISO file (or OS installed on a partition) you want to boot from.
 
This will avoid the need to create manually the respective entries for each one of the VHDs or ISOs (or OS installed on a partition) in your grub4dos (MBR version) menu.lst
 
NOTE-2: Grub2 File Manager of a1ive is also capable to boot Linux files. Please see second picture.
 
 
ON UEFI environments:
 
Win Boot manager do not allow to load directly grub4dos (UEFI version) or Grub2 File Manager of a1ive as it does on MBR/CSM environments.
 
Then it is necessary to boot first from Grub2 from A1ive and from it chainload to Grub2 File Manager of a1ive or grub4dos (UEFI version), but this is a little complicated procedure for non advanced users and it is preferable to use better the programs from wimb to do this automatically for you, please see info on my post No. 2
 
For additional and more detailed info of all more known recent tools to multiboot on different environments, and/or Win+ Linux multiboot please see this topic: Summary of new tools for UEFI and MBR/CSM boot and Ramboot


This is precisely the kind of info I was missing, let's see if I am able to make it work.

As we speak, I know the machine BIOS is set to hybrid Legacy/UEFI (CSM) mode, so I will see if I can get that setup in place.

 

It will take some time, as I have plenty to read and learn and test, so please don't take my silence as a sign of giving up.


Edited by Porfyr, 2 weeks ago.


#9 cdob

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Posted 2 weeks ago

Thinkpad T460s

 

 Windows 7 ...  NVMe drive

With a  T?60* you may use BIOS (Legacy) or UEFI mode.
Which mode uses current installation? Choose a mode yourself.
 
Be aware if you like to use UEFI: the T?60* supports Windows 7 UEFI.
To so configure the graphic card to CSM support:
Disable secure boot.
Setup / Start up / 
UEFI/Legacy Boot [UEFI Only]
CSM Support [Yes]
 
Compare the Lenovo Bios Emulator
 
 
 
Integrate the NVMe drivers:
 
How to prepare the Windows 7 installation ISO image with USB3.0 driver and NVM Express (NVMe) driver
 
T460s USB 3.0 drivers
Download the .exe. Run the .exe, dont install the drivers, select ectract only the files.
C:\DRIVERS\WIN\USB\
 
KB2990941
 
KB3087873
 
 
File list to integrate the drivers:
C:\temp\mount
C:\temp\srcSt
C:\temp\winremount
C:\temp\drivers\HCSwitch\x64\iusb3hcs.cat
C:\temp\drivers\HCSwitch\x64\iusb3hcs.inf
C:\temp\drivers\HCSwitch\x64\iusb3hcs.sys
C:\temp\drivers\HCSwitch\x64\WdfCoInstaller01009.dll
C:\temp\drivers\Win7\x64\iusb3hub.cat
C:\temp\drivers\Win7\x64\iusb3hub.inf
C:\temp\drivers\Win7\x64\IUsb3Hub.man
C:\temp\drivers\Win7\x64\iusb3hub.sys
C:\temp\drivers\Win7\x64\iusb3xhc.cat
C:\temp\drivers\Win7\x64\iusb3xhc.inf
C:\temp\drivers\Win7\x64\iusb3xhc.man
C:\temp\drivers\Win7\x64\iusb3xhc.sys
C:\temp\hotfix\Windows6.1-KB2990941-x64.msu
C:\temp\hotfix\windows6.1-kb3087873-v2-x64.msu

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#10 alacran

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Posted 2 weeks ago

@ cdob

 

I do not own a machine like that, but your post sounds very useful for the people who has one of those.

 

alacran



#11 Porfyr

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Posted 4 days ago

With a  T?60* you may use BIOS (Legacy) or UEFI mode.
Which mode uses current installation? Choose a mode yourself.
 
Be aware if you like to use UEFI: the T?60* supports Windows 7 UEFI.
To so configure the graphic card to CSM support:
Disable secure boot.
Setup / Start up / 
UEFI/Legacy Boot [UEFI Only]
CSM Support [Yes]

 
Thanks cdob for very precise and detailed instructions. All of this match the way I had my BIOS already set (except for "UEFI only").
 
I've had a few further fails after my last post -- but I intend to keep trying and your pointers will be invaluable for that, as my main problem up to now has been choosing straightforward and viable methods to try...


Edited by Porfyr, 4 days ago.





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