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Cloning and multibooting several Win7/8 partitions - also logical


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#1 sir_bootalot

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 09:17 PM

(I come from background of multibooting legacy Windowses like XP's, W2k etc using tools like Acronis, BootIt NG, System Commander, Lilo etc)

 

Now setting up two multiboot environments of

1) System with Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3h motherboard with UEFI - Windows 8 for this one, and some linuxes

2) 3 years old Fujitsu laptop - Windows 7 for this one, and some linuxes

 

No experience with grub, grub2, grub4dos, grub2win etc

 

I tried to setup a Gigabyte system with about 5 Windows 8 system/boot partitions for different purposes, and

about 3 linux systems. For that I need to locate some of Windowses to logical partitions, and boot them from there.

 

I used XOSL-OW 1.1.6 for multibooting, but it had couple of problems. It's just too old, and hardware support for things like booting from USB stick are missing. (XOSL-OW installed i couln't boot from USB anymore)

 

Also I couln't get it to boot from logical partition, but perhaps this could be solved with advice I just found, made by jaclaz at msfn couple of years ago. Haven't tried it yet, though.

 

I tried to use disk cloning tools in Clonezilla because i preferred "offline" tools from linux live cd to programs that needed Windows installer, but couldn't get cloned Windows 8 to boot. So I cloned it with Easus Todo Free, and it booted fine from primary partitions with XOSL, after generalization with bcdedit and returning the original disk signature that was overwritten by XOSL.

 

With no experience with grub, is it possible to use it installing it to MBR, or does it need a working Windows or linux so that it would install/boot? Or where the additional can be located? To an extra logical partition with no OS, just grub?

 

Do you have recommendation of a cloning tool for purpose of cloning Win7/8 from primary partition to both primary and logical partitions, that wouldn't need to be installed to Windows, but could be used from linux live boot disk, USB stick etc? Possible with VMWare tools (would need installed linux, tho, i think), gparted or even dd? So that the cloned Windows would boot both from primary and logical.

 

Also, I'd like that cloning utility not to mess with partitions I have created, like Easus did mess. I had consideration wether to use the old 63 sector alignment or the new Vista+ style alignment using 2048 sector offset at the first primary partition, llast primary, and _every_ logical partition, and I choosed to use the new one, but Easus didn't like that and changed the partition starting points and size when I restored the cloned Windows 8 from 1st primary to other partitions (that were bigger than the 1st one).

 

And yes, I need that cloning tool to be able to restore to partitions that are bigger than the original first primary, where the original installation of Windows was, and the image was taken from (Windows 7/8 installed to single partition).

 

Booting from other HD than the first boot hd would be nice, but not necessary (hibernation restore issue if the bootmanager can't do correct drive swap, see http://www.multibooters.co.uk )

 

The bootmanager, grub2 or grub4dos? would also need to be able to set the logical partition active and also make every primary inactive.

 

Alignment considerations: If i have to use Easus for cloning, I need to go back to old 63 sector alignment. However, I can do partitions to size that can be divided by both old alignment 63*512 and new Vista+ style alignment 2048*512 and even the new large HD style alignment of 4096, that improves efficiency.

That would mean partition sizes that can be divided by (63*4096*512) that is 126 MiB. (First primary, last primary, and first logical needs to have 31.5 KiB reduced from that product of integer*(126 MiB), or in case of using the Vista+ style alignment, also other logical partitions would need to have the offset size of 1 MiB reduced), so that the starting point of partitions are at the alignment boundary.

 

Planning to add SSD in the future, so using those alignments compatible with 2048 or 4096 would be nice. Just wondering if there are imaging and partition tools that respect new alignments and don't try to fix partitions to older 63 sector logic, that might result to lost logical partitions (according to http://www.multibooters.co.uk ) and also would make working clones of Win7/8 from primary to logical partitions.


Edited by sir_bootalot, 15 December 2012 - 10:07 PM.

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#2 Sha0

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 10:50 PM

I'd suggest that if you are using (U)EFI, you should use GPT, which doesn't have "logical partitions" and also supports the "large" number of Windows installations that you are interested in. Since a UEFI system is not guaranteed to have a "legacy BIOS mode" (including INT 0x13, for example), you might as well drop all of your BIOS-enslaved booters such as GRUB4DOS and LILO. There are UEFI counterparts for some of these.

I can't comment on which cloning software supports GPT or logical partitions, but you probably want to invoke a mode that doesn't work with the disk, but only the partition (and possibly filesystem). That way, your layout (with your alignment solution) is preserved.

But here's another question: When was the last time you booted any version of Windows from a logical partition?
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#3 sir_bootalot

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 11:52 PM

I'd suggest that if you are using (U)EFI, you should use GPT, which doesn't have "logical partitions" and also supports the "large" number of Windows installations that you are interested in. Since a UEFI system is not guaranteed to have a "legacy BIOS mode" (including INT 0x13, for example), you might as well drop all of your BIOS-enslaved booters such as GRUB4DOS and LILO. There are UEFI counterparts for some of these.

 

I can't comment on which cloning software supports GPT or logical partitions, but you probably want to invoke a mode that doesn't work with the disk, but only the partition (and possibly filesystem). That way, your layout (with your alignment solution) is preserved.

But here's another question: When was the last time you booted any version of Windows from a logical partition?

 

I doubt any of the Windows cloning or partition tools support GPT, because even their support of new, post 63 sector, alignment seem to be just inadequately implemented hack. What kind of changes (other than BCD) the cloning program has to do to new Windows operating systems to get them to boot, and how easily is it done from linux programs then, I don't know.

 

I have only booted Windowses from primary partitions, but making those small modifications to get it to boot from logical is probably easier than doing everything with GPT.

 

So proposals for suitable tools (cloning, partitioning, and multiboot), for satisfying the requirements described above? (Currently planning to go with Easus, linux fdisk or Minitool Partition Wizard if it works ok, and some grub version I suppose - if no better alternatives like a working "offline" cloning tool that doesn't need to be installed to Windows, will appear)

 

Edit:

Hmm, perhaps you meant above, that with my UEFI motherboard I might not be able to boot Win8 from logical partitions, with those modifications that would enable it with non-UEFI motherboard. Anyway, I'm going to try it that way first. If it doesn't work, then the alternatives are GPT or utilizing primary partitions on more than one disks. Booting linuxes from logicals with UEFI would still work, wouldn't it? Just got my first UEFI motherboard...


Edited by sir_bootalot, 16 December 2012 - 12:09 AM.


#4 omniplex

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 03:40 AM

I'm aware of three purposes of alignment:

  • If tools like testdisk try to find a lost partition it won't do if they look in all sectors.  Checking only 1MB boundaries (2048 sectors, as used by diskpart in Vista and later), 63 sectors (dummy 1023 255 63 geometry as used by XP and earlier), or any other geometry matching still working patitions, is bad enough.  
  • Some boot loaders and tools expect that they can use 62 sectors after the MBR for their own purposes.  Actually windows 2000, a vintage PC DOS 7, and an old Debian all accept no gap at all, the first partition can start directly after the MBR.  Just don't try to use seriously old DOS 6.22 scandisk or fdisk tools in these cases, stick to testdisk or check out gparted.
  • For new 512e disks (sector size 512 emulation on physical size 4096) you might want an alignment that's a multiple of 8, and for that 2048 is fine.  You'd also want Windows 8 VHDX instead of dynamic VHD images for 512e, because the 512 bytes header of old VHD images on a perfectly aligned NTFS host partition with cluster size 8 or better would kill any alignment of the image within the VHD.  A fixed size VHD image has no header, it's only a raw disk image with a footer, so if the host file system is aligned, and the fixed VHD image is also aligned, you are fine.

For your other question about MBRs, without boot loader it's the job of the MBR to start the one of up to four partitions flagged as active.  A minimalistic MBR starts the first active partition, if it could read it successfully and found the magic at offset 510 (compare wikipedia).  

 

Convoluted MBRs might try harder to start something, e.g., FAT32 has a backup boot sector if the boot sector is corrupted, floppies might need several read attempts to spin up, an archaic BIOS might have no LBA disk access, more than one active partition is not really allowed, and so on.  If all fails the MBR can give up and return to the legacy BIOS with an INT 18h, and the BIOS could try the next configured boot device (CD/DVD, or whatever.)  

 

In other words, as far as the MBR is concerned you could have an active extended partition.  That starts with an extended boot record (EBR), it could be a variant of the code in the MBR.  A convoluted EBR would check that there can be at most two partitions in its table, one for the logical disk and one for the next extended partition again starting with an EBR.  In theory you could have a chain of active extended partitions until you finally arrive at an active logical disk partition.  Primary partitions and logical disks are also known as volumes and begin with a volume boot record (VBR).

 

Depending on the file system the VBR code needs to know where it really is, and FATs have a field "hidden sectors" to note the gap from the begin of the disk (1 for a hard disk with no gap, meaning "skip only the MBR", 63 to skip a track of 63 sectors for a dummy 1023 255 63 geometry, 2048 for the first Vista partition, and so on.)  However, for logical disks in an extended partition the number of hidden sectors in the FAT VBR might be only the gap to the EBR, not the actually needed gap to the MBR.  Again in theory the EBR code or some boot loader could fix this issue when they load the VBR of a logical disk.  Or somebody, maybe you using a disk editor, "hack" the number of hidden sectors in the VBR they want to start.  

 

In practice I haven't seen any kind of boot code in EBRs so far, unless I put it put there, and if you try to start an EBR without code your box hangs or reboots.  So, yes, it is possible, and no, nobody does it this way.  Find a decent boot loader working in your first and active primary partition, NTLDR with a BOOT.INI or the new Vista BCDEDIT boot manager can arrange what you try to do.  The Linux variants of course also work, on an old box NTLDR can boot DOS, DOS can boot LiLo, and LiLo can start over with NTLDR until I'm sure what I really want to boot... ;-)


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#5 wimb

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 07:57 AM

You might consider using a similar scheme as used for my MultiBoot USB-harddisk.

It is capable of booting Windows 8 on UEFI and on BIOS computers.

 

http://reboot.pro/to...t-usb-harddisk/

 

The scheme means using Standard MBR with partition table where FAT32 is first partition set Active

followed by NTFS System partition. Windows 8 tools were used to Format the primary partitions

and WinNTSetup was used to Install Windows 8.

 

Standard MBR harddisk is allowed according to UEFI specification when no EFI partition is found.

 

All other OS are in VHD booting as FILEDISK or in ISO booting from RAMDISK.

 

Windows 7 and XP  VHD's and PartedMagic Linux ISO or 7PE ISO are booting from Grub4dos Menu on my UEFI computer.

For Grub4dos booting on UEFI it is needed to switch in UEFI to Advanced OS Setting = Win7 / Other instead of Win8

 

:cheers:


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#6 sir_bootalot

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 08:00 AM

Btw, using multiplies of 126 MiB instead of minimum requirements of 63*512*8 = 258048 aka 252 KiB for planning partitions was because Win7/8 Diskpart will accepts partition sizes only by 1 MiB steps, so the size had to be dividable also with 1 MiB aka (1024*1024). My original plan was using Vista+ partition scheme and using Diskpart to make the partitions - too bad Easus didn't like it and changed the partition starting points and sizes of partitions that were used as a destination of restoring the cloned image of original, first primary partition where I installed Windows 8 (on the UEFI mb machine).

 

Also, the offset of 2048*512 that Vista+ used was exactly 1 MiB, so it would have been handy just to reduce that 1 MiB from size of 1st primary, last primary, and every logical (except the last one) to get the starting points of the following partitions to respect planned partition boundaries/alignments.

 

Now, if I don't find a working cloning tool (that is able to restore working Windows 7/8 images from original installation partition at the first primary to other partitions, also to logical ones) that respect the Vista+ style partition scheme (recommendations, anyone?), I have to go for 63 sector style partitions with offset of 63*512 on the first primary and first logical, and use some other tool to form the partitions before installing Windows - perhaps Minitool Partition Wizard, gparted, or just linux fdisk that I'm used to.

Now the steps of planned partitions would be (63*512*8) bytes aka 252 KiB, with reduction of (63*512) aka 31.5 KiB on the first primary, last primary, and the first logical. Again to set the following partitions' starting point at the alignment boundary.

 

Not sure, though, if that step of calculating and reducing the offset (now 31.5 KiB) is necessary now, and maybe I'd rather try to satisfy the boundary of 4096 for large disks or 2048 or whatever for SSD. Partition tools planned for Windows like Partiton Wizard should be able to make the partitions aligned correctly for traditional 63 sector scheme, and some of them have "align" option to make at least some attempt to satisfy some modern alignment boundaries - whether it is the large disk 4096 or SSD 1024/2048 alignment.

 

So why the ancient XOSL wasn't able to boot the cloned Windows 8 from logical partition? (Remember, I had generalized BCD before cloning, and I also re-specialed the BCD at the logical partition with BCDEdit after unsuccesful booting from logical, just to be sure - but that didn't help. By generalization I mean BCDEdit operations that make similar modifications to BCD that sysprep apparently does, so the cloned image will adapt to partition that it's restored on. That generalization is made to the original Windows installation on the primary

partition before cloning it. The first booting of the cloned Windows might require hiding of the original installation partition, and perhaps

other partitions preceding the clone-booting new system/boot. Also, I use combined system/boot partions for all Windowses, without those pesky 100MB system partitions, by creating the partitions on the disk before installing, or at the very beginning of the istalling the original Windows with Diskpart from command prompt)

 

Two possible reasons (why XOSL didn't boot cloned Windows 8 from logical):

1) XOSL just couldn't boot from logical in my spesific setup for whatever reason - like didn't co-operate with the new Vista+ style partitioning scheme. Fixing the hidden sectors number at the logical might have solved this

2) My cloning tool, Easus Todo, messed up the starting point and size of the logical I restored the cloned Win8 image to, making XOSL unable to boot it. No reason to try to fix it, because partitions are messed up after Easus

 

Perhaps another possible reason:

3) Impossible with UEFI to boot from logical for inadequately implemented support for traditional partition tables

 

Open questions:

- Tool for cloning Windows 7/8 installed to primary, and restoring it to both primary and logical partitions, that can be bigger than the original 1st primary installation partition. Using the older 63 sector partitioning scheme if the tool requires it.

- Multiboot program that is able to boot from logicals (both Win7/8 and linux). Hopefully also on the UEFI machine so I could use similar setup on both machines. I'd like it to be independent of the operating systems on the disk. This would need a dedicated small partition. XOSL was happy with logical ones, older BootIt NG wanted a primary one. grub versions, I don't know much about. grub2 would satisfy my needs?


Edited by sir_bootalot, 16 December 2012 - 08:08 AM.


#7 sir_bootalot

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 08:49 AM

You might consider using a similar scheme as used for my MultiBoot USB-harddisk.

It is capable of booting Windows 8 on UEFI and on BIOS computers.

 

I'm not very familiar with UEFI and GPT, and because the other computer I'm setting up the similar style multiboot environment, has traditional BIOS, I'd like solution on the Gigabyte machine that would be similar with the Fujitsu, aka traditional partition scheme - if possible and I can get cloned Windows 8 (or 7) to boot from logicals too.

 

According to jaclaz on the thread that you linked to, there are two types of UEFI boards - full UEFI only, and ones with BIOS emulation. This Gigabyte apparently has BIOS emulation, and hopefully its adequate for this.

 

It seems sooner or later we have to abandon the MBR ship and go for full GPT, but if I can postpone it to the next system I'm buying, and still be able to set this one up without using too much time the learn the subtleties of multibooting from GPT, I'm happy as larry and go back to my usual poker games for a while.

 

If the damn booting Win7/8 from logical with this mb is impossible, then I guess I have to use GPT or utilize 2 boot disks for Windowses, and just boot linuxes from logicals (when transitioning to SSD I'd then need two SSD's instead of one bigger - I'd prefer one bigger).

 

The considerations in the posts above would still remain for my Fujitsu laptop, with traditional BIOS.

 

Not familiar with WinNTSetup, btw.


Edited by sir_bootalot, 16 December 2012 - 08:50 AM.


#8 wimb

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 08:56 AM

You don't need GPT on UEFI
I am using Standard MBR and FAT32 active primary partition
Followed by NTFS system partition.
Both partitions are primary.

#9 sir_bootalot

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:22 AM

You don't need GPT on UEFI
I am using Standard MBR and FAT32 active primary partition
Followed by NTFS system partition.
Both partitions are primary.

 

So your suggestion is using VHD virtual partitions for operating systems? Those VHD "partitions" are space reserved from a primary NTFS partitions? Benefits would be no hiccups trying to boot from logicals? And disadvantages perhaps being slower than operating systems used from normal partitions? Other benefits/disadvantages?

 

Btw, why your multiboot-HD is USB, is it for USB3 being faster than SATA, or some transportability reasons?

 

Asking because I've been thinking about setting up two similar systems for two appartments where we spend our time. It would be handy if I was able to have two identic systems of desktop pc's and just carry the transportable HD along. Apparently impossible, because Windows recognizes the system it boots to is not exactly the same, even if the components are similar, and I'd end up with non-validatable Windowses sooner or later. Perhaps changing the MAC addresses of the components to the same would solve that. I'll probably try that some day to see if it will work.


Edited by sir_bootalot, 16 December 2012 - 09:34 AM.


#10 wimb

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 09:45 AM

WinNTSetup was used to Install Windows 8 on harddisk having Standard MBR and two primary partions as described earlier.

 

Windows 7 and XP are VHD's on NTFS partition and are booting as FILEDISK.

 

7PE and Parted Magic Linux are ISO's in folder images on FAT32 boot partition and they are booting from RAMDISK.

 

Everything works on UEFI and on BIOS computer.

 

:cheers:



#11 sir_bootalot

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 10:02 AM

WinNTSetup was used to Install Windows 8 on harddisk having Standard MBR and two primary partions as described earlier.

 

Windows 7 and XP are VHD's on NTFS partition and are booting as FILEDISK.

 

7PE and Parted Magic Linux are ISO's in folder images on FAT32 boot partition and they are booting from RAMDISK.

 

Everything works on UEFI and on BIOS computer.

 

:cheers:

 

So you have two computers, and you use single USB HD with those both. And with another you use Win7 install, and with another, Win8 install. You don't prolly use the same installation with both computers, because there would be activation issue - unless it's cracked.

 

(My possible future plan would be to use the same Windows installs on two computers, but those computers would have identic mother boards at least. Not sure how the Windows activation recognizes the hardware changes, is it from drivers, or MAC addresses, or both, or also with something else, and how it would go if you used retail version instead of OEM.)



#12 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 01:20 PM

about 3 linux systems. For that I need to locate some of Windowses to logical partitions, and boot them from there.

 

Not really.

You can put the System in a logical volume inside extended partition and boot it from a primary one (as a matter of fact NT based systems were designed to be installed on logical volumes inside extended partition, as well as all the Linux ones).

The good MS guys have the terms boot and system the other way round, but you can have a single primary partition containing the boot files and as much logical volumes inside extended partition as you want to hold your systems.

And you don't *need* any third party bootloader on this primary partition, the latest MS OS bootloader will be able to boot various NT based systems, any version of them.

You might want to add an option for grub4dos to the \boot\BCD in order to chainload the Linux installs.

 

As a matter of fact, you dont' actually need to have a single \boot\BCD as you can use floppy or floppy images and if you decide to use grub4dos as your primary bootloader (loaded through grldr.mbr installed to the MBR and a few hidden sectors) you don't actually *need* a primary partition.

Read attentively here:

http://www.multiboot....uk/system.html

http://www.multiboot....uk/floppy.html

 

In any case, correcting the "sectors before" of a logical volume inside extended partition PBR is very easy and will allow you to have "separate" installs containing each their own bootmgr and \boot\bcd (still if you use grub4dos to chainload the various BOOTGR's) see:

http://www.goodells.net/multiboot/

http://www.goodells....ot/ptable.shtml

and:

http://reboot.pro/to...ical-partition/

http://reboot.pro/to...nded-partition/

 

:cheers:

Wonko



#13 ndog37

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 05:25 AM

0) Stick to Legacy BIOS mode. If you go to UEFI you will have fun booting your non signed linux efi modules. At the moment wimb has a great method for loading the win8 signed efi module and chainloading multiple OS'es. The problem being you will need to use bcdedit to modify all your boot entries (no hiding partitions etc)

1) For imaging I recommend to give fsarchiver a try. fsarchiver is avaliable in clonezilla, but you need to run it from command line. It allows for restoring bigger partitions to smaller partitions.

2)  XOSL is ancient (y2k). I used it for years, however I now use grub4dos or grub2. Both loaders allow you to hide partitions, grub4dos has a cool gfx option which allows you to have a nifty looking menu, with pictures, help menus, hotkeys etc.

 

Another point is how you are installing windows. In my situation with dual booting windows 7, windows 8 from grub4dos (MBR)

 

sda1 - NTFS win7

sda2 - NTFS win8

sda3 - NTFS shared DATA, ubuntu live debian OS, grub4dos in /

 

 

 

Using the following grub4dos config you can have a shared win7/win8 environment as well as marking each one hidden and having a shared partition.

menu.lst
#This text finds the Backup partiton
# find source backup volume - use hda instead of sda if IDE HDD
if exist (hd0,0)/clonezilla/live/vmlinuz set BAKDRV=sda1
if exist (hd0,1)/clonezilla/live/vmlinuz set BAKDRV=sda2
if exist (hd0,2)/clonezilla/live/vmlinuz set BAKDRV=sda3
if exist (hd0,3)/clonezilla/live/vmlinuz set BAKDRV=sda4
if exist (hd0,4)/clonezilla/live/vmlinuz set BAKDRV=sda4
if exist (hd0,5)/clonezilla/live/vmlinuz set BAKDRV=sda5
if exist (hd0,6)/clonezilla/live/vmlinuz set BAKDRV=sda6

timeout 5
default 1

# 0 - Boot Windows 7
title Windows 7\nBoots to Windows 7 (bootmgr)
unhide (hd0,0)
hide (hd0,1)
root (hd0,0)
chainloader +1
makeactive

# 1 - Boot Windows 8
title Windows 8\nBoots to Windows 8 (bootmgr)
unhide (hd0,1)
hide (hd0,0)
root (hd0,1)
chainloader +1
makeactive

# 2 - Clonezilla manual mode
title Clonezilla (manual)\nRun backup/restore program manually (experts only)
find --set-root /clonezilla/live/vmlinuz
set BOPT=boot=live quiet live-config noswap nolocales edd=on nomodeset ip=frommedia ocs_live_keymap="NONE"
set RUN=ocs_live_run="ocs-live-general" keyboard-layouts="NONE" ocs_lang="en_US.UTF-8" live-media-path=/clonezilla/live bootfrom=/dev/%BAKDRV% toram=filesystem.squashfs ocs_live_batch="yes"
set PRERUN=ocs_prerun="mount /dev/%BAKDRV% /mnt" ocs_prerun1="mount --bind /mnt/clonezilla/images /home/partimag/"
kernel /clonezilla/live/vmlinuz %BOPT% %RUN% %PRERUN%
initrd /clonezilla/live/initrd.img



BOOT INTO A 32bit PE, to install grubinst.exe (32bit only)

echo list vol | diskpart (shows that e: is DVD, HDD = 150GB)

diskpart
sel dis 0
clean
cre par pri size=30000
sel par 1
for fs=ntfs label="WIN7" quick
ass letter=m
cre par pri size=30000
sel par 2
for fs=ntfs label="WIN8" quick
ass letter=n
cre par pri
sel par 3
for fs=ntfs label="DATA" quick
ass letter=o

list vol
exit

imagex(x86).exe /apply u:\images\wim\win7\professional\x86\sysprep.wim 1 m:
bcdboot(x86).exe m:\windows /l en-us /s m:
bootsect(x86).exe /nt60 m: /force

imagex(x86).exe /apply u:\images\wim\win8\install32bit.wim 1 n:
bcdboot(x86).exe n:\windows /l en-us /s n:
bootsect(x86).exe /nt60 n: /force

cd /d u:\drivers\xprepair\grub4dos
grubinst.exe -v (hd0)
copy grldr o:\.
copy message o:\.
copy menu.lst o:\.
attrib +r +s +h o:\grldr
attrib +r +s +h o:\message
attrib +s +h o:\menu.lst

Edited by ndog37, 17 December 2012 - 05:42 AM.


#14 sir_bootalot

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 05:53 AM

Not really.

You can put the System in a logical volume inside extended partition and boot it from a primary one (as a matter of fact NT based systems were designed to be installed on logical volumes inside extended partition, as well as all the Linux ones).

The good MS guys have the terms boot and system the other way round, but you can have a single primary partition containing the boot files and as much logical volumes inside extended partition as you want to hold your systems.

And you don't *need* any third party bootloader on this primary partition, the latest MS OS bootloader will be able to boot various NT based systems, any version of them.

You might want to add an option for grub4dos to the \boot\BCD in order to chainload the Linux installs.

 

As a matter of fact, you dont' actually need to have a single \boot\BCD as you can use floppy or floppy images and if you decide to use grub4dos as your primary bootloader (loaded through grldr.mbr installed to the MBR and a few hidden sectors) you don't actually *need* a primary partition.

Read attentively here:

http://www.multiboot....uk/system.html

http://www.multiboot....uk/floppy.html

 

In any case, correcting the "sectors before" of a logical volume inside extended partition PBR is very easy and will allow you to have "separate" installs containing each their own bootmgr and \boot\bcd (still if you use grub4dos to chainload the various BOOTGR's) see:

http://www.goodells.net/multiboot/

http://www.goodells....ot/ptable.shtml

and:

http://reboot.pro/to...ical-partition/

http://reboot.pro/to...nded-partition/

 

:cheers:

Wonko

 

Thanks for advice, jaclaz/Wonko. I've read the links, and at least the most relevat parts of the discussions. I think I'm gonna go

the floppy image trick way, using grub4dos (can't do that using grub2, right?), to avoid the need to use common primary system

partition for Windowses (or was i the other way around...).

 

Let's see if I can get it work. I'd like to get as much of independency between Windowses as possible, but I can obviously

dedicate a small logical partition for grub4dos and floppy images, if I understood all right.

 

Benefits/trade offs of using or not using separate BOOTMGR/BCD for each cloned booting (logical) Windows partition?

(The other way being booting them by skipping the PBR and chainloading them directly from grub4dos(/grub2?) )

 

Which way does NOT need extra steps after restoring a cloned image Windows (to logical partition), but boots straight away after restore? Meaning, after I have whole the system set up, but I lets say compromise the particular Windows instance's integrity, and want to restore a fresh image over it, and get it to boot without extra steps? (poker players worries of trojans, keyloggers etc)


Edited by sir_bootalot, 18 December 2012 - 06:20 AM.


#15 sir_bootalot

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 06:07 AM

0) Stick to Legacy BIOS mode. If you go to UEFI you will have fun booting your non signed linux efi modules. At the moment wimb has a great method for loading the win8 signed efi module and chainloading multiple OS'es. The problem being you will need to use bcdedit to modify all your boot entries (no hiding partitions etc)

1) For imaging I recommend to give fsarchiver a try. fsarchiver is avaliable in clonezilla, but you need to run it from command line. It allows for restoring bigger partitions to smaller partitions.

2)  XOSL is ancient (y2k). I used it for years, however I now use grub4dos or grub2. Both loaders allow you to hide partitions, grub4dos has a cool gfx option which allows you to have a nifty looking menu, with pictures, help menus, hotkeys etc.

 

Yeah, going to use BIOS mode and normal MBR. I'll try that fsarchiver, I didn't know Clonezilla had that too. I tried the other

ones that worked through the menus.

 

I'll prolly try to use combination of Easus (or some similar installable "online" cloning tool) and an offline tool, prolly just

that fsarchiver. Using Easus from inside Windows is faster, but "offline" tool isn't dependent on working Windows and

installed (free version, perhaps, of) commercial program.

 

Funny XOSL-OW didn't boot Easus-cloned Win8 from logical, because many programs should be able to correct the

Hidden Sectors value automagically - prolly Easus too. Maybe it corrected it wrong because partitions had been resized

and moved a bit because I originally made them with Win8 Diskpart, that uses 2048 sector offsets, and Easus isn't

fully compatible with it. Or maybe it was some XOSL glitch...

 

I'll report here how it all goes.


Edited by sir_bootalot, 18 December 2012 - 06:21 AM.


#16 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 10:16 AM

Just for the record the "sectors before" on volumes inside extended need to be fixed even if you "skip the PBR" and chainload the BOOTMGR from grub4dos.

The address in there are needed in the booting phase to "find itself".

 

JFYI there are also other, new loaders, burg:

http://code.google.com/p/burg/

and grub24dos come to mind.

http://sourceforge.n...jects/grub24dos <-seemingly down/abandoned, from the same author:

http://sourceforge.n...jects/burg4dos/

http://sourceforge.n...jects/grub2win/

 

:cheers:

Wonko



#17 sir_bootalot

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 05:39 AM

I'm back with this project from other things!

 

I'm trying to list the steps I need to do to get a working multiboot environment with several Windows 7 systems (or Win 8 on another machine that has UEFI firmware, but I'm using it in legacy compatibility mode), some of them on logicals, and also couple of linuxes.

 

1) I made partitions with the traditional 63 sector style. 3 primary ones, and several logicals

 

2) Installed Windows 7 (this one on a BIOS laptop machine) on the first primary partition (P1)

 

3) Going to 'generalize' the BCD of the P1 Win7

 

4) Going to make an image of the P1 Win7 with fsarchiver

 

5) Going to make one small logical FAT partition for several floppy images that will be used to boot each Win7 (one floppy image for each), and the linuxes too, I hope

 

6) Going to instal grub4dos to MBR. It would be set up so, that it has entry for all the floppy images on the tiny FAT partition that will boot the operating systems

 

7) Restore the cloned P1 Win7 image on a few other partitions. Those that went to logicals, will have their hidden sectors number fixed

 

8) Going to make a boot floppy disk of all the Windows 7 partitions with ImDisk, and copy bootmgr and edited (with BCDEdit.exe) BCD files there. Hmm, in this phase I need to have the correct Windows booted, so perhaps i need a between phase where I have only single BCD on the first primary Windows, and after creating the boot floppies move to multiple BCD (on floppy images).

 

9) Going to put those floppy images to the tiny FAT logical partition, and fix the grub4dos on MBR so that it will boot them

 

10) Then somehow add boot lines for linux partitions. Maybe boot floppies aren't needed for linuxes

 

Some phases incorrect, and am I missing something?

Some recommendations or ideas to alter the plan?

 

I like the idea that the operating systems are independent, so that if the first primary partition gets corrupted, the other OS's will still boot.


Edited by sir_bootalot, 12 February 2013 - 05:43 AM.


#18 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 11:49 AM

Well, it's mostly the exact opposite of what I suggested. :w00t:  (mind you that is just, and only my personal opinion).

 

The idea (mine) that was suggested is to have:

  • "Standard MBR" 
  • 1 (smallish) Primary partition, let's say 100 Mb with "standard" PBR invoking BOOTMGR containing BOOTMGR, the \boot\BCD, (besides grldr, menu.lst and all the floppy images you want) <- this partition can be FAT or NTFS and can of course have an ID of 27 like the original "small 100 Mb partition 7 has".
  • 1 Logical Volume with the rest of Windows 7 installed to it.

Please note how the above is - strangely - very similar to the "standard" way Windows 7 would be installed on a "new" disk.

 

Again, any NT system is designed to reside on a Logical Volume in Extended partition.

As well any Linux system is designed to reside on a Logical Volume in Extended partition.

 

Then you can add other two Primary partitions (that would be needed for some OS's that won't work from Logical Volumes inside extended, you won't actually *need* to have them, you can leave two partition entries in the partition table empty and "reserved for future use") and as many logical volumes as you want.

 

Then, and only then, you add grub4dos (if you want to install it in the MBR+hidden sectors).

 

This way you will still have a working "previous MBR" located on second sector (LBA1), capable of booting at least one of the Windows 7 installs and tools re-writing the MBR code will allow anyway to boot at least one of the WIndows 7 installs.

 

"Cloning" over and over the same Windows 7 install on different volumes on the same disk (though possible) is not the easiest thing in the world.

It seems to me like (at the two opposite extremes) the "first install" from which the clones are made can be either a "plain, simple, install with no third-party add-ons or programs" (and in this case it makes much more sense (easier and probably also faster) to do several installs from original source, or it can be a "fully configured", up to the smallest detail install, in which case it makes little sense having several copies (identical), if each of them should late be tweaked to "differentiate" it from the other ones, again possibly doing several installs might be easier and faster.

 

If you want to have partitions "independent" you need only to copy grldr and BOOTMGR and \boot\BCD and add a menu.lst to them.

Normal booting would be (making use of the grldr.mbr installed to MBR + hidden sectors):

grub4dos MBR->grldr on Active partition ->menu.lst on Active partition -> *whatever*

 

In case the grldr.mbr is partially corrupted, you can (if it works) got to the "standard" MBR and then:

MBR->Active partition PBR->BOOTMGR->1st Windows install

OR:

MBR->Active partition PBR->BOOTMGR->grldr->*whatever*

 

 

In case the Active partition is corrupted you can normally:

grub4dos MBR->grldr on *any*partition ->menu.lst on *any* partition -> *whatever*

 

If both the grdr.mbr and the Active parition is corrupted you can normally:

boot grub4dos from *any* other media->menu.lst on *any* partition -> *whatever*

 

:cheers:

Wonko



#19 sir_bootalot

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 07:35 PM

Ok, I'll try to figure how to do that with the way you suggested:

 

1) I partition the drive with linux fdisk in dos compatibility mode (63 sector scheme). However, I'll do the partitions to the size of multiple of 126 MB (63 * 4096 * 512) to respect _all_ the alignments. So I make the first small primary to size of 126 MB (or possibly a bit bigger, like 4*126), and then the rest of the disk just logicals inside of extended (also multiple of 126 MB).

 

2) I install the base Windows 7 (or Win 8) so that the boot files go to the first primary, and the rest to the first logical.

 

3) I generalize the base Win7

 

4) I clone the base Win7 with fsarchiver

 

5) I restore the cloned image to all the partitions I use for extra Windows systems, and fix their hidden sectors numbers

 

6) Now I install grub4dos to the first primary (and only primary) P1 putting there grldr.mbr and grldr, and editing the BCD so that BOOTMGR loads grldr.mbr (that loads grldr, that loads winload.exe)

 

7) Now I add the additional Windows boot partitions to grub4dos (I suppose this is done by editing the menu.lst, but I have never used grub4dos yet). I test if all the Windowses now can boot up

 

8) Now I install grub4dos to MBR with grubinst.exe. After that the bootup process goes grub4dos_on_MBR->grldr_on_P1->winload.exe_on_logical (Is this correct? So no BOOTMGR or BCD involved anymore after installing grub4dos to MBR?)

 

9) Now I test what happens if the primary partition (the only primary partition, P1) gets corrupted. I hide it by changing its type to 63.

grub4dos_on_MBR will scan all the disks through to find grldr (not sure if it finds it on type 63 - Gnu Hurd - type disk). If it still finds it, I simulate the corruption just by removing it from P1 temporarily. Now nothing gets booted. So I copy grldr and menu.lst to some logical partition, and try again. Now every Windows system will boot. Right?

 

So do I still need those floppy images in this scheme?



#20 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 09:20 PM

Yes/No/Mixed data.

It is not so easyto have something "aligned to everything".

 

The "old way" implied an alignment to Cylinder/Head/Sector.

Thus all partitions would end on n/255/63.

The minimum increment is then 1*255*63*512=8,225,280 = 1 Cylinder (you will find a lot of programs that "go in steps" of around 8 Mb), which is not an exact multiple of 4096, it makes 2008.125.

Your "step" can only be then 8 cylinders, as 8*8,225,280/4,096=65,802,240 bytes/4,096=16,065 (no rest).

 

BUT, for the first partition you need to take into account the number of hidden sectors (that at the very minimum must be 1, i.e. the MBR, BUT if you want to use grub4dos0 grldr.mbr need to be at least 18 AND to respect head boundary must be 63).

 

So you need to find a number of hidden sectors bigger than 18 that ends on sector 63 and that is divisible by 8 (8sectors * 512 bytes = 4,096).

This obviouosly resolves in 8*63=504*512=258,048 bytes.

 

And this applies to first partition and to any other primary partition.

But you need to also understand how Volumes inside the Extended partition are handled.

The first sector of the Extended partiion is a EMBR (extended partition master boot record), it contains a partition table containing only two entries, the first volume inside extended and the next one.

So again, you need to have at least 1 hidden sector (the EMBR) but normally there are as many as needed to reach a head boundary, 63.

You need again to introduce a different number of hidden sectors.

And the above, while respecting the "old" standard, will be useful (with reference to the 4,096 bytes alignment only on NTFS formatted volumes) and you need to insert a "corrective measure" for FAT12/16/32 ones, see here for the reason:

http://reboot.pro/to...-under-windows/

http://reboot.pro/to...-memory-drives/

 

Personally, see also here:

http://reboot.pro/to...itioning-issue/

I don't believe in *any* need to have the 4,096 byte alignment on hard disk as the speed benefits (if any) will not be noticeable.

I would rather go for a "good ol'" 255/63 alignment to which all new (and old) tools are compatible.

 

I hope I have not confused you too much throwing these on the table all together :ph34r:

 

 

 

6) Now I install grub4dos to the first primary (and only primary) P1 putting there grldr.mbr and grldr, and editing the BCD so that BOOTMGR loads grldr.mbr (that loads grldr, that loads winload.exe)



7) Now I add the additional Windows boot partitions to grub4dos (I suppose this is done by editing the menu.lst, but I have never used grub4dos yet). I test if all the Windowses now can boot up



8) Now I install grub4dos to MBR with grubinst.exe. After that the bootup process goes grub4dos_on_MBR->grldr_on_P1->winload.exe_on_logical (Is this correct? So no BOOTMGR or BCD involved anymore after installing grub4dos to MBR?)

 

 

Yes/no. :w00t:

You install grldr.mbr to the MBR (and a few more hidden sectors).

A copy of the previous (standard) Windows 7 MBR will be copied to second sector (and is bootable by pressing a hot key - normally SPACE - during the initial timeout grldr.mbr is set).

Typically 5 seconds, so if you press the key within this timeout the "standard" Windows 7 MBR will come into play, loading the PBR of the Primary Active partition, that will load BOOTMGR, that will load WINLOAD:EXE (if you choose so at the \boot\BCD choices).

Typically from these \boot\BCD choices you are able to boot each and any Windows 7 install on the disk, by choosing the corresponding entry in \boot\BCD, loading the corresponding WINLOAD.EXE.

grldr can only chainload a BOOTMGR, NOT a WINLOAD.EXE.

 

To that \boot\BCD it would be logical to add an entry for grldr, so that you can "loop back".

If you don't press the key within the initial timeout, then the grldr.mbr will be executed, which will look for a grldr on all partitions until it finds one.

Normally, since the Primary partition will be the first one, the copy of grldr that will be loaded will be the one on first partition.

Once loaded, grldr will look for a menu.lst on the same volume from which grldr was loaded, so again the loaded menu.lst will be the copy on your first partiion (which happens to be also primary and active).

From grldr you can chainload the BOOTMGR on that same partition (or the PBR of that same partition and then from it load again that same BOOTMGR)  or any other BOOTMGR on any other partition (or the one(s) in a floppy image that you have mounted).

 

What happens if - for any reason - the first partition is "wiped" or "corrupted"?

Pressing the key during the initial timeout will result in a NON-BOOT.

 

But if you don't press the key grldr.mbr will start looking for a grldr, and since it can find none on first parition (or cannot find first partition at all) it will look for it on the next partition, the first logical volume inside extended, and once found the copy of grldr on this volume, the grldr will load the menu.lst on that same volume, i.e. you are exactly in the same situation as above notwithstanding the fact that you "lost" your primary partition.

 

 

9) Now I test what happens if the primary partition (the only primary partition, P1) gets corrupted. I hide it by changing its type to 63.

grub4dos_on_MBR will scan all the disks through to find grldr (not sure if it finds it on type 63 - Gnu Hurd - type disk). If it still finds it, I simulate the corruption just by removing it from P1 temporarily. Now nothing gets booted. So I copy grldr and menu.lst to some logical partition, and try again. Now every Windows system will boot. Right?

Yes :thumbsup: (but cannot say about partition ID 63, I doubt that grub4dos considers particularly reliable the partition ID's, to test I would simply blank the partition entry - after having made a copy of the partition table of course).

 

 

 

So do I still need those floppy images in this scheme?

*need* is a difficult thing to define.

You can have a copy of the floppies on (say) a USB stick and use them as a further "safety" against possible corruption of the BOOTMGR or the \boot\BCD on the various partitions.

 

:cheers:

Wonko

 



#21 cdob

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 11:19 PM

Another approach:

use default Windows settings:

the defaultr 100 MB primary active parition to hold bootmgr and \boot\bcd.

Add several logical partitions with different windows.

Add all boot settings to 100 MB partition \boot\bcd: bcdedit and  bcdboot

There is no need for a additional loader.

 

Create a emergency USB drive.

Copy bootmgr and \boot\bcd. to a diskparted USB drive.

 

Use 4 kb align at 4 kb hardware.

 

 

In addition:

it should be possible to create rescue boot settings on the fly:

insert MBR signature and partition offset on the fly.

Compare Windows installation http://reboot.pro/to...e-2#entry145675

No, this installlation example won't work out of the box. Adjustments are required.



#22 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 12:04 AM

Another approach:

use default Windows settings:

the defaultr 100 MB primary active parition to hold bootmgr and \boot\bcd.

Add several logical partitions with different windows.

Add all boot settings to 100 MB partition \boot\bcd: bcdedit and  bcdboot

There is no need for a additional loader.

 

Yep :), the additional loader (and the grldr.mbr) are not *needed* they were added to have a somehow "redundant" system, capable of booting in case of some form of corruption/issue on the  active primary partition.

A grldr (but that could be also plainly loaded from \boot\BCD) is needed anyway to boot he Linux Os's.

 

:cheers:

Wonko



#23 sir_bootalot

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 06:31 AM

Problem with 4 MiB alignment boundaries is also, that almost all imaging programs don't correctly handle it. They are originally made to 31.5 KiB scheme and are patched so they would work with 4 MiB, but problems will often appear. And not many of them can correctly restore working Windows images to another partitions, so the changes to get everything to work is pretty slim. Eg. Easus Todo can correctly restore a working Windows image to another partition, but if it sees a partition that is created with 4 MiB scheme, it tries to correct the size to respect 31.5 KiB alignments (and I think 8 MiB steps while doing it), and that will easily result to lost logical partition.

 

I don't know if fsarchiver would be the solution. I have only once tried it quickly yet, and don't know if it will restore a working copy of Windows and how it handles the different alignment logics.

 

The same goes with partition managers. They try to fix things with 4 MiB with register changes and kludges like that.

 

So I prolly must go with 31.5 KiB route, and create the partitions before any Windows installation with fdisk in dos compatibility mode or gparted (if it works 31.5 KiB way) or Partition Wizard (that handles both schemes, doing 63 sector scheme with 8 MiB steps I think).

 

Anyway, I want to do everything using some imaging program. Easus is the only one I got to work this far, but lets see if fsarchiver will work too. (Easus must be installed, so its 'online' type solution. fsarchiver would be 'offline' type)

 

One thing came to mind, that would support using the three primary partition Windows approach. Those Windowses on logicals need an additional step after restoring a fresh image - fixing the hidden sectors number. Or would it remain fixed when it's done once? After I restore another copy on logical partition from an image?

 

(I plan to go with 4 or 5 Windows systems anyway, so 1 or 2 would still need to be located on logical even if I use all the 3 possible primary partitions for Windowses. And then I couln't spend one primary just for boot files. Putting the boot files on a small logical would then require using the floppy images on it, right?)


Edited by sir_bootalot, 13 February 2013 - 06:52 AM.


#24 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 09:44 AM

One thing came to mind, that would support using the three primary partition Windows approach. Those Windowses on logicals need an additional step after restoring a fresh image - fixing the hidden sectors number. Or would it remain fixed when it's done once? After I restore another copy on logical partition from an image?

 

(I plan to go with 4 or 5 Windows systems anyway, so 1 or 2 would still need to be located on logical even if I use all the 3 possible primary partitions for Windowses. And then I couln't spend one primary just for boot files. Putting the boot files on a small logical would then require using the floppy images on it, right?)

 

NO. :frusty:

Please read AGAIN the pages about "boot" and "system" partitions here:

http://www.multiboot....uk/system.html

(and remember how MS terms are "the other way round")

 

It all depends on HOW you want to boot those WIndows systems.

Normally - without the complexities you introduced, you can have:

  1. 1  Active Primary partition containing the BOOTMGR and the  \boot\BCD\ with as many entries as other logical volumes with different installs of windows 7 you have
  2. as many logical volumes as installls of WIndows 7, each with an install.

The above is "standard", supported by *any* tool and need not any "fixes".

It's the desire to have an "alternate boot method" that creates (obviously) additional settings/changes/provisions.

 

WIth the "floppy approach", see AGAIN:

http://www.multiboot....uk/floppy.html

you don't have a *need* to correct the sectors before in the logical volume.

 

The "files needed for booting" a Windows 7 system are BOOTMGR and a \boot\BCD.

These two files can be either:

  1. on a primary partition
  2. on "other bootable media" (like floppy as in the example, but could be a USB stick, )
  3. on a logical volume inside extended as long as the "sectors before" are corrected (because this is what allows booting from a logical volume)

The actual "files needed for running the system" (first of which in loading order is WINLOAD.EXE) can be in any of primary partition or logical volumes (and there is no need to correct anything), again, see:

http://www.multiboot.../multiboot.html

 

WHAT is the problem?

 

About the steps to "image" or "clone" (they are not exactly synonyms and there are all shades of gray) or "backup" and to restore the whole system or single parts/files/partitions/volumes it is by itself another whole topic.

There are n tools, some with same functionalities/more approaches, some with only parts of them (and that need to be "assisted" with complementary steps) it all depends on WHAT exactly youwant to do.

As an example if you use a "forensic sound" or "dd-like" image, it is - strangely enough -  an EXACT image and you need NOT to carry any particular "fixing" step.

Other solutions may or may not need them.

 

 

:cheers:

Wonko



#25 sir_bootalot

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 06:17 PM

Well, I wrote about partition "for boot files", meaning BOOTMGR and BCD (who cares if it's called boot or system partition by Microsoft).

 

But ok, it can be logical too then, and if it is, the hidden sectors number for that needs to be fixed.

 

Let's say I choose to make a small primary partition for BOOTMGR and BCD, and make two more primary partitions for two instances of Windows and then two more logicals for Windows, and couple of logicals for linuxes.

 

I'll first set up things using standard MBR and grldr.mbr at the P1 to boot all the systems at both primary and logical partitions (Windowses are cloned from P2, that had it's BCD generalized. Even Windowses on logicals don't need hidden sectors number fixed with this approach).

 

Then I add grub4dos to MBR with grubinst.exe.

 

I suppose I don't need floppy images for anything in this scheme. I can backup MBR (with extra bytes needed) with dd, and copy the necessary boot files like BOOTMGR and BCD and grldr and menu.lst from P1, so if P1 gets corrupted, it's easily fixed. If any other partition gets corrupted, I'll just restore an image on it.






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