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Windows 7: Complicated question involving several different OSes coexisting

05 Dec 2017   #1
Cursed Lemon

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Complicated question involving several different OSes coexisting

Sorry for the vague title, but it's true unfortunately. Alright, SO.

I have a little spare miniature desktop that I'm using as a guinea pig for experimenting with different operating systems, namely multi-booting.

Originally, I had the following partition setup on one disk:

NTFS - Windows 7
Ext4 - Ubuntu Server
Ext4 - Xubuntu
Ext4 - Linux Mint
Ext4 - Kali Linux
Swap Space
XFS - General shared storage

And this was all working just fine with a Grub setup which detected everything.

Then I got tricky. I wanted to add a second disk and install Windows XP to it, mainly for the purpose of playing older games that don't work in newer Windows versions (and don't play nice when loaded in VirtualBox). So I installed Windows XP on a second disk, and everything was fine there...except when I tried to boot, or even look for, my other installed OSes.

What essentially ended up happening is Windows XP for some reason put all its boot-related crap on the first HDD, even though I told it only to bother with the second one. I suspect this may have something to do with the order of the SATA ports, with XP just choosing the earliest HDD it sees to store its boot shit on. Now I couldn't find the other operating systems at all.

So I thought, alright, I'll just disconnect the first HDD, load up the XP installation CD, and do a startup repair so that it rights itself on the second disk. Nope. The XP CD apparently sees that there's something labeled as "XP" installed on this disk, but doesn't consider it an XP installation and therefore will not give me the option to go into recovery tools.

Even better. When I reinstalled Grub on the first disk so I could get at my other installations, Windows XP actually cannibalized my Windows 7 entry, so now if I try to load W7 from Grub, I get XP instead.

I guess the point of this thread is to ask how exactly does something like this happen? Why did Windows XP latch its boot material onto the first HDD? Is what I suspected correct, or is it something else? Do other versions of Windows do this as well if you install them after other OSes?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Dec 2017   #2

Windows 7 pro 64-bit sp 1

The issue is that XP put it's own bootloader on the hard drive even if you selected the second. It is a completely different bootloader than Vista and later as well as Linux. The XP bootloader doesn't have the capability of detecting 7 or running Linux. You need to recover the Linux bootloader. I found this tutorial. RecoveringUbuntuAfterInstallingWindows - Community Help Wiki
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Dec 2017   #3

Windows 7 HP 64

One disk at a time.
Detach the Win XP disk and fix the MBR on disk one to point to Grub. I had used boot-repair-disk - Browse Files at and Super Grub2 Disk 2.02s4 released.

Once you get your disk one booting Grub, detach disk one and attach disk two.
Do a boot repair on it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

06 Dec 2017   #4

Linux Mint 18.2 xfce 64-bit (VMWare host) / Windows 8.1 Pro 32-bit (VMWare guest)

To really do the "one disk at a time" thing correctly, get a SATA power switch:

In this way you can keep the XP drive totally separate from the other drive.

I have Windows 7 on one hard drive, Linux Mint on another one, and my data on another one. I use the above switch to turn each drive on or off as needed. The data drive is always on, unless I am reinstalling the OS on one of the other drives, in which case all drives are off except that one drive. If I want to switch to the other OS, I power down, turn that drive on and the other off, then power up.

This method has worked extremely well for me.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Complicated question involving several different OSes coexisting

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