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Windows 7: Dual boot with Win7 - problem with boot menus on Lenovo laptop

1 Week Ago   #1
br1anstorm

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
 
 
Dual boot with Win7 - problem with boot menus on Lenovo laptop

I have just acquired a refurbished Lenovo ThinkPad T430 laptop. It has had Windows 7 Professional cleanly (re)installed.

I noticed that on initial boot up, a boot menu-screen flashed up very briefly with two options - 'Boot to Windows', or 'Restore the original Windows Image'. The latter choice came with a warning note at the bottom of the menu screen that this would erase all existing data. In any case the delay default is only about 2 secs, because if 'Restore Original Image' is not selected (and I have no wish to do so) it then boots up by default into Win7.

Comment: I have other computers with Win7 installed and have never seen this menu appear on booting any of them.

When I looked at the disk partitions, I noticed that there were already three primary partitions on the hard drive: 100MB System Reserved (which is normal and to be expected), 13GB Recovery, and the main Win7 partition.

I had been thinking of installing a Linux distro as dual-boot alongside Win7, and setting it up (as I have done successfully on my main multi-boot computer) using EasyBCD. However when I began running the Linux installer, I noticed that it said there were "multiple OSs already on the system".

Comment: I thought that a bit odd, but assumed that maybe it was seeing the existing Recovery partition as containing a duplicate, or image, of the Win7 OS.

I went ahead anyway with the Linux dual boot install, using the 'something else' option and putting the Linux OS on a separate partition along with its Grub. This is because EasyBCD keeps the Windows MBR and simply adds a link onward to wherever the Grub is. But the dual boot would not work. Although Linux was showing in the EasyBCD menu, on restart the boot process still only displayed the "boot or system image restore " screen briefly , and then booted into Windows, as before.

I can find no clues in the Windows msconfig Boot and Startup tabs. I wondered if this initial screen relates to the Lenovo ThinkVantage Recovery arrangements, and if the MBR/BCD had been modified to offer this display choice (boot normally or restore a system image) before it actually proceeds with the boot process.

In the BCD configuration visible via the EasyBCD GUI, I noticed that the "device" line in both the Windows Boot Manager details and in the Windows Boot Loader details has the entry
Code:
locate=custom:12000002
whereas the equivalent entries in the BCD on my properly dual-booting (in fact multibooting) main computer have entries in the 'device' line which say
Code:
partition=\Device\HarddiskVolume1
in the Boot Manager and
Code:
partition=C:
in the Boot Loader.

I guessed that the customised entries in the 'device' line might be related to the Lenovo Recovery setup, and they cause the boot process to offer up the first screen I see, which has the 'Boot to Windows' or 'Restore System Image' choice.

I found an online website which explains that the "device-locate" customisation in the Windows Boot Manager and Loader, which still kicks in at the first stage in the booting process, is a direction down a path to a particular file or location. It goes on to say that

Quote:
"..... In multiboot environments the 'locate-device' may not load the desired operating system as the scanning process will stop as soon as the first path\file is found...."
So it looked as if Lenovo (as part of its OEM setup?) might have tweaked the Windows Boot Manager to go to, or via, the file or location which offers the screen with "Boot Normally or Restore System Image" options and then it stops, giving only the choice to boot into Windows or restore an image. It does not go onward to the stage within the BCD boot process where EasyBCD has set up the linkage to Linux and its Grub.

Another website I have found suggests that it is actually not possible to set up dual boot without deleting the Recovery partition - if one exists. I don't know why - and I find that surprising. In my main laptop I have Win7, three Linux distros, and still have a Samsung Recovery partition.

My immediate wish is to find out whether (and how) Lenovo may have modified the BCD or reconfigured the booting process, and if so, how I can reinstate the original arrangements in order to then set up a dual boot.

There are a couple of other clues:

  1. Prompted by searching on other websites and forums I looked to see which partition was labelled "Active". In my other computers, it is always the small System Reserved partition at the beginning of the disk which is marked as the active one (and where I assume the MBR, BCD, and bootloader reside). In this Lenovo laptop, the partition where Win7 is located (labelled C: in the Windows disk manager) is marked "Active".
  2. I did another experiment, using a Linux OS installed on an external USB, to see what entries might appear in its Grub menu. When I updated the Grub, this is what it found
Code:
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-3.13.0-24-generic
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-3.13.0-24-generic
Found memtest86+ image: /boot/memtest86+.elf
Found memtest86+ image: /boot/memtest86+.bin
  No volume groups found
Found Windows 7 (loader) on /dev/sda1
Found Windows Recovery Environment (loader) on /dev/sda2
Found Windows 7 (loader) on /dev/sda3
 Found Linux Mint 18.2 Sonya (18.2) on /dev/sda5

As I read it, this shows - in Windows language - the System Reserved partition (sda1), the Recovery partition (sda2), the partition where Win7 is installed (sda3), aka the C: drive/partition, and the partition where Linux Mint is installed (sda5). It seems interesting - is it unusual? - to see three (loader) entries.

Which makes me wonder - is the current boot setup somehow bypassing the MBR (in the System reserved partition) and booting up from the so-called C: drive, hence not showing the normal boot menu but instead the screen with the "boot normally/system image restore" choice before defaulting into booting Win7?

As is probably obvious, I'm out of my depth when it comes to figuring out the mysteries of MBR, BCD, and bootloading processes. That's one reason why I like using EasyBCD to run dual/multibooting! But I would like to get to the bottom of why this Lenovo laptop has what seems to be an unusual boot arrangement which - at present - seems to be making it difficult/impossible to set up dual booting.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
1 Week Ago   #2
SIW2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

You can take alook at the bcd ebtries using visualbcd 0.9.3 or 0.9.3.1

It has a custom action section. ( New>custom action to see the entries )

Download Visual BCD
My System SpecsSystem Spec
1 Week Ago   #3
br1anstorm

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
 
 

Hello SIW2, and thanks for that thought.

In fact I'm able to get the details using EasyBCD (which I have already installed). Here is what that shows as the BCD entries in this problematic Lenovo laptop...

Code:
Windows Boot Manager
--------------------
identifier              {9dea862c-5cdd-4e70-acc1-f32b344d4795}
device                  locate=custom:12000002
description             Windows Boot Manager
locale                  en-US
inherit                 {7ea2e1ac-2e61-4728-aaa3-896d9d0a9f0e}
default                 {a6ea9bab-24b4-11e9-8e96-f82fa8e876d9}
resumeobject            {06f87eb3-4038-11e0-aecc-c1f066e6c02a}
displayorder            {06f87eb4-4038-11e0-aecc-c1f066e6c02a}
                        {a6ea9bab-24b4-11e9-8e96-f82fa8e876d9}
toolsdisplayorder       {b2721d73-1db4-4c62-bf78-c548a880142d}
timeout                 20
displaybootmenu         Yes

Windows Boot Loader
-------------------
identifier              {06f87eb4-4038-11e0-aecc-c1f066e6c02a}
device                  locate=custom:12000002
path                    \Windows\system32\winload.exe
description             Windows 7
locale                  en-US
inherit                 {6efb52bf-1766-41db-a6b3-0ee5eff72bd7}
osdevice                locate=custom:22000002
systemroot              \Windows
resumeobject            {06f87eb3-4038-11e0-aecc-c1f066e6c02a}
nx                      OptIn

Real-mode Boot Sector
---------------------
identifier              {a6ea9bab-24b4-11e9-8e96-f82fa8e876d9}
device                  partition=C:
path                    \NST\AutoNeoGrub0.mbr
description             Linux Mint
locale                  en-US
custom:250000c2         0
I was able to look for, and get, the same info via the terminal (BCEDIT as a command prompt) The details are almost the same but without the alphanumeric designators and with some other slight differences. I can't copy and paste all the info from the command prompt, but the key points are these:

According to the command prompt terminal display, in the Windows Boot Manager the entry for 'device' says
Code:
locate=unknown
rather than 'custom... etc', and several of the other entries have a generic description such as {globalsettings} or {memdiag} rather than the long string of letters and numbers.

In the Windows Boot Loader, the 'device' entry is shown as
Code:
locate=\Windows\system32\winload.exe
and the 'osdevice' is
Code:
locate=\Windows
whereas EasyBCD shows a 'custom' entry for each of those...

And in the Real-mode Boot Sector entry, the 'identifier' is shown as {default} rather than the detailed string of letters and numbers.

But those two sets of details show pretty clearly what the BCD entries are. I noted in my original post how these differ from the "standard" and perfectly-functioning BCD in my other, main (Samsung) laptop which has a multiboot setup with Win7 and three Linux OSs.

So in a nutshell, the Lenovo laptop

  • has what seems to be some unorthodox/customised BCD entries;
  • has no less than three bootloaders (one in the System Reserved - MBR - partition, one in the Recovery partition, and one in the main - C: - partition where the Win7 OS is located);
  • has the C: partition, not the System Reserved partition, marked as "Active" ( I can post up an image of the Disk Management display window if that would help);
  • when it boots, it briefly shows an unusual screen with the "Boot Normally or Restore System Image" options before booting into Win7;
  • it cannot "see" or show the BCD menu which has had Linux Mint added to it by EasyBCD.
So I hope someone can tell me why and how it is set up like this (is this a Lenovo OEM configuration?) and - more important - how to reconfigure into a normal setup which I can then make into a dual boot with the help of EasyBCD.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

1 Week Ago   #4
SIW2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

visualbcd is better than easybcd. It can add and delete entries and elements. That is why I suggested it.

If you have a look, it might give you a better idea of what is going on.

Most likely you would want to change the locate element.


Quote:
has the C: partition, not the System Reserved partition, marked as "Active"
The bcd store on the active partition is the live one.

Typical setup for win7 is a small active partition ( typically 100mb in size), a main windows partition and - for oem machines - often a partition containing a recovery image ( typicaly 10-15gb in size)

There are numerous reasons why you might have boot files on several partitions. I usually create them on several partitions on my machines.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
1 Week Ago   #5
br1anstorm

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
 
 

Thanks again, SIW2.

I'm quite ready to try visual bcd, and if that reveals details of the current setup in a clearer or fuller way, so much the better.

BUT..... I have minimal knowledge and even less experience of how the booting process works, and what the BCD should look like or how to edit it. Giving me a tool which has the power to change the current setup when I don't know what to change, what to edit, and what to delete or add is like giving a chainsaw to a child. I worry that I could do enormous damage and end up with an unbootable machine. Not much comfort if someone says afterwards, "..... but surely you realised X, or would have known about Y". Er, no.

At present the laptop does (or did) have the standard partition setup: a small 100 MB System Reserved partition, a 13GB Recovery partition, and a large partition (C:) with Win7. I shrank that Win7 partition and created new partitions for Linux. But I remain rather uncertain about what bits of which bootloaders are where, and which of these may need to be reconfigured or modified.

Most guidance about editing the BCD comes with dire warnings about the need for caution. That's why, until now, I've used EasyBCD to do whatever is required to configure dual-boot. But in this situation I, and EasyBCD, seem to be faced with an untypical, non-standard, boot configuration to start with!

So I need to know (a) the outcome I need to get to - ie what exactly the BCD, or any other element of the booting and bootloader setup, should look like; and (b) the detailed process, literally step-by-step, for how I get from what exists at present to the way it ought to be.

I'm accustomed to following the workshop manual so that I know what I'm doing and why. A "suck-it-and-see" approach is not really my style.

Is it possible - before going any further - to be clear about exactly what the current boot arrangement is, why it shows an unusual screen (the 'Boot Normally or Restore System Image' options display) as it boots, what needs to be changed in the BCD (or which partition should be labelled 'Active'), and why?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
1 Week Ago   #6
br1anstorm

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
 
 

Quick follow up. I've just had a look through the VisualBCD site and its guides and tutorials.

OMG. Utterly incomprehensible. Clearly written by expert technicians for expert technicians. Might as well be in Chinese.

Just a random example - instructions for the first step in setting up dual boot:

Quote:
Adjust ApplicationDevice(=C:) and ApplicationPath(=\FreeBSD.pbr) to point to boot sector file.
The Description element of the loader defines the text that will appear in boot menu for this loader.
A boot sector loader object has only three elements: ApplicationDevice, ApplicationPath and Description.
.......
Now we know how to create a boot sector loader using either bcdedit or Visual BCD.
Eh? No we don't. How do you "....adjust ApplicationDevice and ApplicationPath"? How do you know where the boot sector file is and how to point to it? What text is being defined? What does the text need to say? What exactly is a boot loader object and how do you identify it? And so on.

Sorry. Looks as if Visual BCD is worse than a chainsaw and about as easy to follow as a left-handed upside- down corkscrew. No way am I going to be able to do any BCD editing safely on that basis.

Has anyone got any suggestions for remedial action that can be explained in plain English?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
1 Week Ago   #7
SIW2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

It is a lot easier if you just d/l the thing and run it.

If you can use easybcd, you should be able to understand the visualbcd User Interface.

Quote:
How do you "....adjust ApplicationDevice and ApplicationPath"?
It tells you HINT:DBLE CLICK TO EDIT

Dual boot with Win7 - problem with boot menus on Lenovo laptop-dble-click.jpg

Then after double clicking the element you want to change:

Dual boot with Win7 - problem with boot menus on Lenovo laptop-edit-element.jpg


My System SpecsSystem Spec
1 Week Ago   #8
br1anstorm

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
 
 

Thanks again SIW2. Yesterday was a long day and I think my patience was running out and fatigue setting in!

I'm ready to give Visual BCD a go - and I reckon I could probably navigate my way round its various screens.

But here's the problem. Even if I get to the screen(s) such as those shown in your screenshots...... how do I know which BCD entries to edit? And what to insert in place of what's there?

I posted up in my OP a full image of the BCD entries I pulled up on my Lenovo laptop. But no-one has yet said which - if any - of those entries might need changing; nor what should be inserted instead.

Indeed I still don't know whether the BCD whose entries I posted is actually the one which the booting process uses (since I don't get a Windows Boot Manager menu screen showing up, as I should, with Win7 and Linux listed). Is there another BCD somewhere? I don't know. And if so might it need editing too? I don't know. Does there need to be a change in which partition is labelled "active"? I don't know. Why am I getting this odd "Boot Normally or Restore System Image" options-screen briefly before it boots into Win7? I don't know. How many bootloaders are there on this laptop's system? I don't know. Do I need more than one and should I be removing/deleting any? I don't know.....

So I accept that VisualBCD might be the right tool for solving the problem(s). But right now I don't yet know exactly what and where the problems are. I have posted up such evidence of the "symptoms" as I can offer. I would very much like to have the diagnosis/analysis first. Once I have some focused help in that, and once I know what needs to be amended, deleted, or reconfigured, it should not be too difficult to figure out how to use Visual BCD to effect a cure.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
1 Week Ago   #9
br1anstorm

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
 
 

A quick follow-up to my previous message (above). Just to prove that I am not the only person finding it hard to get clear advice on how to edit the BCD, there is an interesting post in this forum here

bcd - How to use BCDEdit to dual boot Windows installations? - Super User

The post there contains some classic quotes which I find very appropriate ... for example

Quote:
Since I did not set id to a well-known identifier, I must set /device to "the option that is used to specify the new boot entry as an additional device options entry". I know all those words; they're all English. But I have no idea what it is saying; those words in that order seem nonsensical.
and then
Quote:
I don't want to be like Dan Stolts from Microsoft, who destroyed his hard drives trying to use BCDEdit:
I found no content that was particularly helpful when I hosed my machine by playing with BCDEdit. This post would have been ok if there was much more detail especially on the /set command OSDevice, etc....
I mean, if a Microsoft guy can't even figure out how to use BCDEdit to edit his BCD, then what chance do I have?
He goes on to say in a footnote:
Quote:
I tried Visual BCD Editor. It seems to be a visual BCD editor. That is to say that it's a GUI, but still uses the same terminology as BCDEdit, and requires the same knowledge that BCD doesn't document.
At this stage I am not even certain that editing the BCD in this Lenovo laptop is the right solution to the problem I have described. It may be that I need to make an adjustment to some other part of the boot sequence. So I know exactly how that guy feels. And it proves that I'm not alone in wanting better and more precise guidance than just "use the program".
My System SpecsSystem Spec
1 Week Ago   #10
SIW2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

It is not possible to
Quote:
destroy a hard drive using bcdedit
.

All bcdedit does is create/make entries in the bcd store.

However, it is possible to make the wrong entries in the store. If you do that, you obviously won't be able to boot until you correct the entries.

It is a little complicated - which is why GUIs have been made. I frequently create and edit bcd stores. I have dozens of entries in my currently live bcd store.

You could try running starup repair from booted win7 media - but it will likely remove any non MS entries.

Or you could use grub boot repair media - you would then end up with grub as the boot manager. It should create the correct windows entries automatically.

boot media download:

boot-repair-disk - Browse Files at SourceForge.net

Boot-Repair, simple tool to recover access to your Operating Systems.

Easy-to-use (repair in 1 click ! )
Free (GPL open-source license)
Helpful (Boot-Info summary to get help by email or on your favorite forum)
Safe (automatic backups)
Reliable (400.000 users per year)
Can recover access to Windows (XP, Vista, Windows7, Windows8, Windows10).
Can recover access to Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, OpenSuse, ArchLinux...
Can recover access to any OS (Windows, MacOS, Linux..) if your PC contains Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, OpenSuse, ArchLinux, or derivative.
Can repair MBR-locked OEM computer boot if the original bootsector has been saved by Clean-Ubiquity
Can repair the boot when you have the "GRUB Recovery" error message
Options to reinstall GRUB2/GRUB1 bootloader easily (OS by default, purge, unhide, kernel options..)
and much more ! (UEFI, SecureBoot, RAID, LVM, Wubi, filesystem repair...)

Dual boot with Win7 - problem with boot menus on Lenovo laptop-grub-boot-repair.jpg


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 Dual boot with Win7 - problem with boot menus on Lenovo laptop




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