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Problem with non-standard BOOT.INI


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#1 porty

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 04:23 PM

Hi all. I'm trying to upgrade a desktop computer from Win2K to XPP. After Win2K had booted and was running normally I inserted the XP disk and selected the 'Upgrade' option. There were no incompatibility issues. The upgrade started but soon stalled and said it couldn't copy C:\BOOT.INI. I took a look at the ini file but it was unreadable in Notepad, Wordpad or Word, (garbage characters) plus it's about 1mb in size, instead of the few bytes of a standard ini.

Anyone have a clue as to what's going on here? Could this ini be some sort of proprietary file? Just had a look at the system with ERD Commander and it seems like it was originally an IBM system, and has a hidden recovery partition.

Advice would be appreciated,
Thanks :-)

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#2 hamluis

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 04:30 PM

My advice is: Do yourself a favor...and just start with a clean install.

Clean Install Procedure with Illustrative Screen Captures - http://www.theeldergeek.com/xp_home_install_-_graphic.htm

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#3 Romeo29

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 05:18 PM

Boot.INI is used specially in multi-boot systems(more than one Windows versions on different partitions) by NTLDR. So if you are not using multi-boot systems, dont bother about.

#4 porty

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 05:33 PM

hamluis, thanks for your response. Yes, I agree that a clean install would be best but the system belongs to a friend who has a lot of installed data and programs that she doesn't want to lose, so upgrading is the olny option, apart from staying with Win2K (which is not running well, I can't even defrag it properly).


Romeo29. All systems have a boot.ini, whether they're multi-boot or single OS. As I said, this particular boot.ini must be non-standard, because of its size and garbage-characters.

#5 Andrew

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 05:41 PM

Have you tried replacing the garbage characters with what would normally be found in the boot.ini file?

It ought to be something like this:

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Windows 2000" /fastdetect



#6 Romeo29

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 05:55 PM

Romeo29. All systems have a boot.ini, whether they're multi-boot or single OS. As I said, this particular boot.ini must be non-standard, because of its size and garbage-characters.


"Windows (specifically Ntldr) uses the Boot.ini file to determine which operating system options to display when the Startup program is running."
The purpose of the Boot.ini file in Windows XP

"If boot.ini is missing, NTLDR will default to \Windows on the first partition of the first hard drive. NTLDR allows the user to choose which operating system ... The menu options are stored in boot.ini, which itself is located in the root of the same disk as NTLDR."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTLDR

From the above, two references, it is clear that : BOOT.INI is not essential for single-boot systems (although, you can configure boot options through it, which should be done). It is a must for multi-boot systems.

Edited by Romeo29, 12 April 2009 - 05:56 PM.


#7 Andrew

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 06:09 PM

From the above, two references, it is clear that : BOOT.INI is not essential for single-boot systems (although, you can configure boot options through it, which should be done). It is a must for multi-boot systems.


While not strictly essential, a missing boot.ini file will generate an onscreen error message before defaulting to multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\Windows.

In this case, since the OP is upgrading from Win2000 to WinXP, the problem should be rectified before continuing. This is because while Windows XP is installed by default in C:\Windows, Windows 2000 is installed by default in C:\WINNT. If I remember correctly, an upgrade from 2000 to XP will retain the C:\WINNT folder as %systemroot%.

Thus, with the XP NTLDR installed over the older 2000 NTLDR one would have to specify the alternate path.

I've not actually tried upgrading from 2000 to XP and thereafter deleting the boot.ini file, so I could be wrong. In any event, the damaged boot.ini file seems to be interfering with the ungrade process, so it needs to be fixed. Unless the OP goes with hamluis's suggestion (with which I agree) and just do a fresh install.

#8 porty

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 08:40 PM

Amazing Andrew, thanks. Yes, I tried inserting that 'standard' Win2K boot.ini but it refused to boot at all with it in place.

(I should have explained that I'm carrying out these experiments on a cloned copy of the drive, just in case anything goes wrong)

So I put the old ini back again and it ran without a problem.

It like I'm stymied here; I can't upgrade to XP without a rebuild, and the amount of work attached to that option doesn't warrant the effort. I've just replaced the clone with the original drive and it can stay that way.

Interesting exercise, though. I've never run across a 1mb ini before, or one like this that refuses to be deciphered. Obviously IBM (before Lenovo bought them out) had Secret Squirrel policies :-)

#9 Andrew

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 12:24 PM

Interesting exercise, though. I've never run across a 1mb ini before, or one like this that refuses to be deciphered. Obviously IBM (before Lenovo bought them out) had Secret Squirrel policies :-)

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