Thursday, November 11, 2010

Running Windows XP from a logical partition.

As I explained yesterday, I needed a primary partition to install FreeBSD so something either had to be deleted or moved.
So, I decided to move Windows XP SP3 that has been with me for more than 8 years.
I did quite a bit of googling before I started and the main guides I found are this comprehensive tutorial, this one is more about how to boot Windows XP from a logical partition and finally this one also primarily deals with booting.
Well, I've done it now and it was actually very, very simple.
First, what I didn't do. I did NOT delete all entries in "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices" as the first link above recommends. This is simply because when I did this, my Windows XP would not boot -- kept freezing at the Welcome screen as I explained yesterday.
Also I did NOT edit the file /windows/system32/config/system after transferring the OS to a logical partition simply because whenever I tried to open it, I got an error message that something else was using the file.
What I did was nothing more than:
1. From Ubuntu on the same machine, I used the dd command as follows

sudo dd if=/dev/sda2 of=/dev/sda5

where sda2 is the primary where Windows XP was originally installed and sda5 is a logical partition that is AT LEAST the same size as sda2 and formatted to ntfs. Because my partition size was 60 GB, the dd took almost two hours (10 MB/s).
2. Next, I booted to the "old" Windows XP and opened up EasyBCD. From there I was easily ably to make the "new" Windows XP bootable from the Windows Bootloader.

Now because of the omissions I had noted above, the "new" Windows XP still "thought" it was on the sda2 drive.
I looked around a lot to try to resolve this and found some interesting stuff such as this. Microsoft indeed, detail a means to tackle this problem, or so I thought. However, although I was able to interchange the drive letters on the "old" and "new" partitions, both Chrome and Opera insisted on downloading to the "wrong" drive.
However, this was very easily resolved by changing the default download directory for both browsers.
In addition, I found that my DOS (command prompt) always opened (at least initially) to \Documents and Settings\paul\ on the "old" drive. However, after a few uses it "learnt" that the "new" drive was more appropriate.
So, for the moment everything is working fine but I can't be sure that some major difficulty is awaiting me.
Nevertheless, tomorrow, I'll delete the "old" OS and install FreeBSD.

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