Cannot Boot into XP or Grub
June 1, 2006 9:22 AM   Subscribe

How do I recover Windows XP Pro boot record (MBR)? Scenario: Partitioned HD for Linux, Rebooted in XP ok, Reboot, install Linux and grub, reboot no Grub or XP. Ran XP Disc - Recovery Console (see extended explaination)

Partitioned with Partition Magic HD for Linux.
Rebooted, Installed Linux (Debian) and grub.
Reboot --> no XP or Grub (no operating system found)
Rebooted with XP install disc, Ran Recovery Console
Ran these commands:
C: CD ..
C: ATTRIB –H C:\boot.ini
C:ATTRIB –S C:\boot.ini
C:ATRIB –R C:\boot.ini
C: del boot.ini
C: BOOTCFG /Rebuild
C: FIXBOOT C: (had to do this since it tried to write a boot record to the partition I made for Linux E:, which I placed after C:)
No XP or Grub after reboot.
P.S. I even tried fixmbr to no avail.
posted by bloodniece to Computers & Internet (22 answers total)
fixmbr at the recovery console.
posted by quadrinary at 9:24 AM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: Read my post: I already ran fixmbr at recovery console.
posted by bloodniece at 9:29 AM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: I am afraid I must reinstall XP. I plan on copying some files over to the other partition after I delete the Debian partition and reformat it as FAT32. How can I obtain my License Key from the Windows installation from the Recovery Console? I do not have the original packaging for my XP Pro disc (it is legit) There is no license badge/sticker on the case as this is a custom built computer.

posted by bloodniece at 9:40 AM on June 1, 2006

have you tried using diskpart to see if the XP partition is set active?
posted by toomuch at 9:43 AM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: yes, I can log into the XP install as Administrator
posted by bloodniece at 9:46 AM on June 1, 2006

Boot with a Windows 98 floppy disc, run Fdisk with the command fdisk /mbr
posted by ijsbrand at 9:49 AM on June 1, 2006

That is Windows 98 boot floppy disc
posted by ijsbrand at 9:51 AM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: ok, i'll try that. Brb.
posted by bloodniece at 9:51 AM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: No dice on 98 fdisk thing
posted by bloodniece at 9:59 AM on June 1, 2006

"yes, I can log into the XP install as Administrator"

does that mean you ran diskpart to see if the XP partition is set active?
posted by toomuch at 10:01 AM on June 1, 2006

'dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda count=2' while in Linux (LiveCD or your install) will wipe the first two sectors off the disk.

Works for me.
posted by rinkjustice at 10:02 AM on June 1, 2006

fixing the master boot record will do nothing if the parition is not active
posted by toomuch at 10:02 AM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: I guess. What am I looking for?
I see
C: Partition1 [ntfs] 61311 MB ( 43345 MB Free )
E: Partition2 [fat32] i went ahead and formatted this part.

I see nothing about active
posted by bloodniece at 10:06 AM on June 1, 2006

select disk 0
select part 1
detail part 1

Partition 1
Type : 07
Hidden : No
Active : ****YES****

if yours says no then run this command from diskpart:
posted by toomuch at 10:11 AM on June 1, 2006

I've had luck restoring blasted partitions with TestDisk (it's cross-platform and free)
posted by StarForce5 at 10:12 AM on June 1, 2006

btw, if diskpart doesn't work, you can easily set the partition active using that same windows 98 boot floppy and fdisk
posted by toomuch at 10:13 AM on June 1, 2006

After beating my head against this once, I gave up on using the Linux bootloader and instead went with the Windows one. It's there, just usually quietly bypassed in the default configuration. Using the Windows bootloader I could switch back and forth between OS's with no problem.
posted by intermod at 11:14 AM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: Ok, I tried all the suggestions to no avail. How do I retrieve my license key before wiping XP and reinstalling?


p.s. I just can't put any more time into this on. I just spent 4 hours settings a wireless bridge between two building and I just want to get tanked and reinstall everything.
posted by bloodniece at 1:23 PM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: Yes, grammar ... is ... failing .... fastttt
posted by bloodniece at 1:24 PM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: Ok, after reading this thread on Experts Exchange --> Link to EE thread, I give up.

Reinstallation is my doom.
posted by bloodniece at 1:32 PM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all your help.
Lessons learned:
Write your key down
Install Linux on a separate drive and not a partition.

posted by bloodniece at 5:54 AM on June 2, 2006

I'm going to guess that the culprit was the Partition Magic for Linux you used to repartition your drive. Partition changes get written to the boot record, and if your hard drive has at all unusual architecture, Windows utilities may describe it differently from Linux utilities. Linux will be happy reading either, but Windows can get confused by a Linux-written boot record. I've been using Partition Magic for Windows to resize Windows partitions through maybe ten dual-boot installations and have always gotten a boot record that's friendly to both operating systems.

The other thing you can do to be extra safe is to ask Linux to install its bootloader (Grub or Lilo, usually) in the Linux partition, not the boot partition. Then you can use this set of instructions at to copy the Linux partition's boot sector to a file in the Windows partition and point Windows's boot.ini bootloader at it.

If you do these two things, there is absolutely nothing about installing Linux that Windows is even aware of. Sorry this effort was a disaster -- I hope you try again!
posted by gum at 1:34 PM on June 2, 2006

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