Software and hardware annotations 2011 August

This document contains only my personal opinions and calls of judgement, and where any comment is made as to the quality of anybody's work, the comment is an opinion, in my judgement.

[file this blog page at: digg Technorati]

110808 Sat MS-Windows boot and moving its partitions

I have not used MS-Windows on both my laptop and desktop because it was failing to boot (preinstalled on the laptop) or install (fresh install from retail package) for a couple of years now, and fortunately I have been able to make do with CrossOver under GNU/Linux for the rare case where I must really use MS-Office.

I have't had time to play games (which really means MS-Windows games) for a long time either, even if Valve Steam and Epic Megagames games seem to mostly work under Crossover.

But I have decided to fix the MS-Windows installation issue, as it had aspects that have long bothered me. Well, indeed there were are I spent a lot of time to work around them, and I spent a lot of time trying to find on the web descriptions of the problems and explanations of what is going on.

The installation problem, where the MS-Windows 7 installation simply would hang with a busy cursor, turned out to be that for some reason MS-Windows 7 is not compatible with the bootloader of GRUB 2, which is very surprising. The most likely cause is that GRUB 2 puts some of its bootstrap code in sectors beyond the first on the disk, but I did not investigate that, and just switched back to LILO.

The bigger problem was that as I had previously noticed there are aspects of the MS-Windows boot process that break it if the system or boot filesystems are in partitions that have been moved, and there are in particular some places where specific information has to be updated:

So the MBR, partition boot record, BCD and registry have to be fixed. Unfortunately there is no Microsoft tool to do most of these things (the command to repair MBR and boot do only a very limited subset), but fortunately thanks to a page by a similar user I have discovered that the GNU/Linux utility savepart includes all the required actions as a side effect of its ability to save MS-Windows partitions and them to different disks and offsets.