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MBR will not boot Windows

By Chris_Carter_zero ·
Juvenile mistake folks. I apologize for my ignorance.

I installed Linux Red Hat 7 from an old book in an attempt to become Linux savvy. This is where it gets spooky.

HP
OEM Pre-install Win XP SP2 (No RECOVERY CONSOLE)
Two Physical HDDs

I didn't set up an additional hardware profile which was my initial mistake. However, I began the installation on a secondary HDD. Leaving me Loading Linux from the MBR on the Primary and running the OS from the secondary. When I boot without the Secondary attached I get the following:

L_

With the underscore blinking of course. I have tried a WinMe bootable from bootdisk.com, WinXP quickboot from the same site and have tried booting to DOS from the linux bootloader which only starts System Recovery offering only destrucitve and non-destructive recovery options. And upon recovery it boots into Linux and/or revisits the L_ blinker.

{The bootables only render a blinking cursor without the "L"}

Anyone? I have attempted to modify the boot.ini file which still shouldn't affect my inability to boot to a startup.

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I suspect...

by TechExec2 In reply to MBR will not boot Windows

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I suspect that the boot sector on your primary drive loads LILO or GRUB from the secondary drive. When the secondary drive is not present, the boot process does not work and gives you the "L_" prompt.

You should be able to get your primary drive back to booting all on its own by booting an MS-DOS floppy and running the following command (3):

fdisk /mbr

This will fix your master boot record (MBR) on your primary drive. It will no longer need the secondary drive.


Dual Booting Windows and Linux

You absolutely can dual boot Windows and Linux reliably from a single drive, or a pair of drives that are permanently installed in your PC. But, it is not uncommon to run into problems like you have experienced. It does not matter that it was caused by a human error or not. A simple error leaves you hosed.

I got tired of fiddling around with dual booting that way. Instead, I install one OS on each HDD and put the HDDs in removable "drive drawers" (1). Then, when I want to reboot, I just insert the correct drive. Neither OS ever has to know about, nor can adversely affect, the other.

Note: Jumper both drives as "primary" and only insert one at a time. Or, jumper both drives as "cable select" and use 80-wire IDE ribbon cables. The position on the cable will cause the drive to operate as primary (end of cable) or secondary (middle of cable).

Alternatively, I install the alternate OS into a VM using free Microsoft Virtual PC (2). This works very well.


(1) Removable Drive Drawers
http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?ProductCode=269830
http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductList.jsp?ThirdCategoryCode=110208&SortBy=BA&Brand=KINGWIN

(2) Microsoft Virtual PC
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtualpc/default.mspx

(3) FDISK /MBR rewrites the Master Boot Record
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/69013

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