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About the BOOT.INI File 
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About the BOOT.INI File

In our estimation, the most common cause of problems in the boot process with XXCLONE is the settings in the BOOT.INI file.  Although the BOOT.INI file created by XXCLONE (using Make Bootable, Add Test Boot or Make QBD) works well for the majority of users, there are cases where the parameters (usually the Disk Number) chosen for the Target volume does not match the correct value. 

If you encounter a boot problem with a cloned volume, you should read the previous pages in this section first.

The chances are that by manually editing the BOOT.INI file, the cloned volume will come to life with a new setting.  It is a plain text file.  If you are not familiar in dealing with plain text (or not sure of the difference between a Word document file and a plain text file), we recommend the use of NotePad, not a word processor such as Word.


      Here is how to edit the BOOT.INI file.  This column explains only the mechanics of editing procedures of a plain text file.  The actual changes that need to apply to the BOOT.INI file will be explained shortly.

      Before you can edit the file, you should make sure that it is not hidden nor write-protected.  First, open the Start > Run... dialog box.  Then, type the following command line in the Open: box.

        attrib -s -h -r x:\boot.ini

          where x: is the drive letter of the Target volume.

      The above command removes the protective attributes of the file.  The real editing begins now.  Once again, open the Start > Run... dialog box.  Then, type the following command line in the Open: box.

        notepad x:\boot.ini

        Start

        The backslash (\) is necessary to explicitly specify the location of the file (at the root directory).

      Inside NotePad, select the font and/or the width of the window to make sure that the longest line (about 120 characters) does not wrap around.

      Once all the editing changes are complete, save the file by File > Save through the NotePad menu, and exit the program.


  • In case you get confused with our explanation, you may go to the authoritative references that are available at Microsoft's web site.

  • Let us examine a sample BOOT.INI file, first.

    [Boot Loader] Timeout=5 Default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS [Operating Systems] multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Pro" /fastdetect multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XXCLONE (Cloned) [d:1,p:1]" /fastdetect
    With the above BOOT.INI file, the following lines will appear in the boot menu:

      bootmenu

  • The BOOT.INI file has two sections, [Boot Loader] and [Operating Systems] .

    The first section, [Boot Loader] declares the timeout period of the boot menu (Timeout=...) and the default line (Default=...) that matches one of the lines in the second section.

    The second section, [Operating Systems], contains the selection items of the boot menu. These items correspond to the lines displayed in the boot menu.  Each line consists of three parts.  The first two are separated by an equal sign (=).  The third (optional) part is for options which always start with a slash (/).

        1. Invisible part

          It specifies the disk number, the partition number and the name of the Windows system directory.  This part does not appear in the boot menu.

        2. Visible part

          The text that is surrounded by a pair of quotation marks (") appears in the boot menu (for human consumption only).

        3. Boot parameter part

          The rightmost part provides optional boot parameters (also called Boot Options) such as /fastdetect, /NoExecute=Optin that supply additional switches that control the boot process.

    In the example file above, the invisible part of the first line of the [Operating Systems] says

        multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
    					
      The invisible part declares four parameters with a numeric value in parentheses.  The first two values, multi(0) and disk(0) are always set with zero (0). 

      The important parameters for us are the last two parameters, rdisk(x) and partition(y) where (x) designates the Disk Number and (y) specifiesthe Partition Number of the volume. 

      The last portion, \WINDOWS points to the system directory.

    Then, the visible part of the line says

       "Microsoft Windows XP Pro"
    					
      You may enter any text in the visible part that is meaningful only to the user.  We suggest that the text include distinctive parameters that serve as a reminder to the user. 
    The third and the rightmost part of the line says

       /fastdetect
    					
      You may also find switches like /NoExecute=OptIn and /basevideo in the optional boot parameter field.  A switch is always preceded by a slash character (/).
  • As explained in great detail in the last segment of the BIOS Settings page, one common boot problem with the BOOT.INI file is caused by the discrepancies in the disk numbering schemes between the BIOS and the Windows system. 

    For a cure, what we suggest is to add similar lines with different Disk Numbers (i.e., the rdisk(x) values) for the Target volume. For example, to cover possible disk numbering schemes, two more lines may be added to the BOOT.INI file as follows:


    [Boot Loader] Timeout=5 Default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS [Operating Systems] multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Pro" /fastdetect multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XXCLONE (Cloned) [d:1,p:1]" /fastdetect multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(2)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XXCLONE (Cloned) [d:2,p:1]" /fastdetect multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(3)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XXCLONE (Cloned) [d:3,p:1]" /fastdetect

    With the above BOOT.INI file, the following lines will appear in the boot menu:

      bootmenu

    Notice that this revised boot menu provides two more choices.  With the additional entries, this BOOT.INI file will allow you to test cases where the BIOS designates the Target volume Disk 1, Disk 2, or Disk 3.

    Similarly, if you suspect that the discrepancy may lie in the partition number value, you may provide a BOOT.INI file with all possible permutations for rdisk(x)partition(y) combinations.  (Note that Disk Number starts at 0 whereas the Partition Number starts at 1). 

  • The maximum number of lines displayed in the boot menu is 10.  If you furnish more lines in the [Operating Systems] section in the BOOT.INI file, only the first 10 lines will appear in the boot menu.
  • You must be extermely careful when you edit the BOOT.INI file of the working system volume (typically at C:) because once the file becomes corrupted, the system may render non-bootable.  Our suggestion is to leave the existing default line (that selects the current system volume) unchanged and only to append new lines at the bottom of the file.  In this fashion, even if the newly added lines contain an error, it would not affect the bootability of the system.
  • During the bootability tests with various parameters in the BOOT.INI file, the use of a QBD) is particularly attractive because your editing activities will be localized to the diskette.  Your main disk will remain self-bootable.
  • Once you succeed in a system boot to the Target volume and you want to make it permanent (as the new default volume), you may replace the Default=... line with the "invisible part" (the left-hand side of the equal sign) in the desired line in the [Operating Systems].  When the boot menu has only one (default) line, the boot sequence skips the display of the boot menu.