multi boot, TIH10 changes boot.ini when cloning partitions

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by htpcman, Dec 25, 2006.

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  1. htpcman

    htpcman Registered Member

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    Hi, I have a problem with the behavior of TIH10 when using it to clone a single partition in order to have a multi boot setup. I use this kind of setup to separate different work flows. I have one OS clone for office work, one for video editing and one for tests and gaming. All OSes are totally independent and there are no shared files or partitions.

    Installation steps:

    1. Install WinXP with all basic drivers and apps (incl. TI) on disk #1 leaving sufficient unpartitioned space at the end of the disk.

    2. Modify boot.ini to offer booting from partitons 1,2 or 3 (for later first time boot selection). This involves duplicating the line under "operating Systems" and changing the partition number accordingly. Here is what it looks like:

    [operating systems]

    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Partition 1 Windows XP" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Partition 2 Windows XP" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINDOWS="Partition 3 Windows XP" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect



    3. Make an image file of this installation on 2nd disk

    4. Restore image created in 3. twice to the free space on disk #1, thus yielding 3 partitions with identical OS installations on 3 primary partitions on the same disk.

    4. Install boot manager (I use Boot-US, http://www.boot-us.com/ ) and make a configuration that hides all partitions on boot drive #1 except the one I select to boot from.

    5. boot each partition and remove the lines from the boot.ini file that do not apply e.g. for partition #2 line one and line 3 can be removed. This saves time as Windows will no longer ask to select the partition upon booting. Also the default system for booting has to be changed in boot.ini to the desired one in this example "2".

    6. make an image file of each OS clone install so it can be recovered when needed.

    7. That's it all 3 partitions will now be selectable upon boot up and can be replaced totally independently of each other in case of a virus infection or corrupt system.

    This used to work with the older TI7 on my older P4 system and on several laptops. Now with the new TIH10 it seems that when I clone the partitions TI modifies the boot.ini file and changes the boot vectors to the last restored image in my case the third one rendering this the main system. When I try to boot the others I get the usual "ntoskernl not found..." message.

    So after a long explanation here is my question:

    How can I avoid the in my case undesirable behavior of TIH10 to modify boot.ini and changing the boot partition?

    I would like to see TIH10 just restore an image file of a system to up to 4 consecutive primary partitions but to leave the first one as the boot partition instead of making the most recently restored one the boot partition. I Also need it to leave the boot.ini as it is.

    Can this be achieved?

    As I mentioned this is not an experimental or hypothetical procedure. I have been using TI6, TI7 and before that Powerquest Drive image in this manner and never had these issues.

    I would appreciate a feedback if there is some trick to get the desired behavior. If there isn't I will continue working with TI7 but would like to ask for a "just clone partition" function that does just that in an upcoming release.

    The reason I would like to change to TIH10 is the better support for newer Chipsets like ICH8 and ICH7 for the bootable disc and the BartPE system.

    regards

    htpcman
     
  2. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

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    London, England
    Hi Htpcman, welcome to the Forum :D

    For the home user there are principally 2 licences:

    * OEM - Original Equipment Manufacturer
    • this is the type of license that is supplied when you purchase a machine with Windows preinstalled.
    • this license is tied to the BIOS of the machine and therefore cannot be transferred to another machine without the permission of MIcrosoft.
    * FPP - Full Packaged Product
    • this is the type of license that is supplied when you purchase Windows separately to the computer and install it yourself.
    • this license can be transferred between computers without obtaining permission from Microsoft.

    In BOTH the above cases you may only install the ONE instance of XP with the same Product Key on the same computer at the same time. If you install the same copy of XP twice on the same machine at the same time, legally you will be in violation of the EULA and technically you will experience problems if both instances are active when you start the computer.

    To remain both legally and technically correct the only way that you can have 2 installations of the same license is if you:

    * purchase a spare disk
    * image your system disk using ATI
    * restore the image to your new spare disk
    * swap the two disks when you need to

    The most convenient way to facilitate this is if you use a Trayless Rack (SATA) or a Caddie & Cartridge (PATA). This enables quick and easy disk swapping.

    Having only the original system disk OR the spare disk installed in your system at any point in time ensures that you remain legally within the EULA and that you will not experience any technical issues.

    PLEASE NOTE:

    The above also applies to a virtual machine such as when you use virtulisation software e.g. VMware
     
  3. htpcman

    htpcman Registered Member

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    Hi Tabvla,

    Thanks for your reply. I was not aware that the MS Eula was restrictive in such a user unfriendly way. So my guess is that TIH10's behavior is a "feature" not a bug and will probably not be changed by the developers.

    To make a long story short I went back to using TI7 and everything is working as I need it. One point I would like to make is that duplicating an image in my view is not the same as installing Windows a second time. When using the boot manager "Boot-US" it will deactivate and hide all partitions except the one that is in use. The others will show up in the disk management tool as "unknown file system" and are thus neither accessible nor usable in any way. They could be seen as a backup of the running system. This is actually a desired function in order to prevent damage the systems not in use. I think this is more or less the same technical behavior as the use of a second disk. No sane person would buy a second or third copy of their operating system to run on the same machine.

    I am not a lawyer and I do not want to get into the discussion of whether all the terms of the Eula apply here in Germany where I live. According to German law, however, the EULA is a contract and as with any contract over here the buyer has to be able to read the terms of the contract (EULA) before purchasing the product. I bought a legal copy of Windows XP Home (system builder version) for a friend's PC and I am using one copy at a time with a single computer. The system in question belongs to a friend and I am merely making his life easier by offering him the option of using different configurations for different tasks on his PC.

    As for myself I have been using Linux (Ubuntu) for the past 2 years which is totally sufficient for office work, Internet browsing and such. With the increasing limitations MS is imposing on their customers I have little motivation to use windows XP or "upgrade" to vista. The excerpts from the EULA you posted are a living example for the kind of restrictions that make life for the user harder needlessly.


    regards

    htpcman
     
  4. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

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    I have seen some folkes state that if you called MSFT, they may allow you to install Win XP more than once on the same PC.

    Policy might vary from country to country.
     
  5. BlueZannetti

    BlueZannetti Administrator

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    Actually, strict reading of the EULA:
    (bold/italics/underline added - Blue)

    would imply that the detailed restrictions apply to multiple concurrently run instances. In a typical multiboot configuration, you can only run one copy, on one machine, at one time. It would seem that fulfills not only the spirit, but also the detailed language, of the EULA.

    The punch lines:
    • If you have n machines, you need n licenses.
    • If you have n machines that are running q concurrent instances of the OS, you need q (q > n) licenses
    • If you have one machine with two or fewer processor cores and can only run one instance, you need one license.
    • If you have one machine with two or fewer processor cores and can run multiple (n) concurrent instances of XP, you need n licenses.
    At least that is my non-lawyerly reading

    Blue
     
  6. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

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    The problem is with the Activation of each OS.

    Even tho you may be running only 1 OS at a time, MSFT keeps track of the number of activations. At some point an Activation may fail.

    As I stated before, some folkes have stated that they had to call MSFT to get such activations to work.
     
  7. BlueZannetti

    BlueZannetti Administrator

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    I absolutely agree that this is a possible outcome. If your requests for activations are "abnormally" high (not sure what that threshold would be), it would seem reasonable that a hoop or two may be in order. That said, I've never experienced an issue - perhaps that is due to the core CPU changing only once on a CPU upgrade, perhaps it is due to not needing a whole lot of reactivations (probably less than 6) over the past 5-6 years....

    Blue
     
  8. htpcman

    htpcman Registered Member

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    Hi again,

    Just a short bit about the activation question. Since the hardware is not changed in my scenario described above, there is no need for extra activations for the OS running from the 2nd or 3rd partition. I have never needed to do this. What I do is I install and activate the system on the 1st partition and then after the procedure outlined above the system will start from any of the three partitions without the need for a new activation. It has always worked that way and this is one more reason why I believe that my procedure is not in violation of the EULA.

    But anyway this thread has become a discussion about multi-boot systems compliance with the EULA. My innitial question was why TIH10 modifies the boot.ini and if there is a solution other than using an older version to avoid this?

    I would appreciate help of any kind if somebody out there has an idea.

    Thanks

    htpcman
     
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