OSS can't find Windows on a logical.

Discussion in 'Acronis Disk Director Suite' started by McTavish, Feb 27, 2008.

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  1. McTavish

    McTavish Registered Member

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    Hi folks……anyone know how to get OS Selector to add an independent Windows install on a logical partition to the bootmenu? (That’s a Windows with all its own boot files on its own partition). The blurb for the bootmanager states it can boot any Windows from any partition, but no matter what I’ve tried I cannot get OSS to detect either XP or Vista. Even with the boot sector of the OS copied to a file in the root of the install the ‘OS Detection Wizard” still does not work.

    I have managed to achieve it for both XP and Vista by manually adding them to the bootwiz.oss file, so it is possible for OSS to boot logicals, but this can’t be the way that Acronis would recommend. There is nothing in the help about it and very little generally about how the bootmanager works. Are there any user sites with guides or tutorials for OS Selector? I’ve searched quite a bit and found nothing.

    Cheers
    McT.
     
  2. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

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  3. McTavish

    McTavish Registered Member

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    Thanks for the links k0lo, I had browsed the forum but I obviously missed both of those threads. Something for me to be getting on with for now.


    EDIT:-
    Well those threads have basically answered my question – there is no easy way to do it. I just really needed to be sure I was not missing something. If there was some other approved way I’m sure someone from Acronis would have chimed in.

    I essentially did the same as you MudCrab, except I just made a duplicate of an existing xp/vista entry in the bootwiz.oss and changed it accordingly. For Vista you can just zero out the offset and signature in the long data string as it is not used. Unlike with XP, when booting Vista OSS does seem to exclusively use the PBR and Vista’s own bootfiles. The BCD can be generalized or specialized, does not matter. However it does matter when OSS is first installed, a generalized BCD will mean OSS will not see Vista – that one had me going for a while.

    I’ve been trying to get OSS not to allocate an active primary partition when booting from a logical, but so far it refuses to allow this. So as you suggested in one of those threads the next best thing is to make sure this is not a Vista install. OSS also can’t drive swap correctly for Vista, so again when booting from a second or higher hard drive set the active primary on the boot drive to something other than a Vista.

    Regards
    McT.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2008
  4. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    McTavish,

    I suspect that when booting Windows from Logical partitions, OSS is referring to Windows being installed in the "normal" way (the MS way). The boot files are located on a Primary partition (this can be very small) and Windows is installed to a Logical partition. This is how Windows will install if you select a Logical partition as the installation destination. With a setup like this, OSS can manage the boot files in the Primary partition and allow multiple installations of Windows to use the same "boot" partition. It's not the same thing as directly supporting booting Windows from Logical partitions. I avoid setups like this because I want all the Windows files in their own partition.

    OSS doesn't seem to have problems booting Linux from Logical partitions.

    In case you didn't see it, this thread deals with manually adding Vista to OSS when it isn't detected: Vista disappeared in dual boot

    I seriously doubt it. The last post by Acronis Support was in November 2007. They very rarely post in the DD forum.

    Getting the entry into the BOOTWIZ.OSS file seems to be the main thing. From there, it will boot okay (in most cases).

    If the BCD file has been modifed from the standard MS Vista DVD installation format or it is from an non-MS OEM installation of Vista, OSS will most likely not detect it. This is a known problem and Acronis is supposed to have it fixed in the next build of DD (whenever that is). If OSS doesn't detect Vista, it can be added manually (as in the thread linked above).

    It's been a while since I worked with this particular problem. I think you're referring to OSS always wanting to set a partition Active when you're booting Windows. In the case of booting Windows from a Logical partition, the Active partition shouldn't be a Windows partition.

    Drive swapping does seem to be more problematic for Vista than XP. I prefer to keep them on the same drive, if possible. It's just less complicated.
     
  5. McTavish

    McTavish Registered Member

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    Thanks Paul, I had seen that thread you just mentioned and it was the one that put me onto the bootwiz.oss file and how to edit it. Had a few thoughts and I was wondering now if the copied boot sector has to be placed in the root of the OS or inside the bootwiz folder? I assumed the root but I’ll have to check.

    Also, I said OSS let Vista always use its own PBR and bootmgr/BCD, but something you said somewhere about logicals being different in this regard has made me wonder now if I tested this for primaries.

    I can see I’m going to be at this for a while. I remember OSS from version 5 back in the 2001 – I’ve still got the disk. It was a mess then and it’s worst now. Personally I would not entertain it but I get a lot of people asking me if it’s suitable for Vista so I want to get my facts straight. Do you know of any material that details how it actually uses all those files it creates on every partition?

    McT.
     
  6. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

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    I don't know of any documentation on how and why OSS stores what it does and where.

    From my experience, it seems that it does the following:

    For non-Windows and non-Linux partitions, OSS creates a BOOTWIZ folder that contains a context.oss file which holds the partition's ID value.

    For XP partitions, OSS creates a BOOTWIZ folder that contains sub-folders for the OS ID (in hex format), files to check and files for uninstallation. There is also the context.oss file which contains data regarding this information.

    For Vista partitions (at least mine), the BOOTWIZ folder contains much the same as XP except that bootmgr is saved and XP's files aren't present (or probably aren't on a normal installation).

    The partition to which OSS is installed also has a BOOTWIZ folder. This folder contains all the booting files and sub-folders for each Windows OS (in hex format for the OS ID). Each sub-folder contains at least the bootsect.sys file (which I assume is a copy of the boot sector of that OS's partition).

    I also know that even though OSS is supposed to check for changes to OS specific files (boot.ini in XP, for example) on the OS's partitions, it doesn't seem to work very well. In most cases, it's best to make any of these types of changes when booted to OSS and editing the file directly from the OS's menu entry. This lets OSS edit the copy it has "hidden away" and that gets copied back when you boot that OS. In other words, editing the boot.ini file on an XP partition may or may not actually keep the changes the time you boot.

    Personally, I just ignore all these files and let OSS handle them. I have backup images of my partitions so if something goes wrong I can fix it in a couple minutes.

    If OSS had the option to turn off automatic OS detection and let you just select a partition and say "Boot Partition" or "Boot Linux", etc. (like "chainloading" in GRUB) it would be nice. Most of the problems come from the detection not working properly and there is no way to "force" a detection except by editing the BOOTWIZ.OSS file and adding it yourself.

    -------

    On a side note: OSS likes to "take over" any externally booting device you connect to the computer. I joke sometimes that if my flashdrive even touches my OSS computer, I'll have to repair it before it will boot properly (it really does seem that bad). Basically, OSS will modify the MBR of the flashdrive (USB hard drive, etc.) to make it look for OSS on the computer. It will actually show up in the OSS menu when you boot instead of booting the device. Then, if you try and boot the device on another computer, you'll get an error because OSS can be found. In some cases, you'll just get an "MBR Error #" message and the active boot sector will boot. To me, this is one of the most irritating things about OSS (even more so than the bugs).

    The only way I've found to avoid this is to deactivate OSS before booting an external device and then reactivating afterwards. If you have a flashdrive with a write-protect switch (I don't), it would be a good use for it.
     
  7. McTavish

    McTavish Registered Member

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    Thanks MudCrab, just realised I forgot to come back and thank you for your help. I did quite a bit of research and searching and it does look like you are the world expert on OSS and probably know more about it than anyone else, other than perhaps the guy who originally threw it together. I’m done with it now and moved on to testing some others. Thanks again.

    Cheers
    McT.
     
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