Sunday, February 25, 2007

Preparing for Longhorn

"Longhorn" is the code name for Microsoft's next generation Windows Server which was developed alongside Vista in the same project. Both operating systems "share a number of new technologies across networking, storage, security and management."

I will be installing the Longhorn Beta on Nighthawk which already has the Windows XP MCE 2005 and Vista Ultimate x64 operating systems installed in a "dual boot" setup. In addition, the Windows 98SE, Windows XP Professional and Ubuntu operating systems are installed in virtual PCs using Virtual PC 2007 running under Vista Ultimate x64 on Nighthawk.

The Longhorn Beta will be installed in its own 500 GB disk drive which I will be adding to the 2 existing 500 GB disk drives hosting 2 RAID0 Volumes, one each for Windows XP MCE 2005 and Vista Ultimate x64.

My immediate goal is to be able to boot either Windows XP MCE 2005, Vista Ultimate x64, or Longhorn on Nighthawk. I can already boot either Windows XP MCE 2005 or Vista Ultimate x64 today on Nighthawk.

How to accomplish this?

Good question. I don't know at this point. Vista has changed the multi-boot landscape and I will have to research this problem.

My first step was to install VistaBootPRO 3.1 Beta from PROnetworks to get a picture of the "boot" situation on Nighthawk.

During the installation of VistaBootPRO, the DreamScene background on my second monitor turned to black, and the "Display driver stopped responding and has recovered" error message at the end.

VistaBootPRO itself informed me that it did not detect Vista or that Nighthawk may have an "irregular drive configuration." Starting VistaBootPRO displays the same warning message, but it does start and run.

VistaBootPRO correctly detects both Windows XP MCE 2005 (as "Earlier Version of Windows") and Vista Ultimate x64, on Boot drives D and C, respectively.

Background: Windows XP MCE 2005 was the first operating system installed in the C drive on Nighthawk. The second volume was disabled in Windows XP MCE 2005, and Vista Ultimate x64 was subsequently installed in this RAID0 volume. Vista made its own partition the C drive and changed the Windows XP MCE 2005 partition as the D drive.

The first action I took after starting VistaBootPRO was to backup the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) as recommended.

The interface for the BCD backup is confusing. There is an input field for the "Save Location" which I specified. Clicking on the "Save" button then presented the normal Windows Explorer interface which totally ignored the save location I had specified previously, but the backup was successful.

I selected to display a "detailed" view of the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) store.

Very interesting.

If I am reading and interpreting this information correctly, Windows Boot Manager (the initial system booted from a disk drive which allows the boot selection for Windows XP MCE 2005 or Vista Ultimate x64) is on the same volume as Windows XP MCE 2005. This implies that this volume better be the first disk volume specified in the BIOS Boot Priority (and it is.)

Although I am not yet ready to make any changes to the Boot Configuration Data (BCD), I selected the "Manage OS Entries" option in VistaBootPRO to check what options are available.

VistaBootPRO appears to be an easy tool for managing the Boot Configuration Data (BCD). I'll let you know my verdict after I actually use it for updating the BCD.

My next step is to install the 3rd 500 GB disk drive in Nighthawk as a non-RAID drive with the existing 2 RAID0 volumes hosted on a RAID array of two 500 GB disk drives.

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