Is it possible to install 2 instances of Windows XP in a dual boot?

By jonisaksson ยท 19 replies
Dec 27, 2005
  1. Hi

    My wife and I share the same computer, I use my computer for playing games where as my my wife use it for more sensible stuff :D and I guess I use the computer for that as well on the odd occasion ;)

    So ideally I would like to create a dual boot system, one where we can have all kind of different programs that are useful for normal office stuff and one partion with a minimized Windows and as few services & programs running as possible.

    But what I cant figure out is if it is possible (and also how) to run a dual boot system with the "same" instance of Windows XP.
  2. puppetgrimm1

    puppetgrimm1 TS Rookie Posts: 50

    First of all why not just setup two accounts on windows and add the programs you want on each account. Second I dont think Microsoft will let you create two instances of win XP with out having two copies of win XP even though its on the same machine. Anyway if you want too setup two accounts then just go to Start Menu, then Control panel, and finally user accounts and follow the directions on screen. Just in case you didnt know.

    Just my two cents
  3. niceboy

    niceboy TS Rookie Posts: 54

    if u must install two instances of xp, try XOSL. its a multi boot program
  4. jonisaksson

    jonisaksson TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 83

    Thanks guys.
    The reason I dont want to use just the account features is that I want to keep them completly seperate which it wouldnt be with accounts.

    I will have a look around at the different boot programs there are. XOSL looks good though I would have prefered something still being developed
  5. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,503

    There is no problem installing 2 instances of XP on the same PC, because you can run only one XP at the time. You will need to reboot to change to the other instance, and choose from the boot-menu which one.

    If the second installation does not automatically create an entry in boot.ini on your main partition, it's easy to add, using Notepad.
  6. Arcanum

    Arcanum TS Rookie Posts: 181

    As blackstuff said, dual-booting two XPs is very easy.
    Install XP on partition C (just an example).
    Install XP on partition D.

    You got yourself a dual-boot :)
    So, the only thing to watch out for is to install them on separate partitions.
    If the boot ini doesn't update to give dual boot, we can add a few lines to make it a dual-boot :)
  7. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,503

    Do I hear an echo in the room?
  8. Arcanum

    Arcanum TS Rookie Posts: 181

    There was no echo, maybe with the boot.ini there was :) , but not with the rest.

    You forgot to add a very important part- install each XP on a separate partition - yes, it looks like a half-*** advice, but believe me, not a lot of people have the logic to actually do it.
  9. jonisaksson

    jonisaksson TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 83

    Cheers guys!!
    Thank you very much for all the advice. I will get started.

    So if I understood it correctly, i wont actually need a seperate boot loader as Windows will take care of that? As long as the entry is in the boot.ini
  10. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Have you got spare space

    As your advisors have said, XP will provide it's own booter choice. But you will need spare space on your HDD AND a 'proper' installation CD. If you don't understand those statements, you are going a little deep for your knowledge, and at the least will need either more software to change partition sizes or another HDD. The latter has all sorts of other advantages - too many to go into now.

    One very good option would be to create a duplicate partition of what you have now, and manually edit the boot.ini to add the second, identical XP copy. This avoids having to use an install CD, or even waste time installing XP and setting everything up as you need it.
  11. Arcanum

    Arcanum TS Rookie Posts: 181

    @ jonisaksson

    Yes, you understood correctly, you dont need anything extra, the Windows install should take care of everything automatically.

    If there are any problems with dual-boot not showing up after install of the second XP, post here and we will try to help.
  12. Samstoned

    Samstoned TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,018

    I made a copy using seagate disc wizard
    edit the boot.ini file and used acronis boot manager
    worked great
  13. jonisaksson

    jonisaksson TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 83

    Wow, thank you everyone for all of your responses!!
    What a fantastic forum this is. :)

  14. wlknaack

    wlknaack TS Rookie Posts: 143

    I am not sure the entire picture of what you are facing has been presented to you. Some respondents talked about two independent installations of the same OS. Others, suggested circumventing the CD installation of the 2nd OS by cloning the 1st. Everything said was correct, but not complete, there is a catch.

    If you clone one HDD to another HDD, or one partition to another on the same HDD, on reboot, WinXP will assign a new drive letter and ID signature to either the 2nd HDD or 2nd partition, whatever the case may be. Therefore, you can only clone the OS, and then install the programs you want. You cannot clone the drive or partition if it also includes programs and data files because the registry in the OS will contain references to the previously assigned drive letter. When you boot to the 2nd OS (which contains the newly assigned drive letter) the OS will become confused trying to find the previously assigned drive letter.
  15. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,503

    Addition to wlknaack's post:

    You are correct up to a point. BUT, by using samstoned's idea with Acronis bootmanager, you can have two C-drives (resp. 2 drives/partitions that act like both are C).
    The 'sounder' option is to install from scratch on another partition/harddisk.
  16. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    or use a boot manager

    Right, I did omit the need for a 'proper' boot manager if you clone your system. Duplicate the partitions or drive as desired, but NOT use Windows booter, use some other boot manager, which can hide the other copy - then both copies boot as the C: drive and drive mapping does not change.

    Don't personally know about XOSL, or Acronis, but have been happy with GAG booter and Boot Magic. I suspect XOSL is free, know GAG is free. I'm sure no boot manager worth it's salt would fail to have partition hiding, it's only a single byte change to the right point on the drive.

    It's basically up to you if you dont mind all the work of setting up a complete new installation - typically half a day or more, depending. So much easier to just clone.......
  17. IdahoTechie

    IdahoTechie TS Rookie

    Need further details on dual boot

    I currently have XP PRO installed and want to create a 2nd instance of XP PRO in a dual boot set up (one for gaming, one for media/web development). I've installed the 2nd (new) instance on it's own hard drive and can boot both instances successfully if the hdd's are alone, but when I connect both hard drives at the same time, I have problems. I've edited the boot.ini file on the primary/master disk to show the two XP instance options at start up and the initial XP instance will boot fine. But when I select the 2nd (new) instance, it gets to the XP splash screen and then my pc restarts automatically. Any ideas? Could this be a HDD jumper issue? Should they be in cable select mode or is it okay to identify them as master/slave?
  18. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    normaly any booting OS should be on the one HDD, but different partitions.. i sugest backup all your data and then partition it and install it again (or clone it) to one hdd thats the primary
  19. wlknaack

    wlknaack TS Rookie Posts: 143

    If you had both HDD's installed at the time you installed the 2nd XP with, for example, the 1st XP on the HDD in the 0 position of the primary IDE controller (with the drive letter C:) and the 2nd XP to be installed on the HDD in the 1 position of the primary IDE controller, then the XP managed boot will be set-up as follows:

    Upon reboot after the 2nd installation is complete, the 2nd XP will take control of the dual-boot process, assign the HDD the drive letter D: (if still available), and place all the boot information in the boot sector of the C: HDD. Therefore, the C: HDD will have the boot information, and the D: HDD will have no boot information. If the C: HDD was removed, you would not be able to boot the D: HDD, and if the D: HDD was removed, you would still be presented with the option of a dual boot even though the second option was not longer installed.

    What you described indicates to be that you removed the 1st HDD and then installed the 2nd XP. That is why you needed to edit your boot.ini, which would have been done automatically if the procedure above was followed and, that is why you do not have a true dual-boot situation.

    I hope this clarifies the WinXP managed dual-boot. Of course, you have the option which has been suggested in some of the other posts to install and manage the dual-boot using a 3rd party boot manager.
  20. DoesThisWork

    DoesThisWork TS Rookie

    Speaking from my own experience. Even if I clone the partition and hide the other one using boot manager (GRUB), windows still boots to the same partition. My understanding of boot process is:

    MBR -> boot sector -> boot loader

    My setup:

    MBR -> GRUB on 3rd partition, than no matter 1st or 2nd partition's boot sector is loaded, Win XP always pick the first partition's boot loader. Maybe the cloned partition still remember the location of boot.ini or even boot loader by its partition number. I have yet to find a solution.
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