Triple booting multiple Windows OSes

By NooDood ยท 11 replies
Aug 10, 2004
  1. I have made several attempts at configuring an HP d530 running on XP Pro to triple boot XP, Win2K, and Win 2K3 Server. Using System Commander 7 in this endeavor thus far has failed (various errors from not recognizing partitions to boot errors occurred), and their tech support dept was unable to help.

    Can anyone here think of any feasable way of setting up this type of machine for triple booting these three OSes, even without the use of third party software such as SC 7?


    The NooDood
  2. Goalie

    Goalie TS Booster Posts: 616

    I would recommend taking a crack at it from oldest to newest-

    1. Install Win2k
    2. Install WinXP. Configure XP's boot manager so you can dual boot.
    3. Install Win Server 2003. Configure it first to dual boot to XP. Then add 2k.

    As you go along, let us know what errors you start seeing and where you snag them. We of coruse need to know what OS you're working in at the second, and what the EXACT error message is before we can help you too much.

    BTW- Welcome to Techspot! :wave:
  3. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    They should work fine. I've sucessfully dual booted XP & 2000 and XP & 2003

    By reflexive rules, that means that they should all coexist. :)

    What are the errors you experiencing?

    The first thing you'll need to do is make partitions for each of your OSes. Once you've done this installing XP, 2000 and 2003 should be a snap.
  4. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Correct - you install from the oldest to the newest. You will definately have to do that in order to install all three OSes.

    Try doing all of the partitioning and formatting first, say after the installation of XP. Create all of the partitions then, and format them beforehand. Then, you will be able to just install to partition without formatting it, which is an installation step. Always choose a custom install.
  5. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,503

    If you install XP first, make a copy of the 2 files "" and "ntldr" in another directory.
    When you later install W2K, it overwrites these with its own (older) versions and you can no longer boot into XP. Copying them back after the W2K installation restores the dual-booting for W2K and XP.
    The same presumably applies to W2K3.

    If you have Partition Magic, this includes a boot-manager BootMagic, which you could try.
  6. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    realblackstuff - I think that may work, however there could also be boot sector code as well that is not compatible with later versions. I still recommend installing in the oldest to newest order to be sure.

    Also remember, if you have to ever recover your boot environment, you will have to do so using the installation disk from the newest OS.
  7. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,503

    I learned this the hard way, when I installed W2K for dual-boot on someone's laptop which had already XP-Pro installed.
    Using PartMagic, I created 2 extra partitions, both in NTFS. XP stayed on C, W2K went onto D and the E-drive is for data, used by both.
    I had to hunt araound on the Internet to find these bootfiles, without which the laptop would not boot into XP.

    But you are of course right, always install the oldest OS first.
    In sequence this would be: W95/NT/W98/W2K/ME/XP/W2K3
  8. NooDood

    NooDood TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    Thanks it a whack right now.
  9. NooDood

    NooDood TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    Okay.....first stumbling block I've run into is that once I installed Win Server 2k3, it stepped on something in XP to make it invisible or ignored or whatever. Things were fine up until that point, able to dual boot Win2k and XP.

    The weird part is that once I tried out SC 7 again, it thinks it sees XP, but not the other two OSes. Try to pick XP, though and it brings you back to the DOS OS selector (where it only sees Win2K and Win2k3 Server).

    .....and yes, partitions were made for all three OSes (at about 12000 per shot).
  10. NooDood

    NooDood TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    ACK! Just now read realblackstuff's post up there about copying those XP bootfiles. Doh! Well, now I know what to try in the morning. :(

    I'll take that Guiness now. Aw hell, make it a carbomb.
  11. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    The Win 2K3 installation program may have removed winxp from your boot.ini. You might need to edit this file to add it back in.
  12. NooDood

    NooDood TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 18

    Found the boot.ini file.

    Here is how I have it set up.

    [boot loader]
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Windows Server 2003, Standard" /fastdetect
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect

    Booting up XP - Error telling me that the NTOSKRNL.EXE in WINDOWS/SYSTEM32 is missing or corrupt.

    Booting up Server - Error telling me that the NTOSKRNL.EXE in WINDOWS/SYSTEM32 is missing or corrupt.

    Booting up Win2k - Boots fine.

    I then changed the partition count in the first line from (2) to (3).
    I then had FOUR choices upon rebooting the PC.

    Win 2K
    "Windows (default)"

    Booting up XP - Same error

    Booting up Server - Same error

    Booting up Win2k - Boots fine.

    "Windows (default)" - Boots XP!

    Any suggestions?
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