Multi-Boot Madness – Windows 2000 Professional, Windows 2000 Advanced Server Windows NT Server, Windows NT Workstation and Windows 98

Multi-Boot Madness
Windows 2000 Professional, Windows 2000 Advanced ServerWindows NT Server, Windows NT

Workstation and Windows 98

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Regardless of whether you’re a professional software developer or just like to try new ideas with several different operating systems, dual and multi-booting can save time and money. Shortly after publishing our dual and multi-boot segments last year, we received a comment and request from a technician who wanted to setup a multi-boot machine and was having trouble. Did someone say “don’t volunteer”? Well we did!

This particular technician wanted to setup a single machine and wanted to be able to multi-boot Windows 2000 Advanced Server, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, Windows NT 4.0 Server, and Windows 98 Second Edition.

The Goal

In order to achieve this type of multi-boot scenario, we would need to be able to selectively boot any given operating systems. There are several ways to approach this, and we found that each had its advantages and disadvantages. The easiest was to use removable drive trays that would enable you to put Windows NT 4.0 Workstation and Windows NT 4.0 Server on a drive in a dual-boot configuration, and then use another drive and tray for Windows 2000 Advanced Server, Windows 2000 Professional and Windows 98 Second Edition in a multi-boot configuration. This would necessitate swapping drives.

The Madness of it all

After a few days of trials and tribulations, we decided to try something rather unorthodox, although it would allow the user to change operating systems without leaving the keyboard. The only down side was that we still needed two hard drives.

Computer specifics: Enlight 7237 Case Intel D815EEAAL Motherboard Intel Pentium III 866MHz Processor Crucial PC-133 Memory 256MB ATI 128 Rage 32MB AGP Video (2) Maxtor 15G Hard Drives ATA100

Note: Although Windows NT 4.0 (Workstation or Server) cannot take advantage of ATA 100 disk performance, Windows 2000 (all versions) and Windows 98 can. This is not to say that Windows 2000 fully supports performance at ATA100, but rather the latest bus configuration.

The Procedure

  1. Use your Windows NT Setup disks (you do have a set right?) and format the first physical drive (Drive “C”) as NTFS.
  2. Next, Use FDISK and FORMAT from your Windows 98 Startup Boot Disk and partition this drive. In our case, we split the drive in half equally. Now format both partitions of this second physical hard drive as FAT32. You should now have one 15G drive, (“C”) formatted for NTFS, and your other 15G drive formatted as FAT32.
  3. Now install Windows NT 4.0 Server and Windows NT 4.0 Workstation on the “C” Drive in the usual dual-boot fashion, with all NT 4.0 specific programs installed on “C”. They will live quite happily together.
  4. Now reboot your system into the BIOS setup and make the “D” drive the boot drive.
  5. Now install Windows 98 Second Edition and all its associated programs on “D”. Since Windows 98, including Second Edition, doesn’t see the NTFS drive, it will treat the “D” drive as if it were the “C” drive.
  6. Now install Windows 2000 Professional in a dual-boot configuration along with Windows 98 (or Windows 98 Second Edition) on the second drive, but in the second partition, along with any of it’s associated programs.
  7. Next, install Windows 2000 Advanced Server on the second drive, second partition, in a triple-boot configuration, to co-exist with Windows 2000 Professional and Windows 98 Second Edition.
  8. Now you’re ready to install programs. Boot back into the BIOS setup and make the “C” drive active. Now install programs common to the two NT 4.0 operating systems on the “C” drive. When done, boot back to the BIOS setup and make the second drive active.
  9. Now install programs common to Windows 98 (or Second Edition) and the two Windows 2000 operating systems on the second drive.

The Boot Process

To boot either Windows NT 4.0 Workstation or Server, boot the system into the BIOS setup and change the BIOS setting so that the first physical drive (the “C” drive) is the boot drive at startup. Windows NT 4.0 will not see the second drive and will function as if it weren’t present.

To boot under Windows 98 Second Edition, at startup, boot the system into the BIOS setup and change the BIOS setting so that the second drive is active and thus becomes the boot drive. When Windows 98 Second Edition boots, it doesn’t see the NTFS-formatted “C” drive. Therefore, it treats the “D” drive as if it were the “C” drive, and the only drive on your system.

To boot to either version of Windows 2000, the BIOS setting must point to the second drive as the active or boot drive, same as above with Windows 98, because Windows 2000 can see the “C” drive that was formatted as NTFS, and will consider both drives as available. Make sure that you setup the boot loader correctly in order to provide your various boot choices between Windows 98, Windows 2000 Professional and Windows 2000 Advanced Server.

Caution: Keep in mind during the installation process, that Windows 2000 will seek and automatically “update” any NTFS 4.0-formatted drive to NTFS 5.0. This will cause some Windows NT 4.0 utilities, such as Diskeeper, not to function properly. Diskeeper, however, will work just fine for both drives when it is run from Windows 2000.

You may also want to review Boot.ini – Controlling the Boot Process.

Now this is multi-boot madness!

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