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win2k / rh8.0 dualboot using two hard drives
windows explorer freezes

 8:43 pm on Dec 29, 2002 (gmt 0)


took the plunge today and installed 2nd HD in order to put redhat 8.0 on my machine.

the pc already ran win2k on a single HD with 4 partitions.

step by step what i did:

1) formatted and installed 2nd HD as primary slave. win2k pro is OS on primary master, which is already partitioned into C, D, E, F.

2) installed rh8.0 from cd on hdb. chose GRUB as bootloader, specified DOS as default boot. GRUB installed itself to hda.

3) every time i boot, GRUB works. both OS boot normally (although win2k is v.sluggish), however, when i try and use windows explorer it can't find any partitions, wither on primary master or slave - it just freezes. this means i can't work. luckily i can connect to net to post here ;)

my questions are:

1) can i remove grub completely and just boot from floppy? that way i could set the bios in the following way:

i) when i want to boot windows i enter bios and set primary master to auto, and primary slave to none

ii) when i want to boot redhat, i do the opposite and use a floppy to boot from (unless there is a way to install grub on hdb to avoid the need for a floppy?)

2) is there another way round the problem - would welcome any suggestions.

many thanks in advance.



 5:53 am on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

I wish I could give you some knowledge form first hand experience. I never had to deal with ntfs partitions. These links below are informative:

Good luck, let us know how it turns out.


 9:09 am on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

hi littleman,

well, i'm back up and running with win2k:

i overwrote the boot record again with win2k to get rid of grub. win2k loaded normally, but still the problem persisted, even when i set the primary slave (the 2nd HD) to none in the bios

i think now that it had a problem recognising the partitions - that's why explorer froze.

i then took out the 2nd HD which i had been using and reconfigured the master/slave in the bios back to how it was before i started (hard drive as primary master, cd rom as primary slave, and cd burner as secondary master) - and bingo, win2k back up and running.

i don't even think it was a problem with linux, i think it was a hardware problem. my pc had trouble with the 2nd HD, even when set to 'none' in bios?

the moment i physically removed it, the problem was solved.

so i know have a working installation of redhat 8.0 on a hard drive on the table lying next to me ;) - will now try and 'drop' it into the old pc from whence it came. see if i can get it to boot via floppy, and depending on which os i wish to load i set the bios accordingly (as mentioned in first post).

many, many thanks for getting me in the right direction with those urls!


 10:09 am on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

It is a classic windows partitioning numbering problem - your second drive became the D drive, bumping your other partitions up. (ie it numbers the drive primary partitions first, then the logical partitions on the first drive, then logical on second drive. This happens if the second drive is marked as an active drive.

There are some ways around this, I have cleaned out the existing "D" drive, in your example, merged it with E, added the second drive, and numbering came out right. But you should read up on it before doing anything (Google groups, a couple of the hardware guides), and back up important stuff on a cd or something. Win XP Pro has disk management stuff that is pretty good, I used it to resize the ntfs partition on my laptop, add a couple fat32 partitions and enough free space to load linux.

You have my sympathy, have spent many hours learning the hard way :)


 1:07 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

You have my sympathy, have spent many hours learning the hard way

amen to that! have already spent the weekend on it ;);)

what you say makes perfect sense.

merging d and e would be no problem, i run all programmes form c and store data on d, e and f.

will investigate!


 1:21 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

Couldn´t you just use the harddisk-manager to assign the right drive letters to your partitions?



 2:44 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

hi andreas,

i am unable to use anything on my pc whilst the 2nd drive is installed.

i have had to remove it physically to get working again.

to be honest i am not quite sure which programme you mean - is it DOS?


 3:11 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

No, it´s not DOS. I was refering to WindowsNT´s windisk.exe. I assumed that Win2K and WinXP come with it as well.

I had both WinNT and Linux on the same computer using two hds. hda contained several NTFS partitions while hdb contained GNU/Linux´s ext2 partitions. I used the NT boot manager (in MBR of hda) to start LILO (in first partition of hda) which then started Linux. In WinNT I used windisk.exe to assign the right drive letters.



 4:27 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

hi andreas,

as far as i can see, this programme doesn't exist for win2k - i'd have to install it from an nt 4.0 cd

will look into it, maybe i can download it somewhere - thanks


 4:59 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think Partition Magic by Powerquest includes something with simillar funcitonality. If that's within you buget, it might be safer than trying an old binary from a previous version of the OS.


 5:36 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

as far as i can see, this programme doesn't exist for win2k

Try Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Computer Management>Disk Management. It is functionally the same as NT's disk manager, but interfaces through the MMC under W2K.


 5:56 pm on Dec 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

2) is there another way round the problem - would welcome any suggestions.

Most motherboards allow you to change the boot order from the BIOS. I prefer to stay away from boot managers. It adds a level of complexity and greater chances of user error that can be risky to your data.


 5:24 am on Dec 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

hi sun818

that was my original plan. to install 2 HDs and when booting, go to bios and change the order and activate/deactivate as necessary. that way each OS never even knows the other exists.

however, as soon as the 2nd HD is physically installed - even if set to 'none' in bios, win2k has problems with the partitions.

hi dave,

cheers - i've found it now :)

how would i go about rearranging the drive letters, as when the 2nd HD is installed, i can't use windows?

at the moment i simply have my first HD which is partitioned as C, D, E and F. shall i use the disk manager to merge D and E together to become just E, as sun818 suggested? and then mount the 2nd HD which (hopefully) automatically becomes D?

please bear in mind is that although i have backed everything up, it is still a pain in the proverbial to do a complete reinstall of win2k with all the programmes, settings, etc ;);)

(especially with a hangover, before going back to work on 2nd Jan!)

so how safe is playing around with the drive letters?

thanks all!


 5:51 pm on Dec 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

so how safe is playing around with the drive letters?
I've never lost any data this way but you can get into some awkward situations when reassigning the boot volume, you may need to restart many times to get everything properly assigned.

how would i go about rearranging the drive letters, as when the 2nd HD is installed, i can't use windows?
The disk manager allows you to right click on a partition/drive and assign a drive letter. It's not clear to me why, but whenever a second drive is added, it is always inserted as the "D" drive initially, and it's a pain in the a$$!

I had planned to use a set up similar to yours for a backup system and abandoned the idea after many hours... My present setup is W2K w/NTFS and RedHat on a 20G drive, in different partitions. This has some partitioning limitations too and I'll detail them if you're interested. My second 20G drive simply serves as a backup. It's always cabled to the second IDE port as a master and I leave the power cable unplugged. Once a week, I plug it in and use Ghost to make a copy, then unplug power again. I may add a switch someday...

In your situation, perhaps putting W2K on one drive and Linux on the other would work. Simply power one drive down before powering the other up. It's not an elegant solution but it's simple, practical and reliable.


 5:55 pm on Dec 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

Try placing the second drive on a separate chanell (Secondary Master). I recall running into issues booting drives as "Slave".


 1:33 pm on Jan 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

thank you very much!

will let you know how it goes.


 6:39 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

here's the update:

i have now completely reinstalled redhat 8 on the primary slave and installed grub to that disk's boot partition (as recommended by littlewhitedog [littlewhitedog.com])

theory then was to boot to linux and copy the boot partition over to windows, so that i could use the windows mbr to choose which os.

i am unable to boot to linux though?

if i leave the boot disk in and start the pc, it gives me a 'boot failed' (i have tried 2 different boot disks), or if i unplug the primary master and just try and boot from the linux disk, the boot sequence starts, it detects the hard drive and cd-rom and then hangs on


i have installed redhat twice to see if the installation was the problem, but everything appeared to go well.

btw - the problem with windows freezing is easily solved - i simply disable the primary slave in the device manager (tip from someone who had found this post in google and experienced the same problem :) )

anyone know why redhat won't boot? especially as it booted fine when i installed grub to the mbr the first time around. it just doesn't seem to like grub installed on its own boot partition (hdb1)



 7:24 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have only worked with win98 in a dual boot enviornment.

Does win2k treat the drives differnt then win98?

If so then I am anxiously waiting to hear how this turns out for you.

>> 1) formatted and installed 2nd HD as primary slave. win2k pro is OS on primary master, which is already partitioned into C, D, E, F. <<

If I were doing this on win98 I would not let windows do anything to this drive. Another words uninstall the drive and boot into windows, remove all windows drivers for the second drive. Then reinstall the drive , boot the redhat install from the cdrom, when it is time to partition, remove all partitions on hdb (I don''t think thats the default) this should get rid of any windows partitions and format all of hdb for linux, let grub install on the mbr hda. With this install win98 (has for me) will ignore the second drive.

I wish I had experience with win2k, you are not having a good time :)


 10:00 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

At one time I had Win2k on the 1st drive and RH8 on the second. I installed grub and it would boot ether os with no problem. I had RH set as the default os. Now I have Win2k and RH on the 1st drive and FreeBSD and Lycoris on the 2nd. I did not install the other os's boot loader but just edited RH's grub.conf and they all boot fine with out a boot disk. The second HD is hooked up to the same cable as the 1st but set to slave.


 10:23 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

yep i've now got it sorted. hallelujah!

grub is installed to hda (my primary master, overwriting the windows mbr) and when i boot up i get the choice of OS.

the real key was to deactivate the second hard drive (the primary slave which has RH8 on it) in the device manager in windows. that way win2k never knows linux exists and i haven't had to rename partitions.

thanks to everyone for help.

now i just have to configure the adsl usb modem, the dual monitor setup, my network card and the webserver - the fun is just starting ;)

cheers all!

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