Multibooting aarrgghh - PLEASE read me!

Hi people,

I apologize if I am not into the correct section. I am posting here as a last resort: I am about to throw my machine out the window… :sad:

I got interested in multi booting a few weeks ago. The plan was to install XP Pro along with a version of LINUX Mandrake, since I didn’t and still don’t know a thing about LINUX and wanted to learn, for testing purposes and flexibility.

Let’s go with the specs first :
Running XP Pro SP2 5,1 Build 2600 fully patched
Asus A8N-SLI Premium Mobo
AMD Athlon 64 3200+ 2010 MHZ
Kingston 2x 512 MB RAM
BIOS Revision 1006
BIOS Date: 06/30/2005
NVIDIA GeForce 6200 Turbocache
Hard Drive 0 = Maxtor PATA 300GB
Hard Drive 1 = Maxtor SATA 250 GB
! Both drives are Master !

HD1 was the original HD that came with the PC when I bought it. I installed the other one afterwards and Windows Plug n’ Play decided that the second installed drive would be drive 0.

I wiped HD1 completely and partitionned using Paragon HD management. Primary partition C on drive1 was set active and I installed a ghost of XP on that partition. When I rebuild my machine a few months ago, I activated XP and installed all drivers before creating the ghost I am talking about, the one I installed on C. Then restarted and everything booted well. I installed a bundle of basic software (browsers, archive, java, codec, etc.) and I created a ghost before installing anything else.

After, using Paragon, I created 2 other primary partitions (D & E) and installed the newly created ghost (with the bundle of basic software) on both partitions D & E. Booting on C afterwards, I installed Paragon HD manager on the C drive and activated the boot manager, that found the 2 other OSes. I really like Paragon’s Boot manager functionalities (timeout and easiness of choosing OSes) since anyone using my machine can quickly select which OS he/she needs.

There was no problem booting on D nor E. Following, I build 3 different configurations with different custom settings and different programs installed. Once everything was customized to my preferences, I made a ghost of every partitions.

  • These are the “Ghosts - Batch 1” +

Days later, I reformatted the drive, created fresh partitions and restored all third partitions with the ghosts I had previously created. The machine was rebuild in the blink of an eye, boot manager was doing it’s job and everything was up and running in no time. I was totally amazed!

I then had the brilliant idea to create not 2 nor 3 windows XP OSes but 5!

I kept Partition C (Internet OS) as it was, and installed on partition D the same ghost with the bundle of basic software. I installed programs, then made a ghost, reformatted D and reinstalled the new ghost to verify my work: it couldn’t boot giving a DISK READ ERROR. I tried to ghost the True Image Backup I had also made with no luck. I thought that the error was caused by the fact that I ghosted a partition which the boot information was dependant of another partition --> Being partition C (Internet OS).

I wiped the entire disk1 again and created 2 partitions: Partition C containing the OS and Partition D in odrder to save my ghosts. I used the same method as mentionned before: installed the ghost containing the bundle of basic software, installed other programs, configured and customized everything and made a final ghost & true image backup. Once I was satisfied with the configuration of an OS, I ghosted the partition and wiped the partition before reinstalling the ghost with the bundle of basic software and started the process over again.

I proceeded like that to create 5 excellent fully customized ghosts, tweaked and perfect.

  • I will call them “Ghosts - Batch 2” +

Like I said before, I wiped HD1 and created 4 primary partitions. I started by ghosting the Internet OS on C and rebooted the machine. Everything booted smoothly, without any problems. I then ghosted all 3 partitions with a different fully-tweaked final ghost I had created earlier. Then rebooted on C (let’s call it OS#1 from now on) and installed Paragon Boot manager, which noticed 3 other operating systems on HD1.

When choosing OS#2 from the boot manager, it did boot. But the desktop of OS#2 was the desktop of let’s say OS#3. Most icons of shortcuts to program files were blank and the appearance of my desktop and settings automatically switched as Windows classic style. I couldn’t change the picture of my desktop anymore. And I just don’t know why??? :confused:

I tried alternatives:
1- installing Internet OS
2- Boot Internet OS
3- Partition
4- Install OS#2 on D
5- Boot Internet OS
6- Install Paragon BM
7- Boot OS#2
8- Install OS#3
9- Boot OS#3

What I found is that whatever I am doing, I can’t install 2 ghosts of batch 2 at the same time, on the same drive because they corrupt each other. On the other hand, there’s absolutely no compatibility problem if I install 1, or even 2, ghosts of batch 1 with a ghost, whichever, of batch 2.

And I don’t know why and it drives me mad. :a

No need to mention that I gave up the idea to add a LINUX partition to this crippled boot sequence, at least for the moment. I have been reading and searching the net for many weeks now and couldn’t find answers to my questions.

I have a found an article http://www.trombettworks.com/multi-boot.htm#why on multibooting that could have been the solution but the proposed procedure turned out to be a bit too complicated since my girlfriend is also using my PC. I couldn’t imagine her getting into Partition Manager to change the partition table to boot the OS she needed.

One article I found was suggesting that all OSes should be installed on drive0 so that the bootmanager wouldn’t have any problems figuring out what to boot and how to do so. Is that true?

As I said, Paragon’s Boot manager is very user-friendly and I would like to find a way to use it for my purposes. I tried OSL200 but couldn’t even installed it, giving me a reinstall error all the time. I have had a look at LILO, but I am not even sure it can boot Windows, since it’s designed for LINUX.

So, I hope someone has any idea on how I could solve my puzzle, I’ll be very grateful to read your suggestions. If you need missing informations to properly diagnose, I’ll be more than glad to provide them. I tried to give as much as possible, as clear as possible. Data and infos might be missing: let me know what you need!

Thanks to anyone who’ll take time to respond to this post.

Cheers,

Then i sure hope they are on seperate channels. :slight_smile:

I then had the brilliant idea to create not 2 nor 3 windows XP OSes but 5!
Brilliant! :bigsmile:

I kept Partition C (Internet OS) as it was, and installed on partition D the same ghost with the bundle of basic software. I installed programs, then made a ghost, reformatted D and reinstalled the new ghost to verify my work: it couldn’t boot giving a DISK READ ERROR.
Was the bootmanager, always residing very close to the first partition on the physical disk (partition C), informed that there is an operating system on partition D? Did the bootmanager deactivated the active partition C and reactivated partition D as the active partition?

I thought that the error was caused by the fact that I ghosted a partition which the boot information was dependant of another partition --> Being partition C (Internet OS).
Only one partition can be an active boot partition. Bootmanagers reactivate and deactivate partitions. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disk_partitioning.

When choosing OS#2 from the boot manager, it did boot. But the desktop of OS#2 was the desktop of let’s say OS#3. Most icons of shortcuts to program files were blank and the appearance of my desktop and settings automatically switched as Windows classic style. I couldn’t change the picture of my desktop anymore. And I just don’t know why??? :confused:
The reactivated partition also shuffled the drive letters of the partitions around. Say for instance that your active partition D has registry entries pointing to C: and E:. The active partition is called C (the first letter for a harddisk), but that doesn’t mean the registry entries are also changed automatically. You can eliminate this by telling the bootmanager to actually hide all the non-active partitions.

And I don’t know why and it drives me mad. :a
It’s all about activated, deactivated, hidden and non-hidden partitions.

I have a found an article http://www.trombettworks.com/multi-boot.htm#why on multibooting that could have been the solution but the proposed procedure turned out to be a bit too complicated since my girlfriend is also using my PC. I couldn’t imagine her getting into Partition Manager to change the partition table to boot the OS she needed.
Partition managers such as Grub give a nice graphical boot interface. You can name the partition entries anything you want, even in clear disctinct words that your girl will understand. :slight_smile:

One article I found was suggesting that all OSes should be installed on drive0 so that the bootmanager wouldn’t have any problems figuring out what to boot and how to do so. Is that true?

In the case of installing them all on the same partition that would mean all OS’es share the same allocated formatted partition. If you do not carefully configure each OS to their own pointers, references, maps, directories and files, this may give horrible results. Especially in Microsoft windows environments.

In the case of installing them on different partitions (slice up disc0 to several other partitions) it doesn’t really matter where the physical partitions are and on what disk they reside. As long as the bootmanager knows where to point at, the controllers know where to write at and the operating system knows where to find its configuration- and other files. In Linux OS’es you can have tons of partitions on tons of physical disks. /dev /etc /home /whatever /junk /trash. Only one is active (primary or the one which booted the operating system), but all are accessible (extended partitions)

The first physical addressed disk holds both the bootmanager and the boot sector table. The BIOS of the motherboard calls out the first physical disk to start up the boot sector table, which contains the information on what files to load, which will load up the files of the bootmanager, which will then boot the selected operating system as an active partition.

[Side note] It can give very funny results to switch two physical disks in a carefully configured system, since the motherboard may not be able to find the logical boot sector table (disc0 became disc1 and vice versa). The error it displayed give no details where to search as well “No ROM Basic, system halted” :slight_smile: [/side note]

As I said, Paragon’s Boot manager is very user-friendly and I would like to find a way to use it for my purposes. I tried OSL200 but couldn’t even installed it, giving me a reinstall error all the time. I have had a look at LILO, but I am not even sure it can boot Windows, since it’s designed for LINUX.
Grub is nice and several years ago i used XOSL, but that program hasn’t been updated in years. I have no idea is XOSL is compatible with Vista, XP or the current batch of linux distro’s.

Mr. Belvedere, thank you very much for your response!

Was the bootmanager, always residing very close to the first partition on the physical disk (partition C), informed that there is an operating system on partition D?

The bootmanager was installed on C. Once partition D was ghosted, I booted on C, opened the bootmanager and renamed the newly found operating system (on D).

Did the bootmanager deactivated the active partition C and reactivated partition D as the active partition?

That was weird. Partition C was still active since I could boot from it. Partition D was the problem. When booting on Paragon’s HD management CD, partition !D! was flagged as the active one, but wouldn’t boot at all.

Same thing happened with the +Ghosts - Batch 1+ configuration. For example, boot manager would boot on C as default when Paragon’s Boot manager was deactivated. When Paragon’s Boot manager was activated and enabled me to boot on D and E without any problems, Partition D was flagged as active when booting on Paragon’s HD management CD (instead of C). :eek:
This has NOT caused any problems when using +Ghosts - Batch 1+.

The reactivated partition also shuffled the drive letters of the partitions around. Say for instance that your active partition D has registry entries pointing to C: and E:. The active partition is called C (the first letter for a harddisk), but that doesn’t mean the registry entries are also changed automatically.

Not necessarily. For example, I changed my DVD-RAM letter to Z: on each ghosts I did. When ghosting a partition, whether using mltiboot config or a unique OS, DVD-RAM always went back to its place - Z:

If a program needs its original CD to be in the DVD-RAM to function properly, which is a P.I.T.A, I would make an ISO, copy this image to a folder on the partition of the OS and then mount the image. The letter of the image drive is changed to Y: and the program installed from the image on Y:. When ghosting a partition, image drive letter is always Y: and program’s registry entries are never corrupted. I made sure that everything the OS needs can be found on its own partiton.

When choosing OS#2 from the boot manager, it did boot. But the desktop of OS#2 was the desktop of let’s say OS#3. Most icons of shortcuts to program files were blank and the appearance of my desktop and settings automatically switched as Windows classic style. I couldn’t change the picture of my desktop anymore.

For the record, the whole interface just changed and I couldn’t go back to my customized settings. Desktop/properties/appearance - the Windows XP style normally found under Windows and buttons was NOT present anymore.

Has anyone ever had anything like that?

You can eliminate this by telling the bootmanager to actually hide all the non-active partitions.

Paragon’s Boot manager can’t do that. I know that Acronis OS selector offers this feature.

Since I have ghosted 5 OSes and I would really like to install them all, is there a trick to create more than 4 primary partitions, or a partitioning program that can do the job?

Ranish Partition Manager is said to offer this feature but I can’t even install it since it requires a floppy drive http://www.ranish.com/part/

I had a look at GRUB and I am dying to give it try. One thing though, I don’t know what to do with the downloaded version 1.95. :o No installer nor .exe is present. ftp://alpha.gnu.org/gnu/grub/

You can use a Knoppix live linux cd to install Grub. Grub doens’t come in the windows.exe format.

Other possible malfunctions regarding booting can also be the cause of Ghost itself. Perhaps Ghost modifies the Master Boot Record everytime a new ghost image is restored on a, by Ghost itself created, partition. Perhaps it modifies the MBR a little too much? You could test this by defining the partitions yourself and tell ghost just to restore on that partition. I have no idea if ghost has a parameter that disables writing to the MBR. Some motherboard CMOS/BIOS/Setup have MBR protection as well.

Most likely you won’t be able to achieve what you are trying to do. Once I tried installing a second setup of Win2k which did install but would not boot giving error that a certain file was either missing or corrupt, and it gave instruction to reinstall the file. Even recreating that file resulted in same error message. Dual boot Win98 and Win2k works fine for me, and other Windows versions should work fine as long as non NT based versions are installed first. However, from my experience it seems Windows doesn’t allow multiple installs of the same OS version. For example you could have a Win98, Win2k and WinXP triple boot system of Windows plus a Linux Mandrake 10 install which I have done with no problems but not a multi boot system for a single OS version. I suspect the same would be true of Linux, i.e. multi boot of Mandrake, Ubuntu or other Linux but likely not 2 Mandrake installs. Additionally any Ghost image must be restored to same partition from which it was generated, or it won’t boot, i.e. the image must be restored to let’s say the third partition of a drive if that’s the partitioned from which Ghost image originated.

Additionally any Ghost image must be restored to same partition from which it was generated, or it won’t boot, i.e. the image must be restored to let’s say the third partition of a drive if that’s the partitioned from which Ghost image originated.

However, from my experience it seems Windows doesn’t allow multiple installs of the same OS version.

Both not true.

I formatted the entire HD and installed XP after creating the active partition using XP’s CD. After activating XP, I installed every drivers downloaded previously. Then installed AV and firewall before connecting to windows update to download all patches. Once everything was up to date, I ghosted the OS. This is the very ghost I have been using as a starting point for every OSes built, whether Ghosts of Batch 1 or 2.

At the moment, OS1-Internet on C. OS2 is on D and OS3 is on E.
OS1 was originally ghosted from C and restored to C. It works fine. OS2 is a ghost from Batch 1 IÂ was referring to earlier. It was originally ghosted from E and now installed on D. It works fine. OS3 is a ghost of Batch 2 installed on E. It works fine.

Anyway, whichever OS is booted becomes C: and other partitions are shuffled as Mr. Belvedere said.

I also installed a 4th OS, another ghost of batch 1, and all 4 were booting properly without bugs related to interface nor customized settings.

What causes problems here is the fact of installing 2 ghosts of batch 2. Both will boot, but with the corrupted bugs I mentionned earlier.

There must be some significant differences between WinXP and Win2k since second Win2k install would not boot. Also Win98 is on my C drive while Win2k is on my E drive, and they remain on those drives regardless of whether I uninstall, reinstall or install WinXP on another partition. Restored Ghost images booting regardless of image origin must result from your boot drive changing to drive C, and all this unusual behavior must have something to do with the boot loader you use. I see no advantage having so many installs of same OS since different user profiles can be created in a single Windows install, and the main justification for multi boot is to boot to different OS with different capabilities. Win98 runs some older applications that WinXP can’t or may run them better even if WinXP can run them in emulation mode for example.

I see no advantage having so many installs of same OS since different user profiles can be created in a single Windows install, and the main justification for multi boot is to boot to different OS with different capabilities.

That is a way to see things. You must’ve experienced conflicts or bugs that slowed your machine to a crawl when you installed incompatible software, or programs simply shutting down after encountering an error because of registry issues, which can’t be fixed by traditional reg cleaner. The less installed on your machine, the faster it is, right? As I said earlier, the original purpose was to install XP along with LINUX Mandrake.

Can I ask what boot loader you use?

I tried something.

Functioning Boot loader menu
WinXP 00 - From Ghost Batch 1
WinXP 01 - From Ghost Batch 1
WinXP 02 - From Ghost Batch 2

I overwrote WinXP 01 with another ghost from batch 2 without disabling Paragon boot manager. On reboot after image was restored, WinXP 02 became WinXP 01 and the newly ghosted OS was now WinXP 03, as if WinXP 02 was deleted or hidden. It gave something like that.

Ghosted Boot loader menu
WinXP 00 - From Ghost Batch 1
WinXP 01 - From Ghost Batch 2
WinXP 03 - From Ghost Batch 2

I tried to update config in the boot manager before rebooting on WinXP 01. Once logged on, desktop was messed up as I knew it would be but I couldn’t access the programs of this OS. No kidding! Even more bizarre, the programs I could run were them of WinXP 03. Like it booted WinXP 03 with WinXP01 desktop. Label of partition C was that of WinXP 01 but running software of WinXP 03.

I then reghosted the partition with the functioning ghost to go back to the original config of the 1st boot loader menu above. Boot loader menu didn’t change, so I tried to boot on the freshly ghosted WinXP 03.

BUT Windows couldn’t start because the following file is missing or corrupt: <Windows Root>\system32\hal.dll
Please re-install a copy of the above file.

:doh:
Ideas?

No slow down or shut down problems; there are simply some older programs that won’t run in Win2k or WinXP, or they run better in Win98. That last error you got is exact same as I got for Win2k second install except different file which is why I believe Windows won’t allow more than 1 setup of same OS, and same error persisted even after re-install of the file. Currently I use Win2k boot loader, but Grub or Lilo will become boot loader when Linux is installed. The Linux boot loader will give all Windows boot choices as well as the Linux choice which allows you to keep multi boot Windows options too.

I’ve never done this, don’t need to…So forgive me if I’ve suddenly lost the Plot!!
You had Original IDE as IDE1 with OS on it (yes) Then you installed a SATA as IDE 0 (yes) (if i’m wrong there please correct me) Now this is where I’m lost…Not sure if all partitions are IDE 1 or Both IDE1 + IDE 0…BEWARE…this IDE 0 +1 When only ONE HDD is installed it don’t matter which IDE it is, but when two or more are installed then the OS HDD should be IDE 0 <this is the FIRST HDD Windows is looking for at start up. That would be the BLUE on the Board. SATA is a Funny thing, if SATA Drives are not installed properly you get all sorts of probs…Some Motherboards will Look for the SATA with the OS on it…I don’t know an awfull lot on this, just my experience, which is little…But if I was You, I would put your OS on IDE 0 and go from there…
Good Luck…Let us know if it works.

Maybe his problem lies in SATA instability which leaglebob learned about in his thread at http://club.cdfreaks.com/showthread.php?t=217327. I had over looked that OP was using SATA until now.

Hey, sorry for the silence. I have been experiencing over the past few days to resolve this problem and I finally did.

You had Original IDE as IDE1 with OS on it (yes) Then you installed a SATA as IDE 0 (yes) (if i’m wrong there please correct me) Now this is where I’m lost…Not sure if all partitions are IDE 1 or Both IDE1 + IDE 0…BEWARE…this IDE 0 +1 When only ONE HDD is installed it don’t matter which IDE it is, but when two or more are installed then the OS HDD should be IDE 0 <this is the FIRST HDD Windows is looking for at start up.

PC had a SATA drive (HD 1) installed when I bought it. I installed a PATA drive (HD 0) afterward. Though my OS (and OSes) is/are installed on HD 1 and both drives are masters, I never had any problems with this.

First, I gotta tell that I have been using 2 imaging software over the years : Norton Ghost 8 and Acronis True Image 9. When building my machine, I always use both programs to ghost my partitions, as a security measure.

As I said, there was a conflict when 2 or more ghosts from Batch 2 (refer to previous posts) were installed simultaneously. As a starting point, I decided to test every ghosts (.gho) and true image backups (.tib) that I had to eliminate variables from the equation.

I wiped the drive once again and repartitionned an active C:. I ghosted the partition, rebooted the machine to check if the restored OS was functioning properly. If it did, I overwrote the partition by restoring another image. To my satisfaction, every ghost image that I had was restored flawlessly.

Things were different when I tried to restore the True Images. Indeed, not a single one of them could be restored and booting was accompanied by messages such as; The following file is missing or corrupt: <Windows Root>\system32\hal.dll Please re-install a copy of the above file; HARD DRIVE FAILURE, please insert boot disc; etc.

Then, I realized something. All partitions restored in this sequence posted previously were all Norton Ghosts, except for one that was a True Image Backup.

Like I said before, I wiped HD1 and created 4 primary partitions. I started by ghosting the Internet OS on C and rebooted the machine. Everything booted smoothly, without any problems. I then ghosted all 3 partitions with a different fully-tweaked final ghost I had created earlier. Then rebooted on C (let’s call it OS#1 from now on) and installed Paragon Boot manager, which noticed 3 other operating systems on HD1. When choosing OS#2 from the boot manager, it did boot. But the desktop of OS#2 was the desktop of let’s say OS#3. Most icons of shortcuts to program files were blank and the appearance of my desktop and settings automatically switched as Windows classic style. I couldn’t change the picture of my desktop anymore. What I found is that whatever I am doing, I can’t install 2 ghosts of batch 2 at the same time, on the same drive because they corrupt each other. On the other hand, there’s absolutely no compatibility problem if I install 1, or even 2, ghosts of batch 1 with a ghost, whichever, of batch 2.

I had not made any distinctions between True Image Backups and Norton Ghost Images. I never even thought that this could be a problem.

Just for the sake of trying it, I repartitioned the drive to obtain 4 primary partitions. Reinstalled Norton Ghost Internet from Batch 1 on C, ghosted Norton Ghost OS 2 from Ghosts Batch 2 and Norton Ghost OS 3 from Ghosts Batch 2 and reinstalled Paragon Boot Manager. All three Oses were fully bootable without any conflicts or corruption as it happened before.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

On Primary Partition 4, I ghosted OS 2 from Ghosts Batch 2 (the same OS installed on Primary Partition 2). Both booted like a charm, no conflicts.


BOTTOM LINE



  • 1 -

Acronis True Image sucks (OS selector too. Have a look on what other forums are posting about OS Selector. http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=170021 http://forums.techpowerup.com/archive/index.php/t-9255.html. Don’t install if you don’t have rock-solid OS and configuration backups.)

After all the hours and days I have spend building OSes and customizing features and settings, I would’ve been so pied off at Acronis for selling a sh*y product that can’t even restore a 5 GB partition properly.

I have to mention that I didn’t always have had problems with True Image. I used to think it was reliable since it did the job many times before. Why is it that it failed on the 5 different OSes I build? (Please don’t tell me that I didn’t set the program properly) A thing is sure, I thank God for also having ghosted the partitions. I have never had any corrupted images or problems whatsoever with Norton Ghost 8. Maybe images created with Ghost are a bit bigger (ex. 21 GB instead of 20 GB for True Image, but I have no problem with the extra gig if it means that I can rely on the images.


  • 2 -

Paragon’s Boot Manager CAN hide all the non-active PRIMARY partitions


  • 3 -

If you don’t have a floppy drive, you still can use Ranish Partition Manager by downloading UBCD http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/


  • 4 -

Perhaps Ghost modifies the Master Boot Record everytime a new ghost image is restored on a, by Ghost itself created, partition. Perhaps it modifies the MBR a little too much?

From my experience, it doesn’t.


  • 5 -

Most likely you won’t be able to achieve what you are trying to do. From my experience it seems Windows doesn’t allow multiple installs of the same OS version.

Any Ghost image must be restored to same partition from which it was generated, or it won’t boot, i.e. the image must be restored to let’s say the third partition of a drive if that’s the partitioned from which Ghost image originated.

Not true.


  • 6 -

Thanks to all of you who read the posts and tried to figure out something to help me overcome this problem. Your sharing of knowledge is really appreciated.

Cheers!
Jillll :bigsmile:

My statements about restoring image to same partition from where it originated to be bootable as well as Windows allowing a single install of same OS are true by ordinary means in my experience. Your ability to do otherwise must be due to ability of your boot loader to hide partitions and other things to trick Windows and Ghost. Windows will allow only 1 primary partition per drive unless tricked as you must have done since you claim to have created multiple primary partitions per drive. That seems like a lot of hokus pokus I wouldn’t want to spend the time to try to figure out or understand, but congrats to you if you’re happy with it.

First you can partition your hard drive (formatted and clean) in two separate partition, then install the OS which is the oldest and then reboot and go to another partition and install the newest OS (preferably WindowsXP), reboot then look for booting management give you choice to select one or another OS to start with.

\\ bevills1: ///

Your last reply sounded as if you felt you had to justify the accuracy of what you have said in previous posts.

My statements about restoring image to same partition from where it originated to be bootable as well as Windows allowing a single install of same OS are true by ordinary means in my experience.

You weren’t suppose to take my last post’s comments personnally. :disagree:

Then you add:

Your ability to do otherwise must be due to ability of your boot loader to hide partitions and other things to trick Windows and Ghost.

:rolleyes:

No trick has been played neither with XP nor Norton Ghost. I felt the need to describe every steps that I went through so that others could use the knowledge and save time and HASSLE if confronted to a similar problem.

Windows will allow only 1 primary partition per drive unless tricked as you must have done since you claim to have created multiple primary partitions per drive.

Try a few demo versions of partition creation software and you’ll find that creating 4 primary partitions on each drive is quite simple.