BootMagic Doesn't like Intel ICH5 SATA

It all started when I tried to switch to SATA in my server box ...

I needed to install Linux for dual-booting on my main machine, mainly to compile a kernel for my server box, since I needed to patch in some SATA drivers. Or, at least I think that was the reasoning, it all seems a long time ago...

First a bit of background

My main machine is based on an MSI Neo FISR 2, a nice 875P based motherboard, which I've had no trouble with. It has an integrated Intel ICH5R providing upto 4 PATA + 2 SATA and a secondary Promise SATA providing another 2 SATA ports.

When I initially installed Windows XP, after much buggerations with the BIOS settings, I found I could only have a RAID0 setup and sufficient PATA drives supported by having the RAIDed hard drives hanging off the ICH5. I also have an additional two drives hanging off the Promise chip, non-RAID.

Booting seems to take a while, I'm not sure exactly what magic is going on, apparently the ICH5R Raid-0 does some fumbling in the BIOS to "fool" the boot loader. So I really don't know what order the BIOS thinks the disks are in.

Mistake Number One

Since my default SuSE 9.2 definitely didn't support ICH5R RAID configurations, I installed Linux on one of the non-raided disks and thought I could use BootMagic to give a boot menu and redirect to the other disk. BootMagic requires it's own FAT partition to install into, so I created one on the first disk hanging off the Promise chip, aka disk 3, or sometimes 5.

No. It won't work. In fact, it seemed to trash the MBR in a weird way. Now, on booting, I got a weird set of characters like:


and nothing else.

Mistake Number Two

At this point I forgot the fundamental rule when you have just stuffed your PC at 12 midnight:

Don't Panic!

So amongst other things, I tried to replace the knackered bootloader with GrUB from Linux (nope), deleting the BootMagic configuration file from it's own personal FAT partition via Linux (nope), unplugging the drives from the Promise controller ...
AHA ! ... same silly message but then a message that BootMagic config can't be found and then a default boot into Windows. (At this point I feel vindicated on deleting the BootMagin config file).

Now being able to get back into Windows, but with the inconvenience of having to take the side off the computer and also not have access to the 3rd and 4th disk, I thought maybe running WindowsXP setup would restore the bootloader.

Running Windows setup is rather inconvenient, since my PC doesn't have a floppy drive fitted, and the setup CD requires floppy disks for drivers for both the Promise and the ICH5 chips. And it won't recognise the USB floppy drive I bought exactly this situation, even though the BIOS can boot from it! So it's off with the side and wedge the floppy drive precariously into the machine on a very temporary basis.

And does Windows XP setup rewrite the MBR? Interestingly enough ... it doesn't. (Apparently I should have been using the recovery console). And now I've got to reinstalled SP2 and all the bl**dy hotfixes. Stupid stupid stupid.

Next I made an interesting discovery with SATA hotplug. I found I could wait for the "BootMagic config not found" message, and actually re-plug my 3rd and 4th SATA drives, hit the key to continue and everything would start up hunkydory.

Now that Windows was available, a serious amount of browsing led me to discover that I could use the recovery console to rewrite the mbr. In theory I could use fdisk /mbr as well, but I'd need to create a boot floppy.

So round the old boot and setup CD palaver again, into the recovery console, a quick map to check what the disk layout supposedly was and fixmbr to rewrite the MBR.

And it worked.

Back into Windows, I thought I'd try to get rid of BootMagic, with the vague though of reinstalling it into a partition on the first disk, in anticipation of finding a way to get a Linux boot partition onto the ICH5 RAID-0 at a later date. But I couldn't uninstall it because the bloody installer couldn't find it any more. God knows where all this stuff is hidden, somewhere in the registry no doubt.

Lessons Learned:

  • If you are going to piss around with multi-boot and you are using SATA RAID, or have a multi-disk setup, make sure you have a tested means of booting from floppy or CD before you start.
  • BootMagic doesn't seem to like multi-boot configurations that involve booting across multiple discs. It really wants to be on the first disk, but can't cope if that's a SATA RAID.
  • If you trash the MBR and can't boot, use a floppy disk boot, or the Windows setup disk to get into recovery console
  • If you don't have a bog-standard floppy drive and do have 3rd party drivers on floppy disk, you need to build a slipstreamed bootable Windows XP setup CD with them added
  • SATA Hot-plug really works (but I wouldn't rely on it)
  • If you stuff you PC up at 12 midnight: Go to bed.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by David published on June 10, 2005 1:12 AM.

Are Americans Genetically Optimistic ? was the previous entry in this blog.

Giving up on Linux/Windows Dual-Boot on SATA Raid is the next entry in this blog.

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