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Triple Boot Win NT, Win 95, Win98

Posted on 1999-01-08
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-28
Does anyone know of a way to triple boot between Win NT and two other OSs using the NT Bootloader?  As I understand the NT boot loader, it will allow as many NT OSs as you like, and whatever was in the boot sector of the primary drive.  Is it possible to make a second hard drive bootable, and then select choose between NT, c:\, and D:\.  So far my attempts to do this have failed.  Is there a piece I am missing?  Will this work? Has anyone tried this?  Thanks in advance.
Question by:oharris
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Expert Comment

ID: 1797042
BootPa is a great utility that makes a bootfile(512 bytes) for (nearly) any bootable partition.  You then load with the NT boot loader via boot.ini.

I have used it to enable one of my machines to boot NT, 95, Dos5 , and Linux

you can get it from my server at :
login as anonymous and your email as password

The readme.txt instructions are a tad cryptic but with patience you will do fine.

If this helps, let me know and I'll post as answer.

Expert Comment

by:Bob Stone
ID: 1797043
It depends alot on what versions of Win '95 and '98 you've got OEM versions on Win don't like to be second boot.

Expert Comment

ID: 1797044
The NT boot loader won't handle many instances of win98/95 as the windows programs only find thier resources on root c:.

There is a program that I recommened and it is not freeware but if you'd like to read the contents of this URL, you can make up your own mind on what good it may be to you.

System Commander deluxe can be located at:



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Expert Comment

ID: 1797045
Winplanet knowledge base has a great article on how to do this with NT - no third-party software needed.  Check out http://www.winplanet.com/.print/ATRasMAorALntdirectbootY2kSLtSOP/

Expert Comment

by:Bob Stone
ID: 1797046
Easiest way, on largest HD FDISK, answer 'n' to large disk support (will make it FAT32), partition. Then install Win 9x (95 or 98, whichever you want)on primary partition, install NT on secondary partition. Physically disconnect large drive and install remaining OS to drive. reconnect all drives. You will have some probs with invalid paths, but just edit win.ini and reg to fix. you may need to switch around drive letter in NT also.

Note: install no other software til all three OSs work with no invalid paths, much easier and faster that way, less changes to make.
Good luck, it's a lot of work, I know, I just did something similar.

Author Comment

ID: 1797047
Sorry it took so long to get back to you.  I did what you suggested, but no luck.  When I try to boot into the the smaller hard drive, I get a DOS screen the says PAGE FAULT at the top and then lists a bunch of error codes.  I added the following line to the boot.ini

 D:\ "Windows 95 [D Drive]"  

It boots fine when I remove the larger drive and make this one the master.  Is there something I am missing?

Author Comment

ID: 1797048

I downloaded the BootPA software you mentioned, but I am a little mystified as to how to use it.  From the instructions it appears to load either a Dos 6.22, Win95, or Win NT bootsector, and save whatever was in the boot sector to a file.  Is this accurate?  How do I then use these files?  Do I have to specify in the boot.ini?  Thanks.

Oliver Harris

Expert Comment

ID: 1797049

You might want to browse the following site for lots of info about multi-booting methods.  There are links for more info & several inexpensive programs.

I hope it helps,


Expert Comment

ID: 1797050
It might be even more helpful if I supplied the link!


LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 1797051
You can boot NT and *one* other system, using the NT loader:

Partition the hard-drive into two partitions:
(1) "primary" for the "other" system
(2) "extended" to hold one (or more) "logical-drives".

Install the "other" system to C:
and then install NT to the 'D:' logical-drive.
NT will update the "boot" files on the 'C:' drive.

If you want "triple-boot", one solution is the Boot Manager
which is included with Partition Magic Version 3
(or the BootMagic program included with Partition Magic 4).

See: http://WWW.PowerQuest.Com for information about P.M.

Partition the drive:
(1) one-cylinder "primary" partition, for Boot Manager
(2) XXX MB "primary" partition, for Windows 98.
(3) YYY MB "primary" partition, for Windows 95.
(4) ZZZ MB "extended" partition, containing one (or more)

Install Windows 98.
Install Boot Manager.
Reboot, and try to boot from the 'YYY' MB partition.
It will fail, but it will "hide" the Windows 98 partition.
Reboot, and install Windows 95.
Use FDISK under Windows 95 to redefine the Boot Manager
partition as "startable".
Reboot, and install NT into a logical-drive.
Use NT's "Disk Administrator" to redefine the Boot Manager
partition as "startable".

Now, when you boot, your choices are WIN98 or WIN95.
If you select WIN95, you get another menu,
and you can choose WIN95 or NT.

Accepted Solution

tfabian earned 200 total points
ID: 1797052
I read your question in the customer service area, and came here looking...

I've got some thoughts on the subject since I just went through a struggle getting Linux and NT setup in a dual boot/triple boot setup.. it and more are possible..

I've found a number of things are key in doing multiple boots using the NT boot loader..

1)  know your partition number..  for having versions of NT workstation and server in a dual boot (or more setup) you need to know which partition they're on.. that value gets coded in the boot.ini file on your C drive.. it's a read only file.. but you can fool it by changing the permissions to allow writes temporarily to modify the values in the file..

2)  if you want to boot DOS from the system, or Win 95/98, install those first!!  put them on your C drive..  then overlay NT Workstation on D drive, NT Server on E drive, etc. etc.
the boot.ini will get created automatically once you install any version of NT.. and it'll figure the initial partition numbers..

3)  if you want Linux, you'll need to play games..   see my question at url


but in general, you've got to put Linux below the 1024th sector of your drive (in my case, at the front end) and you need to put a pointer to the Linux kernal in the boot.ini fileas follows:


plus you need to create the bootsect.lnx file (which is it's kernel) from within Linux so it can load LILO..

but I digress..  the same technique allows you to add ANY number of operating systems to the boot.ini file.. as long as you put their kernals on C drive or in a place that boot.ini can find them..

see urls






and more..

for a review of the concept from a LINUX/NT/DOS point of view...

good luck


Expert Comment

ID: 1797053
My suggestion would be using a program from V communications called System Commander.  They currently have two versions: one is a regular and one is deluxe.  Big difference between the two is that Deluxe has a partitioning tool built into it which makes it easier on installation of new OS's.  
To give a little background, at the moment on one of my machines I boot between NT4.0 Win95, Win98, and RedHat Linux 6.0.  Nice part about System Commander is that it overcomes the issue of being limited on amount of bootable partitions.  As far as System Commander is concerned, you can even boot into a extended partition.  FYI all off the above OS's are located in one drive and each one resided in its own partition.  The trick is that I had installed NT 4.0 into NTFS partition first, then created a small 8MB bootable partition for System Commander, and then installed the 95 98 and Linux into their own partition.  
This is as basic as I can get into it, without retyping the manual.  
Even though this program is not free (about $50) this allows you to always be able to boot into an OS when one of the other one crashes and dies completely.  If you were to use NT boot loader for example and NT died to the point you had to start from scratch, it would wreck havoc with the other OS's

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