GRUB boot-loader commands for XP safe mode?

Posted on 2004-11-18
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2007-11-27
I changed a video setting using NVidia's software today.  I asked it to switch resolutions and instead of coming back after 15 seconds, it just sits there with the monitor complaining about an unacceptable refresh rate.  Rebooting does not solve the problem.

Normally this could be solved from safe mode, but I boot from GRUB so there is no point to press F8 and boot into any safe mode.

Is there a command line that i can pass GRUB that will open XP in safe mode?

Here is my grub line currently:  
     rootnoverify (hd0,1)
     chainloader +1

is there a /safemode switch I can add?

Otherwise, how on earth can I fix this (normally) simple problem?

Question by:frozenJim
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LVL 11

Accepted Solution

jgiordano earned 1000 total points
ID: 12616537
Do you have the windows recovery console installed? If not you can run it from the product cd's
LVL 41

Expert Comment

ID: 12616640
in linux, can  you edit the boot.ini if so see here
LVL 41

Expert Comment

ID: 12616648
should be /safeboot
but I think  you have to edit the boot.ini
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Author Comment

ID: 12616887
Well, recovery console isn't a problem if I boot from CD.  But can I go from there to Safe Mode?

Or is there another way to change video resolution settings from recovery console?


Author Comment

ID: 12617833
stevenlewis:  Could you please paste this solution into a comment so I can list it as the accepted solution?   I'll award you the points.

OK, boys and girls.  I'm handing the points to stevenlewis because the magic PHRASE was "boot.ini" even though "/safeboot" was inaccurate.  However that information was useless without knowing to use the recovery console to get into XP as pointed out by jgiodano so I wish I could split the points.

However, the REAL ANSWER is a bit more complex.

Here's what I did to get back in without uninstalling or reinstalling anything:

     - Choose to enter console mode


     - List existing loaders
          c:\WINDOWS>  bootcfg /list

          Total entries in boot list: 1

          [1] "Microsoft Windows XP Professional"
          OS Load Options: /fastdetect
          OS Location: C:\WINDOWS

    - Add new loader with /basevideo switch

          c:\WINDOWS>  bootcfg /add

          The Windows installation scan was successful.

          Note: These results are stored statically for this session.
                If the disk configuration changes during this session,
                in order to get an updated scan, you must first reboot
                the machine and then rescan the disks.

          Total identified Windows installs: 1

          [1]: C:\WINDOWS

          Select installation to add: 1
          Enter Load Identifies: James
          Enter OS Load Options: /basevideo

     - Verify new loader was correctly installed

          c:\WINDOWS> bootcfg /list

          Total entries in boot list: 2

          [1] "James"
          OS Load Options: /basevideo
          OS Locatoin: C:\WINDOWS

          [2] "Microsoft Windows XP Professional"
          OS Load Options: /fastdetect
          OS Location: C:\WINDOWS


Thanks guys.   Problem solved.

Author Comment

ID: 12617861
Oh hey, I CAN split points!  Great.  Either one of you, please copy my solution and I'll up the points to 500 and split it between you both.

LVL 41

Assisted Solution

stevenlewis earned 1000 total points
ID: 12617872
Using BOOT.INI Startup Switches (Windows NT/2000/XP) Popular
Windows NT, 2000 and XP use a configuration file called BOOT.INI to control how the operating system is booted and any startup options. By modifying the startup switches you can manage the boot process including booting Windows in Safe mode, creating a log file, or disabling the splash screen.

Open you the root partition of your hard drive (normally C:\) and find the file called "BOOT.INI". You may need to enable hidden files under Folder > Options.
Right-click on the file, select Properties and uncheck "Read-only" then click OK. You may like to make a backup of the file at this point to allow you to restore if you experience problems.

Open the file in Notepad and under the [operating systems] section you will find a list of all the installed operating systems. For example:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition" /fastdetect

To enable or disable startup options simply change or add any of the switches listed below to the default command-line. For example you could add "/SOS" to the command-line above to display the splash screen and view the drivers being loaded.

/3GB - New to Service Pack 3. This causes the split between user and system portions of the Windows NT map to become 3GB for user applications, 1GB for System. To take advantage of this the system must be part of the NT Enterprise suite and the application must be flagged as a 3GB aware application.

/BASEVIDEO - The computer starts up using the standard VGA video driver. Use this if you have installed a graphics driver that is not working.

/BAUDRATE - Specifies the baud rate to be used for debugging. If you do not set the baud rate, the default baud rate is 9600 if a modem is attached, and 19200 for a null-modem cable.

/BOOTLOG - Makes 2000 write a log of the boot to the file %SystemRoot%\NTBTLOG.TXT Windows 2000/XP Only.

/BURNMEMORY=x - Makes NT forget about the given amount of memory in MB. If /burnmemory=64 was given then 64MB of memory would be unavailable.

/CRASHDEBUG - The debugger is loaded when you start Windows NT, but remains inactive unless a Kernel error occurs. This mode is useful if you are experiencing random, unpredictable Kernel errors.

/DEBUG - The debugger is loaded when you start Windows NT, and can be activated at any time by a host debugger connected to the computer. This is the mode to use when you are debugging problems that are regularly reproducible.

/DEBUGPORT=comx - Specifies the com port to use for debugging, where x is the communications port that you want to use.

/FASTDETECT - Specifying FASTDETECT causes NTDETECT to skip parallel and serial device enumeration for a boot into Win2K, whereas omitting the switch has NTDETECT perform enumeration for a boot into NT 4.0. Win2K setup automatically recognizes dual-boot configurations and sets this switch for BOOT.INI lines that specify a Win2K boot. Windows 2000/XP Only.

/HAL=<hal> - Allows you to override the HAL used, for example using a checked version.

/INTAFFINITY - Sets the multiprocessor HAL (HALMPS.DLL) to set interrupt affinities such that only the highest numbered processor in an SMP will receive interrupts. Without the switch the HAL defaults to its normal behavior of letting all processors receive interrupts. Windows 2000/XP Only.

/KERNEL=<kernel> - Same as above but for the kernel.

/MAXMEM:n - Specifies the maximum amount of RAM that Windows NT can use. This switch is useful if you suspect a memory chip is bad.

/NODEBUG - No debugging information is being used.

/NOGUIBOOT - When this option is specified the VGA video driver responsible for presenting bit mapped graphics during Win2K's boot process is not initialized. The driver is used to display boot progress information, as well as to print the Blue Screen crash screen, so disabling it will disable Win2K's ability to do those things as well. Windows 2000/XP only.

/NOSERIALMICE=[COMx | COMx,y,z...] - Disables serial mouse detection of the specified COM port(s). Use this switch if you have a component other than a mouse attached to a serial port during the startup sequence. If you use /NOSERIALMICE without specifying a COM port, serial mouse detection is disabled on all COM ports.

/NUMPROC=n - Only enables the first n processors on a multiple processor system.

/ONECPU - Only use the first CPU in a multiple processor system.

/PCILOCK - Stops Windows NT from dynamically assigning IO/IRQ resources to PCI devices and leaves the devices configured by the BIOS.

/SAFEBOOT - This is an automatic switch which NTLDR should complete for you when you use the F8 menu to perform a safe boot. Following the colon in the option you must specify one of three additional switches: MINIMAL, NETWORK, or DSREPAIR. The MINIMAL and NETWORK flags correspond to safe boot with no network and safe boot with network support. The safe boot is a boot where Windows 2000/XP only loads drivers and services that are specified by name or group in the Minimal or Network Registry keys under HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\SafeBoot. The DSREPAIR (Directory Services Repair) switch causes NT to boot into a mode where it restores the Active Directory from a backup medium you present. An additional option that you can append is "(ALTERNATESHELL)". This tells NT to use the program specified by HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\SafeBoot\AlternateShell as the graphical shell, rather than to use the default which is Explorer. Windows 2000/XP only.

/SOS - Displays the driver names while they are being loaded. Use this switch if Windows NT won’t start up and you think a driver is missing. This option is configured by default on the [VGA] option on the boot menu.

/WIN95 - This switch is only pertinent on a triple-boot system that has DOS, Win9x and Windows NT installed. Specifying the /WIN95 switch directs NTLDR to boot the Win9x boot sector stored in BOOTSECT.W40. See Microsoft KB Article Q157992 for more information.

/WIN95DOS - This switch is only pertinent on a triple-boot system that has DOS, Win9x and Windows NT installed. Specifying the /WIN95DOS switch directs NTLDR to boot the DOS boot sector stored in BOOTSECT.DOS. See Microsoft KB Article Q157992 for more information.

/YEAR= - Specifying this value causes NT/Windows 2000 core time function to ignore the year that the computer's real-time clock reports and instead use the one indicated. Thus, the year used in the switch affects every piece of software on the system, including the NT kernel. Example: /YEAR=2005. Note: this option is only available on NT 4.0 Service Pack 4 and Windows 2000/XP.
Save the file and restart Windows for the change to take effect.

Last Modified: March 10, 2003
edit the boot.ini

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