Unable to install XP or Vista on Dell Inspiron 530 with Ubuntu 8.04 preinstalled

Posted on 2008-10-11
Last Modified: 2012-08-13
Recently, I bought the Dell Inspiron 530 with Ubuntu Linux V8.04 pre-installed and 1 250gb SATA HD.  I tried to install XP Pro SP2 on it.  It comes with 4 primary partitions 1) Dell utility partition), 2) fat32 (Ubuntu cd contents), 3) ext3 Ubuntu 8.04, 4) linux-swap.  XP cannot be installed since 4 primary partitions already exist.

I created an extended partition (using Gparted) and moved linux swap to the extended partition.  Edit menu.lst in Linux so grub can present XP as a boot option.  Now with 3 primaries, I started the install of XP SP2.  After initial partition creation and after files are copied to that partition (/dev/sda6), after the first reboot, the boot loader (I assume XP's, since it overwrites the linux bootloader) gives an error message "Disk error".

After restoring the Linux boot loader, boot to Windows XP (using the grub bootloader) and I get Error 12: Invalid device requested.

I booted to Dell's Utility partition, and ran their diagostic tools and no memory or disk errors were found.

I initially thought that since XP cannot recognize a SATA drive without a driver disk (using F6 during initial install), I would have to go through the process of slipstreaming the driver (I don't have a floppy drive).  I then tried to do the same thing but with Vista instead (it comes with SATA drivers?).  I got the same identical errors as with the XP installation.

I'm stuck here.  How do I get XP and/or Vista installed?  The BIOS is set for SATA/IDE, not SATA/RAID.

Question by:danno03
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Expert Comment

ID: 22695592
Make sure the windows xp partition is set to active.
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Expert Comment

ID: 22695625
Switch to a good 3rd party boot manager that overcomes the 4 primary partition limit -- such as Boot-It NG.
[ ].   A superb utility for only $35.  (and the free demo version will let you give it a try before you buy it -- all important features are fully active in the demo).

I use it for all my systems these days.   I have one older system with 16 different OS choices;  and my main system (this one) can boot to XP Pro, XP Home, XP MCE, XP x64, Vista Ultimate, Vista Ultimate x64, Ubuntu, and Kbuntu.   I'll attach a somewhat dated image of my boot menu (the "Test OS" is now "XP x64").

There are several video tutorials on Boot-It on the web site -- if you have more detailed questions just post them here.   It's a bit "geeky" ==> but is a superb partition manager; boot manager; and image/restore utility.


Author Comment

ID: 22703432
Partition 2 (/dev/sda2) is shown in Gparted with the 'boot' flag, so I assume that's the 'active' partition.  Boot.ini, NTLDR, etc. is also there.  Partion /dev/sda6 (partition(5) using boot.ini notation) is where XP is being installed.  Not sure why the XP installer chose to put the boot files in partition 2, but there doesn't appear to be a way to control that.

Here's what I've tried so far:

- In grub, I have root (hd0,5)<cr>makeactive<cr>chainloader +1 (doesn't 'makeactive' make this partition active?)
- I made the XP partition 'active' using Gparted (set flag to 'boot').  Same Error 12: Invalid device requested

Author Comment

ID: 22703550
If if I used a robust boot manager as the one you suggest, the XP install would overwrite that one and would abort since there were already 4 primary partitions.  I assume that this boot manager would use a little 'cloak and dagger' to hide the other primary paritions?  If so, then maybe I should use Gparted to mark the other primary partitions as hidden and retry installing XP to a new primary partition (after restoring the linux swap as primary partition 4 and eliminating the extended/logical partitions - this is how Dell set this up when I first got this box)?
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Expert Comment

ID: 22704390
Boot-It uses an Extended MBR (EMBR) structure to overcome the 4-partition limit.   Works perfectly ... and allows all OS's to be installed on C:;  all of them to be invisible to the others; etc.   It's different than just marking them as hidden [Hidden partitions are still "visible" to the OS's disk manager; and don't overcome the 4-partition limit].

You have to follow a specific process to install XP (or any OS) in a new boot item (very simple) ... and if the OS overwrites the MBR (which many do) you simply reboot to the Boot-It CD and select "Re-Activate Boot-It" to restore the complete EMBR structure and all previous boot items.

It IS a bit "geeky" ... but it works perfectly -- I wouldn't build a system without it.

Author Comment

ID: 22707528
I was hoping to avoid having to pay to use a 3rd party boot manager, especially since grub appears to be quite robust and lots of articles are written online on how to dual boot Linux and Windows.  I've read most of these articles and nothing seems to help with this problem.  If it comes to last resort, I may try Boot-it.
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Expert Comment

ID: 22707624
I'm sure grub works fine -- I simply like the total isolation between OS's that Boot-It allows; and how everything installs to C: instead of other non-standard drive letters.   I also tend to install quite a few different OS's => I've got one system with 16 different bootable OS's :-)

In addition to it's boot manager functions, Boot-It is an excellent partition manager (create/delete/resize/move) and an image/restore utility --> so I can easily image/restore any of the partitions.   It really makes management of multiple-boot systems simple.

Author Comment

ID: 22743812
I haven't gotten a response from you from my last post here to you on 10/13.  No solution for this?

Accepted Solution

danno03 earned 0 total points
ID: 22828484
The problem was caused by attempting to install XP or Vista to a logical partition - a big no-no with Windows.  Even though NTLDR, boot.ini and NTDETECT.COM was located in a primary partition and the boot.ini correctly pointed to where the system partition was (where \windows is located), the installation would still fail.  Windows requires that installation occur in a primary partition.

There are ways to get around this installation restriction.  Details are posted here:

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