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Customizing The Multiboot Startup Options In Windows Xp

Your PC starts up with a multiboot menu when you have more than one operating system installed. You can edit or create a new startup menu that lets you choose which operating system to boot into. This menu stays live for 30 seconds and after 30 seconds it boots into your default operating system.

In order to customize that multiboot menu you have to edit the boot.ini file, a hidden system file. This file control a variety of startup options like how long to display the menu, which operating system to boot into.

The Boot.ini is plain text file which reside in the root folder i.e c:/folder. Boot.ini is hidden and read only file therefore before editing it you have to unhide it. To make it visible just go to windows explorer, choose view –> Tools –>Folder Options –>View and then select the radio button “Show Hidden Files And Folders”. Now to make the file editable right click on the file and then choose properties, uncheck the Read-Only box, and click OK.

Tips To Edit The File

You can use Notepad to edit the Boot.ini file. Before editing boot.ini, make a copy of it and save it under a different name (such as boot.ini.bak), so that you can revert to it if you cause problems when you edit the file.

A typical boot.ini file that has two operating system installed on it, Windows Xp Professional  and Windows 200 Professional.

[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)WINNT="Windows 2000 Professional" /
fastdetect

There are two parts in the file [boot loader] and [operating systems].
In order to customize the menu and startup options, you have to edit the entries in each part. Before making any changes make sure you have taken the backup of original boot.ini file.

Each Section In Detail

[boot loader]

Boot Process is controlled by this section. It specifies the default Operating System and the time taken to make a selection from boot menu. The timeout value in seconds shows how long to display the menu and wait for a selection before loading the default operating system. Enter a value of 15 if you want to display the menu for 15 seconds. For immediately booting the default operating system use a value of 0.

Next is the Default value which specifies which operating system should be taken as default. You can change the default operating system by editing the setting, in the example given above we can change the default operating system to default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)WINNT instead of default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)WINDOWS

[operating system]

This section tells which operating system is installed on the computer along with the detail description of each.

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)WINDOWS

Multi: This parameter identifies the disk controller and its value should be 0.

Disk: The value of disk parameter should be 0

Rdisk: The value should be 0 but in case you have three hard disks installed and the location of boot partition is second hard drive then setting will be rdisk(1).

Partiton: This parameter identifies the partition number of the boot partition.

The final section i.e Windows is path to the folder where the operating system is installed.

To the right of the path in the example is =”Microsoft Windows XP Professional” /fastdetect. The word in the quotes will be displayed on the boot menu. You can change this to anything you want. The /fastdetect switch enables faster booting by disabling the detection of serial and parallel devices.

Now let’s make some changes to our example given above. Let’s make menu to appear for 20 seconds, the default operating system to be Windows 2000 Professional, the boot.ini file should look like this:

[boot loader]
timeout=20
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)WINNT
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)WINNT="Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect
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