How do I dual boot Windows 2000 and Windows NT using BootMagic (instead of NT loader)?

A. I'll briefly explain how to install Win2K to a separate partition and prohibit Win2K from modifying or adding any files to any of your existing partitions. You install the Win2K boot files on the Win2K partition, thus segregating Win2K completely. If you later decide you hate Win2K, you can simply delete the Win2K partition to remove Win2K from your PC.

The tools I used for this solution include the following:

  • PartitionMagic 5.0 Pro
  • BootMagic 2.0
  • BootMagic Rescue Diskette
  • Norton Ghost 2000 Personal Edition (optional, but it never hurts to be cautious)
  • PartitionMagic Rescue Diskette (optional, but it never hurts to be cautious)
I looked in the PartitionMagic Help file for assistance and found a help topic that describes an almost identical procedure to create a dual-boot PC that boots both NT 4.0 and Windows 98.

First, let me provide a little background. A hard disk can support a maximum of four primary partitions and 64 logical partitions. Using Linux terminology, those primary partitions are named hda1, hda2, hda3, and hda4, and the logical partitions are named hda5, hda6, etc. The Windows OSs can boot directly from a primary partition, so the goal is to install Win2K on a primary partition. You can install Win2K and NT on a logical partition, but their boot files must reside in a primary partition. I don't recommend installing Win2K or NT on a logical partition.

NT 4.0 and Windows 95 already exist on my hda1 partition. Various flavors of Linux, a DATA (FAT) partition, and a MISC (FAT) partition occupy my logical partitions. I used PartitionMagic to create primary partition hda2. I made sure it started just before the 2GB mark on the hard disk (according to the PartitionMagic Help file). I formatted the partition FAT. I then used PartitionMagic to make this new partition active. Next, I used PartitionMagic to hide all partitions that Win2K can read or write to. To help me later, I used PartitionMagic to add a label to each of my partitions (e.g., WIN2K, NT4, DATA FILES, MISC).

I rebooted the computer using the first Win2K installation diskette. During the Win2K installation, I converted the Win2K partition to NTFS (this is optional).

After I installed Win2K, I rebooted the computer using the BootMagic Rescue Diskette. I ran the pqboot.exe program on the diskette to set the NT4 partition active. Then I rebooted the computer. With the NT4 partition active, my computer booted into NT 4.0. I used PartitionMagic to reveal all partitions except the Win2K one that I previously hid.

I loaded the BootMagic configuration program, ensuring that an X appeared in the "BootMagic enabled" checkbox in the bottom left corner. Next, I added a Win2K entry to the BootMagic menu. Using BootMagic, I excluded the Win2K partition from the list of partitions visible to NT 4.0. I also used BootMagic and excluded the NT4 partition from the list of partitions visible to Win2K. Finally, I rebooted my PC and selected my desired OS from the BootMagic menu. If I choose to boot NT 4.0, BootMagic makes the NT4 partition active and assigns drive letter C to my NT4 partition. If I choose to boot Win2K, BootMagic makes the Win2K partition active and assigns drive letter C to my Win2K partition.

Thanks to Matt Thompson for this great tip.

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