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Creating a dual-boot system with Windows NT and Windows 95/98

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By James Thompson

Financial realities often limit the number of systems you have available for testing software, equipment, settings, and configurations. Still, thoroughly experimenting with any potential upgrades to your network is critical to an IT department. Fortunately, you can stretch your test equipment dollars by creating more than one configuration on a single system. In this article, we'll get you started on this process by explaining how you can configure a system to boot on two common operating systems: Windows 95/98 and Windows NT Server.

On This Page

The FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS disk formats
Getting started
Installing Windows 95/98
Creating the first FAT16 partition
Formatting the first FAT16 partition
Setting up Windows 95/98
Installing Windows NT
Creating the second FAT16 partition
Formatting the second FAT16 partition
Setting up Windows NT
Adding the finishing touches to your new installation
Viewing your new drives in Windows 95/98
Viewing your new drives in Windows NT
Conclusion

The FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS disk formats

Before you begin configuring your dual-boot machine, you'll need to understand the differences in how Windows NT and Windows 95/98 format hard drives—the single most important issue in dealing with dual-boot systems.

Windows 95/98 and Windows NT share one hard drive format, FAT16, which dates back to the DOS days. However, FAT16 has some distinct disadvantages, such as huge clusters that can waste a lot of space in a large partition. To remedy these shortcomings, Microsoft developed NTFS for Windows NT and FAT32 for Windows 95/98. Table A lists some differences between these formats.

Table A The differences between the three FAT types available on Windows 95/98 and Windows NT.

Supports

FAT16

FAT32

NTFS

Windows NT

X

 

X

Windows 98

X

X

 

Windows 95

X

X*

 

Maximum Partition Size

2GB

2TB

2TB

Dual Boot NT & 95/98

X

 

 

Per-file Compression

 

 

X

Security

 

 

X

Transactions

 

 

X

* Windows 95 OSR2 supports FAT32, previous versions support only FAT16.

Since NTFS and FAT32 aren't completely compatible, in our sample project we'll create a system with two FAT16 partitions—one for Windows 95/98 and one for Windows NT. Giving each platform a distinct partition, rather than having them share a single partition, will give your system greater testing flexibility. For example, with two distinct partitions you can better isolate software installations and easily remove and reinstall one or both operating systems.

Getting started

On a system with two 6.2GB hard drives, we'll create two 2GB partitions on the first hard drive, Hard Disk 0. The first partition will host Windows 95/98, and the second partition will contain the Windows NT system.

Installing Windows 95/98

Let's start by setting up the Windows 95/98 partition. If you're using Windows 95, you need to make sure you're running version OSR2 so that later on you'll be able to create a FAT32 partition (we'll discuss that phase of the setup next month). Fortunately, Windows 98 ships with built-in support for FAT32.

First, boot your system using a DOS or Windows 95/98 boot disk. (Make sure the disk includes the FORMAT and FDISK utilities.) An existing Windows 95/98 boot disk should work fine. In most situations, a Windows 95/98 boot disk automatically finds and configures your CD drive. This is important, since you'll need your CD-ROM drive to finish the partitioning process.

If you don't have a Windows 95/98 boot disk handy, you'll need to make one that includes drivers for your particular CD-ROM drive. You can also consult your system's manufacturer about how and where you can get a system boot disk with CD-ROM support.

Creating the first FAT16 partition

After booting your system from the floppy, type FDISK at the command prompt and then press [Enter]. You'll now see the initial FDISK screen, shown in Figure A, which asks if you want to enable the use of FAT32 partitions.

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Figure A: FDISK detects a large hard drive and suggests using the new FAT32 file system.

At this point, you might think, "Sure, let's create a FAT32 partition. NT will just ignore it and move to the next partition." Unfortunately, that's not the case. In our research for this article, NT refused to even boot with a FAT32 partition in the first partition space. When constructing a dual-boot system, you'll want to create only FAT16 partitions. So, you should type N at the prompt to refuse support for FAT32 partitions. (If FDISK skipped the question about enabling FAT32, it means you booted using an older DOS version or a pre-OSR2 Windows 95 boot disk. Booting with an older DOS or Windows boot disk should cause no problems.)

Select option 1 in the next FDISK screen, as shown in Figure B, and press [Enter] to create a DOS partition or logical DOS drive. Then, select option 1 in the following screen and press [Enter] to create a primary DOS partition. (For the system to function properly, you must create the first partition on the first drive as a primary DOS partition.)

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Figure B: The FDISK main menu provides options for creating, displaying, and erasing drive partitions.

At this point, FDISK asks if you want to use the maximum available size for the primary DOS partition. Press [Enter] to accept the maximum, which is 2GB, regardless of the total size of your physical drive. FDISK confirms the creation of the new partition with the response Primary DOS Partition created, drive letters changed or added, as shown in Figure C. Now, press [Esc] three times to leave FDISK, and then reboot your system.

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Figure C: When FDISK creates new partitions, it confirms the creation with this screen.

Formatting the first FAT16 partition

When the system reboots and returns to the command prompt, you'll need to format the partition you just created. Type format c: at the prompt and press [Enter]. FORMAT will ask for confirmation, as shown in Figure D. Type Y and press [Enter] to prepare the partition for use with Windows 95/98. After the format is complete, press [Enter] at the Volume Label prompt. You've completed your drive format, and you're now ready to configure your system with Windows 95/98.

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Figure D: Since you'll rarely want to format your hard drive partitions, FORMAT requires confirmation.

Setting up Windows 95/98

Restart your system again with your boot floppy, insert your Windows 95/98 CD, and after bootup completes, switch the command prompt to the CD drive. Type setup and press [Enter] to begin the Windows 95/98 setup utility, which will walk you through the simple process. Setup takes anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on the options you choose and the speed of your equipment. After you complete the installation, you should have a fully functioning Windows 95/98 system. Now you must install Windows NT to complete the dual-boot configuration.

Installing Windows NT

You'll find configuring the Windows NT partition fairly easy in comparison to 95/98 setup, because so much of the disk partitioning process is built into the NT setup program. First, restart your system using the Windows NT Server Setup Disk 1 in your floppy drive. After Setup evaluates your system, it will prompt you to insert Setup Disk 2 into drive A and press [Enter]. Setup will then load some more drivers and present you with some configuration options. At the Welcome to Setup screen, press [Enter] to select the NT installation process. Setup will ask if you want it to detect all storage devices. In most scenarios, you'll want Setup to detect your CD and hard drive configurations, so press [Enter]. At this point, the utility will prompt you to insert Setup Disk 3 in drive A.

Setup will now look through your mass storage devices to find any IDE or SCSI controllers and connected hard drives. Under most configurations, the utility will find all your drives and then ask you to confirm its findings and to specify any additional devices. If Setup correctly lists all your storage devices, press [Enter] to continue. At this point, Setup should detect your CD drive and prompt you to insert the Windows NT Server CD.

Insert the disc in your CD drive and press [Enter]. Once Setup detects the server CD, it will ask you to read and accept the software's license agreement. Next, Setup will display your basic system configuration, including number of processors, mouse type, video type, and so on. Press [Enter] to confirm that the list matches your configuration. If the utility displays a configuration that doesn't match your system, you'll need to manually insert the appropriate device. For most system installations, the default choices are correct.

Creating the second FAT16 partition

Setup will now help you create partitions for your new NT installation. You should see at least one drive listed in the window at the bottom of the screen. Setup automatically highlights the first partition, which you created with the FDISK utility. You see the available unpartitioned space on your drive, expressed in MB, just below your first partition. To create an additional partition, select the unpartitioned space and then press C to create the partition.

At this point, you'll need to determine the size of the partition you wish to use with NT. Once again, you'll want to create the largest possible FAT16 partition—2GB. Type 2000 in the Create Partition of Size (in MB) text box and press [Enter]. NT's setup program will now return you to its partitions list, where you should see the second 2,000MB partition listed after your first FAT16 partition. Since all new partitions start out unformatted, your addition will be listed as "New (Unformatted)."

Formatting the second FAT16 partition

Select your new partition as the space where you want to install NT and press [Enter]. Setup will now ask if you want to format the partition as FAT or NTFS. Choose Format the Partition Using the FAT File System and press [Enter]. Setup will format the drive with the FAT16 file system and then continue the installation.

Setting up Windows NT

Setup will now ask you to specify the subdirectory on your new partition in which you want to install the NT files. In most cases, you'll just want to press [Enter] and accept the default \ WINNT subdirectory. Press [Enter] again, and Setup will perform a scan of your hard drives to check for errors before continuing the installation. Then the utility will begin installing the system files for your new NT server. You should find the rest of the setup process typical of any normal NT server installation.

When Setup finishes copying files, you'll need to restart your system. During startup, your system should display the new boot options. Choose the first option, Windows NT Server Version 4.00, by pressing [Enter]. This option boots the system running NT and completes the NT Server configuration.

Adding the finishing touches to your new installation

Congratulations, you've just configured a dual-boot Windows NT and Windows 95/98 system! Now let's take a look at the drives in both Windows 95/98 and Windows NT. You should confirm the partitions from within both systems and label the boot drives before you install any software or create more partitions, which we'll discuss next month.

Viewing your new drives in Windows 95/98

To view your new drives in Windows 95/98, restart the system and choose the Microsoft Windows option from the boot menu. Once Windows 95/98 finishes booting, use My Computer to view the available drives on your system, including your two newly formatted hard drive partitions.

As you can see in Figure E on the previous page, Windows 95/98 shows two hard drive partitions, listed as (C:) and (D:). (Our example shows the Windows 98 GUI.) Right-click on the (C:) icon in the My Computer window and select Properties to view the partition information shown in Figure F. In the Label text box, type Windows 98 to identify partition C as the one that stores your Windows 95/98 information, and click OK. Perform the same steps to rename the D partition as Windows nt. Take another look at the My Computer window, which should now resemble the window shown in Figure G.

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Figure E: The My Computer window shows the two new drive partitions you created.

Cc723452.figuref(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

Figure F: Use the Properties sheet to view information for any partition.

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Figure G: We labeled the C and D drives to clearly distinguish between the Windows 98 and Windows NT partitions.

Viewing your new drives in Windows NT

To view your new drives in Windows NT, restart the system and choose the Windows NT Server Version 4.00 option from the boot menu. Be sure you log on using the Administrator account. Once NT finishes booting, open My Computer, which should display the new partitions as (C:) and (E:), as shown in Figure H.

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Figure H: The My Computer window display in Windows NT is almost identical to the one in Windows 95/98.

Using Disk Administrator, you can change or remove the drive letter associated with a particular partition. In fact, in next month's issue we'll discuss how you can complete your dual-boot setup by hiding a partition created for Windows 95/98 from Windows NT using Disk Administrator. If you use Disk Administrator to delete and re-create hard drive partitions, the drive letters might show up differently between your Windows NT and Windows 95/98 systems. However, since we labeled the partitions earlier, you'll easily identify the differences in configuration.

Now, let's look at the drives and partition information. Choose Start>Programs>Administrative Tools (Common)>Disk Administrator to run NT's Disk Administrator tool. The first time you run Disk Administrator, it will ask you for permission to gather information about your system. As you can see in Figure I, Disk Administrator will also ask if it's OK to add some information to Hard Disk 0 that the utility needs to operate properly. Adding this information doesn't affect the use of the drive for Windows or other operating systems, so press [Enter] to confirm the disk write.

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Figure I: Disk Administrator writes drive information the first time you run it.

Disk Administrator will now display the partition information for Hard Disk 0 as well as info about the unpartitioned space left on the disk and the totally empty space available on Hard Disk 1, as shown in Figure J. Notice that the maximum partition size created by Windows 95/98 was actually larger than 2,000MB. In fact, allowing FDISK to use the maximum available size for a partition created a 2,047MB partition.

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Figure J: Windows NT's Disk Administrator Tool shows all the drives, partitions, and available space.

Be sure you take a look at the Hard Disk size listed below the Disk 0 and Disk 1 icons. Does the value match your actual disk sizes? If Disk Administrator isn't registering your drive sizes correctly, your configuration may not work properly. Disk Administrator can register wrong disk sizes for any of several different reasons. Because your hard disk specifications may be listed improperly in your system CMOS, you should check those values first. If the CMOS info is correct but Disk Administrator still displays inconsistent information, contact your system manufacturer to see if its CMOS supports drives of the size and settings you've used in your configuration. If Disk Administrator recognizes both of your 2GB partitions, your system is now capable of dual-boot operation.

Conclusion

Windows NT and Windows 95/98 represent a huge percentage of the desktop systems in most corporate environments. The ability to configure a single machine for multiple operating systems provides a cost-effective way of testing without breaking your budget. In this article, we've shown the necessary steps for installing Windows 95/98 and Windows NT on the same workstation. Next month, we'll finish configuring our test system by adding FAT32 and NTFS formatted partitions.

James Thompson heads the cable-modem division of Intermedia, Inc. You can reach him at jst@archrivals.com.

For more information, go to the TechRepublic web site at http://www.techrepublic.com.

We at Microsoft Corporation hope that the information in this work is valuable to you. Your use of the information contained in this work, however, is at your sole risk. All information in this work is provided "as -is", without any warranty, whether express or implied, of its accuracy, completeness, fitness for a particular purpose, title or non-infringement, and none of the third-party products or information mentioned in the work are authored, recommended, supported or guaranteed by Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft Corporation shall not be liable for any damages you may sustain by using this information, whether direct, indirect, special, incidental or consequential, even if it has been advised of the possibility of such damages.

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