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XXCOPY TECHNICAL BULLETIN #32


From:    Kan Yabumoto           tech@xxcopy.com
To:      XXCOPY user
Subject: A better boot diskette for Win9x/ME
Date:    2001-08-18
===============================================================================

Introduction:

  One thing really annoying with Windows ME is that the "Start UP"
  diskette which WinME creates as part of the initial installation
  (the so-called Emergency Boot Disk, or EBD) is quite useless.

  It does not allow you to enter the windows ME environment at all.
  All it gives you is a pseudo DOS environment with/without the
  support of the CD-ROM drive (Oh, yes, it gives you a Help menu).

  It seems that when something goes wrong with the few key files
  in the root directory and/or the master boot record (MBR), the
  only option you have is to re-install the whole Windows ME.
  This is also true even with our favorite environment, Win98SE.

  There are times when you are installing another OS (sucha s
  Windows 2000 as a dual boot system and something goes wrong
  with the set up, or a virus attack.  The complicated steps in
  the boot up process, especially with a dual-boot system, if any
  of the many files are even slightly corrupted, you can't enter
  Windows 9X or ME.  With this regard, Windows ME was one step
  backward from Win 9x where at least you have a DOS environment
  where you can fix things and enter the Windows environment.


Enter the Quick Boot Diskette:

  Anyway, here's a technique that works quite well to enter the
  Windows 9x/ME world without using any file in the root directory
  of the C: drive.  The disketter you prepare with this technique
  is useful even for a dual-boot system (e.g., 98SE and XP) as
  long as the disk was installed with a Windows 9x/ME system. 

  It seems too simple to be true.

  Assume that you are running a healthy Win9x/ME system.
  Here's how to create the "Windows Quick Boot" diskette:

    1. Open a DOS Box inside Win9x/ME (or its DOS counterpart).
    2. FORMAT A:
    3. XXCOPY16  C:\IO.SYS    A:\   /H
    4. XXCOPY16  C:\MSDOS.SYS A:\   /H

  Note: if you don't have XXCOPY16, use the standard ATTIRB
  and COPY command to copy the hidden files.  The two files
  listed above are essential.  Optionally, you may copy the
  following files if they are present in the root directory
  (but not mandatory)

    5. XXCOPY16  C:\CONFIG.SYS A:\
    6. XXCOPY16  C:\AUTOEXEC.BAT A:\

  That is it!!!

  The diskette is a bootable diskette which does not rely on any
  file in the root directory of the C: drive.

  If you are not familiar with XXCOPY16, it is available in the
  XXCOPY Freeware package.


The MSDOS.SYS file:

  Of course, the contents of the MSDOS.SYS file should be carefully
  controlled.  The following text shows a typical MSDOS.SYS fie. 
  (Note: the Windows 9x/ME system directory is assumed to be name
  as C:\WINDOWS.  If it is different, make adjustments as needed.)

    ----------------------------------------------------------

     [Paths]
     WinDir=C:\WINDOWS
     WinBootDir=C:\WINDOWS
     HostWinBootDrv=C

     [Options]
     AutoScan=0
     BootDelay=0
     BootMulti=0
     BootGUI=1
     BootMenu=0
     BootMenuDefault=1
     BootMenuDelay=4
     DoubleBuffer=1
     Logo=0
     DblSpace=0
     DrvSpace=0
     DisableLog=1
     WinVer=4.90.3000
     ;
     ;The following lines are required for compatibility...
     ;Do not remove them (MSDOS.SYS needs to be >1024 bytes).
     ;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
     ; ...

    -----------------------------------------------------------

  The most important thing with the MSDOS.SYS file is that
  the copy in the diskette should have the following line in
  the [Options] section of the file.

      DisableLog=1

  If the line reads "DisableLog=0", then, the log file (BOOTLOG.TXT)
  will be created on the diskette which makes the boot up procedure
  painfully slow.  (In Win ME, the log file will be created only
  when you choose Safe Mode or manually select Logged mode.  Still,
  for the floppy based operation, you don't want the log file.)  

  Note:  If your windows directory is not "C:\WINDOWS",
	 make adjustments as needed.

	 Here, some non-default settings are chosen:

	 AutoScan=0   (1 to carry out ScanDisk)
	 Logo=0       (1 to hide the screen by the log image)
	 DisableLog=1 (0 to generate BOOTLOG.TXT)
	 DblSpace=0   (1 to load DBLSPACE.BIN automatically)
	 DrvSpace=0   (1 to load DRVSPACE.BIN automatically)

     The WinVer value should reflect the version of Windows:

	 WinVer=4.00.0950      // Windows 95            
	 WinVer=4.00.1111      // Windows 95 OSR2       
	 WinVer=4.10.1998      // Windows 98            
	 WinVer=4.10.2222      // Windows 98 SE         
	 WinVer=4.90.3000      // Windows ME            


In case of trouble:

  1.  With WinME, the Quick boot diskette should go right into
      the Windows screen without letting you to stay in DOS.
      This procedure does not use any of the files in the root
      directory of the system disk (C:).

      On the other hand, with Win9x (Non-ME), the boot menu gives
      you the familiar option to stay at the command prompt.

  2.  If your system is too corrupted to come back alive using
      the Quick-restart diskette, you should use the Windows
      Emergency Recovery diskette that you made in the installation
      step.

  3.  Run FDISK to make sure that the Master boot record (MBR)
      has the proper master boot code.

         FDISK /MBR      (it runs in non-interactive mode).   

      Then, run FDISK in interactive mode (without an argument)
      and from the FDISK menu, make sure that the Primary DOS
      Partition is active.

  4.  Run the SYS command to refresh the boot sector (the first
      sector of the active partition) has proper boot program.

         SYS C:

      This program initializes the boot sector of C: drive and
      also copies the IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS and DRVSPACE.BIN files.

      Caution: If your system is configured as dual-boot with
      Windows NT/2000/XP, this procedure will make it Win9x-only
      system (However, after making it Win9X-only boot first,
      you may run the FIXBOOT command inside the Recovery Console,
      to make it dual-boot again).

  5.  If you suspect that the system registry settings (especially
      for essential device drivers) are badly configured, you
      may reestore the key files from the system backup directory.
      First, see how many backup sets have been captured.

        DIR  C:\WINDOWS\SYSBCKUP\*.CAB

      Here's an example of what you see:

        RB000    CAB     1,888,538  05-21-01  5:36a rb000.cab
        RB003    CAB     1,889,721  05-22-01  7:38a rb003.cab
        RBBAD    CAB     1,834,739  01-26-01  3:28p rbbad.cab
        RB002    CAB     1,892,943  05-20-01 12:45p rb002.cab

      Note that the file number and the file dates are not in
      a particular order.  Yesterday's copy is usually good.
      Don't pick the one with RBBAD.CAB which is a bad one!
      Once you decide which of the .CAB files to restore

      You may increase the number of backup sets stored in the
      SYSBCKUP directory by editing the C:\WINDOWS\SCANREG.INI
      file (e.g., specify MaxBackupCopies=10 for ten sets). 

   6. Once you decide which backup set to restore, run:

        EXTRACT C:\WINDOWS\SYSBCKUP\RB002.CAB /L C:\WINDOWS /E /Y

      Here, the RB002.CAB was chosen as an example. The directory
      name following the /L switch specifies the location of the
      the extracted files.  The /E switch extracts all files.
      The /Y switch suppresses the overwrite prompts. 

      In the case of Windows ME, the following files are expected
      to be restored:

           C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM.DAT
           C:\WINDOWS\USER.DAT
           C:\WINDOWS\CLASSES.DAT
           C:\WINDOWS\WIN.INI
           C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM.INI

   7. After the FDISK, SYS and EXTRACT procedures described above,
      you can try again with the Quick Boot diskette to reboot.
      Also, note that the files that are on the Quick Boot diskette
      were originally from the root directory of the system disk (C:).
      Therefore, you may restore them by copying the files back to
      the root directory if need:

          XXCOPY16 A:\*.*   C:\  /H /R /Y


Tip:

  Although the Quick Boot diskette needs only a handful of files,
  if you add the few utility programs into the diskette, it will
  make the diskette useful in case of trouble.

      IO.SYS        ; essential for boot up
      MSDOS.SYS     ; needed to boot up into the GUI environment
      CONFIG.SYS    ; optional for boot up
      AUTOEXEC.BAT  ; optional for boot up

      FDISK.EXE     ; to make the hard disk bootable
      SYS.COM       ; to make the hard disk bootable
      FORMAT.COM    ; to start over
      XXCOPY16.EXE  ; good idea
      XXCOPY.EXE    ; if you have room


Epilog:

  I have tested the technique described in this article using
  a computer with Win98, Win98SE and WinME.  I believe the same
  technique should work on Win95 and Win95-OSR2.

  Let me know if you encounter problems with the techniques
  described in this article. 

     Kan Yabumoto  

  For a similar technique in creating a better boot diskette for
  WinNT/2000/XP, see XXTB #33.


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