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Windows Vista

Custom Startups Using the Boot Configuration Data (part 1) - Using Startup and Recovery to Modify the BCD & Using the System Configuration Utility to Modify the BCD

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If your system can boot to one or more operating systems other than Windows Vista, or to multiple installations of Windows Vista, you’ll see a menu similar to the following during startup:
Choose the operating system or tool you want to start:
(Use the arrow keys to highlight your choice.)

Earlier version of Windows
Microsoft Windows Vista

To specify an advanced option for this choice, press F8.
Seconds until highlighted choice will be started automatically: 30

Tools:
Windows Memory Diagnostic

If you do nothing at this point, Windows Vista will boot automatically after 30 seconds. Otherwise, you select the operating system you want and then press the Enter key to boot it. (To switch between the operating system menu and the Tools menu, press the Tab key.) The specifics of this menu are determined by the Boot Configuration Data, a new data store that replaces the BOOT.INI file used in previous versions of Windows. BOOT.INI still exists, but it’s used only for loading the legacy operating systems in multiboot setups. Why the change? There are three main reasons:

  • It didn’t make sense to have two different types of boot information stores: one for BIOS-based systems and another for EFI-based systems. BCD creates a common store for both types of operating systems.

  • The need to support boot applications, which refers to any process that runs in the boot environment that the Windows Boot Manager creates. The main types of boot applications are Windows Vista partitions, legacy installations of Windows, and startup tools, such as the Windows Memory Diagnostic that appears in the Windows Boot Manager menu. In this sense, Windows Boot Manager is a kind of miniature operating system that displays an interface (the Windows Boot Manager menu) that lets you select which application you want to run.

  • The need to make boot options scriptable. The BCD exposes a scripting interface via a Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) provider. This enables you to create scripts that modify all aspects of the BCD.

Windows Vista gives you four methods to modify some or all the data in the BCD store:

  • The Startup and Recovery feature

  • The System Configuration Utility

  • The BCDEDIT command-line utility

  • The BCD WMI provider



Using Startup and Recovery to Modify the BCD

You can modify a limited set of BCD options using the Startup and Recovery dialog box: the default operating system, the maximum time the Windows Boot Manager menu is displayed, and then maximum time the Windows Vista startup recovery options are displayed. Here are the steps to follow:

1.
Select Start, right-click Computer, and then click Properties. Vista displays Control Panel’s System window.

2.
Click Advanced System Settings.

3.
If you see the User Account Control dialog box, either click Continue or type an administrator password and click Submit. The System Properties dialog box appears.

Tip

A quicker way to get to the System Properties dialog box is to press Windows Logo+R (or select Start, All Programs, Accessories, Run), type systempropertiesadvanced, and click OK.

4.
In the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Startup and Recovery group. Vista displays the Startup and Recovery dialog box, shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Use the Startup and Recovery dialog box to modify some aspects of the Boot Configuration Data.


5.
Use the Default Operating System list to click the operating system that Windows Boot Manager highlights by default at startup. (In other words, this is the operating system that runs automatically if you do not make a choice in the Windows Boot Manager menu.)

6.
Use the Time to Display List of Operating Systems spin box to set the interval after which Windows Boot Manager launches the default operating system. If you don’t want Windows Boot Manager to select an operating system automatically, deactivate the Time to Display List of Operating Systems check box.

7.
If Windows Vista is not shut down properly, Windows Boot Manager displays a menu of recovery options at startup. If you want the default options selected automatically after a time interval, activate the Time to Display Recovery Options When Needed check box and use the associated spin box to set the interval.

8.
Click OK in all open dialog boxes to put the new settings into effect.

Using the System Configuration Utility to Modify the BCD

For more detailed control over the BCD store, you can modify the data by using the System Configuration Utility. To start this program, follow these steps:

1.
Press Windows Logo+R (or select Start, All Programs, Accessories, Run) to open the Run dialog box.

2.
Type msconfig and then click OK.

3.
If you see the User Account Control dialog box, either click Continue or type an administrator password and click Submit. The System Configuration Utility window appears.

4.
Select the Boot tab, shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. In the System Configuration Utility, use the Boot tab to modify the BCD store.

The large box near the top of the tab displays the Vista installations on the current computer. You see Current OS beside the Vista installation you are running now; you see Default OS beside the Vista installation that is set up as the default. There are four main tasks you can perform:

  • Click the Set as Default button to set the highlighted Vista install as the default for the Windows Boot Manager menu.

  • Use the Timeout text box to set the maximum time that Windows Boot Manager waits before selecting the default OS.

  • Use the check boxes in the Boot Options group to set the following startup options for the currently highlighted Vista install:



    Safe Boot: MinimalBoots Windows Vista in Safe mode, which uses only a minimal set of device drivers. Use this switch if Windows Vista won’t start, if a device or program is causing Windows Vista to crash, or if you can’t uninstall a program while Windows Vista is running normally.
    Safe Boot: Minimal (Alternate Shell)Boots Windows Vista in Safe mode but also bypasses the Windows Vista GUI and boots to the command prompt instead. Use this switch if the programs in which you need to repair a problem can be run from the command prompt or if you can’t load the Windows Vista GUI.

    Note

    The shell loaded by the /safeboot:minimal(alternateshell) switch is determined by the value in the following Registry key:

        HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\SafeBoot\AlternateShell

    The default value is CMD.EXE (the command prompt).




    Safe Boot: Active Directory RepairBoots Windows Vista in Safe mode and restores a backup of the Active Directory service (this option applies only to domain controllers).
    Safe Boot: NetworkBoots Windows Vista in Safe mode but also includes networking drivers. Use this switch if the drivers or programs you need to repair a problem in exist on a shared network resource, if you need access to email or other network-based communications for technical support, or if your computer is running a shared Windows Vista installation.
    No GUI BootTells Windows Vista not to load the VGA display driver that is normally used to display the progress bar during startup. Use this switch if Windows Vista hangs while switching video modes for the progress bar, or if the display of the progress bar is garbled.
    Boot LogBoots Vista and logs the boot process to a text file named ntbtlog.txt that resides in the %SystemRoot% folder. Move to the end of the file and you might see a message telling you which device driver failed. You probably need to reinstall or roll back the driver . Use this switch if the Windows Vista startup hangs, if you need a detailed record of the startup process, or if you suspect (after using one of the other Startup menu options) that a driver is causing Windows Vista startup to fail.

    Note

    %SystemRoot% refers to the folder into which Windows Vista was installed. This is usually C:\Windows.




    Base VideoBoots Vista using the standard VGA mode: 640×480 with 256 colors. This is useful for troubleshooting video display driver problems. Use this switch if Windows Vista fails to start using any of the Safe mode options, if you recently installed a new video card device driver and the screen is garbled, the driver is balking at a resolution or color depth setting that’s too high, or if you can’t load the Windows Vista GUI. After Windows Vista has loaded, you can reinstall or roll back the driver, or you can adjust the display settings to values that the driver can handle.
    OS Boot InformationDisplays the path and location of each device driver as it loads, as well as the operating system version and build number, the number of processors, the system memory, and the process type.

  • Click the Advanced Options button to display the BOOT Advanced Options dialog box shown in Figure 3.



    Number of ProcessorsIn a multiprocessor system, specifies the maximum of processors that Windows Vista can use. Activate this check box if you suspect that using multiple processors is causing a program to hang.
    Maximum MemorySpecifies the maximum amount of memory, in megabytes, that Windows Vista can use. Use this value when you suspect a faulty memory chip might be causing problems.
    PCI LockActivate this check box to tell Vista not to dynamically assign hardware resources for PCI devices during startup. The resources assigned by the BIOS during the POST are locked in place. Use this switch if installing a PCI device causes the system to hang during startup.
    Detect HALActivate this check box to force Vista to detect the computer’s hardware abstraction layer (HAL) at startup. The HAL is a software layer that resides between the computer’s hardware and the operating system kernel, and its job is to hide hardware differences so that the kernel can run on a variety of hardware. If you force Vista to detect the HAL, it can use the HAL to interact with the computer’s hardware at startup. This is useful if dealing with the hardware directly is causing startup problems.
    DebugEnables remote debugging of the Windows Vista kernel. This sends debugging information to a remote computer via one of your computer’s ports. If you use this switch, you can use the Debug Port list to specify a serial port, IEEE 1394 port, or USB port. If you use a serial port, you can specify the transmission speed of the debugging information using the Baud Rate list; if you use an IEEE 1394 connection, activate Channel and specify a channel value; if you use a USB port, type the device name in the USB Target Name text box.

Figure 3. In the Boot tab, click Advanced Options to display the dialog box shown here.

Other -----------------
- Customizing and Troubleshooting the Windows Vista Startup : The Boot Process, from Power Up to Startup
- Using Control Panel and Group Policies : Implementing Group Policies with Windows Vista
- Using Control Panel and Group Policies : Operating Control Panel
- Troubleshooting Device Problems
- Managing Your Hardware with Device Manager
- Getting the Most Out of Device Manager : Tips and Techniques for Installing Devices
- Maintaining Your Windows Vista System : Reviewing Event Viewer Logs
- Maintaining Your Windows Vista System : Checking for Updates and Security Patches
- Maintaining Your Windows Vista System : Backing Up Your Files
- Maintaining Your Windows Vista System : Setting System Restore Points
 
 
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