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T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

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br1anstorm
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T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#1 Post by br1anstorm » Sun Mar 10, 2019 1:16 pm

I have just acquired a refurbished Lenovo ThinkPad T430 laptop. It has had Windows 7 Professional cleanly (re)installed. I have come across a slightly odd problem and would welcome advice.

I noticed that on initial boot up, a boot menu-screen flashed up very briefly with two options - 'Boot to Windows', or 'Restore the original Windows Image'. The latter choice came with a warning note at the bottom of the menu screen that this would erase all existing data. In any case the delay default is only about 2 secs, because if 'Restore Original Image' is not selected (and I have no wish to do so) it then boots up by default into Win7.

Comment: I have other computers with Win7 installed and have never seen this menu appear on booting any of them.

When I looked at the hard drive partitions, I noticed that there were already three primary partitions on the hard drive: 100MB System Reserved (which is normal and to be expected), 13GB Recovery, and the main Win7 partition.

I had been thinking of installing Linux Mint as dual-boot alongside Win7. However when I began running the Mint installer, I noticed that it said there were "multiple OSs already on the system".

Comment: I thought that a bit odd, but assumed that maybe it was seeing the existing Recovery partition as containing a duplicate, or image, of the Win7 OS.

I went ahead with the Linux dual boot install, using EasyBCD (as I have done on my main computer). But the dual boot would not work. Although Linux was showing in the EasyBCD menu, the boot process still only shows the "boot or system image restore " screen briefly , and then boots into Windows, as before.

I can find no clues in the msconfig Boot and Startup tabs. I wonder if this initial screen relates to the Lenovo ThinkVantage Recovery arrangements? Has the MBR/BCD been modified so that it offers this display choice (boot normally or restore a system image) before it actually begins the boot process? If so, how can I "undo" this modification?

I can look at the BCD configuration via the EasyBCD app. I have noticed that the "device" line in both the Windows Boot Manager details and in the Windows Boot Loader details has the entry

Code: Select all

locate=custom:12000002
whereas the equivalent entries in the BCD on my properly dual-booting main computer have entries which say

Code: Select all

partition=\Device\HarddiskVolume1
in the Boot Manager
and

Code: Select all

partition=C:
in the Boot Loader.

The customised entries in the 'device' line are - I suspect - related to the Lenovo Recovery setup, and they cause the boot process to offer up the first screen I see, which has the 'Boot to Windows' or 'Restore System Image' choice.

I have found an online website which explains that the "device-locate" customisation in the Windows Boot Manager and Loader, which still kicks in at the first stage in the booting process, is a direction down a path to a particular file or location. It goes on to say that
"..... In multiboot environments the 'locate-device' may not load the desired operating system as the scanning process will stop as soon as the first path\file is found...."
So it would appear that because Lenovo (as part of its OEM setup?) has tweaked the Windows Boot Manager to go to, or via, the file or screen which offers the Restore System Image option (is that in the separate dedicated Recovery partition?), it then stops, giving only the choice to boot into Windows or restore an image. It does not go onward to the stage within the BCD boot process where EasyBCD has set up the linkage to Linux and its Grub.

Another website I have found suggests that it is actually not possible to set up dual boot without deleting the Recovery partition - if one exists. I don't know why - and I find that surprising.

My immediate wish is to find out whether (and how) Lenovo may have modified the BCD, and if so, how I can reinstate the original arrangements in order to then set up a dual boot. If that is difficult or impossible, I guess I will have to either leave the T430 as Win7 only, or wipe Windows off it and install Linux instead...

Any comments and advice would be welcome.

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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#2 Post by AndyMH » Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:45 pm

Don't dual boot anymore, when I first got my T430 (one of several) I backed up the HDD, wiped it and installed LM - 18.3 at the time, now 19.0. I run win7 in a VM under virtualbox which is fine unless you are gaming. I don't remember a 13GB recovery partition, system reserved yes. Why don't you just let mint install alongside win7 and cut out easyBCD (I've never used it)? That's what I did on my desktop.

Don't know if it will play with easyBCD, but have you tried boot-repair https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Boot-Repair
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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#3 Post by br1anstorm » Sun Mar 10, 2019 6:14 pm

Thanks AndyMH, for those thoughts.

Incidentally I've never tried using VM/virtualbox and have no idea how that works. I assume I'd need a Win7 disk to run that (I don't have one).

Likewise I have never tried 'boot-repair' . A quick glance seems to suggest it is basically for fixing Grub - and right now I'm not using Grub. The unanswered question is how the Win7 MBR/BCD has been configured by Lenovo. It works (ie it's not broken and needing repair) but in effect it seems to block dual booting

Of course I do have the option to wipe Win7 and just install Linux Mint. But I'd quite like to keep Win7 on this machine if I can, and add Linux Mint in a dual boot. I've done this on other (non Lenovo) computers using EasyBCD. This has the advantage of preserving the Windows MBR/bootloader unchanged, and adding the Linux Grub (which is installed on the same partition as Mint - EasyBCD then sets up an onward link from the Win MBR to Grub).

Alternatively I could install Linux Mint "alongside" Win7, and have Grub take over and replace the Windows MBR bootloader. But I'm wary in this instance, because the Linux installer tells me there are already "multiple" OSs on the system. Eh? There's only Win7. Is it seeing a Recovery image as another OS? I'd quite like to know before I try this route.

So before taking one of these other options, I'd quite like to know how and why the BCD is currently configured the way it is. I don't like mysteries. I'm hoping some Lenovo/Thinkpad/Windows expert might be able to explain. Once I know why it is set up as it is, I can decide what alternative or workaround might be best.

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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#4 Post by dr_st » Mon Mar 11, 2019 2:09 am

You can manually edit anything in the BCD; if EasyBCD does not offer you the option, you can use BCDEDIT from the commandline.

Do you have the boot menu enabled? Can you post the full output of BCDEDIT here?
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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#5 Post by MikalE » Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:53 am

That was going to be my question. I believe EasyBCD has to take over boot management duties, but you must tell it that is what you want so it can locate the correct file path.

I just went through this on a dual-boot, dual-drive T520 with Win7 Pro and XP Pro64.
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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#6 Post by br1anstorm » Mon Mar 11, 2019 12:15 pm

Thanks to both dr_st and MikalE for those replies.

I have never dared to use BCDEDIT as I don't have expert knowledge and don't want to risk mis-using such a powerful command. That's why (at least until now) I have preferred to use EasyBCD - which has a straightforward GUI and makes appropriate changes 'automatically'.

This is what EasyBCD shows on the "Detailed Settings" display. I assume that this is the same as what might be shown if I were to use BCDEDIT as a command prompt?

Code: Select all

Windows Boot Manager
--------------------
identifier              {9dea862c-5cdd-4e70-acc1-f32b344d4795}
device                  locate=custom:12000002
description             Windows Boot Manager
locale                  en-US
inherit                 {7ea2e1ac-2e61-4728-aaa3-896d9d0a9f0e}
default                 {a6ea9bab-24b4-11e9-8e96-f82fa8e876d9}
resumeobject            {06f87eb3-4038-11e0-aecc-c1f066e6c02a}
displayorder            {06f87eb4-4038-11e0-aecc-c1f066e6c02a}
                        {a6ea9bab-24b4-11e9-8e96-f82fa8e876d9}
toolsdisplayorder       {b2721d73-1db4-4c62-bf78-c548a880142d}
timeout                 20
displaybootmenu         Yes

Windows Boot Loader
-------------------
identifier              {06f87eb4-4038-11e0-aecc-c1f066e6c02a}
device                  locate=custom:12000002
path                    \Windows\system32\winload.exe
description             Windows 7
locale                  en-US
inherit                 {6efb52bf-1766-41db-a6b3-0ee5eff72bd7}
osdevice                locate=custom:22000002
systemroot              \Windows
resumeobject            {06f87eb3-4038-11e0-aecc-c1f066e6c02a}
nx                      OptIn

Real-mode Boot Sector
---------------------
identifier              {a6ea9bab-24b4-11e9-8e96-f82fa8e876d9}
device                  partition=C:
path                    \NST\AutoNeoGrub0.mbr
description             Linux Mint
locale                  en-US
custom:250000c2         0
Just to make the context clear: there were three partitions on the hard disk, System Reserved, Recovery, and the Win7 partition. I shrank the Win7 one to create a new partition on which I installed Linux Mint AND its Grub bootloader. Then I asked EasyBCD to "add" that Linux OS (which meant I had to indicate in EasyBCD where the Linux Grub bootloader could be found). I am guessing that the third entry in the BCD - above - (Real-mode Boot Sector) might have been created or added by EasyBCD when I did this. I do not know whether Easy BCD modified any entries in either the Windows Boot Manager or the Windows Boot Loader - but I suspect not.

UPDATE:

I have just tried BCDEDIT as a command prompt. I cannot copy-and-paste from the terminal window, but the entries are mostly the same as shown above. There are however some differences:

In the Windows Boot Manager, the entry for 'device' says

Code: Select all

locate=unknown
rather than 'custom... etc', and several of the other entries have a generic description such as {globalsettings} or {memdiag} rather than the long string of letters and numbers.

In the Windows Boot Loader, the 'device' entry is shown as

Code: Select all

 locate=\Windows\system32\winload.exe
and the 'osdevice' is

Code: Select all

locate=\Windows
whereas EasyBCD shows a 'custom' entry for each of those...

And in the Real-mode Boot Sector entry, the 'identifier' is shown as {default} rather than the detailed string of letters and numbers.

If it would be useful to post up a complete copy of the BCDEDIT info as shown in the CMD terminal, I will find a way of doing that (apparently it means re-setting some of the command-prompt window properties......)

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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#7 Post by dr_st » Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:03 pm

This is very strange, I must admit. Searching the web, the only references I can find to locate=custom:12000002 is when booting from a VHD (Virtual Hard Drive file), which is obviously not the case here (as there is no VHD file name listed before the "locate" option).

My suggestion is to try a simple thing first (that are unlikely to cause any harm to the existing install) - can you 'clone' the existing Win7 entry in EasyBCD (so that you have two 'Windows 7' entries pointing to the same thing?) If EasyBCD does not let you do that you can use the commandline as follows:

bcdedit /copy {current} /d "New Entry"

I'd like to see if this can 'force' the boot menu to appear.
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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#8 Post by br1anstorm » Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:41 pm

Thanks, dr_st. In a way I'm reassured that you find it "strange". It just means that I'm not being a total idiot, and that there is indeed something a bit odd about the way the boot arrangements on this laptop are configured.

Before I plunge in the deep end and start editing or cloning entries in the way you suggest (and I rather suspect EasyBCD won't play, so I may have to try the command line), let me just point you to these two links. I got these from some discussion in a Linux forum. Both refer to ways of interpreting and editing the BCD, and I confess a lot of it is above my head.

But the aspects that seemed relevant were, firstly, the advice on "device-locate" on this site, http://www.mistyrebootfiles.altervista. ... ocate.htm . See in particular this remark
"In multiboot environments the locate device may not load the desired operating system as the scanning process will stop as soon as the first path\file is found..."
To my ignorant mind, this seems to suggest that when you have a custom entry in the device-locate line, then it takes the boot process only to that location and then stops (ie preventing any onward link eg from the MBR to the Grub).

In this other site https://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/2 ... linux.html the process described for dual booting seems unreasonably complicated. I don't think it should be necessary to move or remove the System Reserved partition (I still have one on my current triple-boot system). What caught my eye was the warning in the box at the beginning, which says that dual booting can't be set up when there is a Recovery partition in place, or if you want to keep the functionality of the recovery option in the OEM installation (which I guess is what I have with the Lenovo/Win7 setup?) .

I wonder if any of this sheds any more light on the existing "custom" entries in the BCD of this Lenovo laptop which I quoted above?

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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#9 Post by dr_st » Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:37 am

br1anstorm wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:41 pm
See in particular this remark
"In multiboot environments the locate device may not load the desired operating system as the scanning process will stop as soon as the first path\file is found..."
To my ignorant mind, this seems to suggest that when you have a custom entry in the device-locate line, then it takes the boot process only to that location and then stops (ie preventing any onward link eg from the MBR to the Grub).
This is true, but only after that boot option was already selected. What it tells you is that if you have a 'locate' setting on a boot option, it will always scan the partitions in a fixed order and boot the first loader it finds - so if you have multiple versions of Windows installed at the same relative path on different partitions, only the first one will boot.

Your problem is different, because you cannot even see the boot menu - it does not even get to that path.
br1anstorm wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:41 pm
What caught my eye was the warning in the box at the beginning, which says that dual booting can't be set up when there is a Recovery partition in place, or if you want to keep the functionality of the recovery option in the OEM installation (which I guess is what I have with the Lenovo/Win7 setup?) .
Actually, probably - yes. I wonder why I didn't think about it immediately; maybe the strange custom entry acted as a red herring.

I suspect that what you have is a situation where the recovery partition is marked as "active" and so it loads its own boot loader, which is hardcoded to boot a specific Windows entry, skipping the BCD boot menu.

If you want to be certain this is the case - please compare the Disk Management map of your disk between this system and the one with the working multi-boot - and notice which partitions are marked as 'Active'.
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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#10 Post by br1anstorm » Tue Mar 12, 2019 1:23 pm

dr_st wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:37 am

I suspect that what you have is a situation where the recovery partition is marked as "active" and so it loads its own boot loader, which is hardcoded to boot a specific Windows entry, skipping the BCD boot menu.

If you want to be certain this is the case - please compare the Disk Management map of your disk between this system and the one with the working multi-boot - and notice which partitions are marked as 'Active'.
Well, this opens up another interesting can of worms. And for me a new and steep learning curve, as I simply don't know anything about "Active" partitions. Until now, I have never needed to explore this angle. But a quick browse tells me (a) that there can only be one partition on a system marked as "active"; and that (b) it is possible to change the setting in Disk Management. Maybe we'll get to that later?

I've done a comparison of three laptops, just to see what's what.

First, my HP Elitebook. It has an SSD, and only Win7 installed. The partitions are simple:
  • 1. System Reserved 100MB NTFS Healthy (System, Active, Primary)
  • 2. "C:" 238.38 GB NTFS Healthy (Boot, Page File, Crash Dump, Primary)
Next, my Samsung. 750GB HDD and multiboot with Win7, three Linux OSs and a shared Data partition, and a (Samsung) Recovery partition. This was all set up using EasyBCD (so as not to lose the original Windows MBR) - and as far as I know (I haven't tried it) I still have the Samsung OEM recovery facility as the recovery partition is untouched. The list looks like this:
  • 1. System Reserved 100MB NTFS Healthy (System, Active, Primary)
  • 2. Win7 "C:" 202GB NTFS Healthy (Boot, Page File, Crash Dump, Primary)
  • 3. swap 8GB
  • 4. Linux Mint 30GB ext4
  • 5. Linux Lite 25GB ext4
  • 6. PCLinuxOS 25GB ext4
  • 7. Data - shared 388GB ext4
  • 8. Samsung Recovery 20GB NTFS? Healthy?

Note: partitions 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are all logical partitions inside an extended partition.

Finally, the Lenovo Thinkpad. 250 GB SSD. Originally had only Win7 installed. I have partitioned in order to dual boot Linux Mint, and the problem is - as in earlier posts - that I cannot see or boot into Linux Mint even though it appears to have been added to the boot menu by EasyBCD. The list is as follows:
  • 1. System Reserved 100MB NTFS Healthy (System, Primary)
  • 2. Recovery 12.55 GB NTFS Healthy (Primary)
  • 3. Win7 OS "C:" 65.92 GB NTFS Healthy (Boot, Page File, Active, Crash Dump, Primary)
  • 4. Linux Mint /root 30 GB ext4
  • 5. Linux Mint /home 90 GB ext 4
  • 6. Linux swap 10 GB
  • 7. Unallocated 15 GB
Note: partitions 4, 5, and 6 are all logical partitions inside an extended partition.

So, dr_st, you were right to raise the question of which partition is labelled "Active". In both the standard setup (HP) and my multiboot (Samsung) it is the System Reserved partition at #1 which is "Active".

But you will have noticed the interesting point. In the Thinkpad, the System Reserved partition #1 is not the "Active" one. But neither is the Recovery partition #2. It is the "C:" partition at #3, which has the Win7 OS, which carries the "Active" label.

I have no idea why this is so, or what it signifies. Would the "Active" partition have been set up differently by Lenovo as OEM? Or by the refurbisher if/when Win7 was reinstalled?

And I have even less idea of what to do about it....... Is it simply a matter of re-labelling so that the System Reserved partition is the "Active" one? Or is the reconfiguration/relabelling more complicated than that? Meanwhile what happens about the BCD entries? I confess I'm out of my depth. I don't know which bits of the Windows bootloader are where. I don't want to find myself with a computer that won't boot at all. At least the Thinkpad boots into Windows, even if it does so via an unusual screen....

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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#11 Post by dr_st » Tue Mar 12, 2019 2:24 pm

It's possible that the Lenovo special bootloader is on the Win7 partition. You may succeed to get BCD to work if you mark the System Reserved partition as Active.

There is a risk to end up with something unbootable, but then it should be a matter of booting some recovery environment (via CD or USB) and changing the Active partition again.

I don't have any other ideas at the moment, so proceed with caution. :)
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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#12 Post by br1anstorm » Tue Mar 12, 2019 5:50 pm

Whoa, that is a daunting prospect. Might need to do more research before I start changing which partition is active, if the risk is that I make the machine unbootable. I'm not familiar with recovery/repair environments.

It's been interesting delving into all this. But there is one huge question that doesn't seem to have been answered:

Is the situation I have with my T430 the standard Lenovo OEM/bootloading configuration? Is the Win7 bootloader normally on the C: partition and not in the System Reserved partition in Lenovo laptops, and is an unusual "Boot or System Image Restore" screen normally shown on startup?

There must be hundreds of thousands of Lenovo laptops with Win7 installed out there. Are all T430s with Win7 set up this way by Lenovo? If not, how does a 'normal' T430 with Win7 look when it boots up, and what would its BCD look like? Does anyone else get that screen with the "System Image Restore" option?

Or is my problem unique? Has my laptop somehow been modified? Has it been tweaked to offer what seems to be a recovery/restore option before booting into Win7? If it has, then I would quite like simply to "undo" the mod, rather than experiment in the dark without actually knowing what I am trying to do!

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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#13 Post by MikalE » Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:07 pm

This may or may not be relevant in your case, but, have you told EasyBCD that the Linux OS is on the C: partition?

I know that this doesn't make any sense, but EasyBCD looks for each operating systems startup files on the C drive regardless of where it is actually loaded or what the drive (partition) letter is. Once it has located the bootloader file it points to which drive (partition the OS is loaded on and will boot accordingly.

I missed this step for a number of days and couldn't wrap my head around this until I read this explanation. That's when the light came on. Now understand, this was for a Win XP Pro64 installation which uses a different set of boot.ini files that EasyBCD looks for on the C drive even though Win XP was loaded to the D: drive and is a separate physical SSD. This may not apply at all in your case, but it might be worth looking into.

I think I have this figured out. I have successfully booted back and forth twice now from Windows 7 to XP Pro 64 without incident. I did not have to reload XP, nor remove the Windows 7 drive.

I apparently did not tell EasyBCD to load the BCD bootloader to the C drive and I was attempting to boot from each drive individually. Now even though the boot menu displays both operating systems, that doesn't mean one or the other will boot upon selection.

As I understand it, the NTLDR (NT Loader) file is placed on the C: drive even though Windows XP 64 that uses it is on the D: drive.

The bootloader looks for this file on the C: drive which in turn tells it where the OS is located, in this case, the D: drive.

THis is the full explanation that I copied from a post at another location:

The BCD only points to the target drive for an OS booted directly by the BCD (i.e Vista/7/8/8.1/10).
XP isn't booted by the BCD, the BCD chains to the legacy loader (NTLDR) which boots XP as it always did.
However, catch 22 is that all MS boot managers have to be on the "active" partition, so the NTLDR on the target drive cannot be used.
EasyBCD makes a copy on the "active" drive (where the BCD is) and also creates a boot.ini in the same location.
It is this boot.ini which contains the information about where the XP system is located, not the BCD.
The BCD points to "C" to find the XP boot file copies. They in turn point to the real location of XP via the arc values.
All this is done automatically for you by EasyBCD including searching for and identifying XP.

It seems to be working now. The only glitch so far is that my screen resolution in XP is maxed at 1024 x 768 and looks like crap. I lowered it to 960x something and it is acceptable at this resolution. I don't seem to be able to find a working XP 64 bit driver for the Nvidia NVS4200M. I'll have to research this further.


The whole thread is here: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=128084

Also, these videos may answer some questions. They are what I used when I had a dual drive, dual boot Win7 and Linux Mint setup a couple of years ago.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgv_POY ... pNpZVrqzPH
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V23DzYI ... PH&index=2

These videos do not deal with the problem of having a boot choice to the recovery partition, but it may avoid having it appear.

I don't claim to be an expert at this, but I've done it a couple of times now after so trial and error and research. And, help from the more knowledgeable members here.
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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#14 Post by br1anstorm » Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:57 am

Hello mikaIE, and thanks for your comments. It is helpful to have input from someone who actually uses EasyBCD!

I've had a quick look through the links and info you provided. There are of course some differences. I'm not using XP at all. WinXP uses a different bootloader. As I recall, Easy BCD will work OK if you have Vista, Win7 or more recent as the "main" or parent OS, and you want to add WinXP (or Linux) as a second OS. But EasyBCD won't work - or is more difficult to set up - if you have XP as your main OS and want to add something else as dual-boot.

Also, I'm not putting my second OS (Linux Mint) on a separate hard drive, but on a partition in my existing drive. Not sure how much difference that makes. In your post you refer to the C: and D: drives. That's not the same as having separate partitions on the same hard drive. So just to be clear, both my Linux OS and the OEM Win7 are on the same hard drive, the computer's one and only. But they are on separate partitions on that disk. Win7 is on the partition which disk manager sees and labels as the C: drive. Linux Mint is on another separate partition (on the same hard drive).

FWIW, the guidance I used when setting up my completely successful dual and multi-boots with EasyBCD on other laptops came mostly from other YouTube tutorials at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlTgaWs9BD0 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dwwSSg-kJM .

But there is I think a bigger issue with the route you are suggesting. I can understand why you recommend that I should tell EasyBCD to look for the bootloader(s) - Win7 and/or Grub - on the C: drive (or partition). I assume that is because - as indicated in my previous post - the C: drive (partition) is the one marked as active, and we (dr_st and me) think that my Lenovo may be booting from there and not from the MBR/System Reserved partition which is where the bootloader, and BCD, would normally reside. Okay, so we could "tell" EasyBCD to look for a bootloader in the C: drive (partition) and see whether that then proceeds through a more normal boot process which offers the expected options of either Win7 or Linux Mint.

My feeling is however that this is tackling the symptoms rather than the cause, or source, or the problem. As I understand it, in (almost) all computers, the main (usually Windows) bootloader - and the BCD? - reside in the MBR, which I assume to be in the small System Reserved partition which is always the first one on the drive. As I understand it, in a normal setup that bootloader hands on the process, at a certain stage, to the relevant OS. In a single boot system, that would be on the C: drive (partition). In setting up dual boot, EasyBCD edits the BCD so that the original bootloader in the MBR has an additional 'link' onward to wherever the bootloader of the second OS (Grub, if it is a Linux distro) is - separately - installed. Fine. That's how my current system works. EasyBCD has created links from the main bootloader (in the MBR) to all three of the other OSs which I have installed, with their Grubs, in other partitions. The first menu it offers lists all four OSs (inc Win7). Choosing one of the Linux OSs takes us onward to the Grub screen for whichever Linux OS I select.

The cause or source of my current problem is however that whatever bootloader is being used to fire up Win7, it appears not to be in the MBR or System Reserved partition, which in this computer is not marked as 'Active'. The evidence suggests that if there is a bootloader, or BCD, in the MBR or System Reserved partition, it is being ignored or bypassed, and the system is booting into Win7 from the C: drive (partition). The other (Linux) OS, which I have added via EasyBCD, it is not showing up on the boot menu screen, because that BCD is it seems being bypassed.

To put it another way, it appears that on this Lenovo laptop, the BCD is not in the 'active' partition. The partition marked 'active' is not the one where the BCD resides. And the one where the BCD does reside is not marked as the 'active' one.

Trying to redirect EasyBCD to look for bootloaders in the C: drive (partition) - as you suggest - might, if it succeeds, be a workaround. But before trying that I would quite like to nail down why the C: drive (partition) on this Lenovo laptop is - unusually - labelled as the 'active' partition; to establish where the 'normal' bootloader is (the one EasyBCD sees and adds to); to find out why it is apparently being ignored or bypassed; and to discover what kind of bootloader arrangement apparently exists in the C:drive (partition). In short, I want to diagnose the problem and assemble all the evidence before I start trying to apply solutions!

Looking back through the evidence, the other unanswered question is why the Linux installer saw "multiple OSs" on the Lenovo laptop when as far as I am aware there was only one OS on the system, and that was Win7. Was the installer seeing the Recovery partition (or a second bootloader within the C: drive partition where Win7 resides) as evidence that there was more than one OS already in place? By comparison, even though my multiboot Samsung laptop has an OEM Samsung recovery partition, when I installed the additional Linux OSs on to the laptop, the installer did not suggest there was anything more than the original Win7 on the machine.

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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#15 Post by AndyMH » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:28 am

I've never tried using VM/virtualbox and have no idea how that works. I assume I'd need a Win7 disk to run that (I don't have one).
You can still download a win7 iso https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/softwar ... d/windows7. Looks like you need the product key and (from memory) there are various utilities you can download from the web to get the product key from your existing installation. Your existing product key might work in VB. Some time since I did this, but I did buy a product key off amazon, looks like they are still around (and a lot on ebay).

While you are still dual-booting you could have a play with virtualbox, either by installing from the sw manager or getting it direct from oracle https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads. Preference is download the latest version from oracle, either download the debs (for vb and the extension pack) or follow the instructions on the link to basically add it as a ppa (this way you get updates). Easiest for a newcomer is download the debs and double click on them to install. For LM19 you want the ubuntu 18.04 version.

To get a fully functioning VB in mint:
  • install virtual box - double click on the deb.
  • install the extension pack - double click on the deb (if it asks what program? enter virtualbox).
  • install guest additions - this is done in the guest OS, i.e. win7, with win7 running in VB you need to go to the devices menu in virtualbox and tell it to insert the guest additions CD. Once done in 'my computer' you can run the setup.exe from the CD
  • check in mint that you are member of the vboxusers group - you need this for access to usb devices, e.g. memory sticks
VB has a neat mode called 'seamless' where it looks like win and mint are integrated, you get the windows taskbar above the mint panel and win apps open windows in mint just like native apps. Unfortunately it doesn't work in LM19.1 cinnamon due to a bug in the display manager (muffin) and you can only run VB in full screen mode. This is why I'm running LM19.0 cinnamon on my T430s where seamless works.

You lose nothing having a play with VB while trying to sort out your dual boot problems. As long as you are not a heavy gamer, it is a viable alternative to dual booting. And if you are running a T430, you are probably not doing that :).

If you haven't done already, join the LM forum https://forums.linuxmint.com/index.php. One of the most friendly and helpful forums around.
T430 i7-3632QM Mint 19.0 Cinnamon, T430 Mint 19.0 Cinnamon, T420 Mint 18.3 Cinnamon, T410 dual boot win7/mint 17.3, T60 Mint 19 Mate

br1anstorm
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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#16 Post by br1anstorm » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:59 pm

Thanks AndyMH.... and yes, I'm already a member of the Linux Mint Forum (and the Lite and PCLinuxOS ones too, as I use all three distros). Totally agree that the advice and guidance from these groups - all three - is always helpful.

By contrast I am frustrated and disappointed by the EasyBCD support forum, which seemed the obvious place to seek advice on this particular issue - but nothing useful has been forthcoming. That's why I thought that if the current problem was unique to Lenovo and linked with their recovery setup (I still don't know whether that is the case) then the Lenovo/Thinkpad forum might be worth trying.

It's good to have your suggestions about getting and installing Virtualbox (and having a play with it....). But to be honest, I'm a one-thing-at-a-time person. The time may come when I'll want to set up and run OSs in a virtual system. But right now it would be a move into uncharted territory, and a whole new area to learn about.

EDIT: I was however tempted to look at that Win7 download site, as I have the product key on a label under the T430 battery. Failure. I got an 'Error' answer when I input the key, with the message that the key was for an OEM installation of the OS by the manufacturer (Lenovo) so I had to contact them if I wanted an .iso image.....

My brain already hurts from groping around to try to figure out why this Lenovo T430 won't boot up and behave in the same (familiar and predictable) way that my other laptops do, and why the dual boot using EasyBCD doesn't seem to work. I would rather get that mystery solved before I start exploring other unfamiliar (virtual) activities. Added to which, I have to get on with my life away from the computer screen, so I can't really take on other projects ('cos that's what it feels like) on top of trying to sort this Lenovo so that I can dual boot it.

So I shall try to keep my eye on the ball: what is the current configuration of the boot process in this Lenovo computer? Why is it set up like that? And how can I reconfigure it to what I think is 'normal' without risking it becoming unbootable? The questions seem simple, but getting straight answers is proving a tough ask!

MikalE
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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#17 Post by MikalE » Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:59 pm

Why not create an image of the system and delete the recovery partition and start this process over from scratch?

I know that is rather drastic, because once it's gone, it's gone.

I do however do that on about every system that has had a recovery partition just for the extra space.
T500 T9600 2055-BE9
T510 i5 4384-DV7
T510 i7 4349-A64
T520 i7 4242-4UU(CTO)


T520: i7-2760QM(2.40GHz),16GB, 500GB SSD/250GB SSD, 1600x900, 1GB NVIDIA, DVDRW, Smartcard, media card, FPR, Win7 Pro64, XP Pro64 whitelist BIOS, N 6300 AGN, German KB, BT 4.0.

br1anstorm
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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#18 Post by br1anstorm » Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:05 pm

Thanks MikaIE,

That sounds a bit like admitting defeat, or giving up without finding out what the problem is!

The recovery partition is not the issue. I'm not so short of space that I need to get rid of the recovery partition.

I also know that it's not necessary to remove the recovery partition in order to have a dual or multiboot setup, because my main daily-use laptop has a recovery partition and is multiboot with Win7 and three different Linux OSs. It was set up using EasyBCD and works just fine.

I don't want to "lose" the Win7 installation off this Lenovo laptop. It is an OEM install. I have no Lenovo repair disk and no Win7 retail disk or key. So if I delete, then Win7 is gone for good.

If the basic boot setup (MBR, BCD, loaders, whatever) on this machine can just be reconfigured into a "normal" arrangement, then there seems no reason why I can't install a Linux OS and, with the help of EasyBCD, have it available as a dual boot.

The reason I cannot do this is - apparently - because the current boot arrangements and/or BCD entries, are unorthodox. I still don't know why, or whether this is Lenovo's doing. Rather than leaving them as-is and trying to figure out a workaround, or deleting the whole system and starting from scratch, I am trying, as I said, to keep my eye on the ball, and to get an answer to the question of exactly how the MBR, BCD and bootloader(s) should be set up. Any help with answering that central and critical question directly would be really helpful!

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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#19 Post by dr_st » Fri Mar 15, 2019 2:57 am

Good God, will you still be talking about it in 10 years time, instead of trying the little trick of changing the active partition that I suggested 10 posts ago?

You obviously have enough aptitude to do things like Linux installations, multi-boot, etc, and you are afraid that you in the event it renders your system unbootable, you will not be able to boot from a tiny recovery environment to change that active partition back?

These laptops have a Win7 SLIC in the BIOS, so you can install from any CD made from any Win7 ISO and you don't need a key.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

br1anstorm
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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#20 Post by br1anstorm » Fri Mar 15, 2019 6:55 am

Okay, dr_st, point taken.

I may have a logical approach, and some aptitude. But I think it's usually wiser to be modest and cautious, and seek advice, rather than overestimate my expertise, bash on, and screw up.

Anyhow, I have taken your advice (in a way), and tried your trick of changing the "active" partition. In fact it doesn't require a Windows recovery disk or a SLIC (whatever that is).

Having established that "active" in Windows-speak is the same as the "boot flag" in Linux terms, I fired up a Live session of Linux running from a USB stick, and opened GParted (which I am familiar with).

The boot flag was set on sda3, or in Windows the main (C:) partition in which Win7 is installed. I removed it.

I then set the boot flag instead on sda1, the System Reserved partition at the beginning of the disk, on which I assume the MBR/BCD resides (?).

So now the System Reserved partition, not the C: partition, is labelled "active".

Shut down, removed USB, booted up laptop. No difference. Just like before, the boot process started with a brief 2-sec display of the "Boot Windows Normally or Restore System Image" options-screen, then it booted up into Win7. No Windows Boot Manager (BCD) menu listing Win7 and Linux Mint.

So I rebooted back into the Linux Live session from USB, opened GParted and reset the boot flags back to the previous configuration. Again I rebooted normally. Exactly the same sequence.

Conclusion: the "trick" of changing the active partition made no difference. I don't know what that proves, except that the booting configuration was, and is still, not standard, and that whatever BCD has been edited by EasyBCD, it isn't showing up in the boot process.

So what now?

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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#21 Post by dr_st » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:12 am

No difference is strange, but I did find some information that not all boot loaders care for this flag. If a custom bootloader has been installed, you may need to wipe it from the MBR and restore the Windows bootloader.

You can try to see if BCDBOOT would help you:
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/window ... techref-di

But given your findings so far, I suspect you will need BOOTSECT:
https://neosmart.net/wiki/bootsect/#Rep ... Essentials
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

br1anstorm
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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#22 Post by br1anstorm » Sat Mar 30, 2019 6:05 pm

After weeks of hunting of hunting around the internet, browsing forums, and seeking advice (or waiting for it!) this is an update which delivers good news. I thought I should share it with those who kindly responded to my plea for help. The problem is solved!

In the last few weeks I have been exploring areas of my own computer that I had never ventured into before, and learning about, and trying to use, the bcdedit commands with some advice from others. This approach didn't seem to make a difference. It was difficult mainly because I didn't know which settings or configurations in the booting process were wrong or needed changing. I continued to get unusual/unfamiliar screens during boot, and could not get the boot manager to work properly or show both the OSs (Win7 and Linux Mint) which were installed on the laptop.

I wanted to know exactly what was wrong before trying to put it right. And I didn't want to end up with an unbootable system (I don't have a Win7 installation disk).

So I was a bit wary of programs which offered an automatic repair or rebuild of boot files. But having failed to solve the problems with bcdedit commands, I finally decided to try the BCD Repair option within EasyBCD to reset the BCD. And what joy! It worked. The system now boots normally, the boot manager menu shows as it should, and I can boot into Win7 or Mint (or their advanced options) in the normal way.

I still don't know what was wrong with the boot process and why. But whatever it was, EasyBCD has fixed it. So I am happy again - and also very impressed with EasyBCD.

MikalE
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Re: T430 Win7 - Unexpected boot menu offering System Image Restore

#23 Post by MikalE » Sun Mar 31, 2019 5:03 am

So easy a cave man could do it!
T500 T9600 2055-BE9
T510 i5 4384-DV7
T510 i7 4349-A64
T520 i7 4242-4UU(CTO)


T520: i7-2760QM(2.40GHz),16GB, 500GB SSD/250GB SSD, 1600x900, 1GB NVIDIA, DVDRW, Smartcard, media card, FPR, Win7 Pro64, XP Pro64 whitelist BIOS, N 6300 AGN, German KB, BT 4.0.

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