Repair boot.ini with a network boot

November 1, 2008 at 10:11 am Leave a comment

I changed my boot.ini file by accident yesterday and soon realised I had a big problem.. The booting process didn’t find my Windows installation any longer. The normal reflex would be to grab a boot disk and fix the problem in DOS. I couldn’t do this because my laptop does not have a floppy drive station. Well, no problem you say, just insert some Windows installation CD and boot from that CD. You guessed it, my CD-station on my laptop is broken for a few months now, so I didn’t have a means to boot my laptop. Another option would be to boot from a usb device, but my BIOS doesn’t support this. On the other hand, my BIOS DOES support a network boot (PXE). In this article I will briefly cover the steps I took to repair my laptop.

First of all, I’ve set up the tftpd32 server as described in step 1 trough 12 of this article. I used another boot disk than the one in this article.

Then, I wanted to create a boot disk as described in this Microsoft article. This boot disk will boot using the boot.ini file on the boot disk. So if this boot.ini file contains a correct reference to my installed Windows, my problems would all be gone! I used Virtual Floppy Drive to emulate a floppy drive station. This provided me with a A: station. I followed the steps in the Microsoft article to create the boot disk (with my own boot.ini file) on A:. The Virtual Floppy program allows you to save the floppy contents to a .img file, this image file is used instead of the “BFD full package” boot disk in the previous article. So save it in the tftpboot folder and make a reference to it in the file named “default”

Virtual Floppy Drive
This image shows the virtual floppy drive (green), the contents of the virtual floppy (blue) and the img file that contains these files (yellow). You can click on this image to get a larger version. 

I changed the BIOS boot order so that PXE network boot was at the top of the list, pressed F12 at the right time and … ow dzyeah! My Windows was back in business!
laptop repaired!
This is my hapy face.

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