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Edit or create a startup menu that lets you choose which operating
system to boot into in multiboot systems, or create a menu that lets
you choose different startup options for your single operating system
if you have only XP installed.
If you've installed another operating system (in addition to XP) on
your system, your PC starts up with a multiboot menu, which allows you
to choose which operating system you want to run. The menu stays live
for 30 seconds, and a screen countdown tells you how long you have to
make a choice from the menu. After the 30 seconds elapse, it boots into
your default operating system, which is generally the last operating
system you installed.
You can customize that multiboot menu and how your PC starts by editing
the boot.ini file, a hidden system file, to control a variety of
startup options, including how long to display the menu, which
operating system should be the default, whether to use the XP splash
screen when XP starts, and similar features. And as you'll see later on
in this hack, you can also use the file to create a startup menu that
will allow you to choose from different versions of your operating
system—for example, one that you'll use for tracking down startup
problems, and another for starting in Safe Mode.
The boot.ini file is a plain text file found in your root C:\ folder.
You might not be able to see it, because it's a system file, and if you
can see it, you might not be able to edit it, because it's a read-only
file. To make it visible, launch Windows Explorer, choose View >
Tools > Folder Options > View and select the radio button "Show
Hidden Files and Folders." To make it a file you can edit, right-click
on it in Windows Explorer, choose Properties, uncheck the Read-Only
box, and click OK.
To edit the file open it with a text editor such as Notepad. Following
is a typical boot.ini file for a PC that has two operating systems
installed on it—Windows XP Home Edition and Windows 2000 Professional:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Micro soft Windows XP Home
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Windows 2000 Professional" /
As you can see, there are two sections in the file: [boot loader] and
[operating systems]. To customize your menu and startup options, edit
the entries in each section. Before editing boot.ini, make a copy of it
and save it under a different name (such as boot.ini.old), so that you
can revert to it if you cause problems when you edit the file.
Following are details about how to edit the entries in each section:
This section controls how the boot process works; it specifies the
default operating system and how long a user has to make a selection
from a boot menu, if a boot menu has been enabled. The timeout value
specifies, in seconds, how long to display the menu and wait for a
selection before loading the default operating system. If you want a
delay of 15 seconds, for example, enter 15 for the value. Use a value
of 0 if you want the default operating system to boot immediately. If
you want the menu to be displayed