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How to setup a Dual Boot System...

Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0 both have their own benefits and drawbacks. Windows 98 is compatible with almost everything, has advanced 3D acceleration with DirectX 7.0 (NT4 only has support for DirectX 3.0), and is easier to use. However, NT4 is more secure, more stable, and faster than its more popular cousin. What do you do if you need both? You make a dual boot system!

Who Needs a Dual Boot System?
If I were to tell you that everyone needed to be running a copy of NT4 and Win98, not only would I be lying, but you'd probably scream as well. Both operating systems are expensive and it isn't always reasonable to have a copy of both. Here's an easy way to determine which operating systems you should be running on your computer.

Windows 98:
- DirectX Games
- Hardware Compatibility
- Added Usability
- Guaranteed Compatibility
- Limited Budget
- Older computer
- Less than 64 Mb. RAM
- Novice to Intermediate

Windows NT 4.0:
- Obsession with Speed
- Dual Processor System
- Stability
- Security
- Money to Burn
- Fairly new
- At Least 64 Mb. RAM
- Intermediate to Advanced

If you fit pretty closely in with one of the operating systems, but not the other, that is probably the OS you should be using. However, if your needs fluctuate between the two, you may benefit from running a dual boot system.

Before Starting
Before starting, it is important to determine whether or not your hardware is compatible with Windows NT 4.0. To do this, you need to check out Microsoft's Windows Compatible Products List. Select Windows NT, hardware type, and maker you are looking for and search through the product listing. If you find your hardware on there, you're all set.

The problem is that not all of the supported hardware is on the site. If it isn't there, you are going to need to check with the manufacturer for a driver. Most companies keep these drivers on their website. However, you might run into a problem if a company such as Compaq or HP built the computer, and they use generic hardware. If this is the case, check their website for drivers first, and then, if all else fails, call their tech support line and ask them to send them to you. If they don't have the drivers there, in all likelihood they don't exist and you won't be able to continue. Good news is - just about all computers that have been built in the past two years are NT4 compatible - so you really shouldn't have too much trouble.

Get a complete list of the hardware on your computer. Windows NT 4.0 does NOT use plug and play and you will have to either choose your drivers from a list or add them yourself. Also, try to get a copy of the most recent service pack (I think it is SP5 right now). You can always install the service pack after the fact (by downloading it off of the Internet), but it is more convenient to install it right away.

Next, back up all of your important files to another medium. Windows NT4 doesn't like Win98's new FAT32 file system, so you are going to need to have at least two (and probably 3) partitions on your hard drive. And creating new partitions (unless you want to go out and spend some cash on Partition Magic) will require reformatting your hard drive. You may be able to save some information on an unchanged FAT32 partition, but that won't do you much good if you want any of that information on NT4.

Oh, and it would probably be helpful to have copies of Win98 and WinNT 4.0 Workstation (or Server if you have it) around. Also, make sure you are familiar with the contents of the How To Install and Reinstall Windows 98 guide, because reinstalling Win98 is one of the steps in creating a dual boot system!

Getting Started with Windows 98
Now that you are prepared, let's get going. The first step is, of course, to repartition, reformat, and reinstall Windows 98. Once again, check out the How To Install and Reinstall Windows 98 guide for more information. However, when creating a dual boot system, you have to follow a few special rules:

- Make your C drive FAT16, not FAT 32, and only make it big enough for your shared applications (Word, Photoshop, ICQ, etc.) and your data files (documents and similar files). The size of this partition really depends on the size of your hard drive and how many shared applications you run. Assuming you are running Office, as well as Adobe and some other small apps like ICQ, I would recommend keeping the partition at about 1 gig. When you are creating this partition, however, keep in mind that FAT16 doesn't allow partitions over 2 gig, so if you have more shared stuff than that, you are going to need to make two separate FAT16 partitions - not exactly the most efficient use of space but better than having two copies of the same file on your computer.

- Create another partition, this one using the FAT32 file system. It should be approximately half of whatever space is left over on your hard drive and really should contain at least 1 gig of space. This is where you are going to be installing Windows 98 (minus the boot files, which the installation program will automatically put on your C drive). This means, of course, that you will have to make sure you point the Windows 98 installation program at the proper hard drive during installation.

- Leave at least 1 gig of hard drive space for an NTFS partition that you will be creating during the installation process. This is where you are going to want to install Windows NT (of course), as well as any NT specific applications that you might have.

Once you have followed those special steps, finish your installation of Windows 98. First, set up your permanent swap file on your FAT32 partition (it is very important to do this first to make sure it is as fast as possible!) but don't install any shared applications (Office, ICQ, etc,), particularly if they require you to access your CD-ROM drive before use. You can, however, copy any shared data files (documents, pictures, etc.) onto the FAT16 drive.

The last step in the process before proceeding to install WinNT is to defragment the hard disk (using the optimize file placement setting). Then you can proceed to the Windows NT installation.

Installing Windows NT 4.0
Microsoft did a moderately intelligent thing when they created the install program for NT4 - they allowed it to be installed from within Windows. To do it, though, you will need to use a particular command line option. Pop the WinNT install CD into your CD-ROM drive and go to the run box. Type in [x]:\i386\winnt /w where [x] is the drive letter of your CD-ROM drive (ex: d:\i386\winnt /w). This will enable the installation to be done through Windows 98.

Now that the installation program is running, just follow the directions. You don't need to create the bootable floppies unless you have trouble installing WinNT without them (this happens occasionally - if you have trouble, you can always go back and make them). However, be aware that if you don't use the bootable floppies, make sure you tell the installation program to extract its setup files to the FAT16 drive, and not the FAT32 drive. Then you can just follow the instructions of the setup program until you get to a section that enables you to manage your disk partitions. You will want to create an NTFS partition (should take up the remainder of your drive) and point the installation program to install Windows NT 4.0 there.

There are several types of installation options - personally, I recommend that you use the custom install and choose exactly which parts of the OS you want installed. After this, the program will ask you to name your computer and help set up an administrator account (don't lose the password for it!). You only really want to use the administrator account when absolutely necessary (just like when using a UNIX or Linux box), so later on you will need to create a personal account.

After the Installation is Complete
Once the installation is complete and you have your personal account set up, etc., you need to install all of your shared programs. These shared programs need to be installed on to the FAT16 partition. When installing those applications, take note of the exact installation options you used (what you did/didn't install, etc.). This will be very important later on, when you are trying to get those same applications to run on Win98. It's always a good idea to write this kind of stuff down if you have trouble remembering it. Then go and install the same programs (in the same places) from Win98. This overwriting of files won't hurt anything, and now you have the registry settings in both operating systems.

While Tweak3D doesn't have any tweak guides up for WinNT (yet!), Ars Technica has some excellent ones. In particular, pay attention to the one about the free disk defragmenter. WinNT doesn't come with one of its own so having one from a 3rd party is imperative!

Service Packs
The last step in securing WinNT, after all of the installation and configuration is complete, is to install the latest service pack. This is imperative to system stability, security, and just plain good common sense. Trust me, you won't be disappointed. Also, after adding any new features to the OS or adding new hardware, make sure you reapply the service pack so you don't have a conflict!

Hopefully, this should make the process of creating a dual boot system easier, and give a nice speed boost over the non-optimized way to boot. Also note that this system can also be used with Windows 2000 Pro.


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