Start64!A new operating system has a lot of attractive features, and many would probably switch over to it at once if it offered that quantity of software from the time of its introduction that users have grown accustomed to. In the case of the 64-bit Windows, Microsoft promises full compatibility on the level of user programs.

This sound well, however, the situation is far from being so good as it may seem, since on the level of system programs, low-level programs and also other programs and drivers containing such components you will need x64-specific software, and there is quite a shortage of them now. In this article we will strive to help those who want to switch over to the 64-bit technology, by setting up a simultaneously operable system.

Until the situation improves dramatically, you can choose from a number of possibilities if you really want to get acquainted with the 64-bit universe, or want to use it but also to keep your 32-bit system at the same time.



  1. In an ideal situation we have two computers: one of them is running the 32-bit, the other the 64-bit system.
  2. You can use two completely different systems on the same computer, but at any given time only one will be physically accessible (mobile rack).
  3. Both systems are installed on the same hard drive, and you can switch between them with a software (multi boot system, boot manager).
  4. You install a virtual machine (e.g. some VMware software) on the host computer and run the other system on this virtual machine as guest operating system. Before you choose this option, you should read about the 64-bit CPU support provided by VMware .

This article will focus on the first three solutions, i.e. when we install the 64-bit system next to our existing 64-bit system, and provide a simple means to switch between the two. Our goal is to set up a legal copy of a secure 64-bit software environment. We will use free or time-limited programs to build our system. Depending on the selected implementation method, you can join in any time.

 

The partiton

Initially we assume that we have a hard drive with a 32-bit Windows XP/2000 operating system installed on it. The first step is to make room for the new system. This can be done in two ways:

  1. Following a data backup we can reinstall the 32-bit system with the required partition size.
  2. Using a repartitioning program, we can shrink the size of the current partition. You can find free tools to accomplish that here: Ultimate Boot CD. Commercial software: Partition Magic. You should also make a data backup in this case, because the chances of losing your data due to unforeseeable problems or a blackout are pretty high.
  3. We make an image of the system using, e.g. the WinImage application. When the partitions have been created, we can restore the original system using the image file.

The example describes the first case, where we installed a 32-bit system on a 20 GB partition located on a 80 GB hard disk. If you choose the second option, you can achieve the same following a successful resizing. The next step is to obtain the 64-bit XP operating system. The easiest method of getting it is to download it from the Microsoft website . We will receive a full capacity, English language 120-day trial version, which also contains the SP1 service package. Following a short registration procedure, they send us the download location and the serial number in an e-mail. When the download has completed, we have to burn the image to a CD to create the install CD.

 

Creating the partition named xp64
Creating the partition named xp64

 

We install the 64-bit system on the next partition, which is also 20 GB in size (the remaining 40 GB is reserved for other systems). That requires the creation of the next partition. We named the partitions xp32 and xp64, respectively.

 

The most important step

The next step is extremely important and there are many who do not know about it. It is set at this point whether the systems installed next to each other can mix or will be able to operate independently from each other. When we have more than one system simultaneously, it is very important that they could operate independently from each other, and any of them could be removed without having any ill-effect on the others, and that they did not contain references to partitions containing another operating system. Of course, there may be situations when this is not a priority. There are boot managers which offer installing and using dozens of operating systems through the application of different tricks. This could be a very interesting pastime. A lot of people do not trust multi-boot systems because they have bad experience due to the mixing up of different systems. This is what we will eliminate here. 

 

Setting xp64 as the active partition
Setting xp64 as the active partition

 

So the main point is to avoid mixing up, and simplify switching between different systems. To achieve that we will first set the new xp64 partition, which we have just created for the 64-bit system, to be the active partition. Then comes the installation. In the partitioning phase of the installation program you must take care to select the recently created partition named xp64 and identified with the drive letter C: after the partition was set (Attention: the utility program will display it in the second place. It will be preceded by the xp32 partition identified as D:). From this point on the installation will follow the normal pattern.

 

Set up of boot manager

When the installation has finished, the system will boot into the 64-bit system. Open the disk manager after the well-known initial steps, set the partition holding the 32-bit system to be the active partition, then reboot the system. The 32-bit system will be loaded, where we can set the list of selectable operating systems using the 32-bit BootPart utility program. Since the 32-bit system is considered to be the default system, the configuration will be saved here (this is done so for aesthetic purposes; everything would run correctly if they were launched from the 64-bit system but that would require a 64-bit BootPart release if we wanted to change the settings). The BootPart utility saves the boot record of the required partition and appends an entry in the boot.ini file based on the boot record’s content. Afterwards, you can select from the operating systems thus set up when you log in. If the bootpart command is entered without parameters, the program will list all partitions together with a number:

c:\prov>bootpart
Boot Partition 2.60 for WinNT/2K/XP (c)1995-2005 G. Vollant (info @ winimage.com)
WEB : http://www.winimage.com and http://www.winimage.com/bootpart.htm
Add partition in the Windows NT/2000/XP Multi-boot loader
Run "bootpart /?" for more information

Physical number of disk 0 : d769d769
 0 : C:* type=7  (HPFS/NTFS), size= 20249901 KB, Lba Pos=63
 1 : C:  type=7  (HPFS/NTFS), size= 20249932 KB, Lba Pos=40499865

This reveals that partition 0 is set to be the active partition (asterisk), and there is another partition with the number 1 (this is the one to be added the boot.ini file).

The next command:

c:\prov>bootpart 1 c:\64bit.dat "Windows XP 64bit"
Boot Partition 2.60 for WinNT/2K/XP (c)1995-2005 G. Vollant (info @ winimage.com)
WEB : http://www.winimage.com and http://www.winimage.com/bootpart.htm
Add partition in the Windows NT/2000/XP Multi-boot loader
Run "bootpart /?" for more information

Physical number of disk 0 : d769d769
 0 : C:* type=7  (HPFS/NTFS), size= 20249901 KB, Lba Pos=63
 1 : C:  type=7  (HPFS/NTFS), size= 20249932 KB, Lba Pos=40499865

Writing a boot sector using LBA position 40499865 (0x269fa99)
c:\64bit.dat written
C:\BOOT.INI updated

Its syntax: we add the system found on partition 1 to the boot.ini file; the system’s boot sector is saved into the file named 64bit.dat and located in the root directory; when logging in, we can select this new system identified by the “Windows XP 64bit” text. Now it is time for some testing.

 

Softwares installation

If each system could be booted into in a selectable manner, we can go on to install the necessary drivers. Following that, we must install the programs which ensure secure operation: 64-bit Security Software

The above software will install in the same way as those used in the 32-bit environment. During our first attempt, we installed ZoneAlarm x64 but it caused very serious stability problems (currently only its beta version exists) so we finally selected Tiny Firewall 64. The eTrust AntiVirus is installed in 2 stages: in the first stage only its pre-installer is installed, and that will manage the download of the installation kit of several megabytes, which will be used for the installation of the program itself. Of the installed programs, the 64-bit XP and the eTrust AntiVirus are 120-day and 90-day trial versions, respectively. In relation to Tiny Firewall 64 no time limit is indicated, thus this environment is expected to provide a secure opportunity to study the system.

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