Repairing boot loader of damaged Sony Vaio Recovery partition

By dose | December 22, 2012
Under: Uncategorized

Today I got a Sony Vaio notebook where the user tried to reinstall the Operating System, but not, as supposed via the Vaio Recovery (by hitting F10 on boot and booting to the recovery console), but by installing the OS himself. He failed with installing Windows XP because of some drivers which were not available for download, so he tried to install Windows Vista which was overkill for the poor machine.

The interesing thing about the machine in the state I got it, was, that the Recovery Partition actually wasn’t hidden, but visible and the Bootloader for Vista (and previously XP) was installed to that partition so that the original loader for the Recovery partition got overwritten. Additionally, no recovery DVDs were available. So to install the proper XP Image, which was still on the (now visible) recovery partition, I needed to make the recovery partition bootable again so that it doesn’t boot into the OS which I wanted to reinstall, but into the recovery console when F10 on boot gets pressed. I finally found out how it works:
There is a directory MININT on the partition which contains a minimal version of Windows XP used as a base for the recovery program. This is loaded by the SETUPLDR.BIN boot loader (as opposed to the default NTLDR bootloader), which starts NT in in MININT directory and then uses texsetup.inf there for further processing (in this case:  Launching the Recovery application). Therefore I ha to replace the Windows Vista Bootloader with the XP Bootloader and make it load the SETUPLDR. I accomplished this by ensuring that the recovery partition is visible, booting to the Windows XP Recovery console, selecting C:\MININT as installation and then using the well known restore-Commands:

copy minint\setupldr.bin ntdlr

exit, and the machine rebooted straight into the Recovery system where I managed to restore the original System image. More information about the SETUPLDR can be found in appendix C in this article.

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