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Kerlingen
October 2nd, 2010, 05:58
I bought myself a new computer which came with Windows 7 x64, which obviously isn't the best OS for reversing. But since I paid for it and it may be time now to jump on the x64 train, I thought it might be a good idea to use it for daily work and dual-boot XP for my hobby.

And since XP would be only used for programming/reversing, I thought I might as well use the "checked" (debug) build of the OS.

But somehow the "checked" builds don't share my oppinion.

I downloaded the following

XP Pro
XP MCE
XP x64
2003 Ent
Win7 x86

All of them are original MSDN images of the checked builds. They pass MD5, so corrupted images are unlikely.

Then I tried to install them on a clean hard disk, but XP Pro/MCE/x64/2003 will only crash to a BSOD at the end of the driver loading during text mode setup ("Starting Windows". The BSOD gives me an "unhandled kernel exception, 0x80000003, INT 03", but no crash address or module name.

Then I thought XP is an old OS and might not work with a new computer, so I downloaded and slipstreamed the service packs into the installation media (SP3 for XP Pro/MCE, SP2 for XP x64/2003). I downloaded the "checked" version of the service packs to be on the save side.

Then XP MCE/2003 still crashed to BSOD at the same point, XP 64 just showed the "Starting Windows" forever and stopped working.

XP Pro installed normal. But when it was installed, Internet Explorer 6 closed always after 5 seconds.

I tried installing IE8. Installation looked like it installed, but at the end it told me there was an error and I have to reboot. The same again after rebooting.
I tried installing IE7. It told me that I can't install a free build on a checked OS. I checked the MS download page, but no checked builds of IE available for download.
I tricked the installation by changing the system build to "free" in the registry, so IE7 installed. But it didn't work after reboot.
I tried the same trick with IE8. It detected IE7 and uninstalled it, but the installation still failed.
IE6 didn't even show up any more, so there was no way to use Windows Update.


Then I had enough of this an installed Win7 x86. Expect that the installation took ages (5 hours compared to the 20 minutes of a non-checked build), it went normal in the first try. But the OS realy was a pain for me. Windows Update always told me that there are no updates for my OS, without even trying to connect to the internet.

But the most anoying thing was the OS itself. Every 0,5-1 minutes I got a popup telling me that something just crashed, most time something in "explorer.exe".

It asked me to "ingore once", "ignore always", "don't ignore".

If I clicked on "once", I got the same error again instant.
"ignore always" protected me from the current crash location, but explorer.exe had more locations where it liked to crash.
"don't ignore" opened a new dialog telling me that explorer.exe has crashed and will be restarted - and after that the whole ignore list was cleared and all began again.


This all makes the "checked" builds a bit useless for me, since they don't work even before I start programming/reversing/whatever.

Possible failure reasons I can think of:

too many CPUs/cores/hyper threading

should be no problem for 2003 or XP x64
hyper threading was already available when XP was released
disabling hyper threading and all but one core in BIOS didn't help

too much RAM

should be no problem for 2003 and XP x64
XP didn't have a RAM limit in SP0
XP SP2+ works with more than 4 GB RAM, it just doesn't allow the user to access anything above 4 GB

no serial ports available on mainboard

the INT 03 kernel exception might come from an enabled kernel debugger
kernel debugger attaches to COM2 if not otherwise configured
I tried attaching to a kernel debugger over Firewire, but none was running during text mode setup
I have no I/O card to test COM1/2 debugging

some crazy computer configuration

non-"checked" builds work normal, even without service packs


Is it just some crazy computer configuration or has anybody also encountered similar problems with the "checked" builds of Windows? (or even knows a solution)

evaluator
October 2nd, 2010, 07:44
only opinion on the fly i have: that checked-builds probably wants run under debugger.

search information/help about checked-builds usage.

sfeet
October 3rd, 2010, 11:50
XP usually crashes on modern computers with AHCI enabled in bios. Might be the case here as well. If you can change the mode to IDE in bios try that, if it doesn't you have to either use a floppy to load the drivers or slipstream the drivers to the installation CD.

Woodmann
October 3rd, 2010, 17:24
Howdy,

Have you made a partition for XP?


Woodmann

I just re-read everything. You have already removed 7
and cant get XP to install on a naked hard disk?

Get UBCD and gut the thing and make sure you reset
the MBR to all zeros.

Create two partitions and install XP64 first.
You will need XP64 sata drivers slip streamed.
Unless the thing has a solid state drive..............

Check that first.

Kerlingen
October 4th, 2010, 05:06
I tried the whole thing in VMware, setting up an own configuration for each OS. All versions crash there, no matter how much CPUs/cores/RAM I give to the guest OS. Not even Win7 x86 will install, it now crashes somewhere after the first reboot during hardware detection. Win XP Pro with SP3 slipstreamed now also crashes, while it runs on the real machine, except for the IE6 thing. I didn't do much testing there since running an unpatched Win XP seems a bit stupid with all the exploits around.

I also set up two virtual COM ports and mapped them to pipelines on the host OS, but it didn't make any difference.

The hard disk is clean (cleaned with the Win7 partition utility, which overwrites the first and last 1 MB with zeros).

The hard disk is running in AHCI mode, but the DVD drive ist connected to an additional controller an runs in IDE mode. I learned my lesson with that already the last time I bought a computer.

I have the AHCI drivers (and even a floppy drive in todays world ) . The "F6" drivers load normally during setup, in Win7 they are not needed since the installation detects my hard disk.

If I run the non-"checked" installations without the drivers, I just get a message that I can't install Windows since there are no hard disks found.

I will try to run the hard disk in IDE mode when I come home later.

Kerlingen
October 8th, 2010, 05:32
Still no luck. I've now set up Win XP non-"checked" and it works perfect. I guess it will have to do the job.