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The Windows XP Boot Loader

As mentioned earlier in this chapter, one of the great advantages of the approaches we're advocating in this chapter is that we're using the Windows XP boot loader. The primary asset it gives us is a menuing system that lets you choose which OS to start every time you boot up your computer. The following sections explain how the boot loader works.

The Master Boot Record

The master boot record (MBR) is the portion of the disk that tells your computer where to find the partition boot sector. All operating systems must be started up by some type of master boot record, whether this contains the system's native code or a multi-boot utility. When your system is booted, a chain of events ensues, based on your currently installed operating systems. The following is a simplified version of this chain of events for an installation containing Windows XP:


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