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Frequently Asked Questions


What is SyMon?

SyMon is an operating system boot loader with many unique capabilities when compared with similar programs. The main feature of SyMon is that many useful tools are available to user before any OS has been loaded into memory. At the same time, requirements to install SyMon are minimal:

  • CPU: 80386+
  • RAM: 128 Kb (!)
  • Video: VGA

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What is an operating system boot loader?

Operating system boot loader (boot manager) is a special program which enables you to boot several operating systems located in one computer. Its main purpose is giving you a menu so you could choose operating system you want to boot.

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Is it safe to install SyMon?

In most cases, yes. SyMon is installed to track 0 of your hard drive. This track is not used in most computers. SyMon itself does not touch any partitions so it NEVER changes user data. However, sometimes user cannot boot an OS without some changes in SyMon setup. This can be easily eliminated because all important tools are built in SyMon! Our statistics of user's feedback says that all the cases of losing data occurred due to the user panic caused by computer which is unable to boot.

During our development of this program we've made every effort to minimize user risks. In SyMon R3 we use the technique of saving the previous records to the installation floppy. This guarantees for you a correct installation and removing of SyMon. So, if you dislike this program or encounter some problems with loading your OSes you will be able to boot from setup floppy disk and remove SyMon, i.e. to return your hard drive to the state in which it was before SyMon was installed.

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Will SyMon take over all my partitions during install?

Yes. It is guaranteed that all partitions will be taken from your old configuration, either MBR partition table or previous SyMon partition table. However, in very rare cases no menu item will be created for bootable partitions. In this case you can manually fix the problem using built-in setup dialog (press F2). SyMon remembers the changes made in settings so you need to do this only once.

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Does SyMon enable to boot any OS?

Basically, yes. Every OS which can be booted using standard MBR loader (e.g. produced by fdisk /mbr) can also be booted using SyMon. Besides that, SyMon enables you to boot from floppy, other hard drives and CD-ROM.

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How many operating systems can SyMon boot?

SyMon can boot up to 20 operating systems. You can arrange OSes either to be hidden from each other or to share some file systems for data exchange. Additionally, plugins can extend menu items up to 150.

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How can I remove SyMon correctly?

To remove SyMon correctly you must ensure that all partition information will remain in MBR partition table. If you have created more than 4 primary partitions you cannot uninstall SyMon without the loss of partitions. This will never happen if you try to remove SyMon just after its installation because before SyMon you could not have more than 4 partitions. Before removing, prepare OS settings with partition configuration where all partitions are mapped to MBR partition table to be sure they will not be lost. Then press SPACE on this new item and boot DOS from floppy and run

  fdisk /MBR. 

Since release 3, SyMon supports automatic removing. It returns you to partition configuration which was before installation of SyMon. This is quite enough for you if you did not add new partitions and OSes. If you did so, use the method described above.

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When was SyMon written?

The first version of SyMon was written from February to May 1998. That was a simplest SyMon which had a partition editor, disk editor, setup dialog. By the end of June 1998 the password module was added. This version became de facto the first release. In February 1999 it was published to the internet and became well-known.

Some drawbacks of first release has become clear soon: no support of drives larger than 8Gb, undocumented support of two and more hard drives which was difficult to use, bug in auto search of FAT32 partitions, not very good algorithm of automatic OS detector which has problems with large drives. All these troubles lead authors to the need of new release. During September-November 1999 SyMon was thoroughly rewritten using NASM 0.98 and became release 2.

During summer 2000 we developed idea of plugins to SyMon which could extend its powerful capabilities. At the same time, new setup program was founded to simplify installation and maintenance of SyMon.

During the fall 2000 and winter 2001 we developed floppy installation system. Release 3 was produced by March 2001. We moved to a new Web site for a better distributing of this new release.

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Is SyMon compatible with other programs?

Basically, yes. There is no compatibility with unusual programs which work with disk at low level: (a) other boot managers, (b) programs to support large drives with older BIOSes (MaxBlast, DM6 DDO, EZ-Drive) and (c) some not very correct software (3d Max) which stores its registration data at track 0. Also, it is possible that other partition management utilities may conflict with SyMon. You should manually check results of their work in SyMon partition editor.

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Can I remove SyMon without damage to other programs?

Yes, if there is no more than 4 primary partitions. Please, refer to this question for more explanation.

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Is SyMon R3 compatible with SyMon R2?

Yes, backward compatible.

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Is SyMon R2 compatible with SyMon R1?

Yes, backward compatible.

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What are the hardware requirements of SyMon?

They are minimal:

  • CPU: 80386+
  • RAM: 128 Kb (!)
  • Video: VGA

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Is SyMon compatible with RAID?

Yes, beginning from version 3.01 SyMon does not corrupt RAID settings. Other compatibility depends on RAID support in BIOS.

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Which file does SyMon uses for itself?

No files! You need not have any file system to use SyMon. However, plugins can be located in FAT16 and FAT32 partitions but it is not mandatory requirment.

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Does SyMon support drives larger than 8Gb?

Yes, if the BIOS does either.

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Does SyMon support SCSI drives?

Yes, if the BIOS does either. Some SCSI BIOSes have bug when working with drives larger 8Gb so there may be troubles.

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How can I change settings of SyMon?

SyMon has built-in setup dialog. This means you can change its settings in the situation when no OS is installed and no partition created or previous settings are wrong or OS is damaged and cannot boot. In any case you can edit SyMon settings using built-in editor.

You can read detailed explanation of settings in manual. Please, read chapter "Setup Dialog" and "Partition Editor".

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Can I set passwords for my OSes?

Yes. SyMon supports one password for every OS. You can also set password for floppy, tools and plugins.

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Can I arrange all my OSes in one menu?

Theoretically, it is possible but not all capabilities are supported at the moment. You can arrange all items in one menu for all OSes which either boot directly from their boot sector or links to the similar OSes located on second and other hard drives. However, you cannot eliminate menus of other boot loaders such as ntloader and acquire all their menu items to SyMon menu. This functionality may be added in future using plugins.

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Can SyMon change size of file system?

No. SyMon does not work with file systems except for reading plugins. You should use other programs such as Ranish partition manager or Partition Magic to resize file system. If you use other programs to resize partitions then SyMon will try to catch the change in MBR and ask you to accept or decline new partition sizes.

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I would like to use SyMon and install several OS but all disk space is given to one OS and I don't want reformat anything. What should I do?

You should use a partition resizer to make the existing file system shorter. This is a potentially dangerous operation which may lead to corruption of your data. Here is a list of some commercial programs which can resize partitions:

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I have changed partition information in partition editor and so it became hidden. What should I do?

All you need is to restore previous values. SyMon does not change any blocks of data in you partitions (unlike most fdisks!) so your partitions remain alive after any operations in SyMon partition table. If you have forgotten the partition details simply remove it and run autosearch. If the partition is still present it will be found.

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Can SyMon partition disk beyond 8Gb if the BIOS does not support int13 extensions?

Yes. You should use standard plugin and set feature of disabling disk boundary checking. However, you will need to calculate last available cylinder number by yourself.

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Can I hide SyMon from other users?

Yes. SyMon supports special mode of hidden boot. In this mode, SyMon starts default OS without any user interface, password checking etc. However, if there is no default OS, no possibility to boot default OS or user has pressed special magic keys on keyboard then menu appears.

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SyMon disappeared after I have installed Windows. Why?

During first phase of installation Windows writes its own boot loader to MBR which disables SyMon. This behaviour cannot be bypassed but is not dangerous to SyMon. You should simply reinstall SyMon. It will acquire all previous settings from previous one.

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When I boot OS from second hard drive logical drives on first one cannot be accessed. Why?

Windows can boot only from logical drive C:. But the order of mounting drives is predefined in IO.SYS so drive C is assigned to first active DOS partition found and physical drives are searched from first to last. SyMon removes primary partitions on drives prior to boot drive so the start of OS is possible.

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How can I access logical drives on first hard disk when I boot from second one?

You may use SyMon support programs to gain access to hidden partitions. The program mount.exe enables you to mount drives after IO.SYS has mounted MBR partitions.

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DOS cannot boot from partition which is located beyond 2Gb bound. Why?

Standard DOS boot sector has a bug and fails to boot beyond 2Gb. Beginning with version 3.08 SyMon Setup has special patches for this bug. You should run SyMon Setup and patch boot sector of DOS.

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How to install Windows to second hard drive?

There are two ways to do this:

  • you can create a small partition on your first hard disk which will be automatically given the drive letter C:. In this drive C: the initial loading files will be stored. The operating system itself you'll have to install to the second hard disk, e.g. it will be drive D:. This way is easy and it doesn't require the installation of SyMon to the second hard disk, but this installation will become tied to the first hard disk.
  • during installation, you can change the disk order in BIOS Setup. So the second hard disk will become the first one. After that you should compile the MBR for that hard disk and install Windows to the drive C:. Afterwards change back the disk order. Now you can start Windows on the second disk from the SyMon menu on this disk or you can start it using a reference from the first disk's SyMon menu. This way is more complicated because it requires a SyMon installation to the second hard disk, but the system installed to the second disk becomes independent from the first one.

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Windows NT does not boot from second hard drive. Why?

This can be caused by two reasons: (a) originally Windows were installed to first hard disk and all their settings became tied to it; (b) boot.ini is wrong. To solve this problem you should change boot.ini, or try to install Windows to second hard drive.

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Windows NT cannot install to partition located beyond 2Gb boundary. Why?

Standard boot sector of NT Setup has a bug and fails to boot beyond 2Gb. Beginning with version 3.08 SyMon Setup has special patches for this bug. You should run SyMon Setup and patch boot sector of NT Setup.

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Boot sector of Windows 2000/XP has been corrupted. How can I repair it?

The copy of boot sector is located in the very last sector of NTFS partition. You should try to copy it to first sector of NTFS partition.

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Can I rid off the ntloader's menu as soon as I have SyMon's menu?

Yes. You should edit C:\boot.ini and remove all menu items except Windows 2000 main branch. Ntloader will remove menu when the user has no choice.

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SyMon disappeared after I have installed Linux. Why?

You have chosen to install Linux loader (LILO) to MBR instead of Linux partition. To solve this problem you should change file /etc/lilo.conf, string /dev/hda to /dev/hda<N>, where N - number of Linux partition. Then reinstall LILO.

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Linux stopped to boot after I have installed SyMon. Why?

Linux Loader (LILO) was installed to MBR so installation of SyMon caused to loss of LILO. To solve this problem you should change file /etc/lilo.conf, string /dev/hda to /dev/hda<N>, where N - number of Linux partition. Then reinstall LILO.

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How to configure LILO to work with SyMon correctly?

You should change file /etc/lilo.conf, string /dev/hda to /dev/hda<N>, where N - number of Linux partition. Then reinstall LILO.

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Does SyMon boot from second hard drive?

Yes. Since very first versions SyMon supports standard boot process documented for Phoenix BIOS. The boot drive number is passed to loader in register DL of CPU. However, DOS, Windows 9x/ME do not support this scheme. So SyMon supports special patches for these systems. This eliminates most of problems with booting from second drive.

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Does SyMon boot from CD-ROM?

Yes. SyMOn has special plugin to boot from CD-ROM. You should install this plugin to boot from compact disc.

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