How come when installing Windows 2000 guest on VirtualBox I get a boot loop returning me to the setup? I can't break out of it. I've tried to install multiple times.

I'm using the version of abandonwear copy of Windows 2000 found on WinWorldPC.


This problem is a documented in the VirtualBox manual,

When installing Windows 2000 guests, you might run into one of the following issues:

Installation reboots, usually during component registration.

Installation fills the whole hard disk with empty log files.

Installation complains about a failure installing msgina.dll.

These problems are all caused by a bug in the hard disk driver of Windows 2000. After issuing a hard disk request, there is a race condition in the Windows driver code which leads to corruption if the operation completes too fast, i.e. the hardware interrupt from the IDE controller arrives too soon. With physical hardware, there is a guaranteed delay in most systems so the problem is usually hidden there (however it should be possible to reproduce it on physical hardware as well). In a virtual environment, it is possible for the operation to be done immediately (especially on very fast systems with multiple CPUs) and the interrupt is signaled sooner than on a physical system. The solution is to introduce an artificial delay before delivering such interrupts. This delay can be configured for a VM using the following command:

VBoxManage setextradata "VM name" "VBoxInternal/Devices/piix3ide/0/Config/IRQDelay" 1

This sets the delay to one millisecond. In case this doesn't help, increase it to a value between 1 and 5 milliseconds. Please note that this slows down disk performance. After installation, you should be able to remove the key (or set it to 0).


I've long noticed I/O error messages in the W2K logs, so thanks for explanation.

Recently I finally found another solution to this in a third party driver at http://alter.org.ua/en/soft/win/uni_ata/ I've had this link for six years but finally decided to try it out.

After installing it, I rebooted Win2K (possibly twice due to a transient BSOD) and then shutdown. At this point SATA support is present so I moved the .VDI to a SATA controller and Bingo, no more I/O errors!

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