Something I learned the hard way yesterday. Due to some odd glitch in the Macbook Pro (untested with other models) running Bootcamp 3.2 (untested with other versions) for Windows XP (untested for other versions of Windows), the keyboard (both physical on-laptop and USB) is unresponsive between the point where can hit F8 to get into Safe Mode and the point where Windows XP loads.

That means that anything that runs between the Windows XP logo scroller and the log on screen can’t be interacted with. Further, that means that if your disk has the NTFS dirty bit set, and it needs to run a CHKDSK to fix whatever is wrong and to reset that dirty bit, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. The keyboard is completely unresponsive. The “Press any key to skip this check” will count down no matter how many keys you mash. You’re stuck here. Get a drink.

You can use the keyboard to hit F8 to get into Safe Mode, and you can log on to Windows, but nothing in between.

I’ll leave two things here for future generations:

1. There’s apparently a way to manually reset the NTFS dirty bit, but DON’T DO IT. If NTFS is asking for a CHKDSK, then it has a good reason to do so and interrupting it is asking for a lot of NTFS hurting. These guys talk about it in a little more detail here. HOWEVER, if you’ve asked for a CHKDSK (by typing “chkdsk c: /r” into a CMD prompt) and nothing else is apparently wrong with the drive, then MAYBE you can reset the bit manually. It involves hex editing. You’re on your own here: Manually Reset or Clear Dirty Bit in Windows without CHKDSK

2. Once you’ve given CHKDSK all the time it needs and have booted back into your XP parition, then maybe you want to prevent that from ever happening again. Once again, not recommended, but I’ll leave it here anyways: CHKNTFS.EXE