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Old 08-13-2004, 11:51 PM   #1
RobF
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Multiboot WinXP, FC2 & Xandros under Xandros lilo?


I read some posts about a bug in FC2 that corrupts the partition table and makes it impossible to dual-boot into Windows XP and FC2. I don't understand the technical details sufficiently to judge whether this bug would affect a planned install of FC2 on my system. Perhaps someone can help me with this.

On my first HDD, I have Windows XP in two partitions, hda1 (vfat) and hda2 (nfts). On my second HDD, I have several different Linux distros in separate partitions. The boot loader is the lilo of Xandros OS which resides in the MBR of hda; from the Xandros lilo boot menu I can boot into Windows XP or any of the Linux distros.

I would like now to install FC2 in hdb1 (which is a primary bootable partition) and boot it through the Xandros lilo as I do for the other Linux distros. Xandros itself resides on hdb3. The swap partition is hdb6.

Questions: Will the FC2 installer give me the option NOT to install the FC2 GRUB in the MBR (where it would replace the Xandros lilo and possibly ruin the partition table)? If I proceed in this fashion (i.e. not writing the FC2 GRUB to the MBR but merely to /boot of the FC2 partition), will this bug still cause trouble with the partition table, or will I be safe? I.e. is there a way to install FC2 in a multi-boot system without it corrupting the partition table?

Many thanks in advance.

Robert
 
Old 08-14-2004, 05:38 AM   #2
motub
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You might want to read LWN: Making Fedora Core 2 and Windows play well together, which explains how to prevent this bug from harming you, as well as how to recover from it if it already has.

Hope this helps.
 
Old 08-14-2004, 10:19 AM   #3
masand
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u can proced to install fedora without installing the bootloader grub again

now to load fedora u need to edit the lilo.conf of xandros and point the enteries in lilo.conf to (these involve vmlinuz,System.map,initrd images) of fedora

regards
gaurav
 
Old 08-15-2004, 11:32 AM   #4
RobF
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Success

Thanks, motub and masand, for responding to my query. I followed your advice and didn't encounter any problems. As a preemptive measure against the FC2 "bug" possibly corrupting my partition table (or, to be specific, writing the boot hard disk geometry in a format other than the one Windows expects there), I started the FC2 install by passing the value of the disk geometry to the kernel on the boot command line, i.e.

boot: linux hda=3647,255,63

where the numbers refer to the geometry in CHS format of my boot hard disk. I don't know whether this really preempted a partition table problem but I didn't have any trouble booting into WinXP on hda or any of the Linux distros on hdb after the FC2 install.

In the boot loader configuration section I chose the option of installing GRUB in the first sector of the /boot partition of hdb1 (that's the partition in which I installed FC2), NOT in the MBR on hda which still holds the lilo from Xandros. After two reboots into Xandros, an entry for FC2 showed up in the Xandros lilo boot menu, and that's how I'm able to boot into FC2 or any of the other OS's on my machine.

So everything went smoothly, and I found the Anaconda installer to be well designed and extremely easy to use.

Robert
 
Old 08-15-2004, 11:52 AM   #5
motub
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Congratulations; you've overcome 2 major hurdles, and accomplished a fairly hard task-- setting up a multi-boot-- all by yourself (a couple of pointers doesn't mean you didn't do it all by yourself ).

Who says Linux is hard ? Go show your friends and family how l33t you are . You've certainly earned the right to show off a little.

Have fun!
 
Old 08-15-2004, 12:02 PM   #6
masand
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thanks for the informatiuon we also got to learn something

boot: linux hda=3647,255,63

i think with this u r specifying ur root partition

thanks for keeping us posted

regards

gaurav
 
Old 08-16-2004, 01:13 AM   #7
RobF
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Quote:
Originally posted by masand

boot: linux hda=3647,255,63

i think with this u r specifying ur root partition
The boot option "linux hd..=..............." specifies the geometry of the hard disk that holds your master boot record (MBR), your boot loader, and your partition table, in a format that Windows can understand (CHS), i.e. hd..=#cyl,#heads,#sectors/track.

In most cases that HDD will be hda. You can get the info on the HDD geometry by entering, as root, the command "fdisk -l /dev/hda".

For example, in my case, the output is

Disk /dev/hda: 30.0 GB, 30000000000 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 3647 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

I found this preemptive trick in the initial section of the article that motub posted the link to, which explains how to prevent this bug from harming you, as well as how to recover from it if it already has.

http://lwn.net/Articles/86835/

motub, I was too embarrassed to be precise about the actual number of Linux distros that I have installed on my second hard drive and that I'm able to boot into with the Xandros lilo boot loader, in addition to Windows XP. That number is eight. In other words, I've gotten some practice in multiboot installs.

Robert
 
Old 08-16-2004, 09:36 AM   #8
motub
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Embarrassed???! Why???

1) Multibooting is (as you know) fairly hard to set up and get working properly, especially if you want any level of interoperability between the distros; the fact that you have done it successfully is worthy of respect;

2) Letting people know what distros you have running-- and thus have experience with-- helps those of us helping you determine your skill level (so we don't have to "talk down" to you, because you know what we're talking about);

3) Is distro-hopping a source of shame these days? I must have missed the memo. Since multibooting is really just an advanced form of distro-hopping (and worthy of the respect any "advanced" technique should receive), and since the vast majority of migrators distro-hop, I consider it a useful marker of how the migration process is progressing, as well having as a very practical function: to determine which distro actually suits your needs best, as well as helping you determine those needs through your reaction to the different feature sets of the various distros you try.

Certainly nothing to be embarrassed about.
 
Old 08-16-2004, 12:32 PM   #9
RobF
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Re distro-hopping

Thanks, motub, for taking the onus from what you call "distro-hopping." I thought it was something I ought to be slightly embarassed about. Personally, I think it's a great thing to do, for multiple reasons. Doing multiboot installs repeatedly, one learns a lot about disk organization & management, file systems, the boot process, package management, hardware configuration etc. etc., hands-on which is the best way of learning.

Secondly, it keeps you from falling into sectarian fervor; test driving many different distros makes you realize that we're living in days of great riches. With dozens of top-notch distros available (for free!), it's very hard to pick favorites or to evangelize about any particular distro. Finally, it's simply fun to drive a different car every day, or every few hours.

For what it's worth, my own path of exploration went as follows: getting into Linux a year ago with Mandrake 9.1 -> Mandrake 10.0 -> Xandros 2.0 -> Libranet 2.8.1 -> Mepis -> Yoper 2 -> SAM 1.4 -> Feather 0.5.4 -> Vectorlinux 4.3 -> Fedora Core 2. All of these but Mandrake 9.2 and Libranet are still on my machine. Aside from these HDD installs, I've test driven more than two dozen different live CD's.

The largest proportion of my time in Linux I probably spend with Xandros. For really getting under the hood of Linux, I favor one of the lean, uncluttered mini-distros such as Feather (DSL doesn't work on my Intel i845 graphics chipset). I lean slightly toward a debian-based system rather than an rpm-based system. In the near future I'm planning to spend a lot of time with Mepis and/or Libranet as samples of full distros and Feather and SAM as samples of mini-distros.

Why then did I install Fedora? Principally, because there are so many good books available (primer-cum-reference) that focus specifically on Fedora (e.g. Sobell, Negus, Ball & Duff). I had gotten frustrated with generic Linux books that don't tell you specifically how your distro X does a particular thing, and you then have to go and assemble system-specific documentation from the net in bits and pieces.

Another consideration for which distro I want to spend my time with is the quality and responsiveness of the user support forum. In that respect, Xandros, Mandrake, Feather, DSL, and Mepis have been excellent. I don't know as yet about Fedora but expect the same from them.

Cheers to all, and enjoy the present good times with Linux!

Robert
 
Old 08-16-2004, 02:01 PM   #10
motub
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Re: Re distro-hopping

Quote:
Originally posted by RobF
Thanks, motub, for taking the onus from what you call "distro-hopping." I thought it was something I ought to be slightly embarassed about. Personally, I think it's a great thing to do, for multiple reasons. Doing multiboot installs repeatedly, one learns a lot about disk organization & management, file systems, the boot process, package management, hardware configuration etc. etc., hands-on which is the best way of learning.
Not for everybody, but it's certainly the reason I created the Massive Multiboot (well, it was "massive," till I heard about yours, anyway )-- I knew, naturally, that all distros were ultimately Linux, but I needed to understand 1) where distros stopped and Linux itself started; and 2) what I liked and wanted from a distro in general, and from Linux as a whole. My ultimate intention was to settle down with one distro, and in that I have succeeded. But creating and using a multiboot, under which I did the same things when using each distro (since it was, after all, just me using my computer normally), but having to use different processes to accomplish the same ends, because they were different distros, really was essential in "clearing the (various) fog(s)", as it were. Since I learn best by triangulation, this was great for me.

It's interesting to hear from someone who enjoys multiboots for their own sake, and (sounds like) intends to maintain one, despite having a "preferred" distro.

More power to you.
 
  


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