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and_ru 09-10-2009 11:22 AM

Vista + Slackware dual boot (same hdd): Is it safe to install LILO to MBR?
Hi forum!

I know how to install LILO but just can't get some things about Vista and Vista Recovery partition.

Here's my story:
I've recently bought HP dv5-1260er Pavilion laptop with Vista Home Premium (SP1) preinstalled. It has single 250G HDD.
Here's initial (factory) partition configuration:
C: volume (240G) for Vista
D: Vista RECOVERY partition (10G).

Recovery Utility is started from boot menu with hitting F9 key (when Vista is not yet loaded). Does it mean that Vista Recovery Utility is launched from MBR?

Before Slackware 13.0 installation I've made some modifications:
  1. Shrank Vista partition to 70G (sda1) //now I see 170G unallocated space between the Vista (sda1) and Recovery (sda2) partitions
  2. Made Extended partiton (sda3)
  3. Made Linux swap(sda5), Linux root(sda6) and Linux Home(sda7) //all are placed inside Extended partiton totalling 170G
Note: I didn't move any partitions, just freed the space for Linux

After that:
  1. I've fully reinstalled Vista with Recovery Utility //format disk and fresh install
  2. Successfully installed Slackware 13.0 with option to boot from USB stick as a temporary decision //no LILO installed

Result is:
Vista and Slack are happy and working/booting properly. //No problems at all!

Now I'm searching the ways to insall LILO into MBR or somewhere else (if options exist) as a main boot loader.

Questions are:
  1. Will it be possible to run F9 Vista Recovery Utility when there's no Vista's bootloader anymore?
  2. Are there any known problems with Vista operation/updates/somewhat when there's no Vista's bootloader anymore? //note that I have Vista Service Pack 1 but not yet SP2

Thanks for your patience!

vigi 09-24-2009 01:45 PM

I am running xp and slackware under lilo in mbr without and trouble on a Toshiba netbook. The recovery partition is hidden under normal operation and only reveiled when you hit f9 (or in gparted). The recovery does not depended on MBR.

I also run slackware64 + vista on my desktop, without any conflict, however I use grub as my boot loader on this system (only because I know how to edit it manually).
Hope this has been of some help?

brianL 09-24-2009 02:22 PM

I've dual-booted XP with many different distros using either lilo or grub, always in the MBR, with no problems at all.

EricTRA 09-24-2009 02:38 PM

Haven't put Vista in dualboot but upgraded Vista some time ago to Windows 7 and have that now running smoothly in dualboot using Grub in MBR.

Kind regards,


jiml8 09-25-2009 12:36 AM

I *think* that you will have problems with the Vista recovery partition if you install Grub.

Some months back I went through a major exercise trying to recover a Vista system for a friend. The system wouldn't boot AND wouldn't boot into the recovery partition. I had to rebuild the MBR, after finding a Vista install disk (beta copy) online that I could burn and run, that would handle the job of repairing the MBR. Those tools I tried from Linux didn't work, but that certainly could have been because of my basic ignorance of the Vista boot procedure.

Either LILO or Grub will let you chainload, so you should be OK for booting Vista. But I don't know what you will get into if you have to boot the recovery partition.

As far as that goes, the recovery partition won't do anything for you but reload Vista and restore the system to the state it was in when it was new. Usually this is not a good plan, though with Windows sometimes it is the only plan.

vigi 09-25-2009 05:53 PM

Another option is to create a separate 100MB ext3 partition for grub on it's own, to use it as your constant boot loader. I have my desktop setup this way, and usually do not bother loading the loader if I install other systems(or install it to /root and chainload).
The risky part is you may have to resize the vista ntfs install? My vista is on a separate drive.

and_ru 09-26-2009 02:22 AM


I have to thank you all, but there's no clickable "thumb up" icon anymore. Anyway, I owe you a click :)

I'm glad to hear that Vista's updates are not conflicting with any Linux boot loader anymore. It is known that SP1 update had that issue, because it had a bootloader update included. Therefore, the absence of Vista's bootloader led to some troubles during the update.


Originally Posted by jiml8 (Post 3696408)
I *think* that you will have problems with the Vista recovery partition if you install Grub.

Thanks for warning. I decided to give it a try and installed LILO to MBR. Now it's proven - F11 (F9 - was my mistype) is not working anymore. When pushed - system goes straight to LILO OS chooser. But that's OK for two days later a gave that 10GB to Linux. Anyway, I burned a Vista Recovery CD set with HP Recovery utility thus making that partition useless.

Is there any way to link some functionality to F11? I got the idea to create the Linux recovery partition with PMagic or any other tiny Linux distribution. Don't think it's useful - I can always boot them from CD. Just want to know if it's possible to reveal F11.

and_ru 09-26-2009 02:46 AM


Originally Posted by vigi (Post 3697181)
My vista is on a separate drive.

You are lucky! :)
I have no second hdd in my laptop. The only option for me is LILO in MBR. Because Windows needs to be loaded from no other but the first partition of the first disk.

I use your scheme for years on my old PIII box with two hdd. Linux - hda, XP - hdb. Using mapping (hd0 to hd1 and vice versa) with chainloading in "others" lilo.conf section.

Or did you mean to make /boot on separate partition with bootable flag enabled and then chainload to Windows loader?

vigi 09-26-2009 03:53 AM

You make the first partition 100MB ext3, then the second partition is windows(not effected by the grub partition). Then load your linux system and select hda1 /boot and load grub to this as the bootloader. I have had 7 systems on this disc before I bought the second drive.

Disk identifier: 0x90909090
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/hda1 1 14 112423+ 83 Linux (This is Grub bootloader)
(You install your windows in a partition here before installing linux systems)
/dev/hda4 15 19457 156175897+ 5 Extended
/dev/hda5 1959 2035 618439+ 82 Linux swap
/dev/hda6 3056 17572 116607771 83 Linux (This my /home)
/dev/hda7 * 2036 3055 8193118+ 83 Linux (This is slackware64 /)
/dev/hda8 15 1958 15615117 83 Linux (Xubuntu64 /)

and_ru 09-26-2009 04:13 AM


Originally Posted by vigi (Post 3697519)
(You install your windows in a partition here before installing linux

I'm amazed that it's possible to boot Windows from the hda2. You must have been using some tricks I can't imagine.

Could you post your grub config? Want to try to interpret it to lilo's syntax.

vigi 09-26-2009 04:30 AM

Remember you are using grub as a boot loader (It is like a separate OS-and runs independently to boot another loader or a kernal), to load the windows boot.ini on its MBR, or loading linux systems directly.
The grub I am using is from an Ubuntu system, I no longer use.
There is no lilo on my desktop system.

## ## End Default Options ##

#title Ubuntu 9.04, kernel 2.6.28-13-generic
#uuid 69ecfcfe-5dfa-4366-ac41-eaf7292aed69
#kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.28-13-generic root=UUID=34ea65f2-f06b-4aac-8271-ebbb79d8f137 ro quiet splash
#initrd /initrd.img-2.6.28-13-generic


# This is a divider, added to separate the menu items below from the Debian
# ones.
title Other operating systems:
# This entry automatically added by the Debian installer for a non-linux OS
# on /dev/sda1
title Windows 64_Vista Ultimate
rootnoverify (hd1,0)
chainloader +1
# This entry added by the superuser manually for a gnu-linux OS
# on /dev/hda8 home on hda6
title Slackware 64_current
root (hd0,7)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/hda8 ro vga=791
title Xbuntu 64_9.10
root (hd0,6)
#uuid 0e220241-718d-4adb-bec8-96dbbf75ce53
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.31-9-generic root=UUID=75ac10c8-dcc3-4eca-a1c6-d2ba441f5387 ro quiet splash
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.31-9-generic


vigi 09-26-2009 04:43 AM

If you load more than one windows on the same hdd, you need to load them in order of age. 98 first partition, xp, then vista. Each system will overwrite the MBR, however you can run them all with the grub setup. You then install your linux system in an extended partion.

GazL 09-26-2009 05:46 AM


Originally Posted by and_ru (Post 3697534)
I'm amazed that it's possible to boot Windows from the hda2. You must have been using some tricks I can't imagine.

Could you post your grub config? Want to try to interpret it to lilo's syntax.

This is how I did my lilo setup. Not quite the same as the dedicated grub approach described above, but somewhat similar.

sda MBR - Contains Default Windows Vista bootcode.
sda1 - OpenBSD.
sda2 - Windows Vista.
sda3 (flagged bootable) - Slackware Linux, PBR contains lilo
sda4 - extended partition containing various logical partitions including my vendors original RECOVERY partition, and a big chunk of space I'm yet to use ( 1TB disks are ridiculous! ;) ).


  Device Boot      Start        End      Blocks  Id  System
/dev/sda1              1        4700    37752718+  a6  OpenBSD
/dev/sda2            4701        9400    37752750    7  HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda3  *        9401      14100    37752750  83  Linux
/dev/sda4          14101      121601  863501782+  f  W95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/sda5          14101      14631    4265226  82  Linux swap
/dev/sda6          14632      56405  335549623+  83  Linux
/dev/sda7          119170      121601    19535008+  b  W95 FAT32

On boot, The bios will call the MBR code, which will chain the code in the PBR of the partition flagged bootable (which will be lilo). Lilo then has entries for all 3 systems.

Corresponding lilo.conf entries look like this:

lba32 # Allow booting past 1024th cylinder with a recent BIOS
#Windows bootable partition config begins
# Windows bootable partition config ends
# OpenBSD bootable partition config begins
# OpenBSD bootable partition config ends
# Linux bootable partition config begins
read-only # Partitions should be mounted read-only for checking
# Linux bootable partition config ends

To go back to Windows Only (not going to happen), I would just have to change the bootable partition flag from sda3 to sda2 using fdisk and job done. No need for any major changes to bootloaders.

vigi 09-26-2009 04:58 PM

It is interesting to see a comparison with Lilo.
Do you find the need to do any manual editing if you install another system, or do you simply rewrite it to /sda3 and find it pick all systems up?
I have stuck to my original Grub legacy setup, because I am used to it and found it very forgiving - also Grub2 is not designed for manual editing and stability is still a ?.

GazL 09-26-2009 07:03 PM

I don't really do that much distro-hopping and what have you. I've been using Slackware since about 1995 and I guess I'm what you call 'settled'. But basically, yes, lilo reads its config file at install time not at boot time, so if you make any changes you'll need to rerun the installer /sbin/lilo, after making any necessary changes to the lilo.conf file.

It sounds painful, but in practice it's actually not that onerous. In my case, my slackware partition is a permanent fixture, so it's not an issue for me, but if someone is changing their system quite regularly, then perhaps grub would be a better choice

One way around this would be to install lilo to the MBR, but only using the chain-loader definitions "other=". Then have each distro that you install install its own bootloader to the PBR of its own partition.

Consider this

sda MBR contains lilo
sda1 Debian partition. PBR contains grub as installed by debian installer
sda2 Slackware partition. PBR contains lilo as installed by slackware installer
sda3 LFS partition. PBR contains extlinux bootloader (from syslinux).
sda4 FreeBSD. PBR contains BSD bootloader

In each case the installed distro could use it's native bootloader, which would be chained from the lilo bootloader in the MBR. It may seem a little strange to have a bootloader load a second bootloader (especially in the case of slackware, where lilo would load lilo) but it allows each distro to have their own completely independent bootloader. This would probably work quite well for someone who likes to test out new distros all the time.

The lilo.conf for the MBR would only use entries with the 'other=' parameter and in theory shouldn't need to be reinstalled. I've never tried this against all 4 partitions, but I know some people who dual boot slackware/debian who use lilo to chain grub like this for their debian partition and there's no reason why it shouldn't work for any additional partitions.

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