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Old 03-10-2004, 07:13 PM   #1
orpolo
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Question How to install multiple linux distributions on a computer


Hi,

I have been using Linux for the past 2 years and I am a reasonably experienced user, but I have only tried Red Hat/Fedora versions thus far. I am about to reinstall my computer and I would like to put several distributions to learn more about the beauty of the rest of the linux world.

I will go ahead and just try in the next days, but I though I'd make a post just in case that there a kind and experienced soul willing to spare some tips, since this topic does not seem to be extensively covered very well in anyone document I have found on the net (if you know a good reference, please pass it along).

That is what I figure I am goint to try to do:

1) I will make enough partition on the system for win98, home, swap, and one partition per distribution

2) I will install Win98 as usual on the first partition

3) I will install Fedora as usual

4) Here is where I don't know what is going to happen: once I insert the Mandrake CD, I suppose that during the installation I will have a chance to indicate to mount / in some unused partition. But is it going to want to install its own boot loader? Will I need to manually edit the grub.conf? How does it work?

Thanks!

Alessandro
 
Old 03-10-2004, 09:25 PM   #2
jailbait
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"But is it going to want to install its own boot loader?"

Yes. You should tell it not to install any bootloader or to install only a floppy bootloader.

"Will I need to manually edit the grub.conf? How does it work?"

Yes. You will only have one working grub.conf file in which you will set up all of the possible boots. So after you install Fedora then the rest of the distributions will be installed without bootloaders and you will edit the Fedora grub.conf to incorporate every distribution into grub.
When you finish all of the installations the Fedora grub will be the only bootloader.

___________________________________
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http://users.rcn.com/srstites/LifeBo...home.page.html

Steve Stites
 
Old 03-11-2004, 08:34 AM   #3
LinuxLala
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You say that you will make one partition for swap and home.

Making one swap is fine as all distributions will use this same swap. But why make one home. I mean all distributions can't use just one home.

Better to make only one swap and then one partition per distribution. Thus allowing all distributions to have their /home on their own partition.
 
Old 03-11-2004, 01:06 PM   #4
orpolo
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thanks

Thanks jailbait, it is clear and it does not seem too difficult. I am going to try and let's see what happens.
 
Old 03-11-2004, 01:13 PM   #5
orpolo
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/home

Quote:
Originally posted by LinuxLala
Making one swap is fine as all distributions will use this same swap. But why make one home. I mean all distributions can't use just one home.

Better to make only one swap and then one partition per distribution. Thus allowing all distributions to have their /home on their own partition.
Thanks LinuxLala.

It would be convenient to have a single home that I could use with all the distros and I thought it would work. What is the problem? Perhaps the configuration files of the various desktop environment would conflict?
 
Old 03-11-2004, 11:59 PM   #6
bigrigdriver
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The problem with using one /home is this: each distro will write hidden directories/files as well as visible in the /home directory (in Konqueror, click on View - Hidden files to see them). While /home itself may not have any, they will certainly be in the user's directory. And, different distros may write different files to /home. If different distros are trying to write directories/files with the same name, those directories/files will be overwritten by each distro until only one version is left - the last one to be written. Which means, the directories/files/apps they refer to may or may not work correctly in other distros when booted. You could try setting up a different user name for each distro to keep the respective hidden directories/files seperate. That would give you one /home showing several user directories. But, any additional directories you create in /home will be visible to all distros using /home, and may cause problems if there is anything specific to one distro that is not fully compatible with the others.
 
Old 03-12-2004, 12:39 AM   #7
LinuxLala
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You can also do a search here on LQ. I remember thuis issue being discussed a couple of months back.

But the main points were as mentioned by bigrigdriver.
 
Old 03-13-2004, 09:07 AM   #8
orpolo
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Thanks for the explanation. I guess that instead I will create a common data partition for the users' files.
 
Old 03-13-2004, 09:40 AM   #9
motub
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The way I do it (I've had a multiboot consisting of 2 versions of Windows and 5 distributions of Linux-- at the moment it's down to 1 Windows and 2 Linux) is to create whatever FAT32 partitions I need for shared Windows data, and 1 ext3 partition for shared Linux data.

I then mount these partitions into my /home folder using /etc/fstab and lots of user and permission hacking . By saving whatever I create to the shared folders in $HOME$, rather than to $HOME$ itstelf, I am able to keep the / partition sizes consistent-- because the volatile data (my personal files) are not actually contained in the root partition, the partition will not need to "grow" for any reason, and all I have to do is make sure that the initial shared partitions are as huge as I want them and I've got no worries.

The bootloader issue I solve by first choosing which bootloader is most attractive (this is an issue if one of the distros is Mandrake, which imo does have quite an attractive graphic LiLO), then installing all of the other distros before that one, telling each to install their bootloaders to the / instead of to the MBR. Of course I can't boot into any of them until the whole process is done (without a boot floppy for each, which I would advise in any case).

Then install the last distro's bootloader to the MBR, boot into it and add the other distros to the LiLO or GRUB configuration file.

Another solution that I used for quite a long time which worked well was the Windows bootloader BootMagic-- I set up the partitions I was going to use for Linux, then set up Boot Magic to point to each of them, even though they were empty. When I then installed the distros, and installed their bootloaders to /, BootMagic already knew where they were, so I never had any interruption in my ability to boot any of them.

But I have written a tutorial with tips for managing a multiboot and overcoming some of the problems associated with them. It has been posted at Shell-Shocked at http://www.shell-shocked.org/article.php?id=230.

Hope it helps you.

Last edited by motub; 03-13-2004 at 09:55 AM.
 
Old 03-14-2004, 08:53 PM   #10
orpolo
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Quote:
Originally posted by motub
The bootloader issue I solve by first choosing which bootloader is most attractive (this is an issue if one of the distros is Mandrake, which imo does have quite an attractive graphic LiLO), then installing all of the other distros before that one, telling each to install their bootloaders to the / instead of to the MBR. Of course I can't boot into any of them until the whole process is done (without a boot floppy for each, which I would advise in any case).
Thanks for the tips and the howto motub. One question regarding the bootloader. Is there any advantage in your procedure to the one suggested by jailbait (install first distro with desired bootloader, and then install the others without bootloader) or these are just two different ways to do the same thing?

This is sort of irrelevant, but regarding sharing with Windows, fortunately I can skip the ugly vfat data partition, since I have setup my old 200MHz computer as a disk server with two RAID-1 mirrored disks (which was surprisingly easy), my data is safe and accessible from both Linux and Windows. I am mentioning it because it works great and I am so happy about it.
 
Old 03-14-2004, 08:59 PM   #11
jailbait
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"Thanks for the tips and the howto motub. One question regarding the bootloader. Is there any advantage in your procedure to the one suggested by jailbait (install first distro with desired bootloader, and then install the others without bootloader) or these are just two different ways to do the same thing?"

Both methods end up with the same result. After all the installs are done you have to edit the bootloader configuration file of the distribution which actually controls the MBR to include every distribution in the bootloader configuration file of the chosen distribution.

___________________________________
Be prepared. Create a LifeBoat CD.
http://users.rcn.com/srstites/LifeBo...home.page.html

Steve Stites
 
Old 03-23-2004, 12:01 AM   #12
orpolo
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Thanks to your help it worked no problem and I am writing from my brand new Mandrake 10 installation, which by the way seems great!

I wanted to thank those that helped and I have also decided that I am going to post some detail just in case somebody else who mean to do the same thing finds this thread.

I have started with Win98. I have a 120GB disk that I partitioned the disk with FDISK from the WIN98 CD, removed all partitions and added a single partition of 10GB, leaving the rest of the space without partitioning, formatted FAT32 and installed ugly-windows 98 on it.

Then I started the Fedora Core 1 installation, completed the partitioning of the disk with 4 more 10GB ext3 partitions for 4 Linux distros, a 1GB swap partition, a 100MB /boot partition (common for all the distros), and finally the remaining 60GB or so were put in another data partition (ext3 as well).

I installed Fedora with / on /dev/hda3 (LABEL=/) and /boot on /dev/hda2 (which Grub calls hd0,1).

The home directories are separated for all distros, as reccomended, and are on an nsf mounted disk: /home/{fedora,mandrake,suse}/$USER. Inside each homedir I have put a soft link for the .mozilla, .gvimrc, .pinerc, .cshrc, and for the data subdirectories in my Fedora home so that they all share the same configurations.

I then installed Mandrake and selected not to put a bootloader. I used the same /boot partition and /dev/hda6 as root.

Finally I update the /boot/grub/grub.conf file with the entry for Mandrake:

Code:
default=0
timeout=10
splashimage=(hd0,1)/grub/splash.xpm.gz
title Fedora Core (2.4.22-1.2115.nptl)
        root (hd0,1)
        kernel /vmlinuz-2.4.22-1.2115.nptl ro root=LABEL=/ hdc=ide-scsi rhgb
        initrd /initrd-2.4.22-1.2115.nptl.img
title DOS
        rootnoverify (hd0,0)
        chainloader +1
title Mandrake 10.0
        root (hd0,1)
        kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.3-4mdk ro root=/dev/hda6 hdc=ide-scsi rhgb
        initrd /initrd-2.6.3-4mdk.img
I have gotten confused and had to make a few attempts to find the right value for the root= in the Mandrake line (by the way, make sure that you have a /initrd directory or you will get a kernel panic error). The hdc=ide-scsi is there because Fedora put that as a default, not sure if it is necesary (hdc is a CD-RW). I have not check and I have no idea of what rhgb stands for.

So now in Fedora the /etc/fstab is
Code:
/dev/hda3  /  etx3  defaults 1 1
/dev/hda6   /mandrake ext3  defaults 1 2
/dev/hda1   /boot   ext3 defaults 1 2
and in Mandrake
Code:
/dev/hda3  /fedora  ext3  defaults 1 1
/def/hda6   /            ext3  defaults 1 2
/dev/hda1   /boot   ext3 defaults 1 2
Now I still need to install Suse. Hope this will be of some use to somebody.


Last edited by orpolo; 03-23-2004 at 12:11 AM.
 
Old 03-23-2004, 03:01 AM   #13
motub
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Just a point of info-- hdc=ide-scsi (also can be seen in some lilo.conf files as "append hdc=ide-scsi") is the enabler for SCSI emulation under the 2.4 series kernels. This is what is needed to allow you to write to a CD-RW (otherwise it will be considered a read-only drive, which won't help you much if you want to burn a CD).

Glad you've got it working so far. That soft link to the .mozilla etc directories is a good trick; thanks.
 
Old 03-23-2004, 10:51 AM   #14
orpolo
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Quote:
Originally posted by motub
Just a point of info-- hdc=ide-scsi (also can be seen in some lilo.conf files as "append hdc=ide-scsi") is the enabler for SCSI emulation under the 2.4 series kernels. This is what is needed to allow you to write to a CD-RW (otherwise it will be considered a read-only drive, which won't help you much if you want to burn a CD).
You are right motub, and since Mandrake 10 uses the new 2.6 kernel, after some googling I have found that it is supposed to be replaced by "hdc=ide-cd". I am still having troubles to get cdrecord to work, though

Code:
# cdrecord -v dev=ATAPI:1,0,0 speed=16 boot.iso
Cdrecord-Clone 2.01a26-dvd (i686-pc-linux-gnu) Copyright (C) 1995-2004 Jörg Schilling
Note: This version is an unofficial (modified) version with DVD support
Note: and therefore may have bugs that are not present in the original.
Note: Please send bug reports or support requests to <warly@mandrakesoft.com>.
Note: The author of cdrecord should not be bothered with problems in this version.
TOC Type: 1 = CD-ROM
scsidev: 'ATAPI:1,0,0'
devname: 'ATAPI'
scsibus: 1 target: 0 lun: 0
Warning: Using ATA Packet interface.
Warning: The related libscg interface code is in pre alpha.
Warning: There may be fatal problems.
Using libscg version 'schily-0.8'.
SCSI buffer size: 64512
atapi: -1
cdrecord: Cannot do inquiry for CD/DVD-Recorder.
cdrecord: Input/output error. test unit ready: scsi sendcmd: fatal error
CDB:  00 00 00 00 00 00
cmd finished after 0.000s timeout 40s
But perhaps this is off-topic here, if I won't fix soon I should perhaps post a new question.
 
Old 03-23-2004, 12:27 PM   #15
motub
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Maybe you should, but just so you know, I'm having the same trouble with 2.6.3 under Slackware (can't get gCombust or K3b to recognize my CD-RW).

So if you post, I'll be there looking for solutions, too, but in the meantime I'm going back to 2.4.25.
 
  


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