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Distribution: SuSE 8.2, SuSE 9.1 on desktop (besides W2K). SuSE 9.1 on notebook (besides XP).
The magical number of 4 partitions refers to the partition table which is at the beginning of your disk (close to the MBR). This table has space for 4 partitions.
You can have up to 4 "primary" partitions (but only one can be active / bootable at any time if you haven't installed a bootloader like GRUB or Lilo) or alternatively up to 3 primary and one extended partition, which latter in turn can be split into several logical partitions.
The logical partitions present no problem for fdisk <drive:> /mbr, because their respective partition tables are stored far away from the MBR, beginning at the address of the extended partition. So I doubt that you really have a problem with more than 4 partitions.
I have a similar setup to yours, but with SUSE Linux and Windows 2000. GRUB was installed into the MBR and is able to boot both systems. I admit that I let the install routine of SUSE Linux do most of the work. Perhaps you should do the same...
Or alternatively try Lilo?
Partition Magic also includes a bootloader (from OS/2), which you could use (you would have to install a boot loader into your linux partition then). You can get older versions of Partition Magic quite cheap with a magazine CD nowadays.
If you really installed grub into hda1 then you just killed win98 bootsector, but don't panic yet there's a quick and easy way to recover without reinstalling. To install grub into the MBR you should just install into "hda", without putting any partition number.
To repair win9x bootsector grab this: http://www.winimage.com/bootpa25.zip
copy bootpart.exe into your dos bootdisk, boot into c:\ then go:
bootpart win95 boot:c:
This should restore win9x bootsector and next time you boot it should boot directly into win98(if not make sure win98 partition is set to active)
Have you linux bootdisk handy, boot with it and install grub into hda(MBR) as per usual.
The kernel panic probably means you specified the wrong root= option or /etc/fstab is incorrect, sometimes grub sees the partition order differently than linux so try different parameters (hint:use a grub bootdisk/ debian cd rescue mode)
I have Partition Magic 8.0, which owns a boot manager called boot magic, yet it can't handle partitions far from 1024° cylinder, even if they're primary.
Some months ago I tried SUSE 8.1 and I can tell its installation of GRUB in the MBR was impressive 'cause everything could run fine.
Now with Debian is more difficult, perhaps I should try LILO even though I got trouble with the MBR using other linux distributions.
There's another way, luckly. I heard about GAG, a spanish boot manager which can handle up to 9 OS, it can boot logical partitions too. I gonna try that, I think.
Just a question: if I install GAG or another boot manager I need LILO or GRUB too?
just copy bootpart.exe it into your c: then run it there if necessary
ok when you do "root (hd0,9)" you see your debian partition type printed correctly right?
if that is the case then simply do
and it will install grub into MBR
but of course you gotta have grub config files in /boot/grub in your debian partition(or /boot partition)