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Old 02-12-2009, 07:14 AM   #1
Robutux
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Install and boot from softRAID (nvidia nforce4)


Hi,

I would like to make a dual boot (triple, quad in the future maybe) windows xp, linux kubuntu. This is not a problem in itself but I don't have cd-rom so I'm trying to come up with some other method of booting and installing.

I read multiple tutorials, howtos and forum posts but so far nothing had worked for my particular system and I'm working on it almost 2 weeks now.

First I tried to boot from USB. I have MSI K8N SLI motherboard which recognizes my USB storage device and lets me choose it as a boot device but I'm unable to boot anyway. I used unetbotin to copy bootable iso image to USB stick but it still reports it isn't bootable (yes it has boot flag, I checked, and I was able to boot from it on another system)

Now I'm trying to repartition my disk so I can put the bootable iso on separate partition and boot from it that way. I created a 1GB FAT32 primary partition and used unetbootin to put the image there. Then I tried to boot it with my current bootloader on separate disk GRUB but it still is refusing to boot from it - I don't know if I used correct parameters, how do you boot a bootable partition from GRUB?

I'm thinking it could be because I have RAID turned on in BIOS (it is kind of software raid, not actual RAID controller - only multichannel SATA) but I don't want to turn it off because I want to use it and boot from this 'RAID' also to windows and linux.

So is here anybody familiar with how to partition and configure harddisks/bootloader so I can successfuly boot and install win and linux to my RAID array?

Essentially what I want to achieve is faster disk during boot and operation (RAID-0). And it has to be interoperable between windows and linux.

Thanks
 
Old 02-13-2009, 02:20 PM   #2
mostlyharmless
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The lack of a cdrom is going to make your life difficult. If nothing else, if something happens to your windows installation, how will you rescue/repair your system? Is it impossible to get a cheap cdrom drive installed in your hardware?

On another note, I agree with you, if you want to dual boot off of RAID-0, you are going to have to use your firmware RAID hardware. It can be tedious to get a dual boot RAID-0 setup properly, so you might want to think about alternatives. The speed enhancement may not be worth the hassle.

Quote:
Now I'm trying to repartition my disk so I can put the bootable iso on separate partition and boot from it that way. I created a 1GB FAT32 primary partition
You made the partition using Windows installed on a different disk on the same machine?

Quote:
how do you boot a bootable partition from GRUB?
Usually you just have a chainloader entry in your menu.lst, that's how Windows (or DOS) gets booted.

Quote:
First I tried to boot from USB. I have MSI K8N SLI motherboard which recognizes my USB storage device and lets me choose it as a boot device but I'm unable to boot anyway. I used unetbotin to copy bootable iso image to USB stick but it still reports it isn't bootable (yes it has boot flag, I checked, and I was able to boot from it on another system)
It is disturbing that your setup worked in another machine but not in this one; it would probably be a good idea to diagnose this problem before you lose access to your cdromless machine.
 
Old 02-16-2009, 09:12 AM   #3
Robutux
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mostlyharmless View Post
The lack of a cdrom is going to make your life difficult. If nothing else, if something happens to your windows installation, how will you rescue/repair your system? Is it impossible to get a cheap cdrom drive installed in your hardware?
If something happens to my current bootloader I'm in trouble
If that happened I can get my hands on cd-rom if necessary but there are other reasons I don't want to use it. I want to play a little with different distributions, boot configurations and so on and I really don't want to burn a cd every time I want to try another distro.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mostlyharmless View Post
On another note, I agree with you, if you want to dual boot off of RAID-0, you are going to have to use your firmware RAID hardware. It can be tedious to get a dual boot RAID-0 setup properly, so you might want to think about alternatives. The speed enhancement may not be worth the hassle.
I was thinking about this. One alternative I was considering is that I would turn off RAID in BIOS, used software raid in linux because as I read it can use paritions for RAID, no whole disk is necessary and screw windows If there are no similar windows drivers for software RAID it will be just slow. I don't plan to use it anyway, it's just a failsafe for applications I need to run but can't under linux.

But if I could make this work it would be much better, neater solution than to have different raid partitions under linux - that way I would also lose access to them in windows.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mostlyharmless View Post
You made the partition using Windows installed on a different disk on the same machine?

Usually you just have a chainloader entry in your menu.lst, that's how Windows (or DOS) gets booted.
I made the partitions using gentoo installation (I had a dualboot already, recently I broke windows partition because of some of my 'experiments' but I have it backed up so it's ok) and I used dmraid driver to detect my raid, then gparted to partition it. Then I used unetbootin to copy iso to that new partition and to make it bootable. Tried to boot using GRUB with same code as for windows only with approperiate changes to disk and partition like this:

Code:
title=Bootable partition
rootnoverify (hd1,2)
makeactive
chainloader +1
(hd1,2) is FAT32 second primary partition.

I also tried to use my raid disk in virtualbox for virtual machine and install windows that way and then boot from it. This worked half-way, bootloader seemed to work but windows crashed imediately and rebooted machine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mostlyharmless View Post
It is disturbing that your setup worked in another machine but not in this one; it would probably be a good idea to diagnose this problem before you lose access to your cdromless machine.
Yes it is disturbing ... but this is quite old mainboard so maybe it just has crappy support for USB booting. I was unable to find solution to this by googling so I've given up for now and trying different approaches first.
 
Old 02-17-2009, 09:44 AM   #4
mostlyharmless
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Quote:
But if I could make this work it would be much better, neater solution than to have different raid partitions under linux - that way I would also lose access to them in windows.
You could use colinux to access them from Windows. I think your idea to avoid dual booting raid 0 is a good one.
Quote:
(I had a dualboot already, recently I broke windows partition because of some of my 'experiments' but I have it backed up so it's ok) and I used dmraid driver to detect my raid, then gparted to partition it
Suspect you're right, your Windows/firmware raid didn't survive the operation in bootable form. I presume from your message that you were using a Windows driver for raid supporting your firmware nvidia.
Quote:
also tried to use my raid disk in virtualbox for virtual machine and install windows that way and then boot from it. This worked half-way, bootloader seemed to work but windows crashed imediately and rebooted machine.
I don't think you can use a Windows raid driver to your firmware in a VM; it's hard enough getting regular hd access to a partition to work.
Where do you want to go with this? You'll almost certainly need to be able to reinstall grub and have a separate bootable device to proceed with raid 0 dual booting.

Last edited by mostlyharmless; 02-17-2009 at 03:44 PM. Reason: clarification, question
 
Old 02-18-2009, 03:42 AM   #5
Robutux
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mostlyharmless View Post
You could use colinux to access them from Windows. I think your idea to avoid dual booting raid 0 is a good one.
I don't know, it would introduce another issues.

Quote:
Suspect you're right, your Windows/firmware raid didn't survive the operation in bootable form. I presume from your message that you were using a Windows driver for raid supporting your firmware nvidia.
I have a configuration like this:
One 250GB IDE HDD where my current system is residing including broken windows partition.
Two 650GB SATA HDDs wiped clean/ready for experimenting in nvidia RAID-0 array.

Right now I'm trying to boot from anywhere, get the installation to recognize RAID, install win and linux sucessfully and then be able to use them on the same RAID-0 array (whole 650GB disks in this array).

There is a driver for windows which I successfuly tested already (in my then working win install) There is also linux driver which is working (dmraid)

If I understand it correctly, this nvidia raid works by writing information about arrays to disk which is then read by software raid driver and software raid is made according to that information (This is only pseudo raid, it's really just a multichannel SATA controller with BOIS support to configure soft-raid - that pisses me off by the way )


Quote:
I don't think you can use a Windows raid driver to your firmware in a VM; it's hard enough getting regular hd access to a partition to work.
Where do you want to go with this? You'll almost certainly need to be able to reinstall grub and have a separate bootable device to proceed with raid 0 dual booting.
I mounted it using dmraid in linux and then mapped it to 'virtual' drive in virtualbox so dmriad is doing the actual raid stuff (in non VM machine). The machine in VM (or virtualbox itself) sees the disk as regular HDD already. The idea being that if I install an OS to it this way I would be able to boot - which is apparently not correct or I'm doing something wrong.

Yes, my plan right now is to try to boot from USB again and see if windows can detect the raid correcly. I'm having problem with booting windows from USB tough ... neverending chain of problems

Thanks for support, I'll get back with results if any ...

Last edited by Robutux; 02-18-2009 at 03:45 AM.
 
Old 02-18-2009, 09:49 AM   #6
mostlyharmless
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How did you install Windows in Virtualbox without a Windows CD? If you used a backup, which one? If it was dd, your problem may have been harddisk driver related. Your best shot at getting Virtualbox Windows or Windows dual booting to work is probably with access to a real of virtual version of the Windows install disk.

Here were my steps for dual raid 0 booting:

Install Windows, use driver for raid from the manufacturer's driver disk, and partitioning using Windows to leave room for Linux. Reboot to verify it works.

Install Linux, using dmraid support of the raid 0 firmware. This might take unusual steps such as booting from a live CD, and mounting the raid with dmraid manually before installing Linux, depends on how smart your installer is. Grub install is not recommended initially, though you can do it if you feel lucky. However, you should have grub in your distro with the menu.lst file already made, just don't install it to the MBR yet. grub-install is not necessarily your friend here.

Reboot to make sure Windows still boots, then reboot using a grub native install in a grub that supports dmraid. I can't remember if I had to patch grub for this or not, some distros have slightly different grub versions/patches. Install grub from grub> after verfiying that grub sees the raid0 set as one disk.

All the above works better if you can boot!

Last edited by mostlyharmless; 02-18-2009 at 10:37 AM. Reason: added info
 
Old 02-20-2009, 05:46 AM   #7
Robutux
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mostlyharmless View Post
How did you install Windows in Virtualbox without a Windows CD? If you used a backup, which one? If it was dd, your problem may have been harddisk driver related. Your best shot at getting Virtualbox Windows or Windows dual booting to work is probably with access to a real of virtual version of the Windows install disk.
I have an iso image of win install cd.
I also read somewhere that it's possible to have vdmk 'virtual' disk consisting of those two RAID disks so guest OS can see them exactly just like real OS would (except BIOS support) but I abandoned this approach for now.

Quote:
Here were my steps for dual raid 0 booting:

Install Windows, use driver for raid from the manufacturer's driver disk, and partitioning using Windows to leave room for Linux. Reboot to verify it works.

Install Linux, using dmraid support of the raid 0 firmware. This might take unusual steps such as booting from a live CD, and mounting the raid with dmraid manually before installing Linux, depends on how smart your installer is. Grub install is not recommended initially, though you can do it if you feel lucky. However, you should have grub in your distro with the menu.lst file already made, just don't install it to the MBR yet. grub-install is not necessarily your friend here.

Reboot to make sure Windows still boots, then reboot using a grub native install in a grub that supports dmraid. I can't remember if I had to patch grub for this or not, some distros have slightly different grub versions/patches. Install grub from grub> after verfiying that grub sees the raid0 set as one disk.

All the above works better if you can boot!
Thanks for this info I already managed to boot from my USB drive ... turns out it wasn't booting because linux version of unetbootin somehow screwed it (it wasn't booting in my other system too) when I created it in another PC in windows it worked just fine.

So I also abandoned the dual boot for now I can't do this for half a year.
I installed kubuntu from USB drive following instructions for dmraid here https://help.ubuntu.com/community/FakeRaidHowto

It worked! Hoooray ... well, until I decided to upgrade from intrepid to jaunty.
After the upgrade it hangs right at the start (after GRUB at usplash) and init (I presume) waits for drive (the raid one), times-out and falls back into shell (busybox or whatever it is). In this shell I can see dmriad and I can also run it and active raid successfully so I assume the problem is that it's not activated BEFORE it tries to detect it automatically. I don't know why this worked and is not working now ... at least if I knew how to resume boot after I activate raid drive manually. *sigh*

I also tried to reinstall dmraid after upgrade (remove it and then install again using LiveCD) with no success.

Edit: Ok, I probably found the bug causing this: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+s...id/+bug/315735. Testing now ...

Edit2: It's solved https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+question/61724

I haven't accomplished what I was hoping for (dual-boot) but I'll try again when I feel the need to have windows or have plenty of spare time

Thanks for support ...

Last edited by Robutux; 02-21-2009 at 06:38 AM.
 
  


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