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I have two hard disks on my computer. I have six different operating systems that I can boot up into. I have PC DOS 2000, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Red Hat 9, Red Hat 8 and Red Hat 7.3 on this computer. On my older computer I also have a similar setup which includes DOS 6.22, SuSE, Mandrake and Slackware. At one point I had FreeBSD istalled on it too, but not at the moment.
If I am not mistaken, most operating systems can only be booted from primary partitions. Please correct me if I am wrong in thinking that limitation also applies to Linux. It is not possible to create more than 4 primary partitions on each harddrive. If one of the primary partitions is replaced with and extended partition then logical partitions can be created within the extended partition. I placed DOS on my first primary partion, Win ME on my second, Win 2000 on my third. I have severeral other Ligical partitions on that harddrive for storing data for both Windows and Linux.
On my second hard drive I have 3 primary partions. I also created 1 extended partition and about 12 logical partitions within the extended partition. The three primary partions are only about 256 MB each and the /boot partiton for a different copy of Linux was placed on each. Just now I typed the df command and see that I only have 13 MB on the boot partiton for RH9 so 256 was probably much larger than necessary. I also created a / partition and a /usr partiton for each copy of Linux placed them on logical partitions. If you do not want to create a /boot partiton, just create a / partion and place it on the primary partiton instead. It would need to be a much larger partion however if you do that instead. Different people have different opinions on how best to partiton a harddrive.
I also created one partiton for storing stuff that is shared by all copies of Linux. I can access the same files from each copy of Linux as long as I made sure that I had the same user ID in each copy of LInux. When creating a user the user ID number can be specified. I probably should also have done that with my home directory.
The Red Hat 9 Installation Guide recommends that /boot not be placed beyond cylinder 1024. It also vaguely seems to say that on some computers the BIOS allows placing /boot beyond cylinder 1024. Creating 3 small partions at the beginning of the hard drive clearly does not violate that. The Red Hat Installation Guide also recommends that if two bootable harddrives are used they both be placed before the CD-ROM drive. In other words attach both harddrives to the first IDE cable as master and slave and put the CD-ROM(s) on the second IDE cable. Please let me know if there are other ways of doing this and if it is possible to boot Linux from a third harddrive. My computer has twice as many IDE channels and connectors as most do. I believe that Windows and DOS can only be booted from the first harddrive by the way.
I have also been thinking about using my third harddrives to boot from. I have 4 harddrives. However, the Red Hat 9 manual seems to suggest that I need to boot from one of the first two harddrives. It says that in a way that makes it unclear if that applies to all computers or not. I have already found that it is at least possible to access data from partitons on hde and hdg (my 3rd and 4th harddrives).
Here is one other comment I have to add. The swap partion can be on a logical partion created within the extended partion. It does not need to be a primary partition. I use the same swap partion for all versions of Linux. During installation each wants to reformat and use the swap partion. I always let them reformat the swap partion and it has always worked out ok. For each operating system that I use, I provide it with just one primary partition and as many logical partions as desired. If that can be done differently let me know!
Great, then I could try out another Linux distro without needing anymore primary partitions. I will give that a try sometime, thanks for the info! Do you know if FreeBSD or any other operating system allow booting from a logical partition? I know some operating systems such as Win NT 4.0 and DOS have very specific limiations that go beyond what I have described in where they can boot from.
I should add that I currently use System Commander as my bootloader. I have both System Commander and Partion Magic. System Commander recommeded that when installing Linux I have LILO place the bootcode on the rootsector of the boot partion so that the System Commander mbr will not be overwritten. So I ended up with the bootcode or whatever you call it installed on the /boot partition. With Red Hat 9 I have it on hdb1. Could I just place that bootcode or whatever it is called on a loical partion or should I do that detail different? I realize you are not using System Commander as your bootloader.
Distribution: RH 6.2, Gen2, Knoppix,arch, bodhi, studio, suse, mint
i always install lilo in the root partition and use another
bootloader to start it there.
my main linux is in hda5 with lilo in hda5, by the way.
it wasn't long ago that lilo wouldn't boot past the
1023 cylinder, but now it does, so that doesn't matter.
the bsd's have to be in a primary, the selfish bastards.
in mid 2000 i had 2 drives set up with 25 partitions on
each and about 40 of those were different versions of
linux. i couldn't keep up with all that, and whenever
i started moving stuff around, i'd have to go set up all
the bootloaders again. it wore me out, and i got tired
There is also another alternaltive way of doing all this. It allows the running of several operating sytems simultaneously instead of just choosing between them. That method requires VMware is fairly expensive at about $300. With VMware you boot up one operating system as the host operating system and from within it you boot up one or more guest operating systems. I took a college class last semester where we each had a computer setup like that. We would boot-up Win XP and from within XP we would have VMware bootup Red Hat 7.3 or Win 2000.
I do not use that at home though. There is also a version of VMware which uses Linux as the host and other verions of Linux or Windows can be installed as guests. The Linux version of VMware does not yet support Red Hat 9 unfortunately. With VMware each operating system can have its own usable IP address. In the class that allowed up to practice setting up a network between each OS just as if they were on seperate computers. VMware is probably too expensive for most people, but it is an interesting alternative.
Distribution: RH 6.2, Gen2, Knoppix,arch, bodhi, studio, suse, mint
win4lin and bochs. i have a couple of vmware images
of OS's on my drive, that i guess i could set the date
back on my computer for, if i wanted to boot them.
the same is true for win4lin i guess too.
bochs i never could get to boot right.
win4lin is the fastest at windows