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it means that a pointer will be written to the MBR saying that the bootloader is on the floppy
If you are talking about the 'floppy' option found when the bootloader is installed to the hard drive, I think this is something different. I think the floppy will be booted from directly. If your are correct, then that would defeat the purpose of having a floppy in the first place. Why would you want one, other than for: a)not messing with the Windows bootloader, and b)having a boot disk around in case you can't boot normally ?
Even if the kernel can't fit on a floppy, the bootloader can:
tiny bootloader first stage (on floppy or MBR) -> small bootloader second stage (on hd or floppy) -> Linux kernel (on hd)
It is quite possible to boot from a floppy irregardless of what's on the MBR (just look at all the bootdisks). You can have the teeny first-stage only on the floppy, and it can load stuff from the hd, bypassing the MBR. Or you can have both stages on the floppy, and they load the kernel kernel form the hd. Both of these configurations bypass the MBR and load linux.
So I still don't see why a bootfloppy is not feasible. Anyways, it appears that the bootloader is not the problem. See my first post.
The only way to keep your Linux and Windows completely safe from each other is to put them on separate boxes and network them together.
Unless really motivated cross-platform malware can jump from my installed drive across my desk and into the drawer with my other drives, I think not.
Seriously, swap racks are a breeze to use to the point where I consider NOT having all drives in them to be a handicap. We don't seal our CD-drives shut with a screw between CDs, why permanently attach the most important disk?
They let a person with a single computer segregate a drive they may absolutely have to have operational (for schoolwork, whatever) from any experimental or hobby drives.
They avoid configuration hassles, bootloader problems,etc.
They avoid losing data should you have partition problems with your 'nix install.
They let you easily swap other drives for troubleshooting, file copying, dd'ing, Ghosting, etc.
They are a terrific tool for folks on a budget.
Back in 1999 when I was a noobly poor G.I. stationed at lovely Kunsan AB, ROK, with my 400idx emachine, I couldn't risk jeopardising commo to home by hosing my Windows drive.
A couple of Vipower VP-10K racks (still in use) and a scrounged hard drive later, I was good to go.
Now, I have racks in every box. Even my Freesco router boots from CF card in a PC Engines IDE adapter residing in a swap rack! (Makes it easy to toss in another PC for Ghosting the CF card to a bootable restore CD for convenient cloning.)
Swap racks let this one-time newb conveniently learn Linux, thus I cheerfully pimp them.
aaa, it almost seems you're purposely misunderstanding me.
There are two kinds of "boot floppies". Mandrake's boot floppy utility will fail to make one kind-- the traditional kind, which puts the entire kernel on the floppy disk-- because the kernel is too big to fit on the disk. That is what I meant by "it won't work"; the floppy will fail to be created, which has to count as "not working". The fact that it won't work in this manner is why Mandrake suggests making an alternative-- the second kind of boot floppy, the one which only puts the bootloader on the diskette.
However, the "put the bootloader on the diskette" kind of bootfloppy is made in bootloader (LiLO) setup (or manually), and is not the kind made if you say "create a boot floppy for me, Mandrake" using the clearly marked "make a boot floppy" button either in setup or in the MCC. Using the "make a boot floppy" button will not work, because the utility to perform this action does not work, because the kernel is too big (or floppies are too small) to accept it along with the necessary initrd.
I think the floppy will be booted from directly. If your are correct, then that would defeat the purpose of having a floppy in the first place. Why would you want one, other than for: a)not messing with the Windows bootloader, and b)having a boot disk around in case you can't boot normally ?
This is sort of my point. First of all, Mandrake considers itself more than competent to mess with the Windows bootloader, thus will always do so, in my experience, although this may be a LiLO issue, as I have installed two other distros with LiLO which didn't even install LiLO correctly if I did not put LiLO on the MBR (both Slackware and Debian Sid/Morphix did not install LiLO correctly or at all when I told it to install to the root partition of the distro).
There is a drop-down menu in the installer's LiLO config screen which should allow you to choose the floppy as the "boot device".... but there is no additional note saying that if you choose it, you must set your BIOS to boot from floppy. Nor is there such a note in the Errata. If Mandrake is assuming that you don't need to know about this (and given Mandrake's target audience, I can see why they might assume this, given that Mandrake doesn't expect their target market to know what the BIOS is and how to access it, and probably expects them to be alarmed by messing with it), then that's likely because you don't have to change your BIOS settings, and if you don't have to change your BIOS settings, it's because Mandrake is still writing to the MBR and telling it that the second stage bootloader is on the floppy rather than on /dev/hd*. This is of course not what is wanted in this situation (since the Windows bootloader is still being overwritten), but is most likely what is going to happen nonetheless.
Now, I'm not going to reinstall Mandrake 9.2, or install 10.0 CE to test this, having just got Gentoo working perfectly (not to mention having finally gotten from a multi-boot of five distros to only one), but this is absolutely consistent with Mandrake behaviour as I am familiar with it. Mandrake is almost arrogant with respect to LiLO. This is also one of the areas in which I do not trust Mandrake, because in my experience it is one of the areas in which their installer is going to do what it considers best, not neccesarily what you think you told it to do, or what you expect the command you gave it to do. Besides, Mandrake is not the most flexible distro I've ever seen, and does not always work well if you try to do something in a way that is not the way that they have planned, even if the option is available.
What is the point of having a boot floppy? So far as Mandrake is concerned, there is none, imo. Not mess with the Windows bootloader? As I said, Mandrake is sure of itself in this respect, and pretty much ignores a new user's lack of confidence in the distro's generally exceptional functionality. Not being able to boot normally? You have CD 1, don't you? It's a rescue disk, so you really have no need for a floppy as well.
So what do you need a floppy for? Heck, Mandrake will hardly install/run on hardware old enough to need a floppy to boot from (a PC which cannot boot from CD), and many new machines don't even come with a floppy drive, or people removed them. So yes, what do you need a floppy for? LiLO as installed by Mandrake has always worked perfectly for me to load Windows when Windows was selected, the Mandrake LiLO graphic looks way better than the Windows bootloader graphic, and my impression is that Mandrake feels that is sufficient and has no concern over a new user's alarm at seeing the menu look different than normal, as long as it works, which is why they seem to have set up LiLO to be almost as aggressive as the Windows bootloader itself.
And of course this is all assuming that Mandrake 10 is not broken, which we cannot assume atm, so heaven only knows what LiLO setup will do if you try to do something other than install it to the MBR, which is both the expected and preferred option (thus least likely to be broken, if anything is).
Farnall, are you talking about 19" rack mounts? In any case, that's the only thing I see on my online shopping sites that might come under the heading of "a couple of IDE swap racks".
Oh, I see, you're talking about removeable drive brackets, which are now apparently called mobile racks in some circles (I looked up the VPower rack in Google) .
OK, those are cheap, and I can see how they'd be a good alternative. Myself (the old-fashioned one, remember), I'd rather have a second box on the floor rather than having to deal with a "loose" HDD that I have to protect from magetism and whatever, not to mention also keep track of. But then again, I have the freedom to have more than one PC for myself, don't share with anyone and need to mount shared partitions which are on the Windows drive alongside the OS. So for me it's easier to simply pull the current Windows drive, throw it in another box, hook the new box to the network and mount the FAT32 partition from Samba. It also means that if I want to boot into Windows quickly,, briefly, and easily, I can just turn my chair (if the Windows box has a monitor et al attached), or turn the KVM switch (if it doesn't) to display Windows, and take a Morrowind break, rather than having to reboot/shut down, pull the Linux drive, and insert the Windows drive, which seems to me even more trouble than dual-booting.
But for those who don't have such freedom, certainly a removeable drive tray is a viable option, and possibly preferable to a second box, assuming that the owner of the original box doesn't mind having their drive put in a tray as well (since the whole bootloader issue becomes problematic again if the Windows drive and the Linux drive are not both removeable/switchable, or so it seems to me).
But it all depends on one's situation, of course, and I say my point still stands, as swapping drives is essentially a second box (albeit a much smaller one). One way or another, one has to have an additonal box in order to stop dual booting, and no matter whether it's a second full PC, or a drive swap mechanism, there are going to be some new users (possibly many) who aren't going to be able to create one or will be alarmed by the effort to create one, and for those people, dual-booting from one or more drives permanently connected inside a single box is the only option. The very fact that most distros use LiLO to automatically set up a dual-boot tends to confirm the idea that most new users will be dual-booting, at least until they find their feet enough to start looking for other options.
So, give the new kids on the block a break, is all . The whole point of dual-booting is to enable people who may not have even ever opened their case (due to warranty) to try Linux and learn about it without having to fear losing what they're currently familiar with, without any additional monetary outlay (for hdds or mobile racks, or a new box). Making mistakes and fixing them is also a necessary part of the learning process, and actually will serve such users in good stead (even if the result is that they decide they can't/don't want to learn and go back to using Windows exclusively).
But it's also good for such users to know that there are inexpensive alternatives to dual-booting, even if those solutions may be technologically complex, so good that you mentioned.
What is the point of having a boot floppy? So far as Mandrake is concerned, there is none, imo.
That is a dumb thing to do on Mandrake's part. Anyways, the Windows bootloader can be easily restore without reinstalltion with the 'fixmbr' and 'fixboot' commands from the XP cd. But I don't think the problem was with the bootloader, but with partitioning:
from first post
NTLDR IS MISSING
This is an error message from the Windows bootloader. This means it's being loaded, but then stops suddenly. Windows often complains about not finding certain files when it's looking a the wrong partition.
Actually, I have few complaints about that one; it turns out that in actual practice, I don't need the boot floppies I have made, as some combination of CD 1 (rescue disk), any Live CD, the Win 2000 CD and/or the Partition Magic and Boot Magic rescue floppies solve any problem that I've come up against.
But I will say that that's why I can never give my computing "heart" to Mandrake, despite my admiration of their achievement-- they seem to put a lot of effort into making what is on the whole a really great distro.... and then suddenly they do something "stupid", just about the time you're getting comfortable and starting to think that you might get a handle on this whole Linux thing.
Worse yet, the "stupid" thing (whatever it may be in any given revision or upgrade, but there's always something) will like as not hose the whole system.
I agree with you, though-- the original issue most likely was a partitioning problem, or possibly an error in LiLO setup that was over-reacted to. Reinstalling Windows was probably unnecessary, and unless rApT0r deleted the Mandrake partitions, Mandrake only needs to have LiLO repaired to be accessible again, which can be done by the Rescue Disk (Mandrake CD 1). Mandrake CD 1 can even restore the Windows bootloader. So it kind of is a tempest in a teapot, but a year ago I might not have realized that either.
You live, and keep at it, and you learn. Hopefully rApT0r will be back soon and we'll find out what happened.