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Old 11-07-2005, 02:47 PM   #1
Registered: Sep 2005
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hi all,

my system is set up as follows:

hda1: winxp

hda1: win98 (takes up ~9 gig, with ~23 gig left over)

what i want to do is partition HDB with swap, / and /home and make all three OSes bootable.

i think i'm square on the partitioning aspects - though i did read somewhere all bootable partitions need to be in the first 8gb of the drive. HDB is ~5 or 6 years old and was installed to my newer computer when the old one fried. is this an issue - do i need to reduce the future win98 partition below 8gb?

i would like to make a winxp boot disk, just in case something happens and i can 't boot - but i don't have a floppy drive. i tried to create a cd version last night, but when i did it, it didn't boot. the error was something like "data i/o problem".

does anyone have cookbook style instructions to make a cd boot disk that will boot xp? i'm using a free windows cd burner program - i can't recall the name right now. what details are critical to getting this done - i'm new to doing this multi-boot thing.

boot loader - what is the deal here? i've read a little about setting it up in mbr or setting it up on the linux partition... is there a way to set it up on the linux partition and boot linux from a cd instead of a floppy?

what files should i back up in case i blow my system?

i looked at this...

but i'm not sure it applies if someone only has a cdrom - especially creating a boot cd and backing up files to cd.

i also couldn't find bootsect.dos on my winxp box - is it a win98 file?

what about doing a bootable backup via usb drive?

or usb floppy? will my bios let me boot from a usb floppy before going to the c: drive?

my main issues are lack of floppy and wanting to be prepared if something breaks.

i appreciate the help.

Old 11-08-2005, 03:38 AM   #2
Registered: Oct 2005
Location: Oxford, UK
Distribution: Debian Etch (w/ dual-boot XP for gaming)
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With regards to creating a boot CD... if you can get an image of a boot floppy, you should be OK. Floppy images can be burnt to CD just like any other images and, asides from wasting 698 MB or so, should function exactly the same. After all, they're just a sequence of bits that point to each other. I know this can be done with Tom's Root Boot, and see no reason (though I haven't tested personally) why any bootable floppy image can't be burnt onto CD.

Of course, you'd need it in a format that your software recognised as an image, and more importantly let you burn onto CD (none of these helpful "but this is a floppy image" checks, please!).

As for bootable partitions having to live below 8Gb, this used to be an issue, but as is always the way with these things, technology advances and suddenly it's not a problem any more. I know specifically that GRUB has no problems with booting from anywhere off the disk. LILO too can do this (using LBA32). I'm not sure about NTLDR (Microsoft's offering), but I'd be surprised if it didn't use int13 extensions to be able to do the same thing. Wait, scrub that, I wouldn't be surprised... but you get my point.

(Then of course, floppy drives are only about 4 these days (in the UK at least) - or about 4 less if you salvage them from an old PC. I know it's not quite the hacker way of doing things, and finding ways around problems is great; but if it comes down to potentially losing all your data, it might be better safe than sorry. )
Old 11-08-2005, 04:38 AM   #3
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Basically as above.
Forget the 8Gig issue unless you are on an old BIOS, and old bootloader - XP loader is *not*old in this regard.
Only you can determine if your BIOS will boot ausb - can be made to work with Linux, but a bit of work I gather. Never tried it.

If you have an XP CD you already have a recovery disk. If not, talk to M$.
Linux distro install CDs usually have the same funtionality - wouldn't know about LFS though, never tried it.

If you are currently dual-booting XP and Win98 from the XP loader, your best bet might be to install Linux to the boot record of the second disk, and just change the boot disk in the BIOS when you want to flip-flop. Once you get this working you can then boot both the Windows systems from Linux, and never have to flip-flop at all. That way you leave the XP system (and disk) pristine and untouched.
Old 11-08-2005, 12:38 PM   #4
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dtsazza and syg00,

come to think of it, i do have a floppy drive i shoul dbe able to use - although it might look bugly... not that my emachines is winning any beauty pageants as is! -lol-

i'm function before form, so that isn't a big deal - i think i'll go that route.

i like the idea of leaving hda1 alone, i will set it up so hda1's boot.ini can boot both win98 and xp, install linux and then update the boot record in on hdb.

i'm assuming updating the boot record means editing boot.ini. is this correct, or is ther emore to it?

also, does this mean i have no need for grub or lilo since the windows boot.ini handles what boots (and the bios change, of course)?

thanks for the good advice.

ps - if i were to do this with winxp as hda and linux only as hdb, then i could still use the bios to choose the boot drive and install grub on hdb, right?

grub would then be able to get me to either linux or winxp, right?

thanks again...
Old 11-08-2005, 07:36 PM   #5
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does anyone have cookbook style instructions to make a cd boot disk that will boot xp?
I like this.
To create a CD you would need to burn the floppy as the boot image.
Old 11-08-2005, 08:01 PM   #6
Registered: Oct 2005
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Hold it, this seems like it's getting WAY too complicated for what you want to do with your machine.

Once you install Linux, when it installs the bootloader, It will usually A) ask you if there are any other operating systems you would like to boot, or B) detect them automatically.

The easiest way is to let the linux bootloader (LILO or GRUB) to handle everything, they do quite a good job of it.

Just make sure you install the linux bootloader in the MBR of the main bootable drive (usually hda) this will overwrite the XP bootloader, but that is easily recoverable from the XP install disc under recovery and running the command fixmbr if you decide not to use linux anymore.

There are ways to let the windows bootloader to allow you to boot linux, but it's more difficult(microsoft doesn't make it easy for you to do something if they don't want you to do it) and I prefer the sexy LILO anyway.
Old 11-08-2005, 08:50 PM   #7
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There's no need to modify your xp hard drive. You can install grub to hda1 without modifying the mbr or anything. Go to (can't make that a link because I'm a new user) and follow the instructions to install Ruymbeke's grub. You can delete the folders with the Knoppix kernels. Then install linux on your other drive, but install the bootloader to the partition (not MBR). Go back to windows, and edit C:\Boot\Grub\Menu.lst in notepad. Add this to the file.

title Default Boot on HD 1,0
rootnoverify (hd1,0)
chainloader +1

(hd1,0) is grub notation for second hard drive, first partition (hdb1). If you've installed grub correctly, when you reboot you will see a menu: Windows XP, or Start Grub. Choose Start Grub, then Default Boot on HD 1,0 from the grub menu. Now you should see the bootloader you installed to hdb1. Later you can edit menu.lst again to boot straight from hdb1 instead of launching another bootloader, but I won't explain that here.
Old 11-08-2005, 10:15 PM   #8
Registered: Oct 2005
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But how easy is that to reverse back to the original XP bootloader? you would have to do the fixmbr command anyway, so why not just let the linux distro install the bootloader in the MBR and then he doesn't have to fudge around with modifying files in windows?
Old 11-09-2005, 10:19 AM   #9
Registered: Sep 2005
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Originally posted by 2damncommon
I like this.
To create a CD you would need to burn the floppy as the boot image.
thanks! this will come in handy since my box won't boot anymore! -lol-

i tried to shrink my E: fat32 partition using qtparted... i received the following error:

"An error happen during ped_file_system_open call"

i googled and found that "scandisk /autofix" on drive e should fix the problem.

i went start -> run -> cmd -> e: -> type "scandisk /sutofix", but scandisk wasn't recognized.

iow, i don't know how to run scandisk on drive e: (from the dos prompt).

i did run winxp's error checking program, but that did not resolve this issue.

then, i thought, why not set up computer to load win98... i went to the bios and switched the boot order of the HDs... it flashed a screen that said something about "E:..." and then booted winxp.

boot.ini time... so i adjust boot.ini to look like the example in the pdf link i posted above after making a copy of it...

winxp couldn't boot.

i loaded a live cd as root - but i forgot that linux can't, or doesn't always, write to an ntfs file system - so i'm stuck needing to boot into winxp with a boot cd.

i do have a floppy drive, but i only have two drive slots and both are taken. i have another slot that is filled with usb port and various digital media ports... i rarely use it, but will probably leave it in place. anyway, cds are cheap.

once i get my boot.ini copy back in place, i'll give it another try.


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