I'm currently in the planning stages of releasing my computer from the clutches of factory-installed Windoze, while keeping data and legacy software.
Most of the advice I've read has concerned dual booting the NTFS-based Windoze (NT, 2k, XP) with Linux. In this case, I would
1. boot from a M$DOS floppy and use the freely available program boot.exe to copy the Win MBR to floppy
2. attempt the nondestructive partitioning of my hard drive
3. boot from a linux distribution CD, and install
4. at the appropriate point, make a linux boot floppy just in case
5. install lilo to the MBR, with /boot on its own partition
6. boot from a M$DOS floppy and copy the lilo MBR to a file
7. overwrite the MBR with the Windoze version previously stored, using boot.exe again
8. boot to Windoze, copy lilo.MBR to the C:\ directory and make boot.ini point to this file
Why would I want to boot using Windoze, rather than stick with lilo? Because partitioning my HD is likely to leave Windoze at the start of the drive and I'll probably leave most of my 60GB for Win. That means my linux boot partition will start at about 40GB or later - and there lies the problem: the MBR does not understand locations beyond the 8GB mark. So the obvious solution is to let Windoze manage the OS selection process rather than lilo.
Unhappily I haven't been able to find any info about making WinME dual boot into things other than WinXP and M$DOS. So my options are
A. always boot from floppy disk
B. boot into Windoze and use loadlin
neither of which is satisfactory.
So I guess my question is: is there any way of getting around the 8GB/1024 cylinder limit, or can I convince the M$DOS bootloader underlying WinME to load another OS?
My problem is not even solved if the partitioning process goes awry. I could repartition my HD and try to put /boot up front, but I suspect my factory-supplied WinME installation (image?) disk will brutally fdisk and plonk itself down at the start of the drive.