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My multy boot with Windows 7 rant

Posted 02-07-2010 at 04:36 PM by AGer

Is there any easy way to multy boot with Windows 7? No. The BCD -> LILO -> GRUB sequence looks like the only possible way out.

I need BCD since there are reported incidents when Windows 7 update process corrupts non-Windows boot loaders. More so, I have seen a Windows only multy boot system killed by it. It was a system where neither XP nor Win7 were installed on the first drive, so it should not be typical. Thus, it is safer not to mess up with Windows and keep the BCD.

I need GRUB since most of the time I have a Linux partition with a distro I just like to look at. I guess "look at" is the most accurate wording compared to "test", "evaluate", "learn", whatever. Since most of the distros use GRUB, it must be GRUB. Even with Slackware it is nice to use GRUB, provided it works, since it eliminates 50% of the kernel update effort - mkinitrd stays, but lilo goes away.

If I install GRUB to (hd2), copy the /dev/sdc boot sector to a file, and add a BCD entry to run it as BOOTSECTOR, it MUST work. Unfortunately, it does not, presumably because the BOOTSECTOR application assumes that the boot sector in a file is a boot sector from the same primary drive.

Thus, I need LILO to be installed to, say, /dev/sdc6 with the only "other" menu entry that boots GRUB from /dev/sdc.

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  1. Old Comment
    I was so upset with the findings that forgot to mention a couple of details.

    First, GRUB is the only way to go with BCD since it does not require copying of the boot sector to a file each time something - the kernel or the menu - changes.

    Second, the LILO step is not necessary if grub looks for its stages at the correct place regardless of how the change loader presents the disks. And GRUB actually does so, provided you do everything correctly.

    Unfortunately, grub does not use the correct way any program should run - this is the data, that is the result. In particular, LILO has the configuration file and if I run LILO I can review what was done later. With GRUB all I have is the "grub>" prompt. Thus, nothing is documented, presumably to make it harder to proof GRUB is always alpha, as if the explanations why GRUB 2 is necessary are not enough.

    What I guess I observed, no proof left as explained above, is that the "setup" command works correctly if I specify both the install and image drives but does not work with BCD if I use the "root" command to set the default.

    Interestingly enough, GRUB docs complain that some BIOSes do not provide the correct environment for GRUB and the "d" option of "install" should be specified anyway. This issues the questions:

    - How come BIOS should know/care about GRUB?
    - Why not to make the option that never hurts the default?
    - Do GRUB developers remember there may be a chain loaded or do they think they are Microsoft too?

    The positive finding is that 3 hard drives are sufficient to play the "Linux and Windows" game: one for Windows, one for Linux, and the third one to figure out how exactly GRUB works.
    Posted 02-14-2010 at 07:16 AM by AGer AGer is offline


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