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engcheng_sg 02-09-2006 08:22 AM

how to multiboot through GRUB using many ISOs
Hi all.

I've this wild thought which I'm not too sure if its possible. Hereby sharing with you for a second option or perhaps, a laugh.

There are many live CDs distros on the web which some are focused on multimedia, some desktop while some are meant for PenTest. Harddisk space is cheap and I have abundance of them. The question is, how can I configured GRUB to boot from these ISO files which are stored on the harddisk?

For example, on the GRUB menu:


Then according to the selection, 1 goes to boot a multimedia focused distro's iso, 2 boots a desktop iso, so on so forth.

Any advise? Thanks

qanopus 02-09-2006 10:00 AM

dude, there is no way in hell you can boot from an iso image... would be nice though.

darinbolson 02-09-2006 04:47 PM

While this does NOT allow you to boot from an iso on your hard disk, it might offer you "kinda" what you are looking for:

The following was found at

Besides bridging to network adapters, CD-ROM readers, hard disk drives, and USB devices, VMware Workstation also provides the ability to simulate some hardware. For example, an ISO file can be mounted as a CDROM, .vmdk files can be mounted as hard disks, and the network adapter driver can be configured to use network address translation through the host machine rather than bridging through it (which would require an IP address for each guest OS on the host network).

VMware Workstation also allows LiveCDs to be tested without first burning them onto physical discs or rebooting the computer.

engcheng_sg 02-10-2006 05:16 AM

Hi guys,

Thanks for your help.

darinbolson: I've ran VMware workstation for quite some time and is certainly deeply awed by its features and capabilities. However, I don't like the idea of running a guest OS underneath the actual OS which I'm keen to run. There's sort of performance issues. But thanks for the suggesting anyway. :)

schatoor: Can I find out from you why its not possible? Thought its simply to 'bluff' the GRUB to read the ISO as a CDROM disk? Do you know of anyone that's keen to explore this implementation via code writing? :p This may potentially turn any Linux box into a highly versatile machine and increase the adoption of Open-source. Just my 2cents thoughts :twocents:

Wishing all a great weekend ahead.

qanopus 02-10-2006 06:33 PM

Hi again,

I don't think something like that can ever work. I know grub can load files from the hard drive in to the memory, but these are small files, maybe a few times 10 kB... not an ISO image of 700 MB.
Suppose I point grub to an ISO image and it extracts the boot sector from that ISO file and loads it in to the memory. What then? How will the boot loader from the ISO image load the kernel? And how will it get the rest of the critical software from the ISO image in to the memory?
The only way I can think of to make something like that work, is to make an boot loader your self, that is sophisticated enough to mount the ISO image an an loop back device of some kind. I have no idea if that could work though. But I know this, grub will not be able to do it.

Cheers dude, and have a nice weekend your self :)

mjolnir 02-11-2006 06:17 AM

Here is a link to some info that may help.

qanopus 02-11-2006 06:30 AM

Wow!!! cool. Guess I was wrong. Thanks mjolnir!

mjolnir 02-12-2006 05:12 AM

No problem schatoor. It is a pretty cool strategy. For awhile I was booting Knoppix 3.7 from XP using grub and an entry in boot.ini using the method developed in that forum.

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