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Old 02-25-2006, 11:10 AM   #1
Andrew Chapman
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Dual-boot with BIOS?

Have a new Windows PC with a SATA hard drive. Have been trying out SUSE 10.0 on with a live DVD and like it a lot. Like the idea of installing it on an identical second SATA drive. Could I do the following:

1) Physically remove Windows drive and replace it with new drive.

2) Install SUSE on it.

3) Replace Windows drive.

4) Go into BIOS set-up and change boot device priority whenever I want to use Windows (or vice versa).

No Grub or LILO. Really simple and could be sure that any problems I might have with Windows are nothing to do with Linux. Also might be fun to do some comparisons. Tried Googling to see if this was possible and if anybody did this and found the following on Ubuntu Forums:

[QUOTE]You can add your own internal HD, disconnect their HD while you install Ubuntu. WHen you're finished, reconnect their HD as master, then use the BIOS to boot into your HD. You disconnect their drive so that GRUB doesn't get installed on their drive. When you need to boot into Ubuntu first go into the BIOS and set the boot priority to your HD.

which I think may be the same idea. Sorry if this is mad or whatever.
Old 02-25-2006, 11:18 AM   #2
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This being linux there are always different ways of doing things, what you say is perfectly possible, but grub / lilo are there to make life easy for you.
From your post:
1) Fine
2) Fine
3) Fine, but put it as the slave, no need to mess with cables any more.
4) Boot to linux. Tell lilo / grub about your windows drive, and next time you reboot, you'll be offered the option of windows.

You'll probalby get lots of other posts telling you to try something else, remember, this is linux - you can do as you please.

Old 02-25-2006, 01:52 PM   #3
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Lots of people apparently do this.
No need to remove drives or swap cables or whatever. Merely install Linux to the secondary drive, and install the loader to the MBR of that drive.

Flip-flop in the BIOS.
Unnecessarily messy, but do-able.

And yes, you will be installing a bootloader whether you like it or not - the boot sequence requires code in the MBR of the disk the BIOS attempts to boot.
Old 02-26-2006, 08:12 AM   #4
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To counterbalance (a bit) what has been said: yeah, sure, go ahead. As I see it, the only problem with your approach is that it takes time twiddling the BIOS every time you want to boot the other OS, and most people (myself included before I went 100% GNU/Linux) think that's a waste of time.

However, that's all that it is: a waste of time. It's not a security problem or anything, just a waste of your time. But if that's what you want, go ahead--you're not being dumb, just strange

hth --Jonas
Old 02-26-2006, 10:40 AM   #5
Andrew Chapman
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Thanks. Tredegar said to put Windows drive as the slave, but I've read several times that there is no longer a master/slave distinction with SATA drives. I guess there's an order of priority with the SATA connectors on the motherboard - there's four of them which I believe is normal, and I have seen them called SATA-1, SATA-2 etc, and presumably the current drive is in SATA-1 - so perhaps you are saying to use that connector for the Linux drive. Could you clarify that point, please.

To check I have understood - Tredegar's is saying that I do need to use Lilo/Grub but I can have it on the Linux drive only. I tell it about the Windows drive and it will give me the option of booting to Windows. In which case no need to flip-flop in the BIOS. That would be ideal, I think. My experience with Windows is that it gets upset and confused when it has any contact with other software. Which is why I don't want to touch the Windows drive if possible. Even if I convinced myself that there was no risk of affecting Windows, I think it could be used as an excuse by the supplier if anything goes wrong with it. There's something in the manual (it's a Media Centre PC so it's presented like an entertainment product) about not using partition or disk management software. I do realise it is my PC but it is still largely a black box to me - I would like that to change, which is one of my main reasons for wanting to migrate to Linux, but it will take a while.

Thanks again for your help.
Old 02-26-2006, 11:18 AM   #6
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I haven't used SATA, so I cannot help you here. You'll just have to give it a go!

Thinking about the implications of having a "Media Centre PC", whatever that is, I think that the safest way to go is what I said in my first post to you.

If you need help getting SUSE's bootloader to load win, when you have plugged your win drive back in, I'm sure you'll get help here, but life will be easiest if SUSE and grub / lilo are on the SATA equivalent of your "Primary hard disk", which I'd guess is the first SATA connector you have, which is where your win disk is. Then when SUSE is installed, with its bootloader on the MBR, plug in windows on the 2nd SATA (or 3rd? - anyone know?). This way you cannot kill your win disk (well, it'd be quite difficult!), and you can always swap back if you panic.

Hey, it's scary the first time, and I'll admit that I started it was with removable disk caddies that I had to swap between reboots, but I got braver as time went by & I understood better what was going on. Soon I was dual-, then triple-booting, then linux only, now having a ton of fun with networking. So my advice is not to panic and go for it!


Last edited by tredegar; 02-26-2006 at 11:22 AM.


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