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Old 06-08-2004, 12:04 AM   #1
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Registered: Jun 2004
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Dual-booting SUSE 9.1 on Win 98se machine

After 20 years with Microsoft products, I'm desperately keen to go Open Source.

I bought SUSE 9.1 because it looked the best for my needs - web programming using Apache, PHP and MySQL - and the easiest to install.

Now I'm not so sure.

The SUSE Professional User Guide doesn't explain how to dual boot safely - at least, not in enough detail to give me the confidence to start.

I've read on these forums the problems people have had trying to access Windows after attemtping a dual-boot installation.

I'm using a spare machine that's now running Windows 98SE:

AMD Athlon 1 Gh chip
20 GB hard drive showing 4.83 GB used and 14.2 GB free space

Is it safe for me to proceed using the SUSE 9.1 Pro Quick Installation and be sure that I can still access Windows 98SE on the machine after installation?

Has anyone else done this successfully?

I'm close to putting SUSE 9.1 in its box on the shelf and waiting a while longer for a Linux distro that's truly user friendly to the many Windows people like me who are more than willing to go Open Source.

Any advice would be appreciated.
Old 06-08-2004, 04:34 AM   #2
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Registered: Aug 2003
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I'm running a dual-boot win/linux right now, and have been for a long time. I almost never use windoze, though, except for one purpose - transferring files to/from my mp3-player that hasn't yet started working in linux (working on it)...anyway, I've had several distros and all they have worked nicely with dual-boot...there is a simple receipt to follow in order to get the dual-boot without problems:

1) windows must be installed first
2) make linux partitions: boot, root and swap
3) install linux so that the bootloader (lilo, grub) gets installed into /boot _partition_ and NOT in the MBR. installing to MBR means quite often that you'll encounter problems sooner or later with windows's loading
4) after installation, everything should work all right

and if you encounter problems like re-installing either linux or windows, installing the bootloader into it's own partition saves you. the magic is this: when you install windows, /dev/hda1 is the active partition that's being booted. now when you make your linux partitions, make hda1 _unactive_ and then make the _boot partition active_ - this way your bootloader gets booted and it handles the rest. if you need to reinstall windows, just switch the active partition back to hda1 (win installation) and windows thinks it's the only OS and won't destroy your linux, nor itself. after reinstallation, switch the active partition back to your linux bootloader, and everything works...

nowadays installing the boot-thingie into MBR might work too, but I never trust that. I've screwed up too many installations by doing that - they worked either two seconds or two months, but at the end didn't work at all and I had to reinstall _everything_ - so that's why making the bootpartition active is a wise thing and leaving MBR as it is is too...let windoze keep MBR, if it wants, to keep it "safe" from itself.

I think you're safe to install your SuSe...I haven't used SuSe myself, but as I've used many other distros (several RedHats, Gentoo, Arch, Vector etc.) I guess I can say you don't have anything to fear....

the only "dangerous" thing about dual-boot is that if windows gets to overwrite your linux bootloader, chances are neither of the OSes work, or if you overwrite MBR where win resides, win gets screwed. avoid these mistakes, and you're fine

EDIT: oh, forgot to mention - my windoze is too Win98SE that came with this pc

Last edited by b0uncer; 06-08-2004 at 04:37 AM.
Old 06-09-2004, 11:34 PM   #3
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Registered: Jun 2004
Location: PA
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If you wont miss anything, I'd recommend formatting the hard drive first and setting up the partitions, then reinstalling windows and continuing with your Suse installation. I've done this multiple times, and never had any problems. However, I've never tried partitioning with trying to keep the current install of windows on there, so I'm not sure how well that would work.

Good luck! I think Suse 9.1 is definitely worth your time!
Old 06-10-2004, 04:28 AM   #4
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Registered: Sep 2003
Location: The Netherlands
Distribution: Gentoo (main); SuSE 9.3 (fallback)
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Dual-booting is generally safe. Most errors are a question of accessibility rather than actual damage to the Windows system (Windows is fine, but you can't access it), unless the user has made a serious partitioning error, which an advanced installer like SuSE's should help you avoid, and accessibility errors are easily fixed (although, as a new user, you may not know how to fix the error). In short, dual-booting is generally not a problem, and if it is, the problem generally looks worse than it really is.

However, the three binary distributions based on the 2.6 series kernel (Mandrake 10, SuSE 9.1 and Fedora Core 2) have all shown evidence of a kernel bug which changes the drive geometry table during installation, which makes Windows inaccessible from the bootloader menu.

This bug appears to be hitting FC 2 the hardest, although many people have reported installing all three of these distributions without hitting this bug at all.

The important thing to remember is that this bug is avoidable and that Windows is undamaged, so don't panic.

While these tips for avoidance and repair are for FC 2, they should be adaptable to SuSE since this is a kernel issue rather than a distribution issue:

LWN: Making Fedora Core 2 and Windows play well together.

Lastly, while it seems horrific to be unable to access Windows when you're first installing Linux, you may be surprised to find that it is not as important as you think. You can mount your Windows data files under Linux, and use them that way. You can replace many Windows programs with their Linux equivalents (which should be installed by SuSE, given that it's 5 CDs) and "essential" or "irreplaceable" Windows programs can often be run using Wine.

If you can access your data, and use the same or similar programs to do your daily computing, you may find that there's little reason to boot into Windows in the first place, so even if you can't right off the bat, it may not be a big deal anyway.


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