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ShadStar 02-28-2007 12:18 PM

dual-booting with an existing windows dual-boot
Hi guys,

I guess I'm asking a real basic question here but I thought I would seek some wise advice before trashing by bootblock.

I am completely new to Linux in general, and have been playing with knoppix, and I felt that I would like to progress to a full distro. Having read around a few forums I decided to go for SuSe (although I would accept alternative advice if any were to be offered), it seems to be the most friendly for new users and is easy to set up with server software if I should need to (future project).

Anyway, on to my question, I already have a dual-boot option installed to boot between my Windows XP and Windows Vista installs (which are both installed on my primary drive), and I would like some advice on the safest way to install SuSe (or other) and incorporating it into the existing boot menu without losing my Windows boot-options. Will grub over-write the existing bootsector or will it create it's own and just chain to it? I would like some advice on this please :confused:

I have a completely seperate empty 120Gb hard drive to play with for the SuSe install, which is installed on a seperate ide controller, so my Windows installs are confined to my primary drive.

Also, do I need to create all three partitions for SuSe or can I take the option of having the swap partition on my primary drive, and a single partition on my other drive?

Advice at this point very much appreciated.

bigrigdriver 02-28-2007 01:33 PM

Do some research on how to configure the ntldr to add an option to boot SuSE, (or any other Linux distro). When you install Linux, be careful that the Linux bootloader is installed to the root partition, and not the MBR.

Linux doesn't care where the swap partition is, so long as it can access it. Indeed, if you have enough ram, you probably don't need a swap partition.

SuSE can be installed into one partition, if that's what you want. If you want to install it into several partitions (or install several distros), I'd suggest you make the entire second disk an extended partition, then subpartitions inside that to hold the distro(s) you choose to install.

Or, you can install SuSE, and install the grub bootloader to the MBR. SuSE should write the config file (/boot/grub/menu.lst) to include the windows installations. If it doesn't (I've never known it to fail), the menu.lst is easily edited manually to add windows menu entries.

Setting the default OS to boot is done in the menu.lst also. The line 'default=0' means that the first OS in the menu list is default. Change the default to 1 (second) or 2 (third) for some other OS. Or, cut and paste to rearrange the order so that the default of your choice is first in the list.
Search these boards to find thousands of threads on the issue of dual boot: windows and Linux.

There is a timeout (usually 'timeout=8') which gives you 8 seconds to choose which to boot, or let the default boot when the timeout expires. Change the timeout to any value you choose.

ShadStar 02-28-2007 02:03 PM

Thank you, that is very helpful. I wasn't aware that I could install SuSe without installing grub into the mbr, I assumed that I had to use the grub bootloader and then chain to the windows bootloader.

My original thinking was to install SuSe to the second drive, then use the bios boot priority option to boot the pc to the first or second drive independantly, thus by-passing any tri-boot problems.

I did try an install "dry run" before posting to this forum, but I got a little concerned when I chose the option not to install the grub bootloader, and a message came up telling me the system may not boot, so I cancelled and came here for help before I broke something :)

I will certainly examine the boards closely for similar issues and will post a general reply back as to my success (or failure).

I will, of course, mirror my primary drive before trying any of this :)


ShadStar 02-28-2007 04:05 PM

note about ntldr
Just a quick note for other members, if you need to mess about with bootloader options for Windows Vista, and you are already dual-booting with xp (like me :) ), then DON'T play with the boot.ini file in the xp partition!

If you want to manually add a menu item to the Vista bootloader to include your Linux distro (as kindly suggested above) in the Vista bootloader, then boot into Vista and use the bcedit.exe program to do so. Failure to do this will result in a trashed bootblock!

I haven't trashed mine but I share this info for other newbies who may want to use this method. I think it would be safer and easier to use the grub option as suggested above and let it deal with the bootloader options. I will be trying this as soon as I have backed up my primary drive.

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