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kev19 12-15-2005 02:09 PM

GRUB help with dual booting
Ok, this one has probably come before, but anyway here is my scenario:

I'm considering buying XP (don't ask why) as an upgrade for Windows Me, would upgrading result in overwriting of the MBR?

1. I do not have a seperate /boot partition.
2. I already have Windows Me on a seperate partition (sda1).
3. I already have SuSE 10 set up with GRUB for bootloading (sda3), sda2 is a swap file.
4. If I were to upgrade to XP from WinMe, and install it, would I not be able to boot it, or would my MBR be erased?
5. If it were not to erase my MBR, how would I boot it after installation?

All replies and help are greatly appreciated!



conrad9 12-15-2005 04:11 PM

hi Kev19

I am not an expert, but this is what i know from experience of suse 9.0/9.1/9.3 (but note I have no experience of suse 10, but probally the same) and I am sure more knowledgable people will mail any mistakes I might make.

Firstly, yes win xp will overwrite your MBR, but this is not a problem.

1. Buy OEM windows xp (100 cheaper), then install xp over WinMe.
Yes, again it will wipe your MBR.
2. Now to reinstall grub in your MBR:
1. Insert 1st suse disk or suse dvd
2. Reboot select new installation.
3. Agree to everything until you reach the main
Installation page that sets time, mouse ,
software, etc. a dialog box will open as will
recognise the fact you have already have suse
installed and it will ask you what you wish to do?

4. Select repair installed system then suse will
open a new window, 'select Advanced repair or was it
Custom repair' (not automatic it will not help you), you can always press the back button if
wrong option.
5. You will be provided with a number of options, but the
one you need is reinstall or install new Grub (can not
remember exact wording. Its as straight forward as that!

Note: you practise navigating to the needed option using suse disk, just remember to abort, quit or back. Until you need to do it for real.

P.S. OEM win xp needs to be bought with a piece of qualifying hardware, a mouse is the cheapest option. beware you will be charged full price if you don't

Kind Regards


kev19 12-16-2005 10:59 AM

Thanks very much :) , your reply was most helpful, OEM XP was the version I was going to buy, do you know any good, reliable, inexpensive places for buying one?

Thanks in advance,


michapma 12-16-2005 11:42 AM

Be careful when installing XP, it may want to overwrite your SuSE partitions. As far as I know, you don't really "upgrade" ME to XP, you actually install XP over top of ME. You should be able to find a SuSE article that explains how to install a Windows version over top of SuSE.

conrad9 12-17-2005 09:46 AM

Hi Kev19,

It so happens I do. for the uk I believe ebuyer is the best price and no worries about it being genunine, make sure you purchase a piece of hardware as well, read the small print carefully because if you don't buy a qualifying piece of hardware then you will be charged the full amount (I'm pretty sure a mouse is suitable and ebuyer sells them from a couple pounds upwards). Follow link: oh dear I'm not allwowed to post a link; go to ebuyer uk search for 'OEM win xp' the first set of results gives you the 3 pack of oem windows xp, so just enter 'OEM win xp' again and now the single xp will/should be the first result (58.74 inc. VAT).

I would like to mention that michapma has a valid point, please be careful and not overwrite suse, I know it can be done. I remember reading an article about it, but i am sorry to say I can't remember where.

Good luck and Kind regards


djuhl30 12-17-2005 10:03 AM

If you make sure XP gets installed on the windows partition, you can use the 1st suse cd to boot to your linux one. You can use Yast to redo the bootloader or run grub from the command line. Google grub... Before your reboot check your /boot/grub/menu.lst


djuhl30 12-17-2005 10:06 AM

Ooops... a little tired. You needed select New Installation. That will reinstall suse all together. You can use the rescue mode too. But that involves mounting your partitions and chrooting to your linux root partition than you can run grub from the commandline... I learned this playing with gentoo. Read the gentoo handbook for details. You dont need to install it to use the idea.


kev19 12-17-2005 01:14 PM

OK, thanks for that (again) ;) I'll probably be buying it from there. I'm just wondering here, but do you think upgrading to XP from Me is an overall good idea? I'll probably be doing it anyway, but I'm just being curious here.

Also, I've read of problems with NTFS, should I pick FAT32 during setup?



michapma 12-17-2005 07:38 PM

Oh no, *please* don't use FAT32 for installing XP. SuSE will possibly have problems writing to an NTFS partition, but can read it fine. But XP really is best installed on NTFS (from the Windows perspective, not Linux's), for various reasons. If you need to share data between XP and SuSE, you can create a FAT32 partition for doing that.

There was a great site ( that used to have a great XP installation guide. It even had nice info on configuring a few things, and was a great resource for configuring Windows services. Unfortunately, it's been down for several months (even since last year?), but do a Google and you should find a decent XP installation guide. It's really best to follow such a guide (print it out).

kev19 12-18-2005 04:11 AM

Thanks for that, I did an look on the archive for that site (don't think its coming back :( )

kev19 12-18-2005 04:31 AM

After reading numerous install guides, I find that after the DOS based installation, it needs to restart. Would it have re-written my MBR by then?

saikee 12-18-2005 08:01 AM

For whatever reasons why people are so worrying about the MBR I can never tell as I seldom use it these days. I just leave a Grub floppy in the drive and boot the 100+ system manually whever I need.

I do have Grub in the distros' partition, in more than 10 partitions with nothing but itself to boot selected groups. I can call any of them up for service but using Grub manually I can pull up Linux or BSD that fail to install its boot loader for a variety of reasons.

If a person wishes to upgrade a WinMe to XP I would recommend the following

(1) Put Suse's boot loader in a floppy. While in Suse, click terminal, type "su" and password to get admin right, drop any floppy into the drive and type

grub-install /dev/fd0
Suse can therefore be booted by this floppy. Later on after XP installation boot this floppy back and type

grub-install /dev/sda
to reinstall Suse's Grub into the MBR. XP should be immediately bootable if it were installed into sda1 as an upgarde.

(2) Use Suse's cfdisk program to mark Sda1 as bootable if it isn't so that XP has a smooth ride and immediately bootable after installation.

(3) Install XP as an upgrade over WinME. XP should overwrite Grub with its own MBR on a reboot without a trace of Suse.

That is all!

The XP and WinME (and all Dos, Win9x and Win2k) share the same MBR. You can restore WinME MBR by placing any Dos oe Windows bootable floppy with "fdisk.exe" inside and type

fdisk /mbr
Using the original installation CD's fixmbr is just a posh way to the same thing.

Therefore you can have a dummy run to get Winme taking over the MBR, thereby losing Grub, and use the floppy to restore Suse's boot loader again.

Let us know if you have other complication, like " What should I do if I haven't got a floppy drive!"

For my money I would keep my WinME too. Why should I lose it because of a XP? Everythinh is about hard disk space but Suse needs only about 10Gb , WinME should never exceed 5Gb and XP on its own is ample for 20Gb. The rest is your own data which you don't have to mix up with any of the systems and put in in a neutral ground so that it can be access by all systems.

Haloony 12-19-2005 05:21 PM

hey saikee my name is hal and i decided that i wanted to install linux onto a portable external hard drive so i can boot into it from any other computer. I knew that i would use the external hd with computers that had either linux or windows. In the case of windows i knew there is no way to boot into the linux on the extenral hd so someone told me to refer to this thread for a solution. I now have a grub floppy that brings up the grub prompt when i boot into the floppy. Im having trouble actually using the grub prompt. Ive read a few things on how to use it but im not sure if i understood or how to apply it to my current situation. i have rh9 on one partition ubuntu on another a linux swap partition and a boot partition. Please help me.

saikee 12-19-2005 07:30 PM

Distros installed in an external hard disk are usually unbootable because their kernels were compiled for internat disk speed too fast for a USB connection.

Puppy 1.0.6 is one that can be booted from an external hard disk when I tried out 3 to 4 distros recently.

Your RH9 and Ubnuntu can be booted by a GRub floppy if they were installed in an internal disk.

Haloony 12-19-2005 08:06 PM

yes I know i can do it, but what are the actual commands that i use to boot into a certain partition- it's supposed to just be a grub prompt that says "Grub>"-right?
also i checked this site: and another one : and the general opinion seems to be that booting into an external hd with linux on it is very possible. Please make some sense out of this.

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