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Old 09-23-2003, 09:19 PM   #1
Registered: Jul 2003
Distribution: Ubuntu, SUSE
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Install bootloader after floppy-booting Linux?

Hi, I've been triple booting Windows 98 SE and two different Linux distros for about a year now. I now have the following partition scheme:

hda1: 7 GB FAT32 (win98)
hda2: 3 GB ReiserFS (RH9 /)
hda3: 256 MB Linux Swap
hda4: 3 GB XFS (MDK9.0 /)

I've been booting Linux off a floppy all this time, and I'm getting tired of waiting for it to load up. So it's about time for a bootloader. I obviously don't want to destroy any data. My only problem is that I don't have a /boot partition, and if I made room for one by shrinking hda4 (and making hda5), it would be past the 1024th cylinder. Is this a problem anymore using modern GRUB? Can I just boot Redhat CD1 and modify the bootloader setup from there? Can it use the /boot directory in a normal / partition to install onto? Or does it need an ext2 /boot partition? And just in case I mess up, is there anything I could do wrong so that fdisk /mbr won't return me to my old setup? Unfortunately I've got to retain Windows too. Thanks a lot!
Old 05-24-2007, 09:46 AM   #2
Registered: Apr 2007
Location: Mumbai, India
Distribution: Fedora, ubuntu
Posts: 121

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Linux GUI contains the needed tool

Originally Posted by sb73542
it would be past the 1024th cylinder.
Older bootloaders and BIOS had these problems. You will get good idea about large disks at

Just boot into Linux and the KDE or GNOME desktop should give you good GUI interface to install bootloader in it's control center/system/tools menu (Probably you will find more than one tool to install boot loader) both in Red Hat and in Mandriva. You won't loose any data on installing boot loader. Be careful not to install boot loader into 'mbr' or 'windows' partition.

There is another option [probably best for your current problem]to use external bootloader like XOSL. XOSL is free and can be easily configured to boot any operating system. It is hassle free too. Just install the XOSL bootloader in DOS mode on fat32(win98) partition and specify not to use entire partition for XOSL.

I have no idea how a /boot partition can be defined and used after Linux has been installed. If that can be done I doubt it to be any easier.

fdisk /mbr will always work with any problem with bootloader.

Last edited by milindlokde; 05-24-2007 at 10:14 AM.
Old 05-24-2007, 11:21 AM   #3
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I don't understand the last post---the mbr is where you want to put the bootloader.

First, when you boot from the floppy, where does it go for the configuration file, and GRUB stage 1.5 and 2? It will be in the /boot directory on hda2 or hda4. Let's suppose it is in hda2......
Go into either one of the Linuxes and open a terminal and enter these commands:

grub opens the grub shell
root (hd0,1)
points grub at the /boot directory
setup (hd0)
installs grub in the mbr of the first drive

Note that GRUB always uses hd for drives, and counts from zero.
hda2 = hd0,1 in grub-speak

As long as you have your Windows install disk, you can always restore the Windows bootloader. conversely, you can always use GRUB--no need to ever go back.

My site has an article on booting which might be useful. See below
Old 06-01-2007, 10:17 AM   #4
Registered: Apr 2007
Location: Mumbai, India
Distribution: Fedora, ubuntu
Posts: 121

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Originally Posted by milindlokde
Be careful not to install boot loader into 'mbr' or 'windows' partition.
Well Linux provides option to install its boot loader either on a seperate partition or on the 'mbr'. Installing on 'mbr' you will replace your original boot loader.

Installing boot loader information on another partition requires you to make the partition on which the boot loader is loaded to be made active. For your original boot loader you will just have to make the windows partition active.

You can safely configure your grub boot loader after logging in Linux and running 'grub-install'.

The last post can be used to install grub from the grub prompt.

Last edited by milindlokde; 06-01-2007 at 10:25 AM.


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