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Old 05-07-2008, 07:18 AM   #1
Registered: Mar 2004
Location: Jeffersonville, IN
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Installing OpenSuSE 10.3 without killing Windows MBR on primary drive

In January I bought a laptop and by March I had installed a second hard drive for the sole purpose of dual-booting with some sort of Linux distro and the Windows Vista is shipped with. I'm a gamer, so I want a working Windows Vista install for that, but I would prefer using Linux for day-to-day usage.

The problem is that Fedora doesn't like my sound card, even Fedora 9, but with a little fiddling I got OpenSuSE 10.3 to work perfectly on the laptop (a vastly better out-of-box experience than Vista once the nVidia driver was installed). However on a reboot into Windows I found that SuSE had destroy Vista's MBR and not even the repair disk from Microsoft knew how to fix it. In the end I simply had to reinstall Vista and wipe OpenSuSE in the process.

The problem was that my drives enumerated as sda being the factory-installed drive and sdb being the one I wanted to install OpenSuSE to, however OpenSuSE by default installed GRUB to sda, which killed Windows.

While trying to reinstall without causing that damage I couldn't find an option for OpenSuSE to ONLY use sdb and not touch sda at all, which Fedora does. Nor do they give a simple "click here" option to do that.

So my question is how do I get OpenSuSE's installer to install GRUB to sdb only, and totally ignore sda's (my Windows drive) existence? Or at the very least, tell it to NOT install GRUB to sda.

Given my lousy idiot proof BIOS I can't simply turn off sda, and being a laptop opening the panel to physically disconnect the drive isn't as simple of an idea as it is on a desktop. I'd even be willing to use the Windows boot loader if that's what it took, but GRUB is so much more powerful I'd rather not.

Any ideas?
Old 05-07-2008, 07:25 AM   #2
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You can write the grub boot loader to the second disk instead of the first. Look on google for "NT Linux Dual Boot". I don't have vista, but I assume that it still uses the C:\BOOT.INI file. You will need to copy the first 240 bytes of the second disk into a file which you save on the C:\ drive in windows and then add an entry to window's BOOT.INI file. Then there will be a menu entry to boot linux. Selecting it the file with the copy of the 2nd disks MBR is used to chainload SuSE's grub bootstrap loader.
Old 05-07-2008, 11:24 AM   #3
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Grub does default to the mbr of the first drive. I'm surprised opensuse's Grub did not detect your vista install and put an entry in the menu.lst file?

Here's a site explaining how to dual-boot Linux/Vista with Linux installed first:

Here's a site explaining how to dual-boot Vista/Linux with Vista installed first:

Haven't tried this myself as I don't use Vista?
Vista has a new bootloader and doesn't use 'boot.ini'.
Good Luck!


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