Booting Multiple operating systems

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Chris Lanni, Jan 22, 2004.

  1. Chris Lanni

    Chris Lanni Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 1, 2002
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    What's up guys and gals?

    I am thinking of having a dual or triple boot option for the PC. What I am wondering is if anyone here can tell me how they set theirs up? Did you put each OS on a seperate drive, or did you use some type of program, such as System Commander, to dual boot? My many reasons for this are my recent flashbacks to the days of old DOS style games. Commander Keen, Duke Nukem (before 3d), Hack, Omega, the old Gold Box Dungeons & Dragons RPG games. I want to have multiple PC's in one. I remember using Direct Access 5.1 as the menu system for DOS and I loved it. I want to put it back on my PC, but I don't want to go through windows to get to it as I know it will cause problems. I also thought about having a partition for Linux, as I have always wanted to flirt around with it. Anyways, don't think that I am nuts, just checking to see what the concensus here is in regards to technique.

    Gods Love
  2. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

    Apr 11, 1999
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    You want each OS on a separate partition. DOS would be formatted in FAT16 (you really don't have any choice, that's what it will be). For technical reasons, it should be the first partition on the disk, and can't be larger than 2GB. Then you would have Windows XP or 2000, which would be an NTFS partition. If you have Linux, you'd have at least one ext3 partition, and a Linux Swap partition.

    You don't necessarily need a separate boot program, although that might make life easier. If you install the OSes in order, it might happen automatically. First, you install DOS. When you install XP/2000 -- assuming you don't have a version that can only be installed on "new computers" without an existing OS -- it should provide the option for preserving the DOS install. If you plan on adding Linux, make sure you don't let Windows take all the remaining space. If you boot at that point, you should get a simple text menu that allows you to choose which OS to boot. Finally, when you install Linux (depending on the distro, I suppose) it will have the option of preserving both DOS and Windows, and automatically put them on a boot menu for you. At that point, you can edit Windows' boot menu to remove DOS, so that you don't have to go through two menus.

    One issue with running DOS games on modern machines is that if you rely on the built-in sound on the motherboard, those don't have DOS drivers, and may not be as "SoundBlaster compatible" as you might need.

  3. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    The other option is to run something like VMWare to create virtual machines for whatever OS you want. But VMWare might be too pricey for this application.

    I dislike multi-boot setups because they can be a pain to extricate from should you decide you don't want a specific OS partition anymore.

    With hard drives so cheap, it might be better to use removable HD caddies and just pop in hard drives loaded with whatever OS you want, and keeping things separate and simple.
  4. Jeff Blair

    Jeff Blair Second Unit

    Apr 30, 2000
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    Ken's order will work. Right now I have WinXP and Gentoo Linux installed. I used 2 diffrent hard drives. But you can use just one. You could have it set up something like this:

    hda1 --> DOS FAT16
    hda2 --> WINDOWS FAT32
    hda3 --> Linux Boot EXT3
    hda4 --> Linux Swap
    hda5 --> Linux Main EXT3

    I keep the Windows partion FAT32 just so Linux can read/write a lot easer. The newer kernles of Linux can write, but I'm not sure how well. The "a" is for your first hard drive. If you are just going to play around with Linux, I would put it on a small second drive. Just so if you want to get rid of it, you won't have that space taken up.
  5. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

    Aug 17, 1998
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    You can incorporate a Linux boot (or boots) into the standard Windows NT/2K/XP text bootloader screen (controlled by the boot.ini file) very easily. No need for a third-party bootloader.
  6. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

    Nov 1, 2001
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    I use separate physical hard drives that are removable through a drive tray that fits in a 5.25" bay. Turn the computer off, put the new boot drive in, turn the computer on.

    Absolutely no boot sector screwing around. Absolutely no boot loader. Absolutely no possibility of running out of room except for the hard drive itself. Absolutely no compatilibty problems (as long as the BIOS/CMOS supports "Auto" for the hard drive). Need to reinstall the O/S? Put the drive in and do what you need to do. No need to reinstall any boot loaders.

    You need to reboot your system to change operating systems anyway. It's worth the extra 10 seconds to change drive trays if it means zero compatibility or boot loader problems.

    The bracket/tray combo can be found for as little as $29, and each individual drive tray can be found for less than $14.

    I've done multiple ways of multi-O/S booting - Linux boot loader, OS/2 boot loader, Partition Magic, etc. Screw boot loaders. This is the absolute best way to do it. Anyone who says otherwise simply hasn't tried this. [​IMG]

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