Using Windows boot manager instead of Grub

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Using Windows boot manager instead of Grub

Postby Metal on Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:39 pm

About a year ago I tried installing Ubuntu (I was 16 and way too confident). Long story short, I got rid of Ubuntu but was left with Grub.

I'm really interested in Linux Mint, but I'm still very much an amature and I'm kind of afraid of losing all my data to a silly mistake (Mhmm Ubuntu). I really need my laptop for college (which is why I waited for the semester to finish before trying Linux Mint), so I want to play it as safe as possible.

I read that 86 page .pdf to get as familiar as possible, but I was left with the same uneasy feeling in my stomach; that Linux Mint will take over my computer. I don't want to manage Windows with Linux Mint, I want to leave Windows as my main OS, and use its boot manager (forgive me if I'm incorrect with my terms... newbie) (like the one I used when dual booting Vista and XP), instead of Grub to manage stuff. I just want to try it out before making a big switch. Yeah, I can use the liveCD but why would I when the speed is limited, and who would like to pop in a CD every time they boot up?

So yeah, that's my predicament. And sorry if this is a silly question that belongs in the newbie forum... I just figured it was more suitable for here.
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Re: Using Windows boot manager instead of Grub

Postby emorrp1 on Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:05 am

Hello, and welcome to Linux Mint :) Firstly, for a completely safe way of doing what you want you can use mint4win (just search the forums), which installs mint as an application within windows, which you can then remove as an application within windows. Secondly, you can restore the windows bootloader fairly easily in XP, though you need a disc for vista - either way googling for restore windows MBR will work.
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Re: Using Windows boot manager instead of Grub

Postby markcynt on Thu Jun 11, 2009 6:09 am

AFAIK you must use Grub to boot Mint, but like emorrp said it's very easy to get the Windows XP bootloader back if you get rid of Mint/Ubuntu.

Edit: And if your data is really important you should invest in an external hardrive.
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Re: Using Windows boot manager instead of Grub

Postby altair4 on Thu Jun 11, 2009 7:10 am

You never said what version of Windows you're trying to dual boot with.

If it's WinXP, you could use a 3rd party bootloader: http://www.multibooters.co.uk/managers.html
I use BootITNG ( not free and butt ugly ) and it is installed into a small partition ( 8MB ). Once installed it takes over the Master Boot Record ( MBR ) and becomes the traffic cop directing you to whatever OS you want to use that day. You will have to change the way you install linux from that point on however because in a default install linux will install grub into the MBR and wipe out your 3rd party bootloader. When you install Mint for example you will have to install Mint's grub into the partition that Mint is installed in. Here's an example:
Let's say you partition your hard drive as follows:
sda1- WinXP
sda2- GAG ( a popular free 3rd party bootloader )
sda3- Linux Swap
sda5- Mint
sda6- Ubuntu
sda7- SuSE
sda8- Data ( a common partition that will hold your stuff regardless of what OS you're using )

When you install Mint the very last step ( Step 7 - click on the "Advanced" Button ) it will ask you where you want to install grub. Your answer is sda5. Then go to GAG, point it to sda5 and label it Mint.

If it's Vista, you could have exactly what you described with EasyBCD ( http://neosmart.net/dl.php?id=1 ).
EasyBCD isn't a bootloader, it's an editor for the Vista bootloader and as such it's installed within Vista and not into it's own partition. You would have to install Linux in the way I described above, putting Mint's grub in sda5 for example, but Vista itself becomes the bootmanager.

The advantage of this approach ( especially if you plan on trying out many distros ) is that each OS becomes a self contained entity. In the future if you no longer want SuSE or Ubuntu you simply format the partition or install another linux over it. Linux distros will come and go but your booloader ( 3rd party or Vista's ) will always be there.
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Re: Using Windows boot manager instead of Grub

Postby emorrp1 on Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:04 am

Yeah, I use a dedicated grub partition for exactly the same reasons altair mentioned for 3rd party bootloaders: you could change your installed system every day and it would still work.
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Re: Using Windows boot manager instead of Grub

Postby Fred on Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:16 am

I do the same thing altair4 does except I use grub as the master boot loader and chainload all the other installs I have at any given moment.

That makes it easy for me and holds down on the confusion. :-)

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Re: Using Windows boot manager instead of Grub

Postby emorrp1 on Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:21 am

Fred wrote:I do the same thing altair4 does except I use grub as the master boot loader and chainload all the other installs I have at any given moment.


Yeah, that's what I meant, but you phrased it better. :)
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Re: Using Windows boot manager instead of Grub

Postby Metal on Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:26 pm

Wow this is great. Firstly I wasn't expecting such detailed responses :shock: When I had problems with Ubuntu, I tried asking their community and didn't get anywhere as much help as this.

@ Altair4, sorry I forgot to say what OS I'm using, it's Vista. I think I'm going to use the EasyBCD program you linked. It's almost as if this is EXACTLY what I wanted.

Thank you all. As someone else mentioned, I'm going to run out today to get an external hard drive to back everything up.

Thanks!

(pssssssst run over to the newbie forum for my next question :roll:)
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Re: Using Windows boot manager instead of Grub

Postby altair4 on Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:26 pm

Not that you asked, but I'm going to offer you some advice on dual booting with Vista. I don't have Vista myself but I have set up dual boots for others using EasyBCD among others. Based solely on my limited experience with Vista and the amount of questions on all the linux forums I've viewed I recommend you consider the following:

Use Vista's tools ( not the Mint install CD or GParted ) to shrink the Vista partition to make room for Mint. It's usually a 2-step process with Vista:

Defragement the Vista partition - twice.
Use Vista's tool to shrink the partition. If I remember correctly it's : Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Disk Management. :?: Select your Windows hard drive with a right click and select "Shrink Volume" from the sub menu. Leave the rest of the disk as unallocated and then start your Mint install and have Mint use that unallocated space.

Vista , in some admittedly rare cases, really doesn't take kindly to having its system partition altered by "foreign" applications.
Others who currently run a Vista dual boot every day might want to comment as I have a tendency to be rather cautious about these sorts of things. Over time I've developed an opinion that one should use Windows tools for Windows and Linux tools for Linux.
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Re: Using Windows boot manager instead of Grub

Postby markcynt on Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:43 pm

altair4 wrote:Use Vista's tools ( not the Mint install CD or GParted ) to shrink the Vista partition to make room for Mint. It's usually a 2-step process with Vista:

Defragement the Vista partition - twice.

Use Vista's tool to shrink the partition. If I remember correctly it's : Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Disk Management. :?: Select your Windows hard drive with a right click and select "Shrink Volume" from the sub menu. Leave the rest of the disk as unallocated and then start your Mint install and have Mint use that unallocated space.

Over time I've developed an opinion that one should use Windows tools for Windows and Linux tools for Linux.


+1 for this advice.
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