alternative bootloader suggestions?

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alternative bootloader suggestions?

Postby viking on Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:06 am

Last week I installed mint as a dual boot with xp. After using mint for a few days I thought I would select xp from the grub menu just to make sure I could boot into it. Well it wouldn't let me boot into it so I wiped out everything and reinstalled xp. What I would like to do is have a boot loader that won't install into the mbr. With vista I could use easy bcd which was great but I couldn't stand vista so I deleted it and installed xp instead. What would be an alternative I could do/use? I would love to be able to boot into xp and 3 or 4 different distros. Right now I am gun shy to have grub installed on the mbr.
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Re: alternative bootloader suggestions?

Postby Fred on Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:35 am

viking,

WOW!!

I feel for you. To reinstall Windows and all the programs and backup data to be able to boot would be a royal pain. I know it doesn't do any good to say so now but you did a lot of work that wasn't necessary. I would rather be taken out behind the barn and whipped than to have to redo a Windows install from scratch.

The first thing you need to do is download and burn an iso of a program called "Supergrub." I don't have the url handy but you can easily Google it. The next thing you need to do is download and burn an iso of Puppy linux shard 3.01. You can find it on the Puppy linux community website. With these two programs you can fix most of the problems you will ever run into. No need to reinstall Windows to get it to boot.

Actually grub is a pretty good boot loader. I don't know of another boot loader that I would prefer over it. It is reliable and flexible. It can be set up to boot almost any operating system.

If your Windows install is on the first partition of the first hard drive, where it should be, Mint 4 will usually pick it up and configure grub for you. If for some unknown reason it doesn't, you can come back here and I, or some one else, can talk you through fixing it.

If you are left with an unbootable computer and you have no other way of getting online, use the Puppy linux iso live cd you burned. Pop it into the cd drive and reboot. When it comes up set your network with the wizzard and use the browser to return here. Or, use the Supergrub iso cd to boot into one of the operating systems.

Enjoy, :-)

Fred
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Re: alternative bootloader suggestions?

Postby MagnusB on Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:57 am

Sorry, you are actually asking for something impossible. A boot loader that does not install on MBR? Meaning you want to use the Windows boot loader to boot linux? It is possible, but it is a real hassle. GRUB is about the best boat loader out there, and pretty easy to fix if it is broken....
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Re: alternative bootloader suggestions?

Postby Zwopper on Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:18 pm

This is an alternative though: http://gag.sourceforge.net/
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Re: alternative bootloader suggestions?

Postby viking on Sun Jan 27, 2008 3:48 pm

This computer came with vista preinstalled and I got rid of it and installed xp in its place. Do you think that could be why I couldn't boot into xp from grub? Note grub did pick up xp and vista under other operating systems.
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Re: alternative bootloader suggestions?

Postby MagnusB on Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:15 pm

GRUB is able to boot both Vista and XP, if it does not something went amiss, maybe it did not read your partition table correctly or a ton of other causes.
When dual booting you have to install XP first, then linux, as M$ products never consider the possibility that there might be another OS there...
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Re: alternative bootloader suggestions?

Postby viking on Sun Jan 27, 2008 5:56 pm

Thanks for the replies. Yes, I do have xp installed first. I would like to install mint next and if all goes well then I would also like to install mepis as well.
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Re: alternative bootloader suggestions?

Postby Fred on Mon Jan 28, 2008 11:19 pm

I know some people really like the looks of GAG but if I were doing it I would stick to grub. Not throwing rocks at GAG but grub is a stable and dependable boot loader that is in wide use and easy to get help with if you have problems. If it were me:

1. I would load Windows on the first drive, first partition.

2. Load Mint on whatever drive and partition you wish and install grub into the MBR of the first drive. It should pick up the windows install and set up a chainload for it.

3. Load Mepis, I believe you said, onto the drive and partition of your choice and install grub into the partition you have the /boot folder for Mepis in. Then you can add the chain load lines in the Mint menu.lst file.

The reason I would install the Mint grub into the MBR is because I like the Mint boot screen. It is clean and classy looking. You can add as many distros as you wish and install their grub into the partition that has the /boot folder in it and chain load them all from the Mint menu by just adding the chain load lines to the Mint menu.lst file.

Example of chainload lines:

title My New Distro
root (hd0,3)
chainloader +1
boot

Before you start installing linux distros I would go ahead and partition and format your system the way you want it. After you install Mint 4 or any other distro that uses UUID, partitioning/formating will change the UUIDs and will cause several very irritating problems.

Enjoy,

Fred
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Re: alternative bootloader suggestions?

Postby viking on Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:53 pm

Fred wrote:I know some people really like the looks of GAG but if I were doing it I would stick to grub. Not throwing rocks at GAG but grub is a stable and dependable boot loader that is in wide use and easy to get help with if you have problems. If it were me:

1. I would load Windows on the first drive, first partition.

2. Load Mint on whatever drive and partition you wish and install grub into the MBR of the first drive. It should pick up the windows install and set up a chainload for it.

3. Load Mepis, I believe you said, onto the drive and partition of your choice and install grub into the partition you have the /boot folder for Mepis in. Then you can add the chain load lines in the Mint menu.lst file.

The reason I would install the Mint grub into the MBR is because I like the Mint boot screen. It is clean and classy looking. You can add as many distros as you wish and install their grub into the partition that has the /boot folder in it and chain load them all from the Mint menu by just adding the chain load lines to the Mint menu.lst file.

Example of chainload lines:

title My New Distro
root (hd0,3)
chainloader +1
boot

Before you start installing linux distros I would go ahead and partition and format your system the way you want it. After you install Mint 4 or any other distro that uses UUID, partitioning/formating will change the UUIDs and will cause several very irritating problems.

Enjoy,

Fred


Thanks for the very thorough reply. I am going to try using GAG first as when I used grub initially I couldn't boot into xp, which created a lot of extra work. Right now I have xp and suse working with GAG.

I was not aware of the partitioning/formatting before installing linux distros. I thought I could do that as I went along with each distro. What sort of problems would this cause?
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Re: alternative bootloader suggestions?

Postby Fred on Tue Jan 29, 2008 3:03 pm

Some distros identify partitions with a unique set of characters that is calculated on the initial install. If you later change the partitioning/formatting that unique character set changes. The result is the /etc/fstab file will not be correct and will have to be changed manually for the UUID disto to use the new partitioning/formatting correctly. Ubuntu 7.10 and Mint 4 are two examples of distros that use UUID. More and more distros will be using UUIDs in the future.

Husse has put up a good explanation of UUID on the wiki. I don't have the url handy but you can go to the Mint wiki and find it easily.

Fred
Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and each time expecting a different result.

Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb voting on the menu. Liberty is an armed lamb protesting the electoral outcome. A Republic negates the need for an armed protest.
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Re: alternative bootloader suggestions?

Postby viking on Tue Jan 29, 2008 3:44 pm

Fred wrote:Some distros identify partitions with a unique set of characters that is calculated on the initial install. If you later change the partitioning/formatting that unique character set changes. The result is the /etc/fstab file will not be correct and will have to be changed manually for the UUID disto to use the new partitioning/formatting correctly. Ubuntu 7.10 and Mint 4 are two examples of distros that use UUID. More and more distros will be using UUIDs in the future.

Husse has put up a good explanation of UUID on the wiki. I don't have the url handy but you can go to the Mint wiki and find it easily.

Fred

Thanks for the explanation, I might start over and partition everything first, then start installing the distros. I will try grub again then and hopefully it will let me boot into xp this time.
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Re: alternative bootloader suggestions?

Postby revolving bugbear on Tue Jan 29, 2008 8:27 pm

viking wrote:Thanks for the explanation, I might start over and partition everything first, then start installing the distros. I will try grub again then and hopefully it will let me boot into xp this time.


Windows freaks out if it's not at the beginning of the disk. I'm sure there's a way to rig it so it doesn't have to be, but this probably wouldn't be the effort. Besides, there's a block of sectors that all have to be together towards the beginning of the disk, so I feel it's best not to tempt fate and just park Windows in front.

I'm currently running Fedora; I used GParted to set up my partitions as follows:

/hda1 - Windows XP
/hda3 - subdivided
/hda4 - extended: Fedora Core
/hda5 - extended: FAT32 storage (used as fileswap between the two OS's)
/hda6 - Linux swap
/hda2 - boot (with GRUB)

As you can see, I have my Windows XP partition at the beginning of the disk, and it's the first partition. In my experience, this is pretty much necessary. (As I said above, it may be possible to do this differently, but might as well give MS what they want as long as you already paid for the OS.) My boot partition is the second partition but at the end of the disk -- in my experience this makes absolutely no difference. The only requirements I ran into installing FC were that it be a logical partition (and not an extended one) and that it be identified as /boot during the install process.

Of course, your order of operations should be: create partitions, install windows on the first partition, install on the rest of the partitions. If you've created your partitions correctly, you should have no problem installing Windows to the first logical partition. Of course, after that, you can do whatever you like with the rest and just not tell Windows. Once you identify another partition as /boot, BIOS should pass over Windows at startup until GRUB redirects it there.
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