Have Dual boot working... now looking for quad boot

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Have Dual boot working... now looking for quad boot

Postby memilanuk on Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:34 pm

So... I have a new Lenovo ThinkPad T530 laptop with 4GB of RAM (soon to be upgraded to 16GB) and a 500GB 7200RPM HDD that came with Win7 Pro on it. It originally had three primary partitions - a SYSTEM_DRV partition (1.6GB), the main Windows 7 OS partition, and the Lenovo Recovery partition (15GB). As soon as the thing powered up successfully, I did an initial system image w/ Clonezila over the network to a NAS. I then updated, installed necessary software, updated some more, made system recovery DVDs, and imaged the system once more.

Once I had all *that* taken care of... then it was time to play ;)

I burned a couple install and/or live CD/DVDs from different distros to make sure I wasn't borrowing excessive headaches with this machine; I was reasonably certain I wouldn't be as there are a couple Linux laptop vendors that basically re-brand this exact machine with different distros installed.

I've been through the install process with openSuSE 12.2, Scientific 6.3, and Mint 14 Cinnamon on this laptop so far, and resized the Windows 7 parittion down to 'only' 215GB. I have created an extended partition sda4, containing partitions sda5, sda6, sda7 - all 20GB in size, for OS installs, sda8 - 4GB of swap space, and sda9 - 200GB of ext4 for file storage accessible from all the Linux installs.

The problem I seem to be having is that while dual boot with any two operating systens - Win7Pro and Mint, for example - works pretty much flawlessly... I'm having trouble with getting the other two Linux distros to set up the way I want.

If I were to do *only* dual boot between Win7Pro and SL 6.3, or only Win7Pro and openSuSE 12.2... everything would work fine. If I were to carefully install first one distro, then the next distro, and finish with Mint - so its boot loader gets installed last - I *think* that would work. But if I were to wipe out the SL 6.3 install and put Fedora 18 on there when it comes out... that install would blitz my Linux Mint 14 grub2 bootloader config (I intend to do some mucking about with *that*, once I get things the way I want - and take another system image).

I've tried making the various distros install straight to their respective partition (sda6 or sda7), but that ends up b0rking things in other ways. I've found lots of info on dual booting, but what I'm trying to do - run multiple Linux distros and keep one specific grub2 bootloader setup and un-trampled on - seems harder to find good docs on.

If anyone has any insight, links or suggestions, I'd greatly appreciate it.
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Re: Have Dual boot working... now looking for quad boot

Postby Fornhamfred on Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:15 pm

Hi

You seem to have a good idea of what you want but this tutorial may help with grub problems http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/grub ... ocId232162.

I run LMDE and if I install any new distros I allow them to overwrite the Mint grub and then re-install the Mint grub as it will pick up any distros on the machine by using sudo grub-install /dev/sda as the instruction in the tutorial.
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Re: Have Dual boot working... now looking for quad boot

Postby memilanuk on Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:33 pm

So I would install the new distro, allow its installer to over-write the existing grub2 boot loader, finish the install (some distros reboot partways through the install), then reboot from the new distro and the version of grub2 that it installed should show an entry for the previously existing Mint 14 install... I'm assuming I would select that, and then from Mint re-install its version of grub2 and then update it with entries for the new distro?

The big question in my mind is... if the new distro - for whatever reason - *doesn't* pick up the existing Mint install partition as part of its grub2 options... then what? How do I get back into Mint?
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Re: Have Dual boot working... now looking for quad boot

Postby wayne128 on Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:13 am

memilanuk wrote:So I would install the new distro, allow its installer to over-write the existing grub2 boot loader, finish the install (some distros reboot partways through the install), then reboot from the new distro and the version of grub2 that it installed should show an entry for the previously existing Mint 14 install... I'm assuming I would select that, and then from Mint re-install its version of grub2 and then update it with entries for the new distro?

The big question in my mind is... if the new distro - for whatever reason - *doesn't* pick up the existing Mint install partition as part of its grub2 options... then what? How do I get back into Mint?



All boils down to your choice of what I called the 'master boot loader', which is the one you will use to control the hard disk MBR.

Since you are going to play multiboot you would need to deal with a mixture of several boot loaders that are default by the OS or distros, such as
Win7/vista, BCD
Debian based, usually grub2
Fedora based, was grub legacy, Fedora18 had grub 2.00
Slackware based distros, like slackware, salix, zenwalk etc, usually Lilo
PCLinuxOS, still grub legacy, similarly some distros are still using grub legacy like SL, antiX, etc.

When you mix distros that has grub legacy and grub2, these two boot loader does not play well with each other.

So, when you add a new distros, you must first determine which 'master boot loader' you want to use, it does not necessarily that you MUST use the default boot loader of the New distros, it should be up to your choice.
Usually distros' installer let you decide for yourself whether you want to install boot loader to MBR, to root partition, or to somewhere else, some distros also let you choose NOT to install boot loader because they knew you might have already some other boot loader as 'master boot loader'.

For me, I stayed mostly with two method of installing Linux OS in my multiboot systems.
1. usually i used grub legacy to control MBR, and for any other linux OS and winOS, I chainload into their respective root partition and simply use their own default boot loader installed onto the root partition.

There are many posts/forums that discourage installing boot loader onto root partition, so if you read them, do not be surprised.
I used this method for 2-3 years, and can say very little problem.

2. when I have to keep win7/vista because of users need as well as 'warranty' I would normally let Win7/vista control MBR, and add a free EasyBCD ( from Newsmart) , then add entry to the particular Linux OS,
For those with grub2, I add entry on grub2
For those with grub legacy, I add entry on grub legacy
For those with lilo, I add entry on lilo...


So i summary, what I think you need to consider is, which master boot loader you want to use to control your MBR?.
Hope you find one that is suitable for your usage.
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