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.