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I am new to Linux and have several LiveCD distros that I would like to put on a Multi-Boot macine. I attempted to do this already but only the last ...
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  1. #1
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    How to Partition drive for Multi-boot


    I am new to Linux and have several LiveCD distros that I would like to put on a Multi-Boot macine. I attempted to do this already but only the last installed distro will boot so I am doing something wrong. During the installations both installers asked about partitioning the drive and using the remaining space and such, but I don't feel I understand WHAT the installer it trying to do to answer in such a way as to end up with the multi-boot system I want.

    So before I start over I would like to know more about HOW a multi-boot system SHOULD be partitioned and HOW the selection of WHICH distro to boot is accomplished.

    Would a multi-boot system be able to share mounted partitions? ie.: 5gig partition mounted as /swap (maybe too large?) or 25gig partition for documents/photos/etc I might be accessing from any of the distros?

    Would each distro be installed in a different partition and how do I control which partitions a distro goes into?

    I am trying MEPIS, Ubuntu, gNewSense, and possible a couple others before I make final decision on which I like best. The system had P4 with 2gig RAM and an 80gig IDE that will be wiped of Microsoft forever! My initial thinking is that there should be at least 10gig for each distro and 5gig for /swap leaving around 25gig or so for shared documents/photos?

    Is 10gig enough for each distro to allow for additional software to be installed or should I limit the number of distros to the initial three and give more space to each?

  2. #2
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    For this sort of situation, I strongly recommend that you install a main host OS, and then run the other systems in virtual machines. Personally, I haven't had much good luck with multi-boot systems unless I REALLY need to have an OS installed on "bare metal". I run a lot of distributions (for test and/or development) in virtual machines very successfully. My main workstation OS is currently Scientific Linux 6 (RHEL 6 clone). Previously (until about 3 or 4 months ago) it was CenOS 5.5 (RHEL 5.5 clone).
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

  3. #3
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    Rather than multi-boot I run other OS's under VirtualBox. That way you have access to all of them without rebooting.
    I have various linux distros and Solaris 10. The Windows install asked for registration, so I abonded that.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator devils casper's Avatar
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    I think at some point of time, every Linux user try to setup multiboot system just out of curiosity or to test new distros.

    I have installed 6+ OSes in my test machine and it's really easy to setup multiboot system. My test machine has 80GB disk too.


    * I would suggest you to create all partitions before starting installation of any distro.

    * You are planning multiboot, it means it is not a production machine and there is no need to assign lot of space or create complex partition system. 8-12GB space is enough for any main-stream distro.

    * 1GB SWAP is more than enough and all distros can share
    same partition.

    Recommended Partition Structure

    /dev/sda1 SWAP - 1 GB
    /dev/sda2 25 GB for Data sharing ( docs etc. )
    /dev/sda3 - Extended Partition
    /dev/sda5, 6, 7, 8, 9...... - Logical partitions inside Extended partition, 9GB each. You can create 60+ Logical Partitions inside an Extended Partition.

    Create all partitions before starting installation of first distro.

    * Start installation of first distro and select Manual Partitioning in Partition section. Assign / mount point to /dev/sda5. Installer will detect SWAP itself and use it.
    * Start installation of second distro and select /dev/sda6 as /. Installer will detect SWAP and other installed distro. Installer will setup dual boot and use SWAP as its own partition.

    Keep on installing other distros unless whole space get exhausted or you find a distro of your liking and stops distro hoping or you decides something else to do with available space !
    Last edited by devils casper; 03-18-2011 at 03:08 AM. Reason: a bit more info.
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    Hi,
    I am using a multi boot system with 3 linux distros (Slackware, mint and crunchbang xfce).
    As devils casper explained the important thing is to create all partitions before installation of all distros.
    Trying to shrink an existing partition etc can create umpteen no. of problems.
    And in my opinion grub2 is a better choice than grub as a boot manager in case of multi boot.
    Enjoy multi booting

  6. #6
    Super Moderator devils casper's Avatar
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    I didn't mention anything about Boot Loader intentionally. There is a much better way to setup multiboot using GRUB of first installed distro but it's confusing for new users sometimes.


    Correct procedure is :
    * Install GRUB of First distro in MBR of Hard disk.
    * Install GRUB of all other distros in boot sector of their respective / partitions.
    * Chainload GRUB of other distros from GRUB of first distro.

    This way, there won't be any need to edit or regenerate new GRUB Menu after kernel update of any distro.

    *** Above procedure works fine for GRUB2 too.
    It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siddly View Post
    Rather than multi-boot I run other OS's under VirtualBox. That way you have access to all of them without rebooting.
    I have various linux distros and Solaris 10. The Windows install asked for registration, so I abonded that.
    Dual-boot/multi-boot is really a retrograde step when there is Virtualization - VMWare, kvm, VirtualBox etc.
    I've not used dual-boot since early RedHat as it's too restrictive.It's too restrictive and disruptive.Using Virtualization it allows you to have all installed systems available under the main distro.
    I'm running openSUSE 11.5 Milestone 0 and under VirtualBox I have CentOS, Chrome, Fedora 14, Kubuntu, LinuxMINT, MEPIS, moblin, OpenSolaris and Ubuntu 11.04 vilable to be run as Virtual Machines.
    I can add any others and run them while having my main OS and other VM's running at the same time.

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    I did it my way!

    If you want to keep things simple, keep one whole hard drive for Windows, and use a whole separate hard drive, or a large USB flash drive to install Linux. The boot-loader manager (Grub), after the OS is installed, will ask you via a menu, which operating system that you want to run. Select the one that you want, and you're on your way.

    Should you unplug your external USB hard drive, then you will see only Windows coming up. When you installed Linux on an external USB device, it didn't touch your Windows hard drive at all, and the boot manager is only active when you have the external hard drive plugged in.

    If you have a desktop machine, and do use two internal hard drives, then the boot manager will always come up, and ask you which OS you want to run. The benefit of two hard drives, as opposed to installing two OS's in one hard drive, is that if one of the OS goes bad or the hard drive goes bad, in the meantime, you can switch to the other OS to complete your work. Also, it is great to have all that extra disk space for that OS, to store more movies, or personal data.

    Cheers!

  9. #9
    Super Moderator devils casper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siddly
    Dual-boot/multi-boot is really a retrograde step when there is Virtualization - VMWare, kvm, VirtualBox etc.
    What if you have an old machine which can handle VMWare? My test machine is more than 7 years old and has just 512MB RAM, Onboard SiS Graphics Card and AMD Athlon 1.8GHz processor.
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  10. #10
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    Alternate solution.

    Quote Originally Posted by devils casper View Post
    What if you have an old machine which can handle VMWare? My test machine is more than 7 years old and has just 512MB RAM, Onboard SiS Graphics Card and AMD Athlon 1.8GHz processor.
    If you have little memory, an old system, and no usb connector, then one thing that you could do is to check "DistroWatch", and look a flavor of Linux OS that is designed to operate on older system.

    If you have an older system, small memory, and no usb port, then you are bound to installing Linux into your existing hard drive, and dual booting, or putting in a second hard drive, and installing Linux into that one. Just make sure that the bootloader manager is installed into the Linux hard drive, and not in the Windows hard drive (unless you install both OS's on the same hard drive, the the bootloader would be in Windows MBR).

    Cheers!

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