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Hi everyone! I was planning to load a bunch of different distros in my laptop, so I've got a pair of questions on how make it the precise way I ...
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  1. #1
    Just Joined! HisDudeness's Avatar
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    Multi-booting issues


    Hi everyone! I was planning to load a bunch of different distros in my laptop, so I've got a pair of questions on how make it the precise way I want.

    In particular, more than the boot itself, my main perplexity was about hibernation and swap. In fact, the answer to the first question is kinda obvious actually, or anyway can easily be found doing a quick internet search, I just wanna be sure about it. The more important one is the second. Anyway, useless talking about some questions if you don't write them. Here we are;


    1. How to make an unique grub for all? I have a separate boot partition, do I have to keep my first distro's grub and tell all the others to install without a boot loader and then manually add their custom voices to grub's configuration on my main distro?
    2. I've heard the only trouble may be on using an unique swap partition when hibernating, because as you do so your entire RAM is copied on the swap and so a new starting OS can find it already occupied and have problems when trying to use it. So I wanna do something like this: if a distro is hibernated, no matter which, as I turn on my laptop it will bypass the grub and automatically restore the suspended OS, not allowing me to access to another one until I completely close its session. Is this even possible? How can be done?


    While we're at it, I actually have a bnus question too: I'm reserving around 10GB per distro, changing with its needs, and keeping the biggest part of my HDD to store my music, documents and so on, as home directory. I'm pratically planning on using the same /home partition for every distro. Will there be any problem? Is it sufficient to change my UID and GID to make them the same over all distros? I'm talking about every linux OS, from Ubuntu, to Gentoo, to Arch and DSL.

    Thanks everyone, have a good day!

  2. #2
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    1. Stop trying to make stuff more complicated than it has to be. Just google how to dual/triple boot your system.
    2. Not possible. Or maybe it is, but it's not easily doable.

    Bonus: This may cause problems due to config files and such not being the same across distros.

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    Thanks for replying. Yes, the first question is useless to answer, there are no secrets about grub and booting, everything has been answered in the internet. As for the second question, if it can be done, I'd want doing it, even if it's not simple. If it doesn't require a million operations with a high possibility to screw up my system, I'd do it. I hope there's a way by modifying grub, and not having to set something up for every distro separately.

    What kind of problems can be brought by the common home directory? Is there any way to avoid them?

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    You need Grub from one of your distros in the master boot record. Every other one, you should just install to the root partition of the specific distro. Grub files don't take up much space. You will need to do some reading on which Grub version is used on the various distros because the method of booting will differ. You could create a separate data partition for your music and documents and access from each distro. Fewer complications than a single /home partition.

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    Hi. I can't give you much help on your problem, but I think what you're doing on the second question is interesting and really cool. I'll bookmark this thread and hope you'll post your final resolution here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilesterg View Post
    Hi. I can't give you much help on your problem, but I think what you're doing on the second question is interesting and really cool. I'll bookmark this thread and hope you'll post your final resolution here.
    Thanks mate! I hope to come to a solution, although it might be very hard to find one. Could it be some instruction I give to grub? I hope so, for that would mean I can install all distros I want and think about it in a second moment.

    Quote Originally Posted by yancek View Post
    You need Grub from one of your distros in the master boot record.
    I'm sorry, I just realized I'm more noob than I thought. To install a distro's grub in the MBR do I need to place that distro in the first partition of the hard drive and place is /boot mount point in the same partition with no separate one?

    Quote Originally Posted by yancek View Post
    You could create a separate data partition for your music and documents and access from each distro. Fewer complications than a single /home partition.
    To make a middle ground between the two methods, avoiding the problems of an unique /home partition and still having the convenience of it, can i tell my distro to automatically link his music, video, documents, download etc. folders into the already existing ones? Not to phisically make him identify those folders into existing ones, but just to tell him opening the existing ones when I double-click on his ones, like you can do in *ugh* Windows. Is that even possible? In which distros?

    By the way, I just realized I can make just four primary partitions (how noob I am...). Will there be any multi-booting trouble due to the fact I will make an unique extended partition containing all logical ones of each distro?

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    If you are installing multiple Linux distros you will need to have at least one of them to have its bootloader code installed in the master boot record. The default on most distros is to do that. It will probably be easier if you install a distribution with Grub2 last as it is easier to set up boot. On the other distributions, install the Grub bootloader to the root (/) partition where that particular distributions is installed. You do NOT have to install that distro or any of them to the first partition. In order to boot, you will not need the distro on the first partition even if it is the distro with the Grub code in the mbr.

    I don't use separate /boot partitions nor do I use separate /home partitions so I won't give any advice on that. There are good reasons for both but it's mostly choice.

    If you create a separate data partition which you want mounted at all times from the different distros, you would only need an entry in the /etc/fstab file on each of the distributions. The entry would be the same for all distros and there are many examples available when you get to that point.

    On your last question, you can install all of the Linux distributions on logical partitions if you want and they should still boot. The primary/first partition was (and maybe still is?) a windows problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yancek View Post
    If you are installing multiple Linux distros you will need to have at least one of them to have its bootloader code installed in the master boot record. The default on most distros is to do that. It will probably be easier if you install a distribution with Grub2 last as it is easier to set up boot. On the other distributions, install the Grub bootloader to the root (/) partition where that particular distributions is installed. You do NOT have to install that distro or any of them to the first partition. In order to boot, you will not need the distro on the first partition even if it is the distro with the Grub code in the mbr.
    Thanks again, yancek! About this point, I only have a last question: which distro you would advice as the grub one? I mean overall, it can be for easier editing, for widest compatibility with other distros, for faster and more stable boot, or things like those. I'm thinking about some distros among the following, so I would be very glad if you could tell me which in your opinion is the best among those: Debian, Ubuntu, Mint DE, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Gentoo, Arch, Slackware.

    Quote Originally Posted by yancek View Post
    If you create a separate data partition which you want mounted at all times from the different distros, you would only need an entry in the /etc/fstab file on each of the distributions. The entry would be the same for all distros and there are many examples available when you get to that point.
    I don't completely get it... can editing fstab give me stable direct links to that separate data partitions for default Documents, Music, Downloads, Pictures etc. folders? And if I created this data partition as a distro's home and later format that distro / partition will something happen to the separate data one?

    And for the last question, does really anybody know how to tell grub to automatically restore a suspended distro not letting you choose another one as long as his session is still hibernated occupying the swap?
    Last edited by HisDudeness; 07-19-2012 at 04:00 PM. Reason: Grammatical mistake (as long as/until)

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    Here's what you should do:

    Pick ONE distro, and use that for a while. Worry about more complicated stuff later, after you have figured out what the basics are and what /etc/fstab is.

    I was like you once. "Linux is open source" = "I can do anything and everything I've ever imagined with my computer instantly with little to no effort" No, you have to go through the motions, put in the time, and learn things.

    Just install ONE DISTRIBUTION and use that one. If you want to try another one, spin up a VM, or use a live CD. If anything attempting to use two significantly different distros while you're first learning is only going to hurt you.

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    I'd agree with mizzle, try one and use it and see how it goes. Of the distributions you listed, several use Grub2 which is obviously a newer version of Grub Legacy and you can do some things with it that you can't with Grub Legacy. Slackware still uses Lilo which is pretty different from Grub. It works fine. Since you are not familiar with any, it will be a new learning experience for any one you try. I personally use Grub Legacy to boot my machine which includes distributions which boot with Grub2. That's just a personal preference as I am more familiar with Grub Legacy but I imagine I'll switch to Grub2 at some point.

    Also, I'd agree that picking one distribution and using it for a while and maybe installing Virtual Box on it and installing other distributions that way to test is a good way to go.

    I don't completely get it... can editing fstab give me stable direct links to that separate data partitions for default Documents, Music, Downloads, Pictures etc. folders? And if I created this data partition as a distro's home and later format that distro / partition will something happen to the separate data one?
    Each distribution has its own /etc/fstab file. Almost all distributions come with a Documents, Music, Downloads, Pictures, Movies/Videos sub-directory in the /home partition of that distribution. If you have all these directories in a /home/user directory under a / partition and format and re-install, then yes all the data will be gone. If you want separate directories accessible from each distribution, put them on a separate partition. Create a data partition with sub-directories for Pictures, Movies, etc. You will need to do this from each distribution so that's why it would be better to familarize your self with one before doing multiple installs. You would create a data partition as root user: mkdir /mnt/data
    You would then (again as root) put an entry in fstab, sample on sda9: /dev/sda9 /mnt/data ext4 auto,user,rw 1 2
    You would need to change the sda9 to whichever partition you use.

    If you have a lot of data such as Pictures, Movies and personal business data, it would probably be a good idea to put them on a separate partition rather than on / or /home because a new install will not overwrite the data, unless of course you make a mistake in an install and write to the wrong partition? More questions, re-post.

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