How to Triboot a Computer
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to run three different operating systems on one computer? Well with a technique called tribooting its very possible. This guide will show you how you can turn your computer into a triboot (allows a computer to run three different operating systems).We will be using the GRUB boot loader to Triboot since it offers many methods and is the easiest to use. After the computer is setup to triboot it will be able to do a variety of activities. These include fixing a Windows Install and learning how to use Linux and BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution developed at Berkeley California and one of the decedents of Unix).
To start tribooting you will need an operating system already installed. In this case we will use Windows since its the most common operating system available. Next you will need two other operating systems to boot. In this case we will use two Linux distros since they are easy to triboot with.
Now that we have all the operating systems available we need to partition the hardrive. This is because the Windows installation takes up the whole hardrive. To get around this we use a program called a partitioner to divide the hard drive up. This guide will focus on the Ubuntu and GParted Live cd both of which contain GParted. You can get the latest Ubuntu Live cd from http://www.ubuntu.com/ or http://www.gparted.com for the latest GParted Live cd.
Encase you don't feel like using GParted there are other partitioners you can use. These include Disk Druid in Fedora Core, QTParted in SuSE, and Kdrak in Mandriva. There are also three partitioners Parted,fdisk and cfdisk which are in text mode and are recommended for advanced users. Before you resize a Windows partition there are some basic guidelines that should be followed. The first of which is that the Windows should be backed up. This is because in some cases resizing the hardrive can remove data. The diskdefrag tool should run so that the data is all in one spot. Then you should run chkdsk(A command in windows that checks the integrity of hardrives) and lastly its good to run a virus and spyware scan. Once this is complete you are ready to partition your hardrive so the computer can be ready to triboot.
The first step is to place the Ubuntu or GParted live cd into the computer and let it boot. If its not booting you will have to go into the BIOS. This can be done by pressing the Delete, F1, F2 or F10 key. The key that needs to be pressed depends on the number it displays when the computer boots up. While in the BIOS you will then find an option for the boot order(the order in which the drives boot) which should be setup in this order Floppy, Cdrom, Hardrive.
Once Ubuntu is up and running you must now unmount all drives. You must do this for all of the drives or else the computer can't be partitioned. Next you click on the program named GParted in the menu. This will startup GParted and will give you the drives you can resize. First we are going to resize the Windows NTFS partition. To do this you select the partition labeled NTFS and right-click on it, then select Resize. GParted will now ask you how much space you would like to give it. You can either view it in Megabytes or Gigabytes. After clicking OK you'll see an updated view of your partitions.
Next you will create an extended partition to fill the free space that you gave by resizing NTFS. To do this all you do is click on the free space and on the option to create a partition (it will be an icon somewhere near the upper left of the screen). Then choose the option to make it an extended partition, and move the slider at the top to choose the size you want. After you've done this you'll be able to click inside this partition and choose to create another partition.
This time make it a logical partition, and format it as ext3 (ext3 is one of the most common Linux partitions). Once you've finished this, repeat for the remainder of the partition, to create the second logical ext3 partition inside the extended partition. Its also best to create a swap partition(a swap partition as a partition in Linux that can be used as if it were RAM). The process to do this is basically the same as before just click on some empty space, choose the partition size and type and your set/
Note that nothing has actually changed yet; you must select File then Commit to apply the changes. You will then see a progress dialog that tells how much of the partitioning is complete. When it gets to 100% just click the ok button. To get out of GParted just select file in the title bar and quit.
Now that you have partitioned your drive triboot the last step is to install the other operating system in the two logical partitions inside the extended partition. During the installs the Linux distros will ask if you would like them to be added to the MBR(Master Boot Record) in GRUB. Just say yes to both of these and once the installs are complete you can now triboot your computer. If you would like a guide with graphics and pictures here are some websites that will help.