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Windows Vista and Linux on different drives in same PC

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January 6, 2009 5:54:46 PM


I have a PC with two WD Caviar SATA HDD’s, one of 500 Gb and one of 120Gb. I want to install Windows Vista on the 500 Gb unit and Ubuntu on the other and somehow configure the system for dual boot.

I am told that this can be done but it is far from clear in my mind where the MBR and Boot Manager should go, how to put them there and how to set it all up so that I am given the choice of booting from one or the other OS at start up. Apparently, the MBR and the Boot Manager would have to reside on my drive “C” in the 500 Gb Disk and the Bios Set up can be configured to make everything run as it should.

My plan is to download a Live CD of Ubuntu and install this OS on the 120Gb disk after Windows Vista is installed and running on the 500 Gb disk. I will also download EasyBCD as I understand that this Utility will be of great help in setting up the dual boot. Obviously I can’t do dry runs of these processes so I need to hear from those who already have done this type installation. Would appreciate very much any comments or suggestions on the following two ponts:

1- Will the step by step installation instructions on the Live CD and in EasyBCD permit me to choose which disk I put Ubuntu on and will they guide me on the question of where to load and how to configure the MBR and Boot Manager.

2 - I have come across several good articles about dual booting Windows and Linux but all were about cases of these two OS’s being installed in different partitions on the same disk. Can anyone please point me to an article or some knowledge base on how to install and set up these two OS’s on different HDD in the same system so that I can boot from one or the other at start up.

January 6, 2009 7:04:22 PM

Forget about EasyBCD, just use GRUB which comes with Ubuntu.

Ubuntu should configure it automatically, just install GRUB onto /dev/sda - the 500GB.

Good luck :) 
January 6, 2009 8:13:35 PM

Easiest way is to use vista's partition manager to shrink the vista partition and leave some free space. Then use ubuntu's use largest continuous free space option and you're good-to-go.
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January 6, 2009 8:19:42 PM

There is no need for that, the OP said the system has two drives, one for each OS. :) 
January 6, 2009 8:45:08 PM

I think you might need to try chainloading, this might help a bit

your going to need to make grub boot first then point it at the second disk sd1,0 or hd1,0

hope thats right and good luck.
January 7, 2009 3:49:54 PM

O. K. Thanks all.

From what I read, I see that the norm is to install Windows and Linux in different partitions on the same HDD. This is understandable since most PC’s only have one HDD.

But in my case, I happen to have this extra 120 Gb SATA HDD which I don’t need as a Back Up since I already have an external 320 Gb USB SATA for that purpose. I am just trying to make use of that 120 Gb unit provided that it does not bring too many problems in configuring the dual boot. I still think it would result in a nice, clean no conflict set up if each OS were installed on its separate disk. ( Especially if it can be done at no extra cost)

Since I will have an image copy of my current “C” drive (Windows) on my External back up HDD in case anything goes wrong, I think I will just go ahead and experiment with the installation until I get it right. I can always come back to the forum with specific questions if I get stuck and if I get into any serious trouble, I will have my image copy to recover
January 7, 2009 8:59:52 PM

It used to be a bit of a pain to set up dual boot, but seriously you don't really even have to think about it anymore. Usually, what I do is I create a separate partition for the /boot folder for GRUB (the bootloader that comes with almost every Linux distribution), if you are using Ubuntu, it is smart enough to figure out where the Master boot record is , but just in case, check on it and make sure that it goes on the windows hard drive. Grub should then write part of itself to the MBR and point to its second stage on your /boot partition (which is also taken care of automatically) so when the computer turns on, instead of starting the windows bootloader, it will start GRUB, and then you can pick between Linux and Windows.

You don't HAVE to make a separate /boot partition, but I like to have that separate from everything else just in case I do something stupid and hose my system; at least then I can still boot to windows w/o having to fix the bootloader.

-Zorak
January 8, 2009 11:38:24 AM

Wubi might work... might...
January 12, 2009 12:13:52 AM

Why use wubi? He's got 2 HDD's, wubi has errors and isn't realiable.
January 12, 2009 5:23:02 AM

Oh ok then... I personally have never tried wubi before.
January 18, 2009 2:03:38 AM

Wubi needs quite a few patches and fixing, personally I think it's got a good concept but, yeah... kinda glitchy, still it's much better than the one that came with Ubuntu 8.04.
January 25, 2009 1:00:29 AM

O.K. After reading all the above, I will close the session by saying that I will go for Zorak's suggestion to use GRUB and place it the Windows' hard drive

But I will play with the Live CD of Ubuntu for a few weeks before I install it on my hard drive

Thank you all
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