I am going to install vista on a new hard drive and keep my current hard drive with xp on it. I wanted to know if the vista bootloader will give me the option of booting either os as they will be on seperate drives. Also I will probably install linux on another hard drive in the future or possibly on a new partition of the vista hard drive. I will still want to keep the vista bootloader to present my os options. will this still be possible with linux installed? And finally if i can do all of this or at least the dual boot xp thing is there anyway to make the vista bootloader boot into xp after say 10 secs of inactivity rather than boot to vista?
To my knowledge the dual boot option only comes up after Vista searches a single physical drive for an existing os. So if your OS is on another physical drive I don't think you get to dual boot via the bootloader - there may well be some way of customizing a bootloader to do what you want however.
But why bother- a very simple alternative is to use your BIOS 'pop-up boot menu' to select which HD you want to boot from. On my system (ASUS p5-b) you hit f8 at power on and a nice menu pops up which lets you boot from any drive you have an OS installed to. I have three drives with different OS combos on each. I boot anyone of them from this simple menu. You just have to remember which OS is on which drive!
The one that starts automatically is the one listed as the 'first drive' in your BIOS boot order.
This is just as easy as the bootloader IMO. Same number of keystrokes really.
To be safe I would remove the XP HD from the system while you are installing Vista and add it back in after.
I have the following OS's installed, each has a seperate hard drive for them to run on.
Windows Vista 32 bit
Windows Vista 64 bit
When the system boots the LILO loader (ubuntu) starts, the default is Windows so then that loader passes off the next boot tasks to Vista loader. XP is the default. So if I want to start XP I do nothing, it will start loading after 10 seconds. If I want any of the other 3 I make my selection.
I was originally using the bios method but that was a real pain if you selected wrong.
I just used the LILO and Vista loaders & edited their defaults.
In the past, I've triple booted XP, Vista, and Ubuntu all of the same HDD. It works the same way as cubbage said. The first boot loader lets you choose Linux or Windows. Then it sends you to Vista's boot loader where you pick Vista or XP. You can change the default order of both. The easiest way I've found to do the Vista boot loader is a program called EasyBCD. It's free, and a quick google search should be pretty easy. The linux boot loader (I've only used GRUB, so if you use LILO, don't do this) is basically just a config file located at
All you need to do is move around the blocks of code that go along with each boot option. Once you get in there and look, it's really pretty easy.
If this wasn't clear enough, just let me know! You can also send me a PM if you like.