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Multiple OS partitions

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  • New Build
  • Windows XP
  • Systems
Last response: in Systems
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August 20, 2009 2:44:29 PM

Hey guys, im going to put together a fresh build in the next few days (i7 920 gtx 285 ect ect) and my plan wa to create a multiple partiton multiple OS drive. I have my old drives and as such (my guess) it i can boot the computer for the first time with that(xp64). however after i will be putting on windows 7, vista ultimate, and linux (im thinking mint). i have 3 hd's 1 200gb, that has the xp 64 on it, a 500gb with all my files and i bought a new 1tb with nothing. after installing he 3 new os's i will also change the xp 64 to xp 32. so can anyone tell me what might be the best order to complete all this and how. do these new OS's run off a boot disk or what? haha i havent done this in 5 years.

also as a side question, what are x86 os's? i mean i can understand that as a 64 bit processor (on my old build) i wanted the 64 system, but nothing has a x86 processor. also just to clarify, is the i7 920 a 64 bit processor or does it run 4 32 bit cores?

More about : multiple partitions

August 20, 2009 6:50:35 PM

32-bit = x86
64-bit = x64

I don't know why you want to install XP x64 and then replace it with XP, nor how you would even go about doing that, so decide on which one you want (or both) and stick with it through the install process. XP x64 is based on the Server 2003 operating system and NOT on the XP operating system. This makes it very stable, but drivers are hard to find, and usually are pretty buggy. I'd stick with just XP.

32-bit operating systems can see a maximum of 4GB of RAM (usually actually only around 3-3.5GB) so if you have more than 3GB of RAM, stick with the 64-bit version of OS's unless you want to have XP on for compatibility with older games and programs that won't run in a 64-bit enviornment. This usually only applies to games released over 10 years ago, and even then some of them still work.

My proposal is for you to install (in order, and assuming you have more than 3GB of RAM):
Windows XP
Windows Vista (64-bit)
Windows 7 (64-bit)
Whatever Linux distribution you want

OPTION 1
It is important that XP is first and that Linux is last for reasons dealing with the boot process. XP boots differently than later versions of Windows and installing it after Vista or 7 will cause problems and mess up the bootloader. Linux should be last so that it's bootloader takes over boot protocol instead of the Windows bootloader which is less efficient and secure.

You can find step-by-step instructions by Googling words like "multi-boot dual-boot windows linux walkthrough" if you need them.

Your end result would be that Linux pops up when you turn on the computer and asks you which OS you want to boot into. Your "My Computer" would look something like this when using any OS:
C: XP
D: Vista
E: Win 7
F: Linux
G: Data
H: CD/DVD Drive

etc. etc.

OPTION 2
There is a second, and even better alternative that hides all your operating systems from one another when you boot into one. Every operating system is also designated as the C: drive, and you can keep your data drives shared among all the operating systems. This way is more complicated, but lucky for you, I still have a link from when I was learning to do it.
LINK HERE

Your end result would be that a third party bootloader (I used OSL 2000) pops up when you turn on the computer and asks you which OS you want to boot into. Your "My Computer" would look something like this:
(when using XP)
C: XP
D: Data
E: CD/DVD Drive

(when using Vista)
C: Vista
D: Data
E: CD/DVD Drive

etc. etc.

Sorry if I got a little technical, I can answer some more questions about this later if you need me to.
August 20, 2009 10:55:25 PM

Great that is fantastic! thanks very much. actually the reason i mentioned xp 64 at all is because it is what i already have on my current system. what i was asking (kind of) was whether it would be easier to install the new os's straight onto my new HD or whether i should boot from my old one (xp 64) and then install the other os's onto my new one.

what im thinking right now is that i will just straight install them on my new HD and then just erase the old ones (after transferring files) and use them for storage.

I will definitely go with that link tho. thanks a bunch!

having read the link, i believe that i will have to install vista 64 (will sp2 be ok? that is the version of the CD that i have), then 7, then followed vista again, xp and then linux. correct?
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August 21, 2009 10:22:38 AM

I know this is not exactly what you are asking for, but have you ever thought of creating the other OS in a Virtual Machine? This would give you the function of having them, but you wouldn't have to deal with all the install and partitioning problems.

I've used VMware Server and Workstation and have had no issues at all getting any of them to run.
August 21, 2009 1:43:20 PM

Yes i looked into it however i find this to be a preferable setup for me personally. also it seems to be a fairly simple thing to do, as long as you have all the different versions of the os's at your disposal.
August 21, 2009 1:52:14 PM

That's fine - just suggesting. I always liked VMs because you can work in the various OS simultaneously and not have to reboot, and is quite easy to set up.

Up to you...
August 21, 2009 2:33:40 PM

well my basic assumption was that the VM would be quite slow. since its running on OS on top of another. secondarily, then i would have to decide what my primary OS would be, which i cant decide yet since i have never used vista or 7.

thanks though!
August 21, 2009 4:28:46 PM

redwood36 said:
Great that is fantastic! thanks very much. actually the reason i mentioned xp 64 at all is because it is what i already have on my current system. what i was asking (kind of) was whether it would be easier to install the new os's straight onto my new HD or whether i should boot from my old one (xp 64) and then install the other os's onto my new one.

what im thinking right now is that i will just straight install them on my new HD and then just erase the old ones (after transferring files) and use them for storage.

I will definitely go with that link tho. thanks a bunch!

having read the link, i believe that i will have to install vista 64 (will sp2 be ok? that is the version of the CD that i have), then 7, then followed vista again, xp and then linux. correct?

You want to install XP first, then Vista, then Win 7, then Linux. You don't have to upgrade to Win 7 from Vista, you can just install it like any OS. The link is about 7 months old, and is a little out of date (though still very useful).

Actually, now that I look at it, that walkthrough is actually for my option #1 from my earlier post... Sorry I may have screwed that up a little.

For option #1, boot from your XP CD, set up all 4 of your partitions, and install each OS in order to different partitions. That's really all there is to that.

Option #2 is considerably more difficult, though a lot better IMO. Boot from your XP CD, set up ONLY your partition for XP, and install it. After it's installed, boot into XP go to Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Computer Management>Disk Management. Here you need to do three things, and be very careful about what you do:
#1 create a new partition for Vista DO NOT assign it a drive letter.
#2 Rename your partitions so you know which is which.
#3 right click on your new Vista partition and mark it as active (it will give you a warning that you can ignore).

Restart your computer and boot from your Vista CD, install it to the partition you made for it (it should be the C drive). You will need to repeat those 3 steps every time you install another OS. This effectively hides them from each other, and makes them all the C drive. After you've installed all the operating systems, I believe you will need to install a 3rd party boot manager to be able to pick which OS you want to boot into when your start your computer. I'm not positive because I've never done it with Linux before. Linux may be smart enough to handle the boot process on it's own.

If this is your first time trying any multi-booting, or anything this complicated, I suggest sticking with option #1 at least for the time being. It will save you some headaches.

EDIT: I found the link I was looking for: LINK HERE
This link was INCREDIBLY useful for not only the walkthrough, but for generally understanding the multiboot process. It's a very old article, but extremely helpful if you want to consider option #2.
August 21, 2009 11:02:14 PM

your explanation seems to be clear enough. im still in the process of reading the link, since i just got home and its confusing to think in the quantities and toools they talk of.. as a quick question, any version issues i should worry about?

the article seems to say that you could not install windows7 on top of vista sp 2. is this true or does this system negate that. additionally, should i use xp to install all of the os's, or will it boot automatically the last os installed. thanks a bunch!

ps if i am to follow your instructions, where and when on the disk drive to i install OSL 2000? do install it from windows xp or some kind of dos? other than that your instructions are pretty clear.
August 22, 2009 5:55:51 AM

When you are setting up a new computer, you boot from your OS cd and install the OS and then it boots to the HDD where the OS was installed and you have a functional OS. That's all your doing, but you're doing it 4 times; the first time is XP, then Vista, then Win 7, then Linux. Each time you add another OS, it takes over the boot process. That is why you want to install earlier versions of Windows first and finish with Linux (Linux is generally "smarter" than Windows).

The complicated part comes when you start hiding the different OS's from eachother... when you boot to (for example) XP, it has no idea that Vista, Win 7, and Linux (I actually don't know 100% if it will see Linux or not, I'm too unfamiliar with it) are all installed too. All it will see is it's partition it's installed to, and your data drive(s).

OSL2000 is a simple install process. You just download it and run it and it installs itself after you restart. This has to be your very last step, or it will be overwritten when you install your next OS. I don't know if you even need a 3rd party bootmanager since you'll be using Linux. Linux could be smart enough to do everything correctly by itself.

I highly recommend that you don't attempt option #2 until you've mastered option #1. You will have a much better understanding of everything, and option 2 will seem much easier than if you were to just try to figure it out as you go along.

If you want to learn more about the subject of multibooting, read through the information at http://www.goodells.net/multiboot/

It's very well written and informative.
August 22, 2009 7:20:38 AM

im moderately familiar with multibooting, as i have already done so in the past. however, it was naturally on a much smaller scale. with 2000 and xp. this is not only doubling the number of os's but also trying to throw in some linux. thanks for the concern tho, im already at step 2 with the vista, i'll keep you updated if your interested in seeing how linux works out. thanks again!
August 22, 2009 9:51:23 PM

I am interested to learn if linux will work as the bootmanager.
August 22, 2009 11:00:37 PM

hey guys here to report back!

basically everything seems to be working out fine. basically i did as you said, and after a bit of an issue with ubuntu (i didnt know the file system so i ran an autoformat within the next available space, which as not the ubuntu partition as i labeled it, but rather the rest of the disk, which i did not want. after reformating the ubuntu partition i was met with a grub error of 22. eventually i worked around it by booting from the cd again.) the job seems to work out fine.

basically ubuntu seemed to want to autoboot to itself. from there i seemed to have the option to mount xp or 7, but clearly i wasnt interested in that. so after installing the osl loader and booting, you receive a menu primarily comprised of ubuntu related options (ubuntu, ubuntu safe boot, ect ect) followed by an option for windows booting. you select this and then you get the regular menu that happens between multi windows os's, where you pick 7 or the "older one".

ubuntu is not recognized at all by either windows. oh yes, i scrapped installing vista since it seemed more trouble than its worth. I just put xp32, 7 and ubuntu on. winxp is recognized by 7, but 7 isnt recognized by winxp. all three os's think of itself as the c drive. so essentially i think it was pretty successful. now i have to get a proper keyboard-- the one i own is a wireless where the receiver is then split into two ps/2 connectors...and my mb had only one. needless to say going back and forth was too fun, but the keyboard got the job done, or in 7's case the handy on screen keyboard.

basically im pretty happy with it, but id like to see if i can set it to default to 7, rather than ubuntu (as it does now). but thats a pretty small thing and after perusing the command lines for osl, i didnt notice it at the first take.

thanks kufan for all the help!
!