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Old September 5, 2012, 10:32 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 13
Default Need tips setting up a multiboot

Hi everyone.

I was wondering if we can get a list of tips and important things to consider before setting up a multi-boot system. I'm planning on moving on from Windows XP soon, but I still wanna keep it there should I need it. I'll narrate some of the stuff that I encountered to give you guys an idea of the sort of things I'm trying to avoid. It's kinda long so you might wanna skip to the next marker.

My friend lent me one of those Windows 7 30 day trial disks, so I thought I'd give myself a little preview of what's in store. Here's how things unfolded.

-Installed Win7 on its own partition, so far so good. Didn't install any drivers or apps yet. Also, I think the boot menu just worked on its own (I can boot XP from the menu).

-A few days later, I found a DVD labelled Linux lying around. So I was like 'what the hell', and installed it too in its own partition. Still no problems. Also found out that its an Oracle linux distribution.

-At this point, my system was booting from grub first, and if I pick 'Other' in the menu, the screen passes to the Win7 boot menu with Win7 and XP. At the time, that was basically all I wanted to see and I never used any of the new OS's.

-After some time, I noticed that Win7 made its own folder named Boot on the XP partition. This is where the problem starts, partly because I'm really bad at ignoring these kinds of things when I come across them. I formatted the Win7 partition, with the intention of reinstalling it with the Boot folder in its own partition.

-Win7 reinstalled, but I never found the 'Boot folder' setting I was looking for (if it was possible to change it at all). Worse, the system is now booting directly to Win7. I fiddled with the bcdedit thing, but XP gets the boot.ini error.

I'll end the story there and fast forward to now. I'm booting XP again thanks to some bootsect nt52 command, I reformatted the Win7 partition because I feel like it's too early to touch that thing yet, and the linux is still lingering here, although without grub to boot it it'll probably be formatted away for simplicity for now.

Some of the things I wanna accomplish:
-keep all OS's in one HDD
-each OS should keep their stuff in their own partitions
-if possible, set each OS to only be able to read from another OS's partition
-keep this very WinXP intact and bootable. (I don't have the disk for this anymore)
-see if we can work out a plan that can accomodate future addtions (linux, SSD, etc.)
-use only a single boot menu as much as possible
-find out how to tell the OS installer to not mess with the boot menu

Pointers that I have so far (I'm not an advanced user and I don't fully understand most of these...):
-Windows has some fetish for the first boot sector
-Linux uses a different file system
-XP does not load when the thing (MBR?) is set to nt60
-I read somewhere that 4 OS's is the max per HDD

There's all sorts of things scattered everywhere on the internet, and I'm actually still reading up on some of them. I hope we can keep some of them here, or at least be pointed to an already existing list if there's one already.

Thanks for reading. I'll try to get back soon when I come up with something. In the mean time, I would appreciate any input on stuff I'm still missing, and which things are impossible or just plain bad idea.
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