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Old 12-13-2007, 12:21 PM   #1
A Face from The Past
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Join Date: Apr 2002
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Dual Boot Guide & Operating System FAQ

Sticky Clutter reduction note: Merged with Niner's OS Discussion Thread, which was chiefly a summary of commonly used OS and relevant to this thread - Astro

Firstly, aside from commenting on the guide Im about to describe, please feel free to use this thread to discuss your multiboot plans or experiences

sources Ive used to do this are chiefly these:

Screens Ive used are chiefly from these sources.

The info at these slights differs a little, there are different ways to approach it depending on what your scenario is.

My reason in writing this guide is to present a distilled version of all the info I found that worked for me. Arent you all so lucky The great thing is that doing it this way will involve no messy 3rd party partitioning apps, and no terminal window fumblings in linux. Just one simple freeware app to run from vista to correct and tweak your vista bootloader - thats it ! If anyone wants to report on alternate methods, especially ones preserving existing installs - feel free to do so. I always like to do things afresh. I have a second drive on so backing stuff up is a breeze for me whenever I want to nuke my OS drive.

*Clicky 1
*Clicky 2
*Clicky 3
*Clicky 4
*Dual Boot Superguide

and finally the utility EasyBCD 1.7 used by everyone from Astro to MS for exactly such a purpose - however please note that if you are doing a XP>Vista dual boot only, then you actually wont need to tinker with your bootloader - when you boot up vista it will give you a selection to load either Vista or an "earlier version of windows". If you are fussy, you can use BCD in this instance to call the bootlader options whatever you want.

However, you *will* need it if you want to dual boot vista/linux. If you want to do an xp/linux dual boot - I suggest you read the superguide linked to above before you plunge into this guide

* * *

Recently, since having adopted vista x64 as my main OS, there were a couple of little compatability problems I experienced. These definitely do not warrant the anti vista rant that some like to give - as the games I wanted to run(KOTOR1/2) were made pre-vista and the hardware(usb capture device) I was wanting to use has a lazy manufacturer who could not be bothered with x64 drivers(when many of its competitors do)

I gave virtualisation a try - no good. Its limited, especially for multimedia and gaming.

I was happy enough with vista to not want to revert for these minor things but used it as an opportunity to school myself in the geeky but useful art of multi-booting. I definitely think it has leveled me up as far as geeky compy skillz are concerned

Having done it - I can thoroughly recommend it ! Its like having multiple pcs. In other tech areas I inhabit - Ive also noticed the increasing desire to throw mac into the multiboot mix. The mac vs pc divide seems to dissolve for alot of people as long as they can throw it on the rig they already have, rather than fork out inflated prices for a boutique pc that is aesthetically offensive to some.

So, here Im going to write out a guide as to how I did it, having devoured many sources. For those curious and adventurous, all I can say is *please* back up important stuff you have - as if you encounter difficulties and want to revert to your original install state - you wont lose important stuff.

And remember, if you try this stuff, its AT YOUR OWN RISK. Please be aware that doing such things may potentially void your warranty if you have a store bought system, so best to check about that if it concerns you.

@D333 - hope that is sufficent caveat from a legal POV!

The guide Im about to present explains a Triple-Boot setup of
*Windows Vista x64
*Windows XP Pro SP2 (x86)
*Ubuntu Linux Gutsy Gibbon 7.10

Im pretty sure it would be easy to add another linux distro as this process doesnt seem to mess too much with the windows systems. But I havent tested this yet. I also have not tested a Mac install, as I dont own a copy of Tiger or Leopard. I have seen several setups with a concurrent mac install working *mostly* OK, with some intermittent hardware probs(wifi cards etc)

Firstly, relevant hardware:
AMD x2 6000 w shuttle proprietary mainboard.
4GB DDR2 800
150GB(system) plus 750GB(media) HDDs
Geforce 8800GTS 640MB.

The speed of your components really dont have much to do with the multiboot process itself. Whatever your components will give you on a single OS install is what they will give you on a multi install.

*windows vista install disc (w product activation key)
*windows xp install disc (w product activation key)
>>Im not going to mention anything about hacked copies so dont ask !
*ubuntu linux disc. I used the 4gb version, Im not sure how this works with the lite editions > if the partition manager is the same, then I imagine it would work similarly...
>>linux experts will be better aware than I am how different distros manage partitions - so this guide only applies for Ubuntu FF/GG as far as I can say. (the guide I originally read described a feisty fawn install, which worked just as well on GG)

One final thing: Installation sequence : There is indeed a difference if you decide to install each of these OS in a sequence different to the one I have. described. The chief of these seem to revolve around XP - which seems to have a quite destructive bootloader ! Also, when doing the initial format, it also insisted on being installed on the first formatted drive(the one that gets labelled C) - so if you work back from a vista install etc you may find that the XP install may not even appear, or that XP will overwrite vista's bootloader, locking you out of vista until you enter a product key.

The sequence Ive listed seemed to be the most painless as it gives automatic dual boot functionality, without having to restore vista's bootloader. As you install Vista's bootloader second, it seems to take XP under its wing naturally, which of course doesnt happen the other way, when xp barges in over a vista install. It obviously wasnt designed with vistas different bootloader in mind !

SO: This is what ended up being the easiest for me:

Step 1. Installing XP and Creating Partitions
Different guides Id read mentioned fiddling with command line partition management stuff, or doing it in disk management first. However, this gives you less control over partition size than if you start an install from scratch. My recommendation is > back all your stuff up, and set it all up the way you like, rather than messing with command line stuff or third party partition managers.

>>Boot off XP install disc, once youve agreed to MS evil dictums, you will get to the bit where it shows you what discs you have... I was targeting my 150GB HD > so this is how I sliced it up. (xp has these listings in mb, so to mnake a 20GB partition, you need to type in 20,000)

1st: 15GB (becomes C drive) >>for XP
2nd: 120GB >>for Vista
3rd: 14GB >>for Ubuntu Linux
4th: 1GB >>Linux swapfile

It looks like this

You can tweak that the way you want, though anything under 20GB isnt a good idea for vista !!

IMPORTANT: XPs bootloader is fussy so insists on being installed on the first partition it creates(C drive). Please keep this in mind when picking the size of the partition you want for XP.

>>>After all that proceed with xp installation, you do NOT need to format all the drives here, just the one you will be installing XP on(I uses ntfs quick - im
not sure if using another option - eg FAT32 affects this process). If this is an issue for you, than you may want to read up on it. If Vista is in your install plans, please be aware than it cannot be installed on a FAT32 partition.

>>XP fully installs in 30-60 minutes usually. During setup, it may ask you to put your product key in then, and then to complete activation later. This seems variable as some people just get the latter. In any event, know that whatever usual activation process for xp you have had will be required for a reinstall.

Once you are in XP, I suggest you finish off a basic driver install, chipset, gfx sound etc. Don't waste your time doing all you apps etc until youve finished everything with the other OS and have it working the way you like

Im doing a an XP>VIsta>Ubuntu Triple so the next step :
Once finished with XP > Restart and boot off Vista Install CD

2. Installing Vista
Those familiar with Vista will know the installation sequence is slightly different from XP > you put in your product key at the start and select which vista flavour you install. You eventually get to the partition manager - you will of course want to do a fresh install on the partition you created eralier(in my case 120gb). The upgrade install option shouldnt be highlighted, but just in case it is - dont select it !

Again with product key stuff, whatever happens on normal install is replicated here, there is no special trick >> please do **not post** here saying "but Im using 1337 activation crack - what do I do" I have 3 trained and crazy admins in the yard here, waiting to tear anyone up who utters such things

Remember what I mentioned above about Vista's bootloader taking XP under its wing ? This is the advantage of doing the XP>vista method, as once the Vista install is completed, you will now have a fully working dual boot config. A normal startup will give you the option to launch "Microsoft Windows Vista" or ""Earlier Version of WIndows" Vista will be the first option - if you actually prefer to have XP listed first(as teh default OS), you can tweak this in vista, without need of a third party app by going to

>> Desktop, right-click the Computer icon, and choose Properties. Then, in the System window, click Advanced system settings over in the left side of the window. This launches the XP-style System Properties dialog, which should be on the Advanced tab by default (Figure). Click the Settings button in the Startup and Recovery section to launch the Startup and Recovery dialog. If you really need to change the option that says "Earlier Version of Windows" to "Windows XP"(or whatever you like!) you can do this via the command prompt - or by using the great little app EasyBCD. As I was needing to use EasyBCD to configure the linux install, I changed mine in there, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered

Once in vista, I suggest you do the same as with xp, get basic drivers going first - then proceed to doing the linux bit. If you're not interested in the linux install, then you're done !

3. Installing Linux (Ubuntu 7.10 GG)
As I mentioned above, this guide specifically refers to an install process that will work on Ubuntu FF or GG. Those wanting another distro will need to verify what is the most appropriate method for that distro. I havent tried another distro in the triple boot mix, so cant comment myself. Im sure most of you linux champs are yawning now, saying -sudo apt hurry apt astro install guide

OK. Vista and XP is installed, you still have those two partitions awaiting linux, so off you go ! Pop in your linux disc(I used the DVD version) though I imagine the partition manager would be the same on the CD versions..

on the first screen - press "start or install ubuntu" > this will start the live cd version, once this is completed - start the install process proper from the "install" icon on the desktop.

After you pick language etc, you get to the partition manager screen - please select MANUAL !

Once in the partition manager you will see the partitions you created way back in the xp install. Thet are listed with check boxes next to them. Here's a crappy picture but you get the gist!

All you need to do is tell linux where to install itself, and which to use as its swapfile.

in my example

>>find the 14GB partition > select edit partition. A box appears with two selection lines on it. As this will be the linus root installation partition, in the top line select ext3 and on the bottom line /

>>Then go to the partition you selected as the one for the linux swapfile > select edit - asll you need to do is go to the bottom line and select swap If this is selected as the bottom line, the top line will usually be blocked out.

Once thats done - continue with install. As Ubuntu does this it's bootloader(GRUB) takes over from windows, so when you boot up, on your mulitboot system you will get this:

So if you want to get into vista or xp, you need to select the windows options, and then that will take you into the vista bootloader:

If you were preferring to default go into linux - then you might as well leave it here, but to get to vista/xp vista is a 2 step process - ideally we would like *one* screen where all three options are presented.

The easiest way to do this is to use the freeware app EasyBCD which I linked to above. To get it going > book back into Vista (yep, from the linux loader select windows, then select vista from the vista loader)

Make sure you are logged in as an administrator, and install EasyBCD.

There are 3 steps to this very important process ! Here's a pic from my setup

click to enlarge

1. Hey GRUB, give that vista bootloader back!
>>unless you are content to go into linux by default, to startup via vista bootloader and be given the option to boot into either 3(vista/xp/linux) is the most appealing to me >> you need to get the vista bootloader back

>>Once youve installed EasyBCD go to manage bootloader > select "reinstall vista bootloader" click write MBR to save > and then reboot to check that its worked !!

NB>>even if you prefer XP or linux, your far better off letting vistas bootloader doing it for you. XPs bootloader will mess with vista and GRUB>windows as default involves annoying terminal windows command lines , which alot of users(me included) wont understand. Some of you purport to enjoy the "power and control" the TW gives you in linux, I have to say it aint giving me that at all. I like ubuntu and sabayon, and Ive discovered a linux experience for a non super savvy user definitely is possible. Its only a matter of time before some of these more 'human' distros make further steps away from their reliance on that thing and it will be a function that lurks in the background, like the windows command prompt.

anwyay, if you really insist on GRUB or XPs bootloader doing this, you will need to google some other guides about that specifically

Step 2: You've reinstalled Vista bootloader, but you want to add linux to the list!
In EasyBCD got to "add entries" have a look at the pic I have attached. Above you will see what you already have lurking on there. Too add a linux entry - click the linux/penguin tab, and the drive where linux has been installed, select its bootloader type(in ubuntu - GRUB) and pick a name for the entry(its NST something by default > I chose "Ubuntu Linux") as it will appear in the bootloader. Press add entry/save and reboot !

You should now have all 3 OS listed in the vista bootloader !!

Final step/Optional >>

3. Renaming Entries and Changing default order (optional)
If you are content with whatever vista is going into first(usually vista), and are content with the bootloader referring to xp as "earlier version of windows" then you dont need to worry about this bit... if you do want this final tweak >>Go Into change settings, the tope bit allows you to change the default OS, the bottom allows you to change the display name.

As you can tell from my pic, Ive changed "MS windows vista" to Windows Vista x64, and "earlier version of windows" to "Windows XP Pro SP2"

save/reboot, and start enjoying your tri boot goodness Play KOTOR, then jump to vista and give DX10 crysis a bash, and then hop over to linux and play with that(erstwhile giggling at the terminal window). IMO, Its a great way to maximise functionality of your pc and give yourself full options for its use, rather be limited by one OSs peculiarities.

good luck !!

REMEMBER- if you feel the need to try this - back your stuff up first dammit !!


PS - Id be especially interested to hear from anyone who has tried OSX on a pc(not vice versa) !!

Asinus asinum fricat

Last edited by Astrotoy7; 07-06-2009 at 10:30 PM.
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