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  1. #1
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    Partitioning Question

    I have been reading some posts on multi-booting etc. And must humbly admit that as a linux newbie, there is still some language being used that sounds foriegn to me.

    I have a 120g SATA hard drive in my P4 system, 1 gig memory. I have put Mandrake 10.1 on the first 40g partition as 'Primary'. The balance of that drive is 3 evenly split partitions as logical in an extended partition.

    I am adding a second 120g SATA as a slave and want to partition it with a number of partitions to install and test drive as many linux distro's as I can.

    The question(s)...

    Can all the new partitions on the new hdd be logical partitions or should the first be primary? Is there certain linux distro's that insist on being installed on a primary partition? I should note that when I installed Mandrake, I made a 97mb /boot partition at the very begining of the hdd and installed grub to that partition.

    On any linux install I've done so far the installer asks me if I want grub installed in the MBR or in /root? If I'm going to multi boot a bunch of linux distro's, will they all boot from the MBR in the master hdd if I choose to install grub in the MBR on each installation?

    I have read Saikee's "How To" on chain loading and I'm afraid I might be missing something. Will His article be pertinant to what I'm attempting to do?

    Alot of questions, I know but I have a hunch the answer is under my nose if someone would be kind enough to point me to it.

    Thanks,

    Todd

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Todd50
    Can all the new partitions on the new hdd be logical partitions or should the first be primary?
    The first needs to be a primary. IIRC, every physical disk needs at least one primary partition.

    Is there certain linux distro's that insist on being installed on a primary partition?
    No, they don't care.

    I should note that when I installed Mandrake, I made a 97mb /boot partition at the very begining of the hdd and installed grub to that partition.
    Generally, that's a good idea, but you will have to pay attention what exactly is being written to that partition.

    On any linux install I've done so far the installer asks me if I want grub installed in the MBR or in /root?
    Generally, GRUB is being installed in the MBR of the master disk, yes.

    If I'm going to multi boot a bunch of linux distro's, will they all boot from the MBR in the master hdd if I choose to install grub in the MBR on each installation?
    Basically, yes. However, with this startegy every new installation would install GRUB again and (possibly) overwrite your /boot partition. This could be very messy. Since you already installed GRUB just fine and it's only needed once, I suggest this approach:

    1. You install all distros you want, but you don't (re)install GRUB or any other bootloader for the matter.
    2. Go to /boot/grub/grub.conf (or /boot/grub/menu.lst) and manually enter the information to boot the new distributions you installed. Code Listing 3 in the Gentoo Installation Docs will be a good help.


    If you try to install a distribution that requires you to reinstall GRUB, tell the installer to install GRUB in the MBR of your master disk and have the installation use your already existing /boot partition. Your installation will overwrite your already existing config files there. If you're lucky, it autodetects your other distros and adds them to the GRUB menu. If it doesn't, proceed as in step #2. HTH.

    Edit: just for clarification: GRUB, i.e. the bootloader program, is what usually gets installed in the MBR. /boot/grub/* is the place where the program looks for the corresponding config files. For GRUB to work correctly you need to have the program installed and the config files set up correctly. For more information, read the full article at Gentoo, it explains things really well (you can skip the genkernel section if you don't install Gentoo, too).
    Last edited by Parcival; 01-07-2006 at 01:48 PM.

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  3. #3
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    I'd suggest you install grub all to grub, then chainload them. Then you will not touch and endanger your primary grub installation.

    That means, install mandrake with /boot mounted. select install grub to root. In this way, /boot will have your grub installation, and since its the only primary partition it will be automatically chainloaded by your BIOS. install all others to their own partition without /boot.

    NOTE: its better to install mandrake last since it will then install and detect your other distros and automatically add clauses to chainload them. don't forget your data partitions, esp home partition. you should reuse them
    Last edited by XiaoKJ; 01-07-2006 at 01:57 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Thanks for the input. Just some clarification if I could.

    XiaoKJ wrote:
    install mandrake with /boot mounted. select install grub to root. In this way, /boot will have your grub installation, and since its the only primary partition it will be automatically chainloaded by your BIOS.
    NOTE: its better to install mandrake last since it will then install and detect your other distros and automatically add clauses to chainload them.


    Should I make the /boot partion the only Primary on that hhd?... and also, my second hdd will have it's first partition as Primary as well. If this first (primary) partition on my second hdd is /root for some other distro, and has the chainloaded grub for that distro installed there, will there be no conflict when booting the machine and seeing what should be the only grub menu?

    I'm just a bit concerned about whether grub see's primary and logical partitions differently.

    Thanks

  5. #5
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    Edit: just for clarification: GRUB, i.e. the bootloader program, is what usually gets installed in the MBR. /boot/grub/* is the place where the program looks for the corresponding config files. For GRUB to work correctly you need to have the program installed and the config files set up correctly. For more information, read the full article at Gentoo, it explains things really well (you can skip the genkernel section if you don't install Gentoo, too).

    Will do...Thanks

  6. #6
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    Once I make all these various partitions (not sure how many yet, possibly 10), do the different linux distro's share any partitions by nature, ie: swap, /home etc. and if so should I partition accordingly?

    Thanks

  7. #7
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    I can't answer your questions concerning XiaoKJ chainloading with several instances of the bootloader installed. It sounds too difficult for me for what you do and (probably) isn't necessary.

    I also advice you to read the chapter Preparing the disks in the Gentoo handbook, it explains to you the basics of partitioning.

    do the different linux distro's share any partitions by nature, ie: swap, /home etc. and if so should I partition accordingly?
    The partitions that can be shared between distros are these:

    swap can be painlessly overwritten by any distro since it's just swapping space for data that doesn't fit into your computer's RAM anymore. As a matter of fact, if you have lots of RAM in your machine so it never needs to swap memory, you can even install your distro without a swap partition. (I still have one, just to be on the save side)

    /home can be overwritten by any distro, too, and will even increase your comfort. Let's say you install SuSE and Firefox. After that you tweak Firefox according to your desire and Firefox saves your settings in your /home folder (in my case /home/parcival/.mozilla/firefox ). Let's say next you install Gentoo and Firefox with it. Guess what happens: upon first start Firefox checks if there's already a profile saved in your /home folder and automatically integrates the settings you already did earlier rather than creating a new profile. The same's true for pretty much every Linux application there is. The only problem you can run into is if you are using very different versions of the same program in various distros.

    /tmp can be easily overwritten, too, since it holds only temporary files. Once you reboot your computer, it doesn't matter what happens to them. Generally speaking, the same is true for /var (for example in case you are running a file server, you wanna be careful with /var since many mailserver programs store the accounts in a subdirectory of that folder).


    To give you an idea how it can be done, I'll tell you the story of my SuSE/Gentoo dual boot I once had. I wanted a computer with an easy distro that would alsways work (SuSE) and a "bleeding edge" distro to tinker and mess with (Gentoo) even for the risk it may not boot properly - that's why I had SuSE as my "rescue distro" installed. My computer had two ordinary 40GB IDE harddisks.

    First I booted the SuSE installation CD. In YaST I made these settings when I came to the partitioning part:

    1. On the master disk (/dev/hda) I created a 10GB / primary partition for SuSE.
    2. After that, I created a 1GB primary partition for swap.
    3. After that, I created a 23 GB primary / partition for Gentoo.
    4. Now the fourth partition had to become an extended partition since I had still more than one to go, so I made one in YaST and filled it with 5 GB /var , 800MB /tmp and 200MB /boot.
    5. After that I filled my entire slave harddisk with a 40 GB primary /home partition - it's always a good idea to have one's private files on a less endangered disk.
    6. Before finishing the SuSE partitioner I had to indicate SuSE should mount the freshly created partitions for the rest of the installation so it doesn't put everything into my first / partition. (if the partitions are not being mounted correctly, everything will be installed into subfolders of your / partition. if they are being mounted correctly, all files belonging to the /boot folder will be written to the partition you designed for it, etc.) Finally I also said that I wanted GRUB to be installed in the MBR of my master disk. (no need to tell where the GRUB config files go since we already said previously which partition needs to be mounted as /boot )
    7. The rest of the SuSE installation was just sit and watch.
    8. Then I proceeded with the Gentoo installation. When I came to the point where the partitions need to be mounted for the installation, I mounted the partitions that can be shared according to my own partitioning shame instead of using the default Gentoo scheme.
    9. The rest of the installation went as any Gentoo installation does except for the bootloader which I did not install.
    10. Finally I rebootet my computer and it went straight into SuSE, which is no surprise since the config files written by SuSE into /boot have no clue that there's also a Gentoo sitting on the disk. All that is left to be done is firing up YaST again (or open /boot/grub/menu.lst in a texteditor) and create a new entry pointing to the Gentoo kernel image. Voilą, it's all done.


    The same startegy basically applies for any multiboot computer, just modify the number of partitions accordingly. Install the most automated distro first and the one allowing the most manual tweaking the last. The most difficult part is to choose wisely your partitions' sizes, especially if you need an extended partition. Furthermore, if you want Microsoft Windows on your computer, Windows needs to be installed first on the first primary partition of your master disk or you will have a very unhappy day. After that you can proceed with the Linux installation(s) as usual.

    HTH.

    "What can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence."

    Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)

  8. #8
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    Smile Re: Partitioning Question

    Hello, Parcival.

    Thank you for this helpful post, which I just read for the first time.

    Although I have not given too much thought to distributions sharing partitions, I find myself giving serious thought to the possibility of dual-booting two Linux distros on my workstation.

    I am concerned about the problems that people have been having with SuSE Linux 10.1. I am going to try to install and to use the retail version, because at least I will have installation support from Novell (and 10.1 will be the last retail version of SuSE).

    Given the problems with SuSE 10.1, which I hope are corrected in openSuSE 10.2, plus the fact that I have been reading quite a bit about Debian GNU/Linux for some time, I am thinking about dual-booting SuSE 10.1 (or 10.0) and Debian 3.1r3.

    I must admit that I am terrified at the prospect of installing Debian, because SuSE is the only distro that I have used during the last four years (except for experiments with live discs and using rescue discs).

    There are, of course, vast differences between the GUI SuSE installer and Debian's installer (although it looks like "etch" will have a GtK-based GUI installer).

    Even if I get past all of the "gotchas" and other potential points of confusion with Debian, I am hoping that the final version of "etch" will be released in December, and I will have to figure out the best approach to upgrading (a "clean installation")?

    Of course, there are also the tricky issues of setting up GRUB for two distros on the same drive and having everything boot properly.

    I am actually quite intimidated by Debian, and that challenge is, ironically, part of my motivation to try Debian! (I hope that sentence made some sense!)

    Anyway, Parcival, thanks for your post and for all of the hard work you do.

    Whether I end up deciding on one distro (i.e., switching to Debian from SuSE) or dual-booting two distros (and I am not sure which two distros I might finally decide upon), I know that JustLinux offers documentation and helpful forums to assist me -- but that I must first "do my homework" (RTFM), before asking questions. I cannot very well, for example, start a thread about "being scared to install Debian"; I need to give specifics.

    Thank you, again, Parcival!

    Cordially,

    David

    "Hackers build things; crackers break them." -- Eric Steven Raymond

    Quote Originally Posted by Parcival
    I can't answer your questions concerning XiaoKJ chainloading with several instances of the bootloader installed. It sounds too difficult for me for what you do and (probably) isn't necessary.

    I also advice you to read the chapter Preparing the disks in the Gentoo handbook, it explains to you the basics of partitioning.



    The partitions that can be shared between distros are these:

    swap can be painlessly overwritten by any distro since it's just swapping space for data that doesn't fit into your computer's RAM anymore. As a matter of fact, if you have lots of RAM in your machine so it never needs to swap memory, you can even install your distro without a swap partition. (I still have one, just to be on the save side)

    /home can be overwritten by any distro, too, and will even increase your comfort. Let's say you install SuSE and Firefox. After that you tweak Firefox according to your desire and Firefox saves your settings in your /home folder (in my case /home/parcival/.mozilla/firefox ). Let's say next you install Gentoo and Firefox with it. Guess what happens: upon first start Firefox checks if there's already a profile saved in your /home folder and automatically integrates the settings you already did earlier rather than creating a new profile. The same's true for pretty much every Linux application there is. The only problem you can run into is if you are using very different versions of the same program in various distros.

    /tmp can be easily overwritten, too, since it holds only temporary files. Once you reboot your computer, it doesn't matter what happens to them. Generally speaking, the same is true for /var (for example in case you are running a file server, you wanna be careful with /var since many mailserver programs store the accounts in a subdirectory of that folder).


    To give you an idea how it can be done, I'll tell you the story of my SuSE/Gentoo dual boot I once had. I wanted a computer with an easy distro that would alsways work (SuSE) and a "bleeding edge" distro to tinker and mess with (Gentoo) even for the risk it may not boot properly - that's why I had SuSE as my "rescue distro" installed. My computer had two ordinary 40GB IDE harddisks.

    First I booted the SuSE installation CD. In YaST I made these settings when I came to the partitioning part:

    1. On the master disk (/dev/hda) I created a 10GB / primary partition for SuSE.
    2. After that, I created a 1GB primary partition for swap.
    3. After that, I created a 23 GB primary / partition for Gentoo.
    4. Now the fourth partition had to become an extended partition since I had still more than one to go, so I made one in YaST and filled it with 5 GB /var , 800MB /tmp and 200MB /boot.
    5. After that I filled my entire slave harddisk with a 40 GB primary /home partition - it's always a good idea to have one's private files on a less endangered disk.
    6. Before finishing the SuSE partitioner I had to indicate SuSE should mount the freshly created partitions for the rest of the installation so it doesn't put everything into my first / partition. (if the partitions are not being mounted correctly, everything will be installed into subfolders of your / partition. if they are being mounted correctly, all files belonging to the /boot folder will be written to the partition you designed for it, etc.) Finally I also said that I wanted GRUB to be installed in the MBR of my master disk. (no need to tell where the GRUB config files go since we already said previously which partition needs to be mounted as /boot )
    7. The rest of the SuSE installation was just sit and watch.
    8. Then I proceeded with the Gentoo installation. When I came to the point where the partitions need to be mounted for the installation, I mounted the partitions that can be shared according to my own partitioning shame instead of using the default Gentoo scheme.
    9. The rest of the installation went as any Gentoo installation does except for the bootloader which I did not install.
    10. Finally I rebootet my computer and it went straight into SuSE, which is no surprise since the config files written by SuSE into /boot have no clue that there's also a Gentoo sitting on the disk. All that is left to be done is firing up YaST again (or open /boot/grub/menu.lst in a texteditor) and create a new entry pointing to the Gentoo kernel image. Voilą, it's all done.


    The same startegy basically applies for any multiboot computer, just modify the number of partitions accordingly. Install the most automated distro first and the one allowing the most manual tweaking the last. The most difficult part is to choose wisely your partitions' sizes, especially if you need an extended partition. Furthermore, if you want Microsoft Windows on your computer, Windows needs to be installed first on the first primary partition of your master disk or you will have a very unhappy day. After that you can proceed with the Linux installation(s) as usual.

    HTH.
    Linux Distribution: Debian GNU/Linux (Desktop & Server)


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  9. #9
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    Maybe it's just me, but I always found that setting up the NT bootloader to handle the dualbooting was much easier. This is up on my website but I'm behind an ipcop firewall at my new place now, and my roommate wants to run a website from our IP too...and we haven't setup the virtual hosts yet.

    In any case, just FYI, here are my instructions that I'll paste below. You can take a look at it and see what you think.

    Code:
    Many thanks go out to JohnT from the justlinux forums for guiding me through this process. And now I can attempt to guide you. So...here goes:
    
    First make sure that you have a bootdisk for your Linux OS, or that you have the CD that came with it. I have two separate hard drives, but you can do this the same just by having different partitions on one hard drive. These directions use the Windows bootloader, and have the Windows drive on the Master IDE.
    
    First install and boot up into Linux. I use LILO as my bootloader for Linux. Make sure during installation that you DO NOT install LILO to your MBR (Master Boot Record) since that will overwrite what's put there by Windows (which assuming you're running XP, if you happen to ruin the MBR you can just stick the XP disk into the CD-ROM, reboot, then run system recovery. Once in there, giving it the command "fixmbr" should put Windows back in...just in case you need it). Now use your boot disk, or installation CD and boot up into your Linux OS. Slackware allows you to boot up a kernel from the CD so instead of just pressing enter when it says "boot:" you can pass it parameters to load. It should say it on the screen, but give it the command "bare.i /dev/xxx noinitrd ro" (replacing xxx with whatever partition Linux was installed to). For example, suppose you have the Windows drive as the master on IDE1 and the Linux drive as the slave on IDE1 and a CD-ROM as the master on IDE2. By default your drives would be assigned as follows:
    /dev/hda = Windows HD
    /dev/hdb = Linux HD
    /dev/hdc = CD-ROM
    
    If you have the Linux directory as a partition on the same drive as Windows, I leave it up to you to know what partition you put it in. If you made a bootdisk then simply put in the disk and reboot, and ignore passing kernel all the "bare.i" command. Now run cfdisk on your "dev/hdb" or whatever your Linux partition is and make sure that the bootable flag is set. Write the partition table and reboot with the boot disk or CD.
    
    Once in Linux, open a console and type:
    cat /etc/lilo.conf
    
    and you should see your lilo.conf printed to the screen. Find the line towards the beginning of the file that says "boot=/dev/xxx" and that will be used in the next command (for example my file says "boot=/dev/hdb"). Now type the command:
    dd if=/dev/xxx of=/bootsect.lnx bs=512 count=1
    
    and replace xxx with whatever partition your Linux OS is on (in my case it would say "dd if=/dev/hdb..."). This should create a file "bootsect.lnx" in your root directory, /. This file should be 512 bytes and is the first 512 bytes of the /dev/xxx partition, which is used for booting. Now copy this file to a floppy disk, burn it to CD, email it to yourself (beware it'd be easier to corrupt a file over email, though not very probable), or just save it somehow.
    
    Now boot into Windows which should happen without needing a boot disk since it should be in your MBR. If it's not, follow the instructions given earlier about using "fixmbr" in system recovery. Once in Windows, copy the bootsect.lnx file to your C:\ drive, or whatever drive Windows is installed on. Now open up Notepad and then tell it to open C:\boot.ini, replacing C:\ with whatever the drive is. Windows will hide this from you but if you type the following in the "Open file:" box exactly C:\boot.ini it should open it for you. If it doesn't, try putting quotes around the filename so you will actually type in "C:\boot.ini" (one of the few times you should actually include the quotes that someone's given you in directions). Now that the file's open, add the following line to the end of the file:
    C:\bootsect.lnx="Slackware 9.1"
    and save the file. Note that you can put whatever words you want in between the quotes so if you wanted it to say "1337 Linux OS" instead you would instead add
    C:\bootsect.lnx="1337 Linux OS"
    
    to the end of the boot.ini file.
    
    If you've made it this far, it should now dual boot perfectly though your options such as a the timer may need to be set. Open Start -> Control Panel -> System and click on the "Advanced" tab at the top of the window. Then open "Startup And Recovery". From here you can choose the default OS to boot, and a countdown timer to say 10 seconds. This means if you set WindowsXP as your default OS, when the computer reboots it will highlight Windows by default and give you 10 seconds to choose Windows or Linux. If no keys are pressed, it will automatically boot Windows after 10 seconds have elapsed. Save and apply the changes that you've made in there, exit out of the menus, and finally reboot.
    
    Congrats, you're finished with the configuration! It should now show the two different options in the bootloader and both should boot when selected. Choosing Windows will load Windows, and choosing Linux will load LILO. Just note that if you change any options in LILO (say perhaps to set no countdown timer) that after you run the lilo command you MUST run the dd if=/dev/xxx of=/bootsect.lnx bs=512 count=1 command again, and then copy the new bootsect.lnx to your C:\ drive again. So don't forget to overwrite the old bootsect.lnx if you change LILO options. Anyway, have fun with your dual booting system!

    Also, if you want to try out as many distros as possible, perhaps you should install some virtual machines. You can get vmware server for free now from vmware.com. It's a great way to preview distros and decide on how you want to go. Just thought I'd throw that out there.
    "The author of that poem is either Homer or, if not Homer, somebody else of the same name."

  10. #10
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    Parcival,

    Thanks for posting the reply, good advise. Things are begining to make sense to me now. After all these years of running Windoze I can feel brain cell's growing again!

    I have DiMuDi linux in as my first install with grub installed in /boot. I will be doing some multi booting after I get some configuration done on this OS. I will keep you posted. I have no M$ OS's on this box, XP on my other box so if I toast something an can't get it to boot, I'll still be able to reach the Linux Master's from there.

    Thanks,

    Todd

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Todd50
    Things are begining to make sense to me now. After all these years of running Windoze I can feel brain cell's growing again!
    Yeah, that's a good feeling, isn't it? The average Windows user feels proud when they know how to install an application, but we go way deeper.

    "What can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence."

    Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)

  12. #12
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    With regards to chainloading, let me clarify...

    grub works in 2 stages --- the first stage mainly just reside somewhere and points to stage 2. stage 1 can be installed in your partitions (primary/logical it doesn't care) or MBR. stage 2 resides in the partition with the grub config files.

    normally, if you only have 1 partition for all, stage 1 and 2 can all be in the root partition. if you have /boot as a separate one, stage 1 and 2 will be in front of the partition.

    alternatively, and more commonly, stage 2 can just be at /boot/grub/stage2, and stage 1 will point to stage 1.5, which enables grub to read your filesystem and look for stage 2.

    so, in your case, you should be installing stage 1, stage 1.5 and stage 2 to /boot, and all other distros will install their own grub/lilo to their own root partitions. why? without a corresponding stage 1, stage 2 may not boot. so you may not be able to use stage 1 of your primary distro to boot stage 2 of another distro. as long as your primary grub installation is working, you can always use that to chainload your whatever new distro, and the new grub installation will take over.

    that way, you don't have to edit your primary distro's grub installation everytime you install a new distro.

    in other words, if you decide to include your new distro's grub clauses into your primary installation, then once you install a new distro you have to update menu.lst again --- a tedious job!

    Finally, my reason for not installing to MBR is that it has no point --- if MBR is empty, it will normally just load your primary partition which has your primary grub installation. MBR is very important and I'm sure you wouldn't want to endanger it.
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  13. #13
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    Back To Grub

    Quote Originally Posted by XiaoKJ
    With regards to chainloading, let me clarify...

    grub works in 2 stages --- the first stage mainly just reside somewhere and points to stage 2. stage 1 can be installed in your partitions (primary/logical it doesn't care) or MBR. stage 2 resides in the partition with the grub config files.

    normally, if you only have 1 partition for all, stage 1 and 2 can all be in the root partition. if you have /boot as a separate one, stage 1 and 2 will be in front of the partition.

    alternatively, and more commonly, stage 2 can just be at /boot/grub/stage2, and stage 1 will point to stage 1.5, which enables grub to read your filesystem and look for stage 2.

    so, in your case, you should be installing stage 1, stage 1.5 and stage 2 to /boot, and all other distros will install their own grub/lilo to their own root partitions. why? without a corresponding stage 1, stage 2 may not boot. so you may not be able to use stage 1 of your primary distro to boot stage 2 of another distro. as long as your primary grub installation is working, you can always use that to chainload your whatever new distro, and the new grub installation will take over.

    that way, you don't have to edit your primary distro's grub installation everytime you install a new distro.

    in other words, if you decide to include your new distro's grub clauses into your primary installation, then once you install a new distro you have to update menu.lst again --- a tedious job!

    Finally, my reason for not installing to MBR is that it has no point --- if MBR is empty, it will normally just load your primary partition which has your primary grub installation. MBR is very important and I'm sure you wouldn't want to endanger it.

    Good Morning Gentlemen!!
    I have uploaded a screenshot of my bootloader settings in DiMuDi Linux (I hope it uploads with this post, anyway) . I'm assuming this is where I control Grub from now on ???...or...I've also uploaded a screenshot of my /boot/ folder which seems to be more familiar with what you guy's have been talking about.

    This distro will be install #1 on this multi boot so I hope I'm on the right track.

    Thanks,

    Todd
    Attached Images Attached Images

  14. #14
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    Xiao, do you have a link to a site with further documentation on what you're addressing? I'd like to read more about the stages you mentioned, but I can't find further information in the GRUB manual.

    "What can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence."

    Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
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    THink XiaoKJ got it summed up well.

    A more recent write-up on Grub that I came across is this.

    Bearing in mind the boot sector is 63x512 bytes large and Grub Manual (also "Linux in a nutshell" by Siever, Figgins & Webber) shows some 200 record transferred in "dd" stage2 with 1 record=512 bytes it would be logical to think stage2 can never be stored inside the boot sector and has always to be sourced from the /boor/grub directory.

    Thus the stage1.5 should be the one that resides inside the boot sector with stage1 infront of it whenever we do a "grub-install" or invoke a Grub shell to do "root + setup" or "install". It is also logical to think that the boot sector must have stage1 lined up with stage2 because when a Linux is "chainloaded" it is always at the "+1" position so that the first 512 bytes or stage1 is skipped, therby avoiding the stage1 loaded twice.

    I think many Grub users can testify that Grub's stage1 can default to load stage2 if stage1.5 isn't found or problematic. Grub always issues a warning and states the lack of stage1.5 isn't fatal in the "grub-install" command.

    After 1.5 years into Linux I didn't find MBR "very important" as quoted by XioakJ. In my case I found it becoming "unimportant". In my current box the MBR only boots to partition hdc50 which hosts a set of Grub menus. I have 15 tiny partitions hosting nothing but only Grub each boots a selection of systems.

    When I built up the 100+ systems in the box I permanently left a Grub floppy inside the drive so that I could have the 4 disks used in any way I want. It is a lot easier to boot from a Grub prompt because I can pull out the Linux/Windows disks and insert those loaded with BSD and Solaris any time I want. I was surprised how flexible it was to live without the MBR, go from a Grub prompt to any disk and boot up any of the 100+ systems manually this way.
    Linux user started Jun 2004 - No. 361921
    Using a Linux live CD to clone XP
    To install Linux and keep Windows MBR untouched
    Adding extra Linux & Doing it in a lazy way
    A Grub menu booting 100+ systems & A "Howto" to install and boot 145 systems
    Just cloning tips Just booting tips A collection of booting tips

    Judge asked Linux "You are being charged murdering Windoze by stabbing its heart with a weapon, what was it?" Replied Linux "A Live CD"

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