How to run 126 Xp in a hard disk - with a bit of help from Linux


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Thread: How to run 126 Xp in a hard disk - with a bit of help from Linux

  1. #1
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    How to run 126 Xp in a hard disk - with a bit of help from Linux

    How to run 126 Xp in a hard disk - with a bit of help from Linux

    Introduction

    This thread is a demonstration of a PC user learns a little bit of Linux can make a M$ system run miles. I did it to satisfy my own curiosity too see if such thing could be done.

    Basically I boot any one of an activated Xp from the 126 partitions. Being poor the Xp is the same license in everyone of the 126 partitions but the scheme obviously works if each partition hold a different license of Xp. Win2k uses the same boot loader so it can be a mixture of both. The scheme is a demonstration but can be extended to several hard disks.

    I run different operating systems in one PC and have a need to move around the M$ systems which I found irritating because an accidental mistake can trash the system and I have to re-activate with M$ again. Thus I tried to install Win2k, Xp, Vista and several Win7 systems onto a backup disk so that I can have a copy to go back to when I lose one of them. As the number of M$ systems are more than the 4 primary partitions available in a hard disk I was forced to install them in logical partitions and to use the boot loaders ntldr and bootmgr together. By accident I discovered Xp can be moved freely around the logical partitions and between hard disks. Seeing the way how Vista/Win7’s bootmgr treats the Win2k/Xp’s ntldr. I became convinced that I could extract the Xp (or W2k) off the disk and move it anywhere I want.

    Linux has traditionally supported 63 partitions in a Pata/IDE disk and 15 on a SCSI/Sata/USB disk. A couple of years back at kernel release 2.6.20 the maximum number of partitions was standardized to 15 for all hard disks. This limit has been breached recently after a break through in the dynamic detection/assignment of the block devices. The improvement, available in the current 2.6.28 and 2.6.29 kernels, is so new that no one knows exactly how many partitions Linux can support. The reason I run 126 Xp is because I could create 130 partitions in a hard disk and then put Xp in the 126 logical partitions, just by writing short scripts in Linux. So it was one installation and 126 clones.

    This thread is putting one and one together to make two.

    The scheme in a nutshell

    I have an activated Xp installed in a logical partition of a hard disk. It is booted by a Dos partition located at the first partition of that disk. The disk has a couple of Win7 (32 and 64 bit) so the booting was controlled by the bootmgr (same boot loader as Vista). All I did was

    (1) To resize Xp to a 5Gb so that it takes less time to duplicate/clone
    (2) Use a boot up Linux to write a script to automatically partition a new/spare hard disk for the number of partitions I want.
    (3) Clone the system partition (Xp) into a new hard disk, format a fat16 partition in its first partition and fix the booting manually.
    (4) Install/clone a Linux in the new hard disk as working tool.
    (5) Verify Xp and Linux all operating normally in the new hard disk as the sole disk in the PC.
    (6) Use the resident Linux to clone the number of Xp I desire in the new hard disk
    (7) Configure the boot loader in Linux to select any of the Xp partitions for booting.
    (8) Write in the Dos partition a selection routine to select which partition I boot the next Xp
    (9) Reboot and boot to the Xp in the newly designated partition.

    Why such scheme works?

    Xp or any M$ system does not support foreign systems so partition types not recognised by a M$ system will not get mounted. If a user has 100 Xp partitions he/she can change the partition ID temporarily for all the Xp partitions except the one to be booted. A ntfs partition has an partition ID No. 7. To hide that partition the ID is changed to 17. To unhide it is to change back to Type 7. Hiding and unhiding is a standard technique used by all boot loaders. A partition ID is a standard entry occupying one of the 16 bytes in a partition table. It is used by operating system to select the appropriate driver to read the different filing system inside the partition.

    In the booting process a NT versions of M$ Windows, of either Win2k or Xp, the MBR is normally responsible to fetch the boot code residing in the boot sector of the booting partition. That boot code loads the ntldr program which also resides in the same booting partition. The loaded ntldr checks a text file called boot.ini, which must be in the booting partition also, to determine which partition contains Xp and then proceeds to load the OS.

    Thus to select from a multiple choices of which Xp partition to be booted up a user needs

    (A) To amend the boot.ini to change the target partition number.

    (B) Hide the unwanted Xp partitions and unhide the one to be booted.

    The above operations (A) can be executed inside or outside a M$ system. I shall provide both alternatives in this thread.. For selecting which Xp to boot and amending the boot.ini file I wrote a simple Basic program executable at a command prompt within Xp. Outside Xp it is a trivial task to write a small script to amend the boot.ini stored in a M$ partition.

    To accomplish the Task (B) above I have to use a boot loader capable of altering the partition ID so I chose Grub. Grub is an Open Source program that can be installed without a Linux. I place Grub in a second Dos partition to control the first boot.

    The boot up sequence is Grub is loaded first for being in the MBR. It hides and unhides the appropriate partition before handing over the control to the boot sector code in the first Dos partition. The boot sector code of the first partition then loads ntldr which fires up Xp at the required partition.

    How do I know I am booting to several Xp and not the same one over and over again?

    Good question.

    My answer is

    (i) I have to change the desktop screen background with a different photo in each partition.
    (ii) Also in the XP’s disk management program I can see the drive letter referring the physical position in the hard disk as a confirmation.
    (iii) I labelled each partition so by clicking “My Computer” I can see which partition has been booted.

    The details of the scheme

    As readers are not all interested in the full details but only the selected parts I have arranged the thread broken down into small number of posts as follow

    Contents

    (1) Introduction – Post #1
    (2) How to resize a XP partition to a designated size. – Post #2
    (3) How to partition a hard disk with a large number of partition by a BASH script - Post #3
    (4) How to clone one partition to anther in the same or different hard disk. - Post #4
    (5) How to control the booting of Dos, Xp and Linux - Post #5
    (6) How to control the booting of multi copies of Xp - Post #6
    (7) Things I learned from the scheme – Post #7
    (8) Conclusions - Post #2

    Applications and usages

    Possibly none except to those who has a need to subject a large number of Xp to different tests.

    A Xp user nervous of losing the OS due to virus attacks or accidental damages may wish to keep a working and bootable copy that can fire up in seconds. Thus information of this thread could be of interest to some.

    For over 30 years working with M$ systems I never understood how they boot. The few years into Linux gave me an enormous education on how things work in a PC. I did this scheme because I thought technically it should be possible.

    Conclusions

    (A) One can easily break up a Xp in a logical partition from a Vista/Win7 boot loader and take it to any hard disk by manually assemble the booting files.
    (B) Xp can operate successfully anywhere (or any partition) in a hard disk.
    (C) Multiple copies Xp can be stored in the same hard disk ready for replacing a damaged or virus-infested version.
    (D) Linux has a huge amount of functionalities. It can be used beneficially to help a M$ Windows user.
    (E) There is so much fun in writing a script to create 130 partitions in a hard disk, then another script to clone Xp into 126 partitions and finally using a script (or a Basic program) to select the booting of Xp in different partitions.
    Last edited by saikee; 05-09-2009 at 04:38 PM.
    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"

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    How to resize a XP partition to a designated size.

    The scheme I describe here requires the partitioning to be done in Linux using a script. Linux partitions are created in boundaries of the nearest cylinder. I have a newly installed and activated Xp of only about 3.1Gb large in a 30Gb partition. I decided to go for a 5Gb partition size so I use a Vista/Win7 to resize the Xp to 5Gb. The resizing exercise can be done by Linux with “gparted” program inside also, like Ubuntu working as a Live CD (no need for installation). Basically the resizer of Vista or Linux tells me how many Mb I have in the partition and I just scaled the number to give me 1/6 left. The resized partition in Linux shows up as to be 608 cylinders large. I then proceed to partition 126 logical partition each 608 cylinders large.

    The exact partition size, in this case 608 cylinders, is the key in any cloning operation. This can ensure the integrity of the ntfs filing structure is maintained because many M$ systems have some system file locations "hard coded" and the relatively positions cannot be changed when the partition is re-located.

    In the following partition tables the sda is the disk that has 126 Xp partitions (marked blue from sda5 to sda130) and the sdb is the source with sdb15 marked out red as the original installation.
    Code:
    root@saikee-desktop:/home/saikee# sfdisk -l
    
    Disk /dev/sda: 182401 cylinders, 255 heads, 63 sectors/track
    too many partitions - ignoring those past nr (507)
    Units = cylinders of 8225280 bytes, blocks of 1024 bytes, counting from 0
    
       Device Boot Start     End   #cyls    #blocks   Id  System
    /dev/sda1   *      0+    242     243-   1951897    6  FAT16
    /dev/sda2        243     485     243    1951897+   6  FAT16
    /dev/sda3        486    1701    1216    9767520   83  Linux
    /dev/sda4       1702   85545   83844  673476930    5  Extended
    /dev/sda5       1702+   2309     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda6       2310+   2917     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda7       2918+   3525     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda8       3526+   4133     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda9       4134+   4741     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda10      4742+   5349     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda11      5350+   5957     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda12      5958+   6565     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda13      6566+   7173     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda14      7174+   7781     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda15      7782+   8389     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda16      8390+   8997     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda17      8998+   9605     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda18      9606+  10213     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda19     10214+  10821     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda20     10822+  11429     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda21     11430+  12037     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda22     12038+  12645     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda23     12646+  13253     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda24     13254+  13861     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda25     13862+  14469     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda26     14470+  15077     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda27     15078+  15685     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda28     15686+  16293     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda29     16294+  16901     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda30     16902+  17509     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda31     17510+  18117     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda32     18118+  18725     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda33     18726+  19333     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda34     19334+  19941     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda35     19942+  20549     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda36     20550+  21157     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda37     21158+  21765     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda38     21766+  22373     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda39     22374+  22981     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda40     22982+  23589     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda41     23590+  24197     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda42     24198+  24805     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda43     24806+  25413     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda44     25414+  26021     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda45     26022+  26629     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda46     26630+  27237     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda47     27238+  27845     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda48     27846+  28453     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda49     28454+  29061     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda50     29062+  29669     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda51     29670+  30277     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda52     30278+  30885     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda53     30886+  31493     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda54     31494+  32101     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda55     32102+  32709     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda56     32710+  33317     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda57     33318+  33925     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda58     33926+  34533     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda59     34534+  35141     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda60     35142+  35749     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda61     35750+  36357     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda62     36358+  36965     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda63     36966+  37573     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda64     37574+  38181     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda65     38182+  38789     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda66     38790+  39397     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda67     39398+  40005     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda68     40006+  40613     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda69     40614+  41221     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda70     41222+  41829     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda71     41830+  42437     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda72     42438+  43045     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda73     43046+  43653     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda74     43654+  44261     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda75     44262+  44869     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda76     44870+  45477     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda77     45478+  46085     608-   4883759+   7  HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda78     46086+  46693     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda79     46694+  47301     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda80     47302+  47909     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda81     47910+  48517     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda82     48518+  49125     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda83     49126+  49733     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda84     49734+  50341     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda85     50342+  50949     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda86     50950+  51557     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda87     51558+  52165     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda88     52166+  52773     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda89     52774+  53381     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda90     53382+  53989     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda91     53990+  54597     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda92     54598+  55205     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda93     55206+  55813     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda94     55814+  56421     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda95     56422+  57029     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda96     57030+  57637     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda97     57638+  58245     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda98     58246+  58853     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda99     58854+  59461     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda100     59462+  60069     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda101     60070+  60677     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda102     60678+  61285     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda103     61286+  61893     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda104     61894+  62501     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda105     62502+  63109     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda106     63110+  63717     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda107     63718+  64325     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda108     64326+  64933     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda109     64934+  65541     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda110     65542+  66149     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda111     66150+  66757     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda112     66758+  67365     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda113     67366+  67973     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda114     67974+  68581     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda115     68582+  69189     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda116     69190+  69797     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda117     69798+  70405     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda118     70406+  71013     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda119     71014+  71621     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda120     71622+  72229     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda121     72230+  72837     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda122     72838+  73445     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda123     73446+  74053     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda124     74054+  74661     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda125     74662+  75269     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda126     75270+  75877     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda127     75878+  76485     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda128     76486+  77093     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda129     77094+  77701     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda130     77702+  78309     608-   4883759+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    
    Disk /dev/sdc: 38913 cylinders, 255 heads, 63 sectors/track
    Units = cylinders of 8225280 bytes, blocks of 1024 bytes, counting from 0
    
       Device Boot Start     End   #cyls    #blocks   Id  System
    /dev/sdc1   *      0+    242     243-   1951866    6  FAT16
    /dev/sdc2        243     485     243    1951897+  16  Hidden FAT16
    /dev/sdc3       3890    7536    3647   29294527+  83  Linux
    /dev/sdc4       7537   38912   31376  252027720    5  Extended
    /dev/sdc5       7537+   8752    1216-   9767488+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sdc6      11184+  14830    3647-  29294496   83  Linux
    /dev/sdc7      14831+  18477    3647-  29294496   83  Linux
    /dev/sdc8      18478+  22124    3647-  29294496   17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sdc9      22125+  25771    3647-  29294496   17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sdc10     25772+  29418    3647-  29294496   17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sdc11     29419+  30634    1216-   9767488+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sdc12     30635+  31850    1216-   9767488+  83  Linux
    /dev/sdc13     31851+  33066    1216-   9767488+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sdc14     33067+  34282    1216-   9767488+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sdc15     34283+  34890     608-   4883728+   7  HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sdc16     35499+  36714    1216-   9767488+  17  Hidden HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sdc17     36715+  37930    1216-   9767488+  83  Linux
    /dev/sdc18     37931+  38912     982-   7887883+  82  Linux swap / Solaris
    root@saikee-desktop:/home/saikee#



    How to prepare Xp for duplication

    Remove pagefiles and connections with other drives.

    My Xp was installed in a logical partition booted from a Dos in a primary partition. Thus ntldr will make the booting partition as a "C" drive, Xp a "D" drives by re-mapping all partitions it recognises as other drives. The feature has to be recreated in the new environment.

    A working Xp partition is of course has to be much bigger than 5Gb. The one in here is for demonstration only to show how the concept works.
    Last edited by saikee; 05-09-2009 at 02:18 PM.
    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"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    Posts
    2,980
    How to partition a hard disk with a large number of partition by a BASH script

    Actually I did it in several small scripts although it is possible to combine all of them together.

    First I create a file called a2 by specifying 243 cylinders (2Gb) in the 1st and 2nd primary partition. The 3rd primary partition is to be 1216 cylinders (10Gb), the rest is to be for an extended partition. Inside the extended partition I did a loop of requiring 200 logical partitions each 608 cylinders large. The command creating a2 is listed below

    Code:
    echo ",243,6" >a2
    echo ",243,6" >>a2
    echo ",1216,83" >>a2
    echo ",,E" >>a2
    for ((i=1;i<=200;i++))
    do 
    echo ",608,17"
    done >>a2
    The above instructions are understood by program “sfdisk” only which is one of the many partitioning tools available in Linux. The manual of sfdisk is available in a Linux terminal if this command is issued
    Code:
    man sfdisk
    For those new to the sfdisk (by the way I never used sfdisk myself before this thread. I did so because it can do most number of partition for me and is so simple) I print out the relevant part of the man page below
    Code:
    INPUT FORMAT
           sfdisk reads lines of the form
                  <start> <size> <id> <bootable> <c,h,s> <c,h,s>
           where each line fills one partition descriptor.
    
           Fields are separated by whitespace, or comma or semicolon possibly fol‐
           lowed  by whitespace; initial and trailing whitespace is ignored.  Num‐
           bers can be octal, decimal or hexadecimal, decimal is default.  When  a
           field is absent or empty, a default value is used.
    
           The  <c,h,s>  parts  can (and probably should) be omitted - sfdisk com‐
           putes them from <start> and <size> and the disk geometry  as  given  by
           the kernel or specified using the -H, -S, -C flags.
    
           Bootable  is  specified  as  [*|-], with as default not-bootable.  (The
           value of this field is irrelevant for Linux - when Linux  runs  it  has
           been  booted  already  - but might play a role for certain boot loaders
           and for other operating systems.  For example, when there  are  several
           primary DOS partitions, DOS assigns C: to the first among these that is
           bootable.)
    
           Id is given in hex, without the 0x prefix, or  is  [E|S|L|X],  where  L
           (LINUX_NATIVE  (83))  is  the  default,  S  is  LINUX_SWAP  (82),  E is
           EXTENDED_PARTITION (5), and X is LINUX_EXTENDED (85).
    
           The default value of start is the first nonassigned sector/cylinder/...
    
           The  default value of size is as much as possible (until next partition
           or end-of-disk).
    
           However, for the four partitions  inside  an  extended  partition,  the
           defaults are: Linux partition, Extended partition, Empty, Empty.
    
           But  when  the -N option (change a single partition only) is given, the
           default for each field is its previous value.

    The a2 is merely the terminal command I would issue when using the program “sfdisk”. To make the operation automatic I finally issued it formally in a terminal for partitioning a hard disk sdb
    Code:
    sfdisk /dev/sdb < a2
    The sfdisk program actually stopped after creating 130 partitions even though it has been asked to create 204.

    In perfecting my script I of course made mistakes and so I use this scripe to remove all the partitions in a partition table.
    Code:
    echo "Input disk partition table to be nuked, e.g. choose sda or sdb or hda etc"
    read kill_disk
    for ((i=1;i<=4;i++))
    do echo "d"
    echo $i
    done > a1
    echo "w" >>a1 | fdisk /dev/$kill_disk < a1
    It is noteworthy to point out when one deletes all the partitions in a hard disk one only needs to delete the 4 primaries. If one of the primary is an extended partition then the access to the chain of logical partitions is broken automatically if its head is cut off..

    A few words about the maximum number of partition in a hard disk.


    The hard disk’s legacy partition table started by Dos does not appear to have a finite limit on the number of partitions in a hard disk. The layout of the logical partition is that it must be consecutive with one logical partition carrying the hard disk location of the next logical partition down the line. The last one is confirmed if its partition boundary matches the end boundary of the extended partition. This feature works satisfactorily as long as there is only be one extended partition in the legacy partition table. The chain of a set of logical partition can be as long as we want as we can use smaller links (partitions) in between.

    My point here is that as long as a M$ system supports the legacy partition table it is obligated to chase the logical partition chain to find its end. M$ system mounts every partition it recognised and can run out of the drive letters from the available 26 English alphabets. However a M$ system does not mount a foreign partition it does not support so technically a M$ system by default must be able to cope with more than 26 partitions in a hard disk. The number beyond which a M$ system, or ant PC system, will stop search for the end of the logical partitions has not been put to a test.

    Linux used to permit 63 partition in a IDE/Pata hard disk and 15 on a SCSI/Sata/USB disk, presumably there can be only 4 disks for the former and 16 disks for the latter. A partition is a block device name in Linux and including the whole disk itself this arrangement gives a total of 256 devices names for both types of hard disks, namely 4x64 for IDE/Pata and 16x16 for SCSI/Sata/USB. These were the limits for a long time. Thus the number of partitions has been self imposed in Linux.

    A couple of years back starting with kernel 2.6.20 Linux Linux ceased to support the 63 partitions in Pata hard disks and standardised on 15 partitions for every SCSI/Sata/Pata/USB disk up to the kernel 2.6.27. However a recent break through in the block device detection/assignment procedure allows the kernel 2.6.28 or newer starting to breach the maximum 15 partition limit again. The new freedom is so new that no one has declared the maximum number of partitions possible and the new capability has not been universally adopted in various Linux programs, installers and kernel components. So nobody know where we can go from here.

    With distros having the 2.6.28 and newer kernels the maximum limit of partitions in a hard disk depends on the partitioning tools selected. Linux is endowed with several versatile partitioning tools. The most robust tool “fdisk” (not the Dos version although it shares the same name) only handles 60 partitions, “cfdisk” can be used to create up to 63 partitions, “sfdisk” has a limit of 130 and “gparted” can do even more. I have not investigated “parted” and did not use gparted because the “sfdisk” is easy for writing scripts to automatically partition the disk. Gparted stands for Gnome Partition Editor. Since Gnome is the name of one of the two most widely used desktop Gparted therefore does not entertain script for its own execution. Creating 130 partitions manually in a desktop is too time consuming for me.

    Thus the 130 partitions is a consequence of using a script on program “sfdisk”.

    A word of caution here as the kernel is not fully ready to deal with high-number partition it may not have the device names available for partition manipulations. Therefore currently I may be able to generate 130 partitions and put XP in them I will have difficulty to mount the partitions beyond the 63th position because other components of the kernel have not been aligned to cope with the latest features.

    The usage of my 130 partition scheme is as follow, assuming my disk mounted as device sda in Linux when connected as the sole hard disk:-

    First primary partition sda1 is formatted to have a fat16 filing system (Type 6) with a 2Gb large to house the boot loader for Xp

    Second primary partition sda2 is also the same for back up purpose and storing the partition alteration procedure.

    Third primary partition sda3, 10Gb large of Type 83, is to house a Linux. I used Ubuntu v9.04 without a swap partition.

    The fourth primary partition is to be converted to an extended partition with 126 logical partitions, each 5Gb, inside. The first logical partition is sda5 and the last one sda130. To make life easy I create the partition as type 17 defined as “hidden ntfs/hpfs”. My 126 Xp are to be housed inside the 126 logical partitions.

    The disk can be a raw disk from a new purchase or a spare disk with useful data already back up. My current disk is a 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda Sata which is not even half full.
    Last edited by saikee; 04-04-2010 at 09:56 AM.
    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"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    Posts
    2,980
    How to clone one partition to another partition in the same or different hard disk

    Cloning partition is done easily in a Unix/Linux system because it has a “data dump” command called “dd” that reads a hard disk in units of sectors and duplicates the same on a file or another hard disk. This is a sector-by-sector copying of the binary bits of “1” and “0” of the hard disk. The content of the hard disk or partition is irrelevant. By copying sectors the starting point has to be either at the beginning of a disk or a partition. The data dump stops when number of sectors is exhausted in either source or the target, unless it is instructed otherwise.

    The dd command is very simple but can be very useful. M$ users unfamiliar with such Unix/Linux basic function pay out money to proprietary software to get the same thing done. In the simplest form the dd command is to read from an input file defined as a device (say /dev/sda) and dumps the same on an output device (say /dev/sdb). Device sda and sdb without a number denote the whole disk. The number after the disk name denotes the partition number. The first 4 numbers are primaries and all logicals start from the 5th position. Thus looking at a device like sdc7 means it will be the 7th partition of the 3rd hard disk. If the first disk is withdrawn the 2nd and 3rd disks of sdb and sdc will be automatically elevated to sda and sdb respectively.

    This command clones the whole disk from sda to sdb.
    Code:
    dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb
    If the number of sectors is not specified, usually by a parameter called block size bs, dd defaults to one section of 512 bytes at each transfer. I clone all the partitions by bs=32256 which is an exact size of one head that has 63 sectors. The 32256 bytes is the product of 63x512. This appears to be the optimum as I have tried to increase the bs size up to a couple of Gb in a 64-bit operating system with 6Gb DDR3 memory but the bs=32256 still gives me the best speed.

    In the cloning process I copied my original Xp from the 17th partition of disk sda and put it in the new disk sdb at the first of the logical partition (sdb5). The command is just

    Code:
    dd if=/dev/sda17 of=/dev/sdb5 bs=32256
    To have a Linux to use I also cloned a Ubuntu to sdb3 so that I could withdraw all the other hard disk and use the Ubuntu to execute the cloning of the remaining 125 Xp partitions.

    The cloning will take some times. As there was no need to spin other hard disks so I powered down, removed other disks and booted my new disk as the sole hard disk in the system. It had only Ubuntu in sda3 and Xp in sda5. I tested both systems, satisfied that they were operating normally and then proceeded to clone partition sda5 to partitions sda6 to sda130 inclusively by just this script (in red).

    The time taken to clone each partition has been reported after the script.
    Code:
     saikee@saikee-desktop:~$ sudo su
    [sudo] password for saikee: 
    
    saikee@saikee-desktop:~$ date
    Fri May  8 00:51:30 BST 2009
    
    root@saikee-desktop:/home/saikee# for ((i=6;i<=129;i++))
    > do dd if=/dev/sda5 of=/dev/sda$i bs=32256
    > done
    date
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    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 123.477 s, 40.5 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 117.797 s, 42.5 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 115.724 s, 43.2 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 115.872 s, 43.2 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 117.242 s, 42.7 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 118.256 s, 42.3 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 119.609 s, 41.8 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 119.845 s, 41.7 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 118.407 s, 42.2 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 121.617 s, 41.1 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 118.353 s, 42.3 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 122.334 s, 40.9 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 119.796 s, 41.7 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 119.683 s, 41.8 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 125.902 s, 39.7 MB/s
    155039+1 records in
    155039+1 records out
    5000969728 bytes (5.0 GB) copied, 120.203 s, 41.6 MB/s
    root@saikee-desktop:/home/saikee# date
    Fri May  8 04:41:38 BST 2009
    The cloning time was decreasing from 50Md/s to about 40Mb/s, indicating as the read/write arm getting closer to the rotating centre the circumference became smaller, therefore at a constant rotating speed the throughput of the data transfer was reducing.

    The cloning operation
    started at Fri May 8 00:51:30 BST 2009
    Finished at Fri May 8 04:41:38 BST 2009

    Which was about 4 hours for 125x5 Gb. This averaged 43.4 Mb/s of data transfer speed which is acceptable by any standard.

    The dd command is a “hard” cloning that transfers sectors regardless if they are empty or not. It is totally reliable and can be used to good effect.
    Last edited by saikee; 05-09-2009 at 03:52 PM.
    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"

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Posts
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    How to control the booting of Dos, Xp and Linux

    I did transfer the existing Dos partition where Xp was originally booted so there was no challenge and gave me nothing to do. However my original Dos partition was managed by bootmgr from two Win7 installation. The bootmgr did manage to survive in the new environment without a Vista or Win7 present and was able to boot up the Xp selected by loading its ntldr. I felt I could do away with bootmgr so I manually arranged the booting files myself. In so doing I used Linux to format my new sda1 and sda2 with simple commands
    Code:
    mkdosfs –F16 /dev/sda1
    Mkdosfs –F16 /dev/sda2
    To make the Xp bootable in sda5 bootable I copied the following 3 files from the previous booting partition in the source disk sdb1 into the new booting partition sda1.

    Ntldr
    Boot.ini
    Ntdetect.com

    Using Linux the commands were
    Code:
    mkdir /mnt/sda1
    mkdir /mnt/sdb1
    mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/sda1
    mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/sdb1
    cp /mnt/sdb1/ntldt /mnt/sda1/
    cp /mnt/sdb1/ntdetect.com /mnt/sda1/
    cp /mnt/sdb1/boot.ini /mnt/sda1/
    I then “copied” the boot sector code into the new booting partition. The boot code can be sourced from any of the Xp ior a Vista/Win7 installation disc. With the former I just boot up the disc, opt for the Recovery Console and issue the instructions in Windows recovery Console
    Code:
    fixboot c:
    If a Vista/Win7 installation disc is used the same can be achieved by
    Code:
    bootsect /nt52 c:
    Since I have a booting Dos partition in the first partition and Xp in the first logical partition the Dos will always be detected first for being in the early position of the hard disk and get assigned as the “C” drive.

    A MS Dos doesn’t boot in a Sata so my Dos partition, after migrating from a Pata/IDE disk, doesn’t boot even if I restored the MBR with command
    Code:
    fixmbr
    This is an interesting feature because I am virtually booting Xp from a data-only partition using Grub. When I withdrew other hard disks leaving only the new disk as the first disk (hd0) Xp can be fired up, after I correct the partition reference in the boot.ini. using these commands in a Grub prompt
    Code:
    root (hd0,0)
    chainloader +1
    boot
    Last edited by saikee; 05-09-2009 at 04:02 PM.
    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"

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    How to control the booting of multi copies of Xp

    When I started this idea of booting multiple copies of Xp I knew it can be done with help of Linux so my first attempt was using Linux to control the booting selection. This is because Linux has the following features

    (i) Linux sees all hidden files in a M$ partition and can edit them directly without hiding and unhiding.
    (ii) Grub is the boot loader used by Linux so it can be configured easily within Linux.

    As again I wrote the following script, called 1st-bash, to arrange the boot.ini and to hide/unhide partition before booting of a Xp from any one of the 126 partitions.
    Code:
    saikee@saikee-desktop:~$ cat 1st-bash
    
    #First mount the sda1 Dos partition 
    mkdir /mnt/sda1
    mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/sda1
    
    #second iInput from the user which partition is to be booted
    echo 'Please enter the Xp partition No to be booted (between 5 to 126)'
    read XpNo 
    XpNo=$(($XpNo-1))
    #the partition No less 1 to account for Grub count from 0 
    #also boot.ini omit counting extended partition as 1 partition
    
    #Third to extract the partion No booted last time and call it old
    sed -i "/partition/{h;s/.*partition(\([0-9]*\)).*/\1/;wtmp
    x;s/partition([0-9]*)/partition($XpNo)/;}" /mnt/sda1/boot.ini 
    old=$(sort < tmp | uniq)
    rm tmp
    echo "Last time it was partition($old) that got booted"
    
    #Four to hide the "old" partition and unhide the new "XpNo" 
    echo "hide (hd0,$old)" > any
    echo "unhide (hd0,$XpNo)" >> any
    grub < any
    
    #Five just to display on screen everything is working out before a reboot
    cp /mnt/sda1/boot.ini /mnt/sda1/old_boot.ini
    fdisk -l
    cat /mnt/sda1/boot.ini
    chmod u-w /mnt/sda1/boot.ini
    The steps involved are

    (1) Mount the Dos partition sda1 as a subdirectory /mnt/sda1, so that I could access the file boot.ini
    (2) Input from a Linux terminal a new Xp partition number, called XpNo, to be booted.
    (3) Extract from the boot.ini the partition previously booted and call it $old and substitute in its position the new partition reference XpNo (Thanks to Forum member Furrycat for suggestions to the code here)
    (4) Write out Grub commands of hiding of the old partition and unhiding of the new partition and ask Grub to execute them at the Linux terminal.
    (5) Keep a record of the boot.ini, check the arrangement by displaying the partition layout and the content of boot.ini. Finally remove the write attribute in boot.ini.

    The above script works satisfactorily but it has two major drawbacks. The first is every time I change to a new Xp partition to boot I need to boot to a Linux first. That is time consuming. Secondly to the purist M$ Windows users using a Linux to help booting a Xp looks bad and so I had to come up with a second scheme requiring the least involvement from Linux.

    My second scheme is executed as a Basic program called Xpboot.bas listed as below
    Code:
    root@saikee-desktop:/home/saikee# cat /mnt/sda2/xpboot.bas
    'program xpboot
    input "Please enter a partition No. between 5 to 130"; new$
    i=val(new$)-1
    new$=mid$(str$(i),2)
    
    'new.txt as the new boot.ini
    open "f:\new.ini" for output as #1
    shell("attrib -r -s -h c:\boot.ini")
    print
    open "c:\boot.ini" for input as #2
    
    while not eof(2)
    i1=0
    input #2, a$
    for j=1 to len(a$)-10
    if mid$(a$,j,10)="partition(" then
    
    i1=j+10
    for k=1 to 5
    L=i1+k-1
    if mid$(a$,L,1)=")" then
    i2=L-1
    end if
    next k
    
    old$=mid$(a$,i1,i2-i1+1)
    'print #1,old$
    
    print #1, left$(a$,i1-1)+new$+mid$(a$,i2+1)
    end if
    next j
    if i1=0 then print #1,a$
    wend
    close
    
    open "f:\boot\grub\menu.bup" for input as #1
    line input #1,a$
    print a$
    print "------------------------------------------"
    for i=1 to len(a$)
    if mid$(a$,i,5)=chr$(10)+"hide" then
    	for j=i+5 to len(a$)
    	if mid$(a$,j,1)="," then i1=j
    	if mid$(a$,j,1)=")" then
    	i2=j
    	exit for
    	end if
    	next j
    end if
    next i
    a$=left$(a$,i1)+old$+mid$(a$,i2)
    for i=1 to len(a$)
    if  mid$(a$,i,7)=chr$(10)+"unhide" then
    	for j=i+7 to len(a$)
    	if mid$(a$,j,1)="," then j1=j
    	if mid$(a$,j,1)=")" then
    	j2=j
    	exit for
    	end if
    	next j
    end if
    next i
    a$=left$(a$,j1)+new$+mid$(a$,j2)
    open "f:\boot\grub\menu.lst" for output as #3
    print #3,a$
    close
    print a$
    
    shell ("copy f:\new.ini c:\boot.ini")
    shell ("attrib +r +s +h c:\boot.ini")
    shell ("type f:\boot\grub\menu.lst")
    shell ("type f:\new.txt")
    When I am in a Xp I change directory to “F” drive which is the second Dos partition sda2, as I need its boot sector to house Grub, since the one in first partition sda1 has been used up by for loading the Xp's boot loader ntldr. I then execute the Basic program Xpboot.exe which I compiled from the above code. The xpboot.exe changes the boot.ini and also Grub's configuration file in /boot/grub subdirectory in partition sda2. The change to the Grub's menu.lst is just the partition numbers for hiding and unhiding.

    In the final arrangement I create a /boot/grub subdirectory in sda2 (know to Grub as (hd0,1)), place Grub's stage1 and stage2 files there plus the configuration file menu.lst. I could in any Grub prompt to change the boot control to sda2 by Grub commands
    Code:
    root (hd0,1)
    setup (hd0)
    This allow the Grub inside sda2 (from the two files stage1 and stage2) takes over the overall control. It will load the menu.lst, which I edit with the Basic program Xpboot.bas, and carrying the hiding and unhiding of partitions before passing the control to ntldt.

    The menu.lst was copied from Linux whose text files do not use line feed character as a MS system does. Thus in MS Windows the menu.lst is one long line.

    The changes conducted by two different booting arrangement (in Linux and within Xp) are marked out in red below on the two affected files
    Code:
    root@saikee-desktop:/home/saikee# cat /mnt/sda1/boot.ini
    ;
    ;Warning: Boot.ini is used on Windows XP and earlier operating systems.
    ;Warning: Use BCDEDIT.exe to modify Windows Vista boot options.
    ;
    [boot loader]
    timeout=5
    default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(79)\WINDOWS
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(79)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition" /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN /FASTDETECT
    root@saikee-desktop:/home/saikee#
    Code:
    root@saikee-desktop:/home/saikee# cat /mnt/sda2/boot/grub/menu.lst
    default		2
    timeout		8
    
    title		Ubuntu 9.04 @ sda3
    root 		(hd0,2)
    kernel		/boot/vmlinuz-2.6.28-11-generic root=/dev/sda3 ro quiet splash 
    initrd		/boot/initrd.img-2.6.28-11-generic
    quiet
    
    title		Xp booted by sda1 (choice selected in Linux)
    root		(hd0,0)
    chainloader	+1
    
    title		Xp in any partition booted from sda1/sda2 
    hide 		(hd0,76)
    unhide 		(hd0,79)
    root		(hd0,0)
    chainloader	+1
    Last edited by saikee; 05-09-2009 at 04:30 PM.
    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"

  7. #7
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    Things I learned from the scheme

    (1) It takes a long time to go through the 126 logical partitions. The logical partitions work by one carrying the hard disk address of the one next down the line. Thus to locate the 100th logical partition the boot loader of a computer program must go through 99 logical partitions first. This is not bad for a boot loader that hoops in and hoop out the 99 hard disk locations. However Xp’s boot loader ntldr is very nosy and appears to have been shouldered with the responsibility to mount every partition it recognises and to ensure the target booting system is assigned with the drive letter as originally installed. Since my booting and system partition are “C” and “D” drive respectively therefore if ntldr finds two other partition sandwiched in between it will maintain the existing drive letters and gives new drive letters to the newly discovered partitions even though they are detected earlier in the sequence than the Xp system partition itself. This extra work slows down the ntldr booting operation considerably.

    (2) The drive letter of Xp is rigid. When I put a Xp installed as a "D" drive, originally in a logical partition, into a primary and boot it as the only system in the PC it still boots as a "D" when there isn't a "C" around.

    When I moved another XP installed as a "C" in a primary partition (sda1) to a a logical partition sda5) it survives as a "C" when I managed to fire it up with a floppy. I then created a Dos partition to boot it (as technically Xp cannot boot itself from a logical partition) the Dos partition (new sda1) is a primary so it is detected first but become a "D" while Xp in a logical (sda5) keeps its "C" drive status regardless.

    (3) The NT versions of the boot loader ntldr can be installed in a non-bootable primary partition. I discover this by having a Dos F16 partition housing the ntdlr in a Pata (or IDE) disk but later cloned into a Sata, causing the Dos no longer bootable in sda1. Yet the same Dos partition serves as a spring board to fire up Xp same as before without a hint of stress. Finally on the latest setup I just formatted the sda1 Dos partition in Linux and selectively copied only 3 system files needed for booting. After restoring the boot sector the ntldr inside sda1 can fire up any of the 126 Xp. It should be noted the ntldr is chainloaded by Grub first, as I haven't found a M$ MBR yet that can fire up the ntldr this way.

    (4) Altering which partition to be booted in Xp's command prompt is a lot faster. The process is Linux free except using Grub to carry out the first boot.

    (5) What I have done is a back door method to use ntldr/boot.ini, which has a static booting screen displayable only the first 10 operating systems, to boot 126 systems (can be different OS in each partition). With Grub I have done it with 145 systems and the bootmgr of Vista has been stretched to boot 150 Linux. Grub is still the easiest, fastest and the most versatile.

    (6) The Xp to be moved and cloned should be defraged first. The pagefiles, seen in defrag program as immovable files, should be removed first.
    Last edited by saikee; 05-12-2009 at 04:48 AM.
    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"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    canada
    Posts
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    writing the menu.lst file to the fat 16 partition containing grub

    saikee,

    i sent a post something along these lines to this thread several days ago but it doesn't seem to be on the site. so i'll repeat:

    using your ideas on booting multiple os's with grub and a linux ive-cd, i've successfully installed grub stages 1, 1.5 and 2 in hda2, the small data-only fat 16 partition i created in my computer's hd and got a grub prompt when powering up.

    but i'm unable to write the menu.lst file to go into that fat16 partition before installing any of the os's.

    again, using a linux live-cd, i opened a terminal and wrote the following:

    sudo mount /mnt/hda2/boot/grub

    then i tried using gedit to create menu.lst and save it to this directory, but it failed because i'm doing something wrong. what?

    could you please write the exact code necessary to do this? i don't mean the code for the menu.lst file, i can already do that as per your examples, only the code that creates /mnt/hda2/boot/grub/menu.lst

    thank you.

    janb

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Location
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    janb,

    Grub when asked to boot to a partition will try to find menu.lst either from /boot or /boot/grub subdirectory. If none is found Grub defaults to a Grub prompt. If one is found then Grub will execute the menu.lst.

    Therefore to arrange menu.lst in subdirectory /boot/grub you simply edit a file and call it menu.lst.

    In general you need to format a partition before you can write on it. I assume this partition has been created say it is sda2 ( say using cfdisk program with its type specified as b).

    To format sda2 with fat16 filing system
    Code:
    mkdosfs -F16 /dev/sda2
    Then you mount the partition on the Linux filing system tree, say on the branch /mnt
    Code:
    mkdir /mnt/sda2
    mount /dev/sda2 /mnt/sda2
    Now you can create the subdirectory /boot, /boot/grub and put a menu.lst in
    Code:
    mkdir /mnt/sda2/boot
    mkdir /mnt/sda2/boot/grub
    gedit /mnt/sda2/boot/grub/menu.lst
    Depending on the distro you can use "kwrite", "nano", "vim" in place of "gedit".

    Hope the above is clear to you.
    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"

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Location
    canada
    Posts
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    writing the menu.lst file to the fat 16 partition containing grub

    saikee,

    i had all the code as you indicated but when i entered the last line of code:

    gedit /mnt/sda2/boot/grub/menu.lst

    i got a page that read "/mnt/sda2/boot/grub/menu.lst is a directory" and the only option i had was to click on "cancel"

    janb

  11. #11
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    In that case you might have accidentally create menu.lst as a subdirectory.

    You can check it in the desktop. The other way is to list the content of a subdirectory. If /mnt/sda2/boot/grub/menu.lst is indeed a directory then it will report error if you edit or display it. To display the content of a text file you can use the command
    Code:
    cat /mnt/sda2/boot/grub/menu.lst
    To list the content of it as directory
    Code:
    ls /mnt/sda2/boot/grub/menu.lst
    To remove /mnt/sda2/boot/grub/menu.lst as a file
    Code:
    rm /mnt/sda2/boot/grub/menu.lst
    To remove /mnt/sda2/boot/grub/menu.lst as a directory
    Code:
    rmdir /mnt/sda2/boot/grub/menu.lst
    To remove /mnt/sda2/boot/grub/menu.lst regardless if it is a directory or not plus all the subdirectories inside
    Code:
    rm -r /mnt/sda2/boot/grub/menu.lst
    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"

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    canada
    Posts
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    i tried each of the commands indicated consecutively and they all gave the same result--"no such file or directory".

    very strange, wouldn't you say?

    the hard drive is a sata but i still have a tendency to inconsistently refer to satas as hda, hdb... rather than sda, sdb.... do you think this confusion may be part of the problem?

    as a last resource, would it help to just wipe the hard drive and repartiton using a live-cd?

  13. #13
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    you always do this command at a root console
    Code:
    fdisk -l
    Different age Linux and different distros can call your hard disks by various names (normally sda, sdb for new kernels but some distros maintain compatibility refer it to hda, hdb etc if you sre still working withg Pata/IDE disks).

    The above command is the first one you should do in any root terminal. Get the device names from the horse's mouth!
    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"

  14. #14
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    the same problem as before exists although i re-partitioned. let's just leave that aside for now.

    i'm still missing something very essential and elemental, so bear in mind that i'm not a programmer. if i can see this big picture the mystery would be removed:

    assuming i had been able to write menu.lst in the fat 16 partition now containing directory /mnt/sda3/boot/grub, using "empty" for the name of each os to be later installed, i would have to write in the name of the first linux os i install only after i install it from its live-cd. correct?

    but during each os install process, using the "advanced user" option when it comes to setting up that os's partitioner prior to install so it can re-format the selected partition as ext3 and select the mount point as the "root" of that partition, that os's installation program is going to write its own menu.lst to the mbr in the first 512 bytes of the hard drive. is this so?

    so how is control passed to the fat16 grub's menu.lst with its chainloader +1 command to indirectly boot (ie. bootstrap) the selected os?

    ----------------

    finally, as an aside, i've noted that i can easily and successfully install win xp in the first primary partition and multiple linux os's in logical partitions without using a fat 16 partition with grub in it if i use the mount point "root" for each and install either open suse or mandriva live cd's last. somehow, each of these 2 os's installer writes a menu.lst which allows one the option of choosing any one of the previously installed os's to boot at start-up. how do you figure the open suse and mandriva install programs do it?

    thanks for your help.

    janb

  15. #15
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    What you are asking is the very principle of how a system is booted.

    When you partition the hard disk to say 15 partitions. None of them are formatted but each partition's starting and finishing points in the hard disk are defined. Grub just goes to that partition and hand over the control to the boot loader inside it. The "chainloader +1" is to tell Grub to cut its own head off, leaving only its 1st sector of 512 bytes and "paste" it to the +1 (the second sector) position of the partition it has been instructed to boot.

    When you install a Linux it always (99&#37; of the cases) allows the boot loader to be placed in the MBR or inside it root partition. The latter is to put the boot loader in the first sector which is permanently reserved as the boot sector in most of the filing systems. If you let the installer write the boot loader on the MBR you can always change it, using any Linux, any Grub prompt or any Grub shell.

    Therefore as soon as a system has been installed, its installer has been told to put the boot loader in its root partition that system will boot up regardless what you put in the "title" statement. Grub just displays on the screen whatever you have written after word "title".

    In conclusion as long as Grub knows where to find a partition (off the partition table of course) and a boot loader is inside that partition then whatever inside will be booted up.

    Most users think booting is a complicated process. It is in fact laughingly simple in Linux. Only M$ has an agenda to make its boot loaders more complicated than they need to be.
    Linux user started Jun 2004 - No. 361921
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