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Author Topic: Multi OS Boot Loading  (Read 4934 times)
dMbTiger
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« on: August 15, 2009, 07:01:46 PM »

I just finished assembling a quad core machine.  I want to set it up with multiple OSs-64 bit versions of Vista and Ubuntu to start and probably W7 and perhaps OS X later.  I remember from years back that boot loaders can be a "virtual" nightmare. Since I haven't kept up, I did a lot of Googling for starters and it looks like Gnu Grub is the current king of the hill.  But it would appear that there is little agreement on which version to use or how exactly to use whichever one you decide on.  My sense of this is that it could wind up like one of those butterfly effect disaster movies where the slightest misstep takes you straight to Armageddon.  I'm looking for someone with solid experience in this area who can provide me with enough detailed guidance that I don't screw this thing up.

Dan
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Dan
MilesAhead
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2009, 07:05:19 PM »

It's been a few years since I did grub.  Pentium III was "it" at the time I think.  Anyway, this site should have just about any info you could possibly want on boot configuration:

http://www.boot-land.net/forums/index.php?
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Shades
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2009, 08:42:53 PM »

Since the arrival of virtual machines (Virtualbox, VMWare, Virtual PC etc.) I am nearly not interested in multi-boot systems anymore. If the host PC has an "oceanic" size pool of memory, one or more (fast) hard drive(s) and any kind of multi-core CPU configuration...why bother?

Switching between the installed O.S's in a multi-boot system hurt your work flow tremendously. Besides that, you have to permanently sacrifice a lot of hard drive real estate for each O.S. When each O.S. requires access to the same pool of data the drive/partition has to be FAT32 for the best read/write reliability. That file system is kinda weak in features, compared with NTFS, EXT2/3/4, ZFS etc. All those features are there for a reason...to improve the work flow, security, file size etc.

Ah well, no fan here.     
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MilesAhead
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2009, 06:11:16 PM »

If you have ESata another approach might be to configure the OS to run from one of those docking stations.  When you want to change OS, eject the drive and insert a new one.  If the machine will boot from an external Sata that is.  I'm not sure how those options go.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2009, 07:36:44 PM »

If your quad core has hyper-v support why not install the free VMware ESXi virtualisation and run all your OSes concurrently from within there?

Alternatively install your OSes in the right order and it should take care of itself. Basically install your Windows OSes first as they are least tolerant of mucking about with the boot sequence and install them in date order (oldest first) then each version of Windows will be added to the latest boot loader for windows and give a multiboot system. Finally install your Linux OS and opt for Grub as your manager during installation. It should sort out a multiboot for Linux and Windows, when you choose windows you get the normal windows multiboot screen.

How you install OSX on a standard box is anyone's guess as there doesn't appear to be a standard way of doing it unless your are using Apple equipment. If you find out how to do that I would be really interested. I tried Hacintosh in a VM machine and never managed to get it working properly.
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40hz
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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2009, 08:45:16 PM »

How you install OSX on a standard box is anyone's guess as there doesn't appear to be a standard way of doing it unless your are using Apple equipment. If you find out how to do that I would be really interested.

You might want to take a look at the OSx86 Project webpage (if you haven't already):

Link: http://wiki.osx86project..../wiki/index.php/Main_Page

There was also a flurry of reviews around the beginning of 2009 about an interesting hardware product called EFi-X USB v1 that claims to allow you to do a direct OSX install on your PC without having to go through the expected hacks and rigmarole. There was a good article on it by the folks over at the Test Freaks blog:

Link: http://www.testfreaks.com...ew/efi-x-usb-v1-reviewed/

It was also covered by Gizmodo and Download Squad a while back.

I've been told that EFiX America (www.efixusa.com) has now incorporated this technology into their own motherboard. All the usual caveats (legal and technical) apply.

I was tempted to give this <$200 gadget a try until I found a local company that was closing up shop. They were dumping a handful of 2Ghz Mac Minis for $450 each. I figured it was just easier to grab one of those and be done with it once and for all.

Not very ubergeek, I'll admit. But for the small number of things I actually need a Mac for, I just couldn't justify the time and effort needed to go the Hackintosh route.

 Cool
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MilesAhead
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« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2009, 09:14:11 PM »

Also there should be some grub how-tos or equivalent on the web.  If you use as a search term one of the newer Windows OSs like Vista, that should filter out the old grub how-tos from the 90s.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2009, 09:20:29 PM »

Thanks for that - looks like an interesting product. Slightly worrying (and not surprising) that they actually say on the sales website that the 'long term future of the product is not guaranteed'.

I'm sure Apple has a long queue of lawyers drooling with excitment.

I'm sure your right - the simplest solution for the odd bit of Mac work is to buy a Mac Mini - at least then you don't have all the hassles. Out of curiosity can you use a standard PC monitor etc. with the Mac Mini (I presume that is the thing that looks like a white brick?).
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EĆ³in
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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2009, 02:20:04 AM »

Try EasyBCD. Builds upon the Vista bootloader, it's the only one I use since discovering it.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2009, 04:15:34 AM »

Does EasyBCD deal with Linux? It only barely deals with earlier versions of Windows (try installing Windows XP after Vista and you are in for a rocky ride).

The other problem I had with EasyBCD is that it is extremely buggy (I would say it was more akin to a partially finished 'alpha' than really usable software).
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EĆ³in
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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2009, 06:42:09 AM »

EasyBCD, was buggy, but not anymore as best I can tell.

It doesn't include the pre-Vista bootloader files which you will need if they weren't on the on the same partition as XP, etc and Vista/Win7 has since deleted them. But there is a wiki page on their site with those files for just that situation.

Also it now can install a 'neogrub' binary file for booting Linux so it handles linux and everything else Grub supports,
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40hz
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« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2009, 07:57:56 AM »

Out of curiosity can you use a standard PC monitor etc. with the Mac Mini (I presume that is the thing that looks like a white brick?).

@Carol

Yup. My GF called it a "salt lick." Grin

The Mac Mini has a DVI mini monitor port on the back. Various adapters are available for about $15. I'm running it through my KVM using a DVIM to DB15F adapter with no problems. (knock wood!)

Minis ship with a VGA adapter. Since I got mine used, it didn't come with one. The people that sold it to me probably left it attached to the monitor cable. Roll Eyes





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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2009, 09:09:35 AM »

Thanks - maybe I will treat myself to a new toy at some point.
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dMbTiger
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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2009, 12:44:46 PM »

Looks like there are no Grub heavies around.  If I go that route, I still don't even know which version of the app to use, not to mention a whole lot of questions after that.  If anyone knows someone who knows someone, I wish they would steer me in the direction of somebody I can get into a dialogue with over this.

I already did my googling, so please no more link and run responses.  And I don't really need 50 alternatives to Grub-the couple above that I already have will do.  Thanks to those who have already posted.  I appreciate your efforts to help.

-Dan
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Dan
iphigenie
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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2009, 02:22:40 PM »

I use Grub on several computers but no expert - I will check which version they have. I've never had a Grub version problem using whatever the first (or sometimes last) installed distribution has put in place.

I tend to install *nix style OSes by telling them to put their boot stuff on their own partition, apart from one, then I can copy and paste it to the main grub config.

I've also tended, because I am lazy, to choose as "main grub" that of a distribution which has a nice helpful "detect other OSes" config script - so if I get problems I can re-run that

Currently trying to learn some of the nitty gritty as I have decided to jump in and help some distributions I like and I should better understand installers...
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MilesAhead
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« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2009, 05:41:01 PM »

For "grub heavies" I would fish the waters of usenet.  There are a bunch of Linux groups on usenet with some very knowledgable people on them.  Only proviso is it helps to have a thick skin on some of those groups.  Pretty much zero tolerance for hand holding.  smiley
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dMbTiger
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« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2009, 08:42:31 PM »

iphigenie,

Thanks for offering to help, but already you are talking over my head.  Remember, I have never used Grub before or seen a manual for it, so when explaining things to me, you need to start at square one.  If you can tell me which version I should use and where to download it from that will be a start.  I hit a couple of sites where people were arguing over which version was better and I had no way of telling which one was correct.  If you can point me to a site with a good working version, hopefully they will also have a current manual I can download and read which will help me understand what you are talking about when you try to explain things to me.  Thanks loads.

            Dan
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Dan
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