Multi-boot success with Windows 95, Windows NT 4, Linux, OS/2 boot manager

Multi-boot success with Windows 95, Windows NT 4, Linux, OS/2 boot manager

Post by Nigel Arn » Sat, 19 Jul 1997 04:00:00

This may be of help to someone, so I'll post it. Basically a recipe for
how you can run Windows 95 (in FAT-32), Windows NT 4 (in NTFS), and
Linux (in native FS) on the same PC. This recipe uses Powerquest's
Partition Magic (PM from here on). In my opinion PM is worth every penny.

The basic setup I've achieved is

508M    FAT-32               Windows 95
4M      OS/2 Boot manager    (comes with PM)
500M    NTFS                 Windows NT 4 SP1 Workstation
rest of disk is extended partition containing
 59M    Linux swap
 441M   Linux root           (bootable via Boot manager; RedHat 4.1 distn)
 581M   free space
 248M   FAT-16               for shipping stuff between the o/s'es

Be aware that I have a nice modern motherboard that knows about
big disks.

I took a few wrong turns along the way. Things to be wary of are:

1. Create the logical drives in the extended partition with PM
   mot Linux installation. It probably can be done that way provided
   you create them in ascending disk cylinder order (as above). If,
   however, you try to create them at the far end of the extended
   partition, the next time you run PM you'll get Error 120
   (incompatible logical drive chain), and the next time I used NT's
   disk manager it trashed Linux. The basic trouble is that DOS's
   fdisk (and by implication NT's manager) expect logical drives linked
   in ascending order, but Linux's fdisk links them in order of creation.

   If you create them with PM it can't set type = 82 and 83 (Linux swap
   and native) so make unformatted (shows up as DOS unformatted), and
   during Linux install when asked, use the "t" option of fdisk to
   get the partition type right.

   Also put LILO in the logical drive, NOT in the master boot record!
   (/hda6, not /hda)

2. The system came with W95 installed on one big partition. I used
   PM to shrink this, made the NTFS partition (forgetting about
   boot manager!), and used PM to "hide" the W95 partition before
   installing NT. Sorting things out, I used PM to shrink the W95
   partition a bit to make space for boot manager. Unfortunately,
   doing anything like this breaks NT. It was installed in partition
   2, and when 2 became 3 it wouldn't boot until I fixed \BOOT.INI
   (edit ... PARTITION(2)\...   to ...(3)... ) Remember it's
   hidden, system and readonly: attrib -h -s -r needed.  I suspect
   that if you do things in the right order you never get this
   problem, but it's always easier second time around.

3. NT also got confused when the W95 partition first got unhidden,
   because it decided that this was C and the one it booted off was D.
   Using NT's disk manager sticky drive letters fixed this: I relabelled
   the FAT-32 W95 partition as "Z" since NT can't read it anyway.

4. NT's disk manager "write a signature" doesn't appear to do any
   harm in this setup, contrary to what the FAQs suggest.

I suspect that if you install W95, install PM and boot manager,
make all the partitions, install NT, and install Linux, you'll get
the same result with far less re-boots needed.

As I said, hope this helps some-one. It wasn't as hard as some of
the FAQs suggest, but am still touching wood.


1. Solaris, Windows NT, Window 95, Linux boot question

I have all four of these OSs installed on one of my computers. While they all
work fine, the boot process is a pain. I hoping someone can suggest a way to
fix it.

Right now I have to boot Linux from a floppy. If I don't use the floppy, the
Solaris boot manager comes up and gives me a choice of Solaris or the MS-DOS
partition. If I choose the MS-DOS partition, the NT boot manager comes up and
gives me a choice of NT or 95. I would much prefer to have a single menu that
list all four OSs, rather than having to go through several layers of menus.

If anyone has a suggestion I would appreciate it.


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