Win95/Linux partitioning

Posted on 2000-03-04
Last Modified: 2013-12-15
I'm trying to install Linux and Win 95 on the same hard drive.  My first attempt involved installing linux in the first three partitions (2 native, one swap) and then Win 95 in the final DOS partition.  But Windows wouldn't install, saying it couldn't write to part of the drive.  

My question is, what's the best way to go?  I tried to delete Linux and install windows on the whole drive, but I couldn't get any kind of access onto C: again, the system kept saying 'missing operating system'.  However I did it, I couldn't get into DOS on C:/ and had to install linux again.

So, to cut a long story short, can I install windows into the first partition on the drive while Linux is already there, or does windows have to go on first?  And what's the best kind of configuration for doing this (6gig drive)?
Question by:elsdon
LVL 40

Expert Comment

ID: 2583937
The easiest will be to install win95 first and then Linux. There's some good information on how to install Linux in and some stuff specific to Linux and win95 in

Pay particular attention to the section that talks about the 1024 cylinder restriction. If that rule gets violated you'll have to boot Linux via a floppy boot.

Another possible problem can arise if the disk has one of the "bios fix-up" things installed on it (Maxblast, EZ-drive, there's a number of different names). If I find one of those on a disk (they normally report their presence during the POST phase before booting), I elimate it with "fdisk /mbr" from a bootable DOS or win95 floppy.

Accepted Solution

mklp earned 100 total points
ID: 2584301
     I'm mklp and agree with jlevie for the most part. I'll try to be a bit more specific.  If you have a 6GB drive you will be within the 1024 cylinder boundry. This is a BIOS int13 limitation and occurs at approx 7.8GB on most systems. The only way a BIOS can "see" the boot code for an operating system is via a hardwired convention called int13. This occurs because of the way systems were initially designed and we live with it today. An extended BIOS uses an interpreted calculation done that allows for 1024(cylinders)X 255(heads)X 63(sectors) assuming 512 bytes per sector. When you do the math remember to convert to binary Gigs. This can vary with the BIOS, but most modern ones handle it fine.

     What this means is that the Linux boot code (as well as windows') MUST reside below this boundry. There are ways around it for certain OS's. The best way is to install Windows normally to a formatted primary partition. Let's say a 2Gig C drive. Then within an extended partition define drives D: E: and F:, (these correspond to 2 Linux partitions that you will format Ext2 and a Linux Swap on F: Linux will reside fine within an extended partition on logical drives while Windows needs to be in a primary partition under the circumstances you describe.
    As far as using someones BIOS (like EZ Drive) there should be no reason on a drive your size. You should be able to boot to a floppy containing DOS, Fdisk and Format to accomplish the partitioning of the drives and the formatting of the FIRST. Format will not format Ext2 so let Linux do this on install. Just tell Linux where to install and all will be fine. Remember, a Linux swap can not be larger than 128MB and needs be no larger than the amount of RAM in your system.

     In any case when you run Fdisk to define the extended partition and logical drive within it for Linux answer NO to "Do you want to enable large drive support". If you are installing W95b that supports FAT32 you can answer Yes to it when you define the primary active partition C: This will then format it with FAT32. Answering No simply defines a FAT16 partition and Linux will have no problem seeing, converting, formating and installing to it.

     One last thing. This all applies to IDE interface and drives only, but I guess if you were running SCSI you would already know that it doesn't have the primary partition and BIOS limitations.
hope this helps,

Author Comment

ID: 2586884
Thanks for the help - the info was very useful.  After quite a few attempts I've got the system working.  Basically, I deleted the partitions in Linux,  formatted the hard drive using a DOS boot floppy, created 1 450M partition for Windows, installed, and then installed Linux after that.  So far so good....

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