Multiboot Win2k3, XP, linux

I want to install three OP systems to one drive. I've planned making 5 partitions.

[0-boot] [1-XP] [2-Win2003] [3-Linux]

I wish all the operating systems to put their boot files into their own partition. Here comes the first question:

How could I install XP and 2003 so they'd put their files neccessary for booting to their own partitions. I have seen that they always wish to put boot files into the first partiton available. (there should be no problem with linux)

Second problem is that i have to reinstall some of these OP Systems sometimes. How could it be possible to install some of them and not breaking the boot sector (MBR). Could i use boot sector virus protection from bios?

I plan to use some linux or other boot manager on the first partition.



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rebaneAsked:
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rebaneAuthor Commented:
Oh, the fifth partition is for data (NTFS drive)
roadhog_NZCommented:
Hi

first of all i dont know enough about linux to say if this will work for you, the windows side of it i have done many times and know works, so basically this information is to cover the windows side of things but should spill over to linux.

secondly i dont think you can have more than 4 partitions on a physical disk, windows wont let you, linux might???

when i create a multi boot drive i simply do it in this order......

1/ make sure that the partition you plan to load the os on is set as active (this can be changed with dos>fdisk, or disk manager from os)
2/ install the os as normal
3/ make a copy of the master boot record (you can use dos debug, or diskprobe from os) and save with a descriptive name eg 2003.mbr

repeat steps 1-3 for each os install

4/ now simply choose your primary os, put a copy of each of the other (obviously not needed for the primary os) mbr's on to that partition and add an option to your boot.ini file eg c:\2003.mbr "Windows server"

you can then repeat step 4 for each os if you want, but i wouldnt bother less you were changing the primary os its just extra work.

if you do update your primary os just remember to save your *.mbr files so you can put them back when you have finished

if you would like me to go into more depth on any particular points let me know

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roadhog_NZCommented:
ps, re the 5 partitions you dont need 5, just have the 3 os partitions and the last one for your data, this is intended to be a common store im presuming, not sure how linux handles ntfs but perhaps fat32 might be better, do you have any security concerns?
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dylanchauCommented:
You can try: VMware Workstation 5.
The Website: http://www.vmware.com

What Is VMware Workstation?
VMware Workstation is powerful desktop virtualization software for software developers/testers and IT professionals who want to streamline software development, testing and deployment in their enterprise. VMware Workstation allows users to run multiple x86-based operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and NetWare, and their applications simultaneously on a single PC in fully networked, portable virtual machines — no hard drive partitioning or rebooting required.
kayveyCommented:
i am having the same sort of issues/thoughts.. on the 4 partition thing.. i read in "the complete freeBSD"
by grog lehey (O'Reilley)
that MS is limited to 4 partitions but i don't think freeBSD is.  okay.. this is not relevant
to linux necessarily, other than that i think the 4 partition limit is a MS-OS feature.  

i found one webpage:

http://cquirke.mvps.org/multboot.htm

Breaking the 4 partition limit

The standard MBR is hardcoded to support only 4 partitions, which may be intolerably restrictive if you need (say) two alternate Linux partitions, an NT partition, a Windows 9x partition, and an extended partition containing data logical volumes to be shared between these.  There are two ways around this:

    * Storing multiple OSs within the same partition
    * Boot manager using non-standard partition table with more entries

The first is nice, because you avoid the risks associated with non-standard MBR code.  But not all OSs can boot from the same partition even if the bulk of these are on a different logical volumes within the same extended partition.

i'm pretty sure i found out that freeBSD doesn't have a limit like this (note there is a difference
between partitions and SUBpartitions)
tomvergoteCommented:
I'm not so sure about the windows side of it, but I think this should work (and the sequence of windowses could be reversed):

Install win2k3, it'll install on a partition and put a bootloader in the mbr

Install XP, it'll install on a partition and also put a bootloader in the mbr, overwriting the 2k3 one. So at this point you'll only be able to boot into XP

Install linux, let it install grub or lilo in the mbr and point it to the the windowses and the linux, now you'll be able to boot into your 3 different os'es

Now for the reinstalling part:
Make sure you have a boot floppy handy or an installation cd which can act as rescue cd (most of them should)
If you have to reinstall windows, it'll overwrite the mbr so you'll have to boot with the rescue floppy into your linux os, and from there make grub reinstall the same configuration in the mbr (something like grubinstall /dev/hda0 iirc)
gsgiCommented:
I have retired all boot managers in favor of this one:
(I love how it hides disks / partitions from the os'es you tell it to, and flops C: around so that each os partition can boot as C:  - very clever)
Past four partitions, you let this create them.  This can live on its own small partition.  When use change / install new os'es, you boot with
a floppy or a cd, bootit recognizes the new thing or you show it (easy) and that's it.

http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/bootitng.html

BootIt™ NG Features:

    * Create over 200 primary partitions (if desired)

    * Support for Linux Ext2/Ext3 and ReiserFS file systems
    * Compatible with all Windows versions (9x/ME/NT/2K/XP/2003).

    * IEEE1394/USB 2.0 high-speed support for imaging/partitioning
    * Support for large hard drives (2 TB) and partitions (1-2 TB)
    * Non-destructive resizing and conversion for FAT/FAT32
    * Non-destructive resizing for NTFS
    * Creation and (secure) deletion of partitions/volumes
    * Undelete partitions/volumes
    * FAT/FAT32 formatting
    * Copying and moving of partitions/volumes

    * Imaging (including directly to CD-R/RW or DVD+R+RW-R-RW)
    * Booting any partition on any hard drive (via BIOS)
    * Booting from the CD/DVD drive
    * Booting multiple operating systems from a single partition
    * User ID and password protection
    * Free upgrades (1.00-1.99) (registration-key versions only)
    * And lots more...
gsgiCommented:
There are five fine responses - split 75 each - grade B - accept roadhog for being first. - gsgi

roadhog_NZCommented:
you think my solution unworthy TheLearnedOne ?
I even learnt about linux partitions to be able to respond in more depth should he require
gsgiCommented:
roadhog_NZ maybe he missed the very first post - reading only your 2nd post without catching the first one // also tomvergote's post seems good -gsgi
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