how to install mandriva / suse as well as Fedora

***hello,  i dont know anything about linux,  just fiddling with an old laptop.

    i wiped the drive, then put Three partitions, with Vista oem  on  p1 and Fedora6  on p3
    both worked ok.   but when i installed Mandriva on  p2  it messed up  Fedora (and vice versa)
    also tried putting  Suse10  on  p2  but same problems.

***is it possible to have all  3 programs without them interacting ?
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Q- (1) I don't think Fedora touched your partition 2 but can' t tell for sure because
Redhat/Fedora implementation of LVM ( Logical Volume Management ) can be
headache sometimes. LVM use to merge different partitions and disks(volumes) and distribute file system in logical volumes in the way that is not very  clear at first glance.
Q- (2) Simply because no two partitions labeled /usr, /home, / , /var nor any other section of Linux files system can reside within same partition of same physical disk!
It IS possible though to have two /home or /usr partition mounted within / directories on two separate partitions of the single har-disk.
For instance:

|<--- windows--->|swap|<--/-|-/usr--|--/home--|--/ --|---/usr---|---/home--->|
is impossible file system distribution accross 3partitions ( win+swap+2 Linuxes)

This would be different story:
|<--Windows-->|<swap>|<--/ with /usr& /home -->|<--/ with /usr & /home -->|
|<----OS #1--->|<swap>|<--------OS #2----------->|<---------OS #3---------->|

[BTW  do not confuse  /  directory ( pronounced "root" since it's Linux file system root ) and  /root directory which belongs to Linux system administrator (root, superuser home folder).

Q-(3) The problem is with Microsoft operating systems that they all want to boot from the primary partition and MBR has to be within first 1024 hard-sik cilinders.This is where GRUB comes in. It can hide primary partitions. You can use up to 3 partitions to install Windoze or DOS. GRUB will hide the other 2 partitions so that the operating systems will not see it. This means you need another partition to share data between DOS, Win9x and Windows 2000. The 4th partition is used for the extended partition."
"If you intend to dual-boot Windows, then you should avoid installing GRUB to the MBR. The reason for this is that Windows occasionally overwrites the MBR, for instance, when you reinstall it, and that could be quite often. When that happens, your Linux system will seem to disappear as your system starts booting directly into Windows, bypassing the boot menu altogether. To avoid this, install GRUB to the boot sector of the active partition instead."
Q-(4) Very good and elaborate solution, but, remember, it's Windows-Mac-Linux
or , in other words NTFS-HPFS-ext3  so not much confusion here regarding who's who's on that single hard-disk.
With two Linuxes ( think:distributions) on same hard-disk situation is getting more complicated since two Linuxes can see each other's partitions and directories and if they're mounted and utilized improperly system is prone to crash due to overwritten files, mixed configuration files , libraries, system environment variables  ( PATH for instance) differnet defaults file locations etc.

So if your starting point is currently three partitions (P#1= WIndows , P#2=free space and P#3=Fedora) you should subdivide P#2 ( and in case your're going to reinstall Fedora partition P#3 as well) to accomodate second Linux distro besides existing two OS-es ( WIndows and Fedora).
The best thing would be to download free Gparetd Live CD you can boot your system from and prepare partitions for selected Linux distribution leaving existing Windows installation intact.
Keep your Windows OS and re-install Fedora Linux in partion p#2 and then install Mandrake in partition p#3.
Remember, if you - for instance- install Fedora in partition #3 and later Mandriva in
free space on partition p#2, hard-disk partitions get renumbered in such way that Fedora boot image ( vmlinuz) couldn't be found rendering Fedora installation useless.
In other words you hard-disk layout is as follows:
Windows is /dev/hda1 , free space is /dev/hda6 and Fedora is sitting in most likely /dev/hda7 ( / )  and /dev/hda8 ( /home)
If you go and install Mandriva in free space Mandirva installer will force you to subdivide p#2 in at least two partitions for  /  and  /home in which case Fedoras
partition ( after being renumbered) will become /dev/hda9  and /dev/hda10 .
Once you're done with Mandriva installation and next you try to boot in Fedora
its bootloader will search in "wrong" places for bootable image and system file
(since Fedora's /etc/fstab file is not updated to reflect changes you've made)  
which will end up with trashed Fedora istallation.

wlennonVP of Domestic & Int'l OperationsCommented:

It can be done, but it is not as simple as just installing them on three partitions on the same Hard Drive, please see here for instructions:

marshalxAuthor Commented:
***very relevant article Wes, but a quick read makes me think something else the problem.

    both fedora and mandrake allow Grub editing, and i did set the mount points /  and add the Boot
    options in MBR , and all 3  showed on restart ok,  but only Vista + 1 linux would run, not both linux.

     i noticed when putting Mandriva root  mount /   on  partition2,   that it automatically put its own  /var
     onto  p3   where  fedora had been installed.     i dont know what  /var  is,  but seems it might
     overwrite the fedora installation ?

***when does one want to put Grub  onto a partition instead of  MBR  ?      many thanks.
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wlennonVP of Domestic & Int'l OperationsCommented:
Well, Grub is a boot loader, it will not overwrite the MBR of each Operating System, but it may take some tweaks to make it work exactly the way you want. If you have another Hard Drive it would be easier to load the 2 OS's and the third on the second HDD.

Grub is a Linux Boot Loader, this should mean that Linux with Grub on the two Linux OS's, or else the two versions of Linux will conflict with each other.

Ideally you could load XP and one of the Linux OS on to one HDD and the third OS on the second HDD.

Here is another resource:

Good luck...

The problem you're having that you cannot install WIndows plus two Linux distributions in only three partitions. You would need at least six partitions:
1- one for Windows OS
2-one for SWAP
3-one for Linux distribution #1 system root partition known as   /
4-one for Linux distribution #2 system root partition ( also  / )
5-one for Linux distribution #1  /home partition and finally
6-one for Linux distribution #2 /home partition
   You can find some sources claiming it's possible to share /home partition between two diferent Linuxes , but I'll tell you - even if it's possible as it is- I wouldn't do that since different distros have their own , very often , highly customised desktop, application and system settings specific to particular distro . In other words if, for instance Mandriva 2007
stores user settings for KDE environment in  /home/user_name/.kde   Fedora Linux would place its own setting for KDE in same directory rendering Mandriva's KDE desktop unusable ( practically dead).
 The reason is simple Windows can reside in it own NTFS partition and different Linux
distributions ( like if you want to dual boot between Fedora and SUSE ) CANNOT share
crucial file system segments like  / ( root )  , /var  , /opt , /usr  etc.
What you've done once you've installed "Mandriva on  p2" you hosed up previous Fedora
installation . I can picture what happened : Mandrive just overwrote existing ( Fedora) partitions  ( most likely / , /usr and /home ). Once you installed SUSE in same partition 2 you acctually did the same mistake again.
   If you still want to have two Linuxes installed besides WIndows Vista on the same hard-disk ( triple boot) then this would be most simplified and MINIMUM required disk partition layout sheme for succesful triple OS boot system.

|-----------------------------------  YOUR HARD  DISK -----------------------------------------------------|
|<-primary p.->|<----------------------------- extended partition-------------------------------------->|
<active partit-><------five----|---- logical-------|--- drives-------|--in extended-|-- partition--->|
|-- drive C:------|--drive D: ----|---drive E: -------|---- drive F:----| drive G: ------|---- drive H: ---|
|--- WinVista----|----SWAP-----|-- / for SUSE----|- / for Fedora--|-- /home (S)--|--/home (F)---|
|----/dev/hda1--|----swap--- --|---- /dev/hda6---|---/dev/hda7---|--/dev/hda8--|--/dev/hda9----|
|---- NTFS-------|-----swap----- |--- reiserfs-------|----- ext3--------|---reiserfs-----|---- ext3--------|

I other words you can use Mandriva Installation CD and its great partitioning tool to repartition your hard disk by shrinking existing Windows Vista NTFS partition to make
room for two new Linux operating system. You have to make one primary and extended partition with five logical drives within extended partition.
Do not format Windows Vista partition. Format only partitions 2 to 6.
Swap partition format as swap, and partitions designated to SUSE format with Reiser FS , and partitions for Fedora as ext3 file system because that's Fedoras default file system. SUSE prefer Reiser FS over ext3 ( or ext2 and any other FS ).
You have to keep records of what you're doing , because Linux file system and partitioning can be very confusing for novices. You'll notice for instance there's no /dev/hda5 partiton.
/dev/hda5 is just label for extended partiton which is container for logical drives within it.
Hence /dev/hda6 partion label for the first available logical drive.
/dev/hda 2, /dev/hda3 and /dev/hda4 are reserved labels for four primary partitions (you might've known that  single hard-disk cannot have more than four primary partitions).

 "I noticed when putting Mandriva root  mount /   on  partition2,   that it automatically put its own  /var onto  p3   where  fedora had been installed. I dont know what  /var  is,  but seems it might overwrite the fedora installation ? " 
That's because in Linux entire hard-disk partitions can be mounted to Linux file system as directories. For instance in  very advanced server boxes and workstations one can find /boot , / ,/var, /usr , /tmp , /opt , /www , /home  etc. directories sitting on separate partitions, hard-disks and even on remote networked volumes. That's why Linux files system is so powerfull ( and of course confusing in its complexity).
Remember once you have  /  for each Linux distro you want to install , other crucial   directories like  /var , /usr /bin  /sbin etc. pertaining ( belonging) to particular distribution
will be  created within their respective  / .

Hopefully it's little be more clear what kind of beast you have to fight .
good luck

marshalxAuthor Commented:
***hi  Nedvis  :)    many thanks for your help.  im slowly learning bits of Linux here and there.
    i will certainly try your suggestions soon (in between 1000 other jobs !)  in the meantime, may i ask

    (1) when i had  p1 = Vista,  p3 = Fedora  (p2  free space)  do you think Fedora had put anything
          like  /home  /var  etc  into that free space p2  ?     or had it kept all its directores >inside<  p3  ?

    (2) if it had NOT put anything outside of its Partition 3,   then when Mandriva was next put  into p2,
          why did Mandriva >not Likewise< keep all its directories inside  p2  ?    can we force it to ?
          in other words prevent Mandriva corrupting Fedora ?

    (3) in what situations would we want Grub on the  /root  partition rather than in MBR  ?

    (4)  i came across this
          what dyou think of  Ragnaroks ideas ?    he seems to think  Triple Booting is easy.
          does the use of  >Primary< Partitions make it unnecessary to have extra ones for  /home  etc ?  

     thanks for conversation.
I'm sorry just for clarification this:

|<--- windows--->|swap|<--/-|-/usr--|--/home--|--/ --|---/usr---|---/home--->|
is impossible file system distribution accross 3partitions ( win+swap+2 Linuxes)

is meant to be like this:

|<--- windows--->|swap|<--/-|-/usr--|--/home--;--/ --|---/usr---|---/home--->|
|<----windows--->|swap|<-----------Linux #1----:--------Linux#2-------------->|

is impossible file system distribution accross 3 partitions ( win+swap+2 Linuxes
sharing same partiton).

marshalxAuthor Commented:
***that lot will keep me thinking for a week Nedvis  !
    Vista + swap + 2 primary partitions didnt work - either way,
     so today ill try your Vista + swap + Extended with 4 logicals.
     Then ill  tell it where to mount both  /   and  /home.

     what about other directories like  /var  etc;   will it keep those inside  the  /   partition ?
     in other words  2 partitions per Linux should be enough ?    ill   try  -   many thanks  :)
what about other directories like  /var  etc;   will it keep those INSIDE  the  /   partition ?
marshalxAuthor Commented:
***hi  nedvis - whats the weather like in Serbia ?    its  snowing here in Oxford uk.

    well the 6 partition method didnt work either :(      
    windows primary + Extended (swap + Mandriva + /home + Fedora + /home )
    Similar symptoms  :   Windows + Mandriva  ok,   but after  Wijndows + Fedora  ok,  
    Mandriva refuses to boot any more.

***Fedora grub screen allows editing,  so i looked inside each Boot Label
    (1) windows contains :   rootnoverify (hd0,5)
                                             chainloader +1
    (2) fedora contains          root (hd0,7)
                                             kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.18-1.2798.fc6 ro root=label=fedora-6 rhgb quiet
                                             initrd /boot/initrd-2.6.18-1.2798.fc6.img
    (3) mandriva contains      rootnoverify (hd0,5)
                                             chainloader +1

***by comparison, i decided to Delete the mandriva   "chainloader +1"
    and change  "rootnoverify"  to          root (hd0,7)
                                                              kernel /boot/vmlinuz
    and it  DID start to boot !    (i havent a clue what im doing :)
    But then the kernel "panicked"  saying "not synching, attempted to kill init"

***my guess is the Kernel  and  Initrd   lines need more details,  
    but here my guesses run out        ! help !  nedvis -   what  dyou think now ?                      
marshalxAuthor Commented:
***mistake there,   mandriva =     root (hd0,5)     not 7
"whats the weather like in Serbia ?"
I don't know unless I fire my RealPlayer and watch Ratio-Television Belgrade.
I left Serbia nine years ago and now I'm Columbus Ohio U.S.A resident.
Hm, is seems to me Fedora does not like other Linux distro sitting on the same hard-disk.
You might want to boot from Fedora install CD 1 and edit GRUB with and option to rescan partitions.
cmd [grub-install --recheck /dev/hda]

marshalxAuthor Commented:
***hi  Nedvis  !     got the thing running at last  !
    in parallel with your comments, ive been over on Fedora Forum
    listening to yards of suggestions, and now worked out the cure.
    (but ill "accept" your comments above for my general Linux  eduation,   thanks  Nedvis  :)

     As for partitioning, i never "liked" the idea of Multiple partitions for a basic install,
     so reverted to  Vista + Extended ( Mandriva  + Fedora),  then  >>>

***SACRE BLEU !!!  bob, u pointed me in right direction !!!
looking back at the Menu.Lst printed when FC was running
i noticed the INITRD command had SAME version number -2.6.18-1.2798.fc6 appended to it
whereas after Mandriva had taken over, it offered Only the Kernel with that ver appended
So i added that and tried again - no luck, said "file not found"

***BUT i then re-thought that id never liked Mandriva saying FC was at (hd0,5)
when id expected it to be (hd0,6) - one less than root=/dev/hda7
and Now TRIPLE SACRE BLEU !!! here i am posting off Fedora-6
after having First started Mandriva and edited its Menu.Lst.

Aint life great !! no more stamping round the house cursing today.
as u say, its time for a few BEERS. cheers Bob, Dies, and All assistors
im quite new to Linux, but the challenge of Annoying puzzles always gets me going. thanks again.
Thank you marshalx!
Here you'll find good place for further Fedora Core 6 tweaks:

Let me share with you one more personal thing: my daughter Tea has been selected for postgraduate studies
of civil engineering at University of California Berkley. She just called from San Francisco to let us know that good news.
And I was about to install FreeBSD 5.3.1 on my oldie 500 MHz Celeron PC. Coincidence !
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