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How to install a hidden operating system?

Posted on 2009-07-04
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Last Modified: 2012-05-07
Much like what OEM vendors provide in their hidden partitions for OS recovery... How do I create a bootable operating system which is hidden from an existing Windows operating system on a computer?

What OEM consumer PC vendors seem to be doing for their recovery systems is listening for a keypress on boot and then booting the hidden partition if it receives the keypress or handing off to the proper Windows bootloader if it doesn't receive the keypress.

How can I replicate this with a real operating system instead of a recovery environment?

(FYI, Truecrypt's hidden operating system feature is NOT what I'm looking for, even though it's likely the first Google result you'll find)
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Question by:Orbixx
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8 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:IanTh
ID: 24776933
the recovery partition is just made inactive usually

you can make a partion inactive and that means the os wouldn't see it and when the key is pressed during boot the code makes the bios see that partion as boot by changing its status flag to enabled and boot

so your problem is going to be as your not rewritting the bios how would you get your keypress and boot code into the bios
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Assisted Solution

by:burrcm
burrcm earned 400 total points
ID: 24783746
Sounds like you are looking for a dual boot boot loader?? PQBoot does this easily and reliably. Set one OS as default and the other as an option with a short time out. If you do nothing you get OS A, if you press the required key you get OS B. This is part of Partition Magic.

http://www.partitionmagic-guide.com/

Chris B
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Expert Comment

by:burrcm
ID: 24783754
Oh and yes, you can totally hide the "other" OS from the active one, or allow file transfer between them.

Chris B
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Author Comment

by:Orbixx
ID: 24784555
So the partition magic basically deployed a custom alternative bootloader?
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Assisted Solution

by:burrcm
burrcm earned 400 total points
ID: 24793021
Correct. Same principle as HP for example press F something to enter recovery, which starts a ghost restore. It could start another OS just as well as DOS.

Chris B
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Accepted Solution

by:
rindi earned 1600 total points
ID: 24793085
The problem is that partition magic is really old. It was built by powerquest which was bought by symantec many years ago, after which partition magic wasn't further improved. It surprises me that it is still officially available! It also isn't the official Symantec site, so that makes me a bit skeptical whether this is a serious site. You'll also notice that it says it supports large HD's up to 80GB size! Today's disks are much larger and I assume you'd have problems with today's HD's.

If you are going to try this via a bootmanager I suggest getting one from another manufacturer. Good is bootit-ng, and also acronis has one.

http://terabyteunlimited.com/
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Author Comment

by:Orbixx
ID: 24794139
Are there are free or open source alternatives?
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by:rindi
rindi earned 1600 total points
ID: 24794556
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