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How do I Dual/Triple boot WinXP and/or Server 2003 and/or Ubuntu Server 10.10?

Posted on 2011-03-16
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I have a test system that is setup as a dual boot winXP and Server 2003 system. In fact I have 3 separate installs of Server 2003 of which I plan on only keeping 1. I have a free hard drive in the system that currently has Server 2003 and i wish to replace it with Ubuntu Server Edition 10.10. How do I go about doing this?
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Question by:futr_vision
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by:ChiefTechGuru
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I'm not a Linux person, but I found what looks like an excellent article describing dual booting between Microsoft OS's and Ubuntu.  https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WindowsDualBoot
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by:torimar
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First of all: if you are doing this on a local machine that you have access to, you do want to reconsider using Ubuntu rather than Ubuntu Server. There is no difference between these editions, with the exception that Server is by default installed as headless OS without a GUI. You can install and use all the server software on "normal" Ubuntu as well, without any problem.

Then you want to make the decision what bootloader you wish to use: the Ubuntu Grub, or a Windows equivalent, which in this case would have to be EasBCD: http://neosmart.net/dl.php?id=1

If you want to use the Ubuntu Grub, then you can simply install Ubuntu to the second drive; it will detect your existing Windows boot menu and integrate it as a boot option into its own menu. It will also install its Grub to the MBR of the first hard drive by default. So once installed, the system will boot to a Grub menu and offer to select either Ubuntu or  Windows.

If you want to manage the boot process via Windows, you need to install EasyBCD first, then follow the installation instructions as given in the EasyBCD documentation: http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/Linux
In any case, you need to make sure that Grub is not installed to the MBR, but to the boot sector of the Ubuntu root.
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by:michko
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If you already have the system dual boot XP and Server 2k3, you're pretty much already there.  Just burn a Ubuntu disk and boot from it.  It will recognize the various OSs available and walk you through which ones you want to keep, partitioning, and setting up the boot order.  

ChiefTechGuru's article is a good reference - same principles apply for triple boot as do for dual boot.

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by:futr_vision
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Any way of doing this if I can't burn and iso to boot from?
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by:futr_vision
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One other question. If was planning on wiping Windows XP and Server 2003 and doing a clean install what order should I install the 3 OS's?
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by:torimar
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You need to install Windows first, in the order of release, then Linux.
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by:torimar
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>> "Any way of doing this if I can't burn and iso to boot from?"

So you really have no access to any CD burner anywhere?
Alternatively, you could use a bootable USB flash drive; instructions are here on the download page: http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop/get-ubuntu/download

Lastly, there is still the option to have Ubuntu send you an installation CD. They used to do this for anybody until lately, now I think you need to tell them why you cannot create installation media yourself.
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by:torimar
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You can request the CD here: https://shipit.ubuntu.com/
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by:garycase
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If you want to multi-boot several OS's, you're far better off (in my opinion) if you completely isolate the OS's from each other using Boot-It NG's EMBR structure.     Boot-It is an excellent boot manager ... lets you install as many OS's as you like, and they've completely isolated from each other.    Makes it trivial to add an OS, remove an OS,  image or restore an OS,  resize the OS partitions, etc.

It's a bit "geeky" -- but NOT hard to learn ... and is remarkably powerful.    It's a rock-solid utilty for partition management, multi-boot management, and image/restore functions.    I've tried virtually all of the competitors, but it's the only one I use on my systems.

Here's my main system's current boot menu (I have an older system with 16 bootable OS's):


My-New-Boot-Menu-with-Win7.jpg
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by:garycase
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by:futr_vision
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I actually have 3 individual drives in this system so I was planning on giving each OS its own drive. Two of them are IDE drives. One set up as the master and the second as a slave(not sure if this is the best way to do it). The third is a SATA drive.
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by:futr_vision
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Yes. i do have a CD burner but no media handy and i am not about to run out and but a bunch of media i will never use. I do have a thumb drive so I thought that might be the way to go. It didn't work for me trying to install the server version of Ubuntu but maybe the desktop version will work. I just wonder if i will be losing anything by installing the desktop version and whether or not it will make a difference if i use the recommended 32-bit version and not the 64-bit. My system is sufficient enough to handle 64-bit.
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by:garycase
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Putting each OS on its own drive does NOT isolate them from each other -- you'll still have a boot loader to control which one boots;  and each will "see" the other unless you're using a boot loader that hides them from each other (NOT by just making the partition "hidden" -- which is still visible to the OS).

But it's also unnecessary to have dedicated drives -- they simply need dedicated partitions.    ALL of the OS's on my system are on the same 1TB Caviar Black.   [The system does have 6 other hard drives in it, but these are for data, backups, etc., and are all "visible" to all of the OS's, so no matter what I boot to I have a consistent environment.
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by:garycase
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Boot-It also doesn't care what OS it's dealing with -- my main system has all Windows-based OS's, but here's one of my others:


MyBootMenu.jpg
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by:torimar
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1. It's a fallacy to think that you will "never use" the installation media again once the installation has been completed. As is the case with Windows, having a set of install media handy in order to be able to maintain/repair the system when corrupted or unbootable is not only a good idea, it sometimes is the only way to succeed. Especially on a multi-boot system it is highly recommended to dispose of the physical install media of all installed OS'es.

2. As I said above, you will not lose anything by choosing the desktop version. This is not Windows, versions do not essentially differ, and both encompass the full range of programs and functions.

3. If your server needs to support more than 4 GB of RAM, and will have to handle very large databases (say 1-2 GB per base), then it is a good idea to go for the 64bit version; in all other cases, 32bit will be sufficient.
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by:futr_vision
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I'll have to pass on Boot-It given that it is not free. I've had dual boot systems in the past and never really had any issues. I name my drives with the OS that is on them and that usually does the job of preventing any issues. Am I missing something?
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by:garycase
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As long as you are cautious about the order of installation, careful with the configuration of your boot loader (whether GRUB, Windows, or whatever), and particularly careful when loading programs and configuring the OS -- to ensure they never use conflicting resources --- then No, you're not "missing" anything.

I simply prefer the complete isolation of Boot-It's EMBR structure.    In addition to the two systems I posted the menus for above, I have two others I don't have current screen shots of:   one with 16 bootable OS's (virtually every early Windows OS through 2000;  4 versions of Linux;and a couple versions of DOS ... including one set up with a CP/M emulator);  and one with 3 server installs (2 2003 installs and a 2008 install).

I can easily image the installs;  duplicate them with different boots for different configs;  restore them if something goes wrong;  etc.    NONE of these have ANY impact on the boot loader -- it's all handled through Boot-It's very simple Maintenance mode.     No, it's not free ... but it's worth far more than it's very nominal cost.

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by:torimar
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As long as you put no more than one OS per partition, they are already sufficiently separated - separate disks are not required, but will fulfil the same purpose. And as to imaging: there are a lot of good free imaging tools available, both in Linux and Windows.

Since 1995, virtually every computer I worked with has been at least a triple boot system; my present main machine has 9 x Linux and 1 x BSD on one disk, 2 x Windows on a second one. I use Grub as the bootloader and I never had any conflict issues. In fact, I wouldn't want the OS'es to be hidden from each other because it is one of the advantages of a multi-boot system that you can use one OS to repair another.

I do admit though that it is very helpful to have at least a basic knowledge of Grub intricacies and Linux; so for the experimenting Windows user a Windows based bootloader may be more adequate.
EasyBCD is free, and good enough in what it does to have made people forget to look for alternatives.
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by:garycase
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Agree it's sometimes useful for one OS to "see" another if you need to make repairs or modify files.    Boot-It certainly allows that -- it takes about 10 seconds to change what a boot item "sees" in the Maintenance screen.    But for normal operation, I prefer TOTAL isolation.

I also let all of the OS's "see" all of my data drives (and have all the letters set consistently).    And every OS boots to C:  (which is, of course, really a different partition depending on which OS just booted).

But I agree there are plenty of free alternatives.
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by:futr_vision
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Data drives were mentioned. What would be a wise way to set up this triple boot then? I was planning on installing XP on the small drive. It really has no other function than to run older software.

I was then going to install Server 2003 on one drive and Ubuntu on the other. Both these servers were going to be used as web servers to test the same website. I'm new to Linux and wanted to give it a try and see how it compares to running it on Windows. Anyways, there is a databases associated with this website I am testing. I am pretty sure I can use a shared repository for the web pages but is it possible to create a shared database that will be accessible by the server currently booted up?
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by:torimar
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There is no particularly "wise" way to set this up: much depends on your preferences and what you are planning to do with each OS. Before you start, make sure that the three disks are properly detected by your BIOS. Best check with a partitioning tool using the presently installed OS. A free tool would be this one, for example: http://www.partition-tool.com/personal.htm
But I'd recommend you make sure that the disk you wish to install your first Windows OS on (I guess this is XP) to be the first disk in the system ("disk 1" in the partition manager) - this is what Windows expects and it is best to let it have its way.

As to the shared database: that is a question for a MySQL specialist. It may, in principle, be possible to have a separate shared FAT32 partition for this purpose, but the problems you will encounter when configuring MySQL to not use the default database locations may be quite massive on Linux and Windows alike. On top of that, you may be facing problems caused by the fact that the two platforms have different ways to save files - which in the worst case might cause the dtabase to no longer be recognized once updated by the other OS.
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by:futr_vision
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Ok.
WinXP installed on first hard drive - no problem
Server 2003 installed on second hard drive - no problem
Ubuntu installed on remaining hard drive using USB drive - problem

Now that I have installed Ubuntu I go to reboot and I get two "Boot from CD:" and then a  "DISK BOOT FAILURE, INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER"

When I put the USB brive back in it will boot to a menu where I have an option to run from the USB drive, install, file check etc....

What's going on here? What did I screw up?
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by:futr_vision
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And yes I set  First Boot Device to Hard Disk
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by:torimar
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Looks like you have no valid boot code.

What bootloader did you decide on using?
If EasyBCD, did you read and follow the documentation I linked to in my first comment? ( http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/Linux )

If Grub, did you check the bootloader settings? It should work fine just by default, but  it's better to check and make sure that Grub gets actually installed to the MBR, not to the boot sector of any of the disks.
So if Grub was your choice, the quickest and least complicated way would be to simply reinstall Ubuntu. The other, more professional and more complicated way would be to only reinstall Grub from the installation media:
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Grub2#Reinstalling from LiveCD
(Note: make sure that in step #5 you use "/dev/sda" as Grub install target; so you need to use the exact command that is given as an example)
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by:torimar
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by:torimar
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I think I now know what might have gone wrong.
There have been almost exclusively questions on multi-booting Windows 7 and Linux for many months now, so I completely forgot that some things are different with regard to XP.

EasyBCD does not work under XP, only under Vista and later. I was pretty certain it would simply refuse to be installed on XP, so no harm could be done.
But if this is what you did, then I'm very sorry for my lapse.

Off the top of my head, I don't know of any free XP bootloader that would be as good and easy to use as EasyBCD; there is Grub4Dos and WinGrub ( http://sourceforge.net/projects/grub4dos/ ), but they are somewhat nerdy and require a fair share of fiddling. So I suggest you follow the instructions in my last comment and go for Grub via reinstalling Ubuntu or Grub itself.
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by:futr_vision
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Ok. I am wondering if I need to go back and redo this whole thing instead of knocking around for an answer. Let me go back to how this system is set up.

3 hard drives.
84GB IDE - set as Primary Master
160GB IDE - set as Primary Slave
160 SATA - On channel 1

2 DVD drives
First set as Secondary Master
Second Set as Secondary Slave

OS's I wish to install
WinXP Pro - 84GB drive
Server 2003 - Either 160GB SATA or IDE drive
Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop - Either 160GB SATA or IDE drive

I was thinking Server 2003 on the SATA drive for performance reasons since I will be using that OS more often than Ubuntu

What are the steps to do this? I was successful in installing XP and Server 2003 up until the point I went to install Ubuntu from the USB drive. I think that is where the issues arise since there are several options during installation that I wasn't sure about. For example which of these would I choose?

Install alongside other operating systems
Erase and use entire disk
Specify partitions manually

I first chose to specify partitions but aborted the installation to unplug my other drives to make sure I was installing on the correct one (per someone on an Ubuntu IRC channel). I think this is when things stopped working. I guess somewhere in the beginning of the install something was changed. When I tried to reboot into windows after the install abort all I get is the "Boot from CD:" prompt followed by "DISK BOOT FAILURE, INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER". The only way I can do anything is to change the first boot device back to the USB and either run Ubuntu from there or re-install. if there is an easy fix, maybe a simple reinstall of Ubuntu, then I am all for it but I am also willing to start form scratch if that saves me hours of tinkering around. So what I am looking for is either a detail explanation of how to fix my issue or detailed instructions how to install all three OS's on separate drives.

Thanks everyone for your time. Sorry to make this so hard.
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torimar earned 500 total points
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Well, that explains it.

As I said from the beginning: the Ubuntu bootloader (Grub) needs to be installed to the MBR of the very first drive. This cannot be done if the drive is not connected. Also, Ubuntu will not be able to find your Windows installation(s) and integrate them into the boot menu - which can be adjusted later on, but is best done automatically.
The person on the Ubuntu IRC channel did either not have the complete picture of the issue, or simply didn't know what he was talking about.
A Linux expert would simply tell you the Linux names of your drives:

84GB IDE - set as Primary Master (Linux name: hda)
160GB IDE - set as Primary Slave (Linux name: hdb)
160 SATA - On channel 1 (Linux name: sda)

The partitions on those drives will be numbered 1 to n: hda1 etc, sda1 etc.

You need to then choose "Specify partitions manually", point it to 'hdb' or 'sda' respectively, create one large partition on the selected drive (formatted ext3 or ext4) and attribute it to mountpoint "/", create another small partition (~ twice the size of your RAM) at the end of the drive, format it "Swap" and set its mountpont to "Swap".

If you have problems installing Ubuntu please check the documentation on the wiki:
https://help.ubuntu.com/10.10/installation-guide/i386/index.html
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation#Other installation guides

Same applies if you want to know more details about partitioning with the installer.
(You could also pre-partition and pre-format the Ubuntu drive with a more intuitive partitioning tool, but that would require you to boot off another bootable media like Parted Magic: www.partedmagic.com )

Since you say in your posts that your Windows installations ran fine, this is about as much detailed information as one can give without writing a book. Posts here or elsewhere will never be able to replace the proper study of documentation.


One point of importance, however, remains to be taken care of:
Please make sure that your IDE master (where your first Windows installation goes) is in fact the first drive in the system's boot sequence. This is very important for Windows.
The fact that you now ended up with a "Disk boot failure" points to a messed up boot sequence which could be caused by your disconnecting/reconnecting drives. Linux has nothing to do with this error, because it couldn't have messed with the disconnected Windows drives.

If you reinstall all OS'es, proceed to install Ubuntu only after making sure that both Windows systems boot. Then, as I said already, make sure inside the Ubuntu installer that the bootloader gets installed to the MBR of the first drive (IDE master 'hda') - this is one of the last configurable settings before actually installing, and it should, in principle, be set correctly by default.
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by:futr_vision
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I reinstalled Ubuntu and pointed toward hda for the bootloader. I had to also go back and make sure that hda had the #1 priority when booting. It appears the SATA drive grabbed that spot when I added it. Once I fixed that I then got the Grub menu on boot. I'm not sure if this is correct but when I choose the Windows option I then get the boot list for XP and Server 2003. Sound about right?
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