Judging by what I get with 'fdisk -l', I would say the asterisk indicates the location of your master boot record.
I have got three OSs installed on one HD.
W2K3 on a Primary Partition called C.
Solaris10 on on another primary partition.
FC7 on an extended primary partition.
During linux's installation, I installed Linux's GRUB into MBR.
Now I am using Linux Grub to boot all three OSs.
When I checked /sbin/fdisk -l,,, I found solrais partition is active (marked with asterisk).
My query why is solaris partition active ? shouldn't window's partition (C) be active instead ?
If I activate Linux partition or windows partition does that affect the booting operation ? i.e I can not use GRUB bootloader to boot OSs ?
If grub hasn't changed behaviour the last year, with grub in mbr it doesn't matter what partition is marked active. (The partition marked with asterisk is, as you suggest, the active partition).
Pretty strange, yes - and annoying if you ask me - but that's what I found out about 1-2 years ago. One of the grub developers confirmed this in a discussion I had back then.
If you want to boot other OS's you'll have to do it from grub.
In Pingvino Veritas!
via red hat academy, the boot column (where the asterisk is) identifies the "bootable partition." On each disk, one of the primary partitions must be labeled "bootable." Although not used by Linux (it is used by the MS/DOS bootloader),fdisk does report and allow the user to set the bootable partition.
(use m for help)