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Thread: How to multiboot distros from LVM and/or Non-LVM partitions?

  1. #1

    How to multiboot distros from LVM and/or Non-LVM partitions?

    Howdy, i'm a new-bie on this forum.

    i've search and read the entire internet to find an example, but it is not clear where or how i would install other linux distros on an LVM drive.

    i used debian with lilo back in the '90s with lots of command line pain, dropped out for a while, then later in 2004 installed FC3 using the nice gui stuff--just put the disks in and let it go. As a result i used the unknown-to-me LVM default for setting up the filesystems. i got it working for a simple email/browser/games machine for the kids and didn't keep up with any updates--it ain't broke, don't fix it has been my strategy...But now the newer multimedia stuff on the web won't play unless i get a newer browser, and the browser wants a newer gcclib, and the gcclib wants a newer kernel, i need to upgrade.

    i would like to try some other distros but not lose my current data files and capabilities while looking, or even later after selecting a newer version.

    LVM has always been a mystery to me and there is a lot that is not clear:
    How do i load a typically non-LVM linux distribution onto my LVM hard drive--do i create subdirectories or subpartitions within the LVM / partition and copy to those, or should i shrink LVM and create extended partitions non-LVM?

    Will a live cd version install at these locations?
    Will i be able to share or get to my current /home data (LVM) from one of the new distros running from a non-LVM partition?

    Found lots of LVM hatred out there, and frankly i have no understanding of LVM, and i'm overwhelmed by all the information... i do better with simple examples and steps that explain what to do and the why to do each step.

    i found the fedora solved examples about shrinking LVM partitions helpful, as well as the chapter 27 here on LHN, but i have no confidence that i know what to do and don't want to lose my data files by a wrong move...


  2. #2
    Administrator Advisor peter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    With LVM, I'd think the boot loader would have to know how to handle an LVM partition driver after reading the disk's partition table or else it would fail. A non LVM aware OS wouldn't work as a result. If you are running virtualization and the host OS is LVM aware and the client OS is legacy and the legacy client OS is installed in the host's filesystem, then that may work. I haven't tried it personally, but I do know of cases where systems on obsolete hardware were migrated to newer hardware that used virtualization to isolate the equally obsolete operating system from the new fangled drivers required on the new hardware. Did you ever get this to work?

  3. #3
    You don't need to use LVM to try other distributions. Just make sure you have free physical space (fdisk) and when you install other distributions use that space. Alternately, distribution installs may have support for resizing. Generally, I would expect a new install to be aware of other operating systems you have installed (including windows) and in recognizing these sets up the boot loader (grub) appropriately so you can boot whatever distro you want. If you are just trying out distributions, then it probably makes more sense to pursue virtualization. This is the most convenient thing to do, and LVM isn't really a worry here. You could install your virtualized machine in an LVM partition, but you could very well just use a simple file in an existing partition.

  4. #4
    I'm pretty sure he's saying that his drive set is using LVM, hence needing to install on to LVM, since shrinking a LVM volume is not exactly the most reliable thing to do.

    Personally, I would use an external drive to install extra distributions. Installing on to LVM is asking for a lot of problems. If any of the distributions corrupt the LVM volume, you will make every single distribution completely useless, and trust me; you do not want to try to recover data from a bad volume.
    arrogance breeds ignorance

    Screaming Electron, Full of BSD Goodness

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