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Thread: Booting multiple Linuxes from 1 single boot partition

  1. #1

    Booting multiple Linuxes from 1 single boot partition

    On my system there is a new 80GB hard disk which is not recognised properly in BIOS. Alas, this also means GRUB cannot use it for booting, although it would be ideally suited to place Linux distros on.

    I found that Linux can use the disk quite normally when booted from a CD. A boot floppy does not help in the same way, because the kernel needs to be loaded before I can use my large disk.

    So I tried (and succeeded with) the following procedure:

    (1) Create a boot partition on the first hard disk
    (hda). In my case I chose 200 MB size.
    (2) Install one Linux distro and set the boot partition on hda as mount point /boot. Install GRUB as your boot manager.
    (3) Install other distro as needed, but do not use the boot partition on hda.
    (4) Boot into your first distro from step (2)
    (5) Mount the newly installed Linux partition from step (3). I assume familiarity with the mount command at this point.
    (6) Copy the kernel from the second distro into the /boot partition you created. You can use a graphical file manager for this, if so inclined.
    (7) Edit the file /boot/GRUB/menu.lst to add your second distro. Make sure to pass a parameter root=(...) to the kernel, so that the kernel will know to look on the other disk for its files. If you installed the first distro on the second disk (except for /boot), you may be able to copy most of the entry. You can also look into the second distro's menu.lst file for inspiration.

    I have successfully installed several distros and booted them from my second disk this way, including SUSE 9, Mandrake 9.2, ELX business desktop and Aurox 9.3. (And each time they were complaining: "you may not be able to boot this system..." he, he)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    ahh never thought to post that, back when i used to test distros for ppl i had a 40gb partition with my stable OS on it, a large boot partition and a large swap(100mb, 500mb) and i used the second drive to install up to about 4-6 distros or OS's at a time, using the same boot and swap partitions, quite easy, thanks for posting that

  3. #3

    And don't try to do anything like this with Windoze... :-)

    ...because this 'copy the kernel' trick is too neat to work with Redmond's OS.

    By the way I couldn't partition the disk with Win2k, but once I had it partitioned with Suse Linux, the FAT32 partitions were usable in Windows as well.

    So Linux is helping out the legacy software...

  4. #4
    good tip!! Thanks for that!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    thx this can come handy sometime

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