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Dual Boot - The Hidden way!

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#1
Doug

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Hi Folks,
I'm posting this here in behalf of Troy who created it over in Tech Academy, but does not have permission to post new Topics here as yet.
He wishes to receive review and critique.
Thanks,
Doug
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How To Install Two Operating Systems

“Dual Boot” – The Hidden Way!

Requirements:
  • A computer with at least two hard drives (one allocated for the second operating system)
  • An operating system already installed on one hard drive (eg. Windows)
  • A second operating system install disc, ready to install on a second formatted hard drive (eg. Ubuntu)
You may have heard of a dual boot setup, where a user has installed two operating systems on the one computer. It may be that you have a dual boot setup, but you're reading this and wondering what the “hidden” way is... :)

The reason I did this in the first place was because my installation of Ubuntu went wrong somehow, and the GRUB decided not to allow me to access my Windows installation. So, after having a botched Ubuntu installation, and not being allowed access to Windows, I had quite some fun setting up an old rig to find out what it was I needed to do. (I eventually fixed it with Super GRUB Disk - but that's another story). I didn't do this because I have things to hide! It just worked out that way.

First off, I am going to use my setup as the example here, but it can quite easily be substituted with other operating systems. I have Windows Vista as my main operating system. Vista is installed on a 250GB Seagate hard drive. When I press the power button on my tower, the computer loads Vista. Nice and simple...

Next I decided to use an old 80GB Western Digital hard drive I had for the Ubuntu 7.10 installation. This also has some bonus points:
  • If one operating system gets botched, or one hard drive fails, you still have a bootable computer
  • You still have access to the entire hard drive – it's not split up into partitions.
But of course – you need another hard drive for this, which may need to be purchased if you don't have a spare one lying around.

Before installing the second operating system, power the system off and take necessary anti-static precautions. You'll want to take the case side off and remove the data and power cables from the hard drive with Windows (or your first operating system) on it. This way it's not plugged in at all, and therefore it won't be registered by your BIOS.

At this stage, you should have only the second hard drive connected. As it's formatted, when you start your computer, you should receive an error that there is no bootable device. This is your computer simply telling you that it can't find an operating system to load. Insert your operating system installation disc (eg. Ubuntu) into the drive and reboot. As the Ubuntu CD is also a Live CD, you should see it load. Then you'll need to install it, selecting to use the whole drive at the partition options page. Once it has done installing, it will want to eject the installation disc and reboot. If you let it reboot, it should load the newly installed Ubuntu for you.

Then you will need to power down the system, and take necessary anti-static precautions, and reconnect the power and data cables to your first hard drive. Then, enter the BIOS and ensure that the first hard drive is first in the Boot Device Menu. Then that's it! Your computer is configured to load the first operating system (Windows) by default, and you won't have to deal with GRUB at all.

But of course, now how do you access the second operating system (Ubuntu)?

Quite simply, the trick is to use a feature that I've yet to come across a motherboard that doesn't have it... This is the “Boot Menu” option. By simply tapping F12 (on my Gigabyte motherboard) during the POST screen, my computer comes to a screen where I am to select the bootable device for that session. Other manufacturer's may have a different button to select - I remember an old ASUS motherboard I had was F8 (which made it awfully difficult to select the Safe Mode menu for XP!). You should find it written on the POST page, or consult the user manual.

Selecting the second hard drive should see GRUB boot up, and load Ubuntu! And there you have it, your second operating system – only available if you explicitly select it to load. Not only that, but because linux formats the hard drives differently from Windows, you won't see your second hard drive from within Windows either! Now talk about hidden!

Cheers

Troy
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#2
routr

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great tip! thanks!
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#3
Grongle

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This may or may not work on a hidden system. I haven't tried it. It is intended for Windows up to XP, so I'm pretty sure it wouldn't work with Linux, but it might be worth experimenting. If it DOES work for your system, it's worth its weight in gold.

What it is, is a simple little freeware gem from a few years ago. You install on all your multi boot OSs. It lets you pre-select whichever (Windows, at least) OS you want the computer to restart in.

Point is, you don't have to attend to the boot process. You can pre-select and then go and make a new cup of coffee. It is SO convenient!

What it actually does is to make an instant modification to your boot.ini to change the default OS. For that reason, it probably doesn't work in Vista, either.

Or, it might at least work as a one-way street in some non-Windows OSs. I just don't know. Up to XP, it is a really excellent little thing. It even shows you (in the notifier toolbar area) what you have and what you've selected.

Boot ChOSer ~ freeware
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#4
Doctor Inferno

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Nice tip you got there, thanks for sharing.
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#5
BravoZulu

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Yep nice tip there =)
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#6
Ningen

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an easier way if you want a good linux distro, is using Ubuntu's Wubi tool. It installs the os as a windows program and when you boot up the computer it asks which os you want. Easy and simple. But nice tip though.
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#7
BravoZulu

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^Certainly, I have used WUBI to get a few people started with linux and it's great tool because you can easily uninstall/revert without the partitioning. I myself have a WUBI Ubuntu 8.04 install just to test the new 8.04 release.
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#8
Kinkme

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Nice thanks! Will try this later=)
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#9
Wiwi

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Nice tips, thanks alot, but I got a question:

A computer with at least two hard drives (one allocated for the second operating system)

Is there a way to find this out without having to open the case?

Edited by Wiwi, 16 August 2008 - 02:34 AM.

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#10
TechSabre

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:) Great tip!
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#11
Troy

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Finally I am allowed to post here, thanks to Admin!

an easier way if you want a good linux distro, is using Ubuntu's Wubi tool.

The Wubi installer is very easy for first-time Ubuntu users, but it defeats the purpose of this tutorial. This tutorial is very specific and will create a "hidden" install (hence the title), so feel free to write up a tutorial for the Wubi installer. You can use my pictures for this here.


Nice tips, thanks alot, but I got a question:

A computer with at least two hard drives (one allocated for the second operating system)

Is there a way to find this out without having to open the case?

Yes, but for the purpose of the exercise, you need to open the case anyway. If you want to check without opening, do the following:
  • Right-click Computer or My Computer
  • Select Manage
  • From the menu tree on the left, select Disk Management
The top half lists all drives and directories, but the bottom half lists all physical disks installed. (Do not confuse any USB flash drives or optical drives.)

Cheers

Troy
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#12
Humza

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EDIT: Complete Change Of Question!

Is there a way to do it without disconnecting the #1 HDD, I dont want to mess up my dads computer. Also can my computer boot off of a USB HDD?

Edited by Humza Bobat, 14 December 2010 - 09:30 AM.

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#13
Troy

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It depends on the computer. Some motherboards will allow you to disable the connection in the BIOS, then boot again and it is as good as disconnected. Follow through and then re-enable the connection in BIOS, it will show up again after a reboot.

Most computers can boot off a USB HDD, you will need to specify it to be allowed in BIOS. And you need to have a bootable USB HDD. :D

Troy
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#14
Humza

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I'll try it! :-)
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#15
Troy

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No worries. Actually it was a very long time ago I did this.

Now I currently have a spare HDD, I might set it up like this again. ;)

Another benefit would be to very easily recover data or run a virus scanner if something happens to the Windows installation. Because Linux can see and load an NTFS filesystem (what Windows uses), but Windows does not recognise the Linux filesystems.

Haha fun fun! Something for me to do over the holidays methinks! :D
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