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Looking for a good free boot manager


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#1
S.O.A.D.A.

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Hi,

I intend to delete the partitions on all my hard disks (3 in total) and create new ones using GParted Live. Then I want to install a boot manager that will enable me to install as many OSs as I like (I'm thinking - 3 version of Windaz and 1 or two Linux distros).

My questions:

1) Can I use the boot manager to eliminate conflicts between systems (like one messing with the MBRs or Partition Boot Sectors on other drives during installation)?

2) I want to install the Boot Manager first, preferably in its separate partition. Could any of you recommend a free one that is up to the task?

3) I intend to have Linux & Windows partitions on each of the drives. One purpose of this is to have the swap partition / pagefile of an OS on a separate physical disk (ie - not the one the OS is installed on). Could that be safely accomplished?

I know those are a lot of issues. Besides advice I would also very much appreciate links to pages that could help me find answers to those questions.

Thanks,
SOADA
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#2
happyrock

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try OSL2000 get it here...
OSL2000 is an advanced multi boot manager. Using OSL2000, you can easily install, boot and manage up to 100 independent OSs in your system. A boot manager is a program that lets you have multiple operating systems in your system. OSL2000 boot manager, in addition to being a normal boot manager, has advanced features that let you seamlessly install, boot and manage 100s of OSs like Windows (all versions), Linux, DOS, etc.
its not free though...
there is GAG here it is free
Allows boot of up to 9 different operating systems.
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#3
S.O.A.D.A.

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Hey happyrock,

Seems nice, but it ain't free....
Thanks though,

SOADA
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#4
S.O.A.D.A.

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One more thing - I prefer less automation in a program.
Like preferring a stick-shift to automatic gears.
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#5
happyrock

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I was slow to edit my previous post so...

there is also GAG here it is free
Allows boot of up to 9 different operating systems.
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#6
fleamailman

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virtulbox, probably not quite what you are looking for but handles up to 32 comps, is free, etc., however, one would still need a license for each of windows one installs

http://www.sun.com/s...cts/virtualbox/

Edited by fleamailman, 28 September 2009 - 09:35 AM.

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#7
hawklord

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grub

thats the chap you need (imo)

i boot various linux and windows o/s's from grub installed in the mbr of my primary master hdd, the most i have booted is 10 entries, i currently have 7 at the moment,

my primary grub is only in the first hdd, all the rest have their own bootloaders in their own mbr - as a 'just in case'

grub is free and very easy to use
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#8
S.O.A.D.A.

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Yeah, I think I'll look into GRUB.
But hawklord, a question - if you have a separate boot manager on each physical disk, that means you switch between them by changing the boot priority in BIOS, right?
Also, when you're installing an OS on one HD, you don't need to physically disconnect the others while doing that, right?

SOADA
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#9
hawklord

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if you have a separate boot manager on each physical disk, that means you switch between them by changing the boot priority in BIOS, right?

wrong - i boot them all via grub installed in the mbr of my primary master,
i boot mandriva linux on my primary master and edit my /boot/grub/menu.lst to allow an entry in my boot screen for whatever system i want,
grub can be accessed via a terminal in mandriva or through grub itself so i can search for a linux boot image and add it to my list,
windows is easier as it just needs to know where ntldr is, which (for example) if its on primary slave it would look for the hard drive and partition hd1,0 (second hard drive, first partition) - which would be manually added after running fdisk -l in a terminal


Also, when you're installing an OS on one HD, you don't need to physically disconnect the others while doing that, right?

that depends on how careful you want to be,
i always have only one hdd connected when i'm messing with installing operating systems - just in case,

i have fixed hard drives which are located in their own enclosures, press a button and out they pop - without the need to open my case - i'm all for ease :) ,

with having all my operating systems presented at the grub screen allows me to choose which one i want, but as they all have their own bootloaders as well allows me to boot into any via the bios options or F11 (in case my primary drive fails or becomes corrupted in some way),
i do not have to use fixboot/fixmbr from windows to remove grub as grub is not in there or repair grub in my linux drives as it has not been touched, only grub in my mandriva has been modified,
within 30 seconds of my mandriva failing i am back bothering the 'net, or, (as i only use a 40gb hdd for mandriva) use the image i made and copy it to another drive - takes 10 mins with partimage,

takes a little while to set up, but i believe its the best way (others may disagree)
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#10
S.O.A.D.A.

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I've got a headache.....

OK, I have a tonne of questions, hope it's OK.

1) Grub is installed on your pimary master - that means you have IDE drives. I have SATA, which probably means that in my case it would be the drive plugged into the first SATA socket, right? Did you install GRUB separately, before installing any OSs, or was it installed with Mandriva?

2)

grub can be accessed via a terminal in mandriva or through grub itself so i can search for a linux boot image and add it to my list,
windows is easier as it just needs to know where ntldr is, which (for example) if its on primary slave it would look for the hard drive and partition hd1,0 (second hard drive, first partition) - which would be manually added after running fdisk -l in a terminal


What about the propensity of OSs (Windows in particular) to mess with the MBRs & the partition boot sectors of all drives present (or, at least, the one on which it is being installed?).

Say you have 3 disks. You install Linux first on the first disk (other 2 disconnected). Then you install Windaz on that same disk. Then it's bye bye MBR, from the point of view of your Linux installation, at least. By disconnecting the other disks physically you protect them, but each OS you install on your fist disk will take over the boot process.

I'll pause here and wait for your reply before I proceed : )

Thanks for your help,
SOADA
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#11
hawklord

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ok,

i have ide and sata drives, mandriva is on an ide drive - i chose to have grub installed when i installed mandriva,
i didn't install grub separately,

i have pclinuxos installed on a sata drive with it own grub installed to its own mbr

these can operate as 2 independent operating systems by just changing boot device in my bios - or i can modify the /boot/grub/menu.lst of either one to allow a choice of linux at the respective boot screen, all i need to do is add the location of the boot image,

windows and linux on one drive - now thats different,

i used to boot this way, i installed windows first, leaving space for linux - then installed linux on the free space using default settings,
grub overwrote ntldr in the mbr and automagically added windows to the grub boot screen - when i wanted to remove grub i used fixboot and fixmbr from the recovery console,
but something somewhere went pear shaped, i could no longer boot into any operating system - since then i have done it the way i do now,

there is a free program called bootpart which allows you to edit boot.ini correctly so that linux is presented at the windows boot screen - but i never had much luck with that either,

on your last point - in my system setup each operating system can boot independently from the others but i choose to do it via grub in mandriva - ease :)

(just a little note - each system has complete read/write access to all the others - even windows to linux)
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#12
S.O.A.D.A.

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So, basically, after repartitioning my 3 disks with GParted Live I can install Linux on one disk (the primary - hd0) while the others are disconnected. Alternatively I can only disconnect the disk intended for my windows installations (hd1), and put my swap partition on the data disk (hd2) - which will have no OSs installed on it. Then I can disconnect those two and connect the disk intended for windaz (hd1) & install, say, XP then Vista then Win7 on that drive (each on its own partition, of course), which means Win7 will take over the boot process for that drive.

Then I reconnect all the disks and boot either into Linux or into any of the windaz OSs by rebooting and changing boot priority in BIOS. Alternatively, I could edit /boot/grub/menu.lst - add a reference to hd1, 0, to add windows to the boot menu. Which would mean ease of use, as soon as I learn how to edit it, of course : )

Additionally - I intend each of the 3 disks to have mixed partitions - ext3 & ntfs, not to mention the Linux swap. I want to do it so that I can spread the disk R/W load between 2 or even 3 disks for each of my installations: one disk runs the OS, another - swap or pagefile, and the third for media (films, music).

for example:

Linux Partitions:
-------------------
hd0,0 - /
hd1,4 - swap
hd1,5 - /home
hd2,0 - /home/media

Windows Partitions:
-------------------
hd0,1 - ntfs
hd0,2 - small ntfs partition intended solely for windows pagefiles
hd1,0 - XP
nd1,1 - Vista
hd1,2 - 7
hd1,3 - ntfs
hd2,1 - ntfs (for media)

Am I on the right track here?

SOADA
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#13
hawklord

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hmmmm, that looks a little complicated for my liking,

how big is your hd0 ?,
how big are all your drives ?

i'm always fiddling with mine - because i can and its there, so i've fiddled,

here is my /proc/partitions (i have only 4 drives in at the moment - to save on brain power)

[[email protected] ~]$ cat /proc/partitions
major minor  #blocks  name

   8	 0   30028271 sda
   8	 1	8185086 sda1
   8	 2		  1 sda2
   8	 5	4088511 sda5
   8	 6   17751793 sda6
   8	16   12717114 sdb
   8	17   12707383 sdb1
   8	32  312570167 sdc
   8	33   15358108 sdc1
   8	34   46082452 sdc2
   8	35  251128080 sdc3
   8	48  488386584 sdd
   8	49  488384001 sdd1

sda is my mandriva drive, 1 = /, 2 = extended, 5 = swap and 6 = /home
sdb is a windows xp drive
sdc is a storage drive, formated to ntfs with 3 partitions
sdd is a storage drive, formated to ntfs with a single partition
(i use ntfs for the file system as i can then use my "pop out" drives as external drives in other windows pc's - saves messing around installing the ext2 driver in other systems)

(as you are probably aware, to dual boot windows on the same drive its install the older system first - so for the point of this i don't need to have umpteen windows on the same drive as the windows bootloader is in the mbr, and thats the thing we need)

now i have a 40gb sda, it doesn't matter how big the disk is (i've had mandriva on much larger drives), the / partition is always 7.8gb and swap is always 3.8gb, its only my /home partition that changes in size - i have also found this on other linux distos,

so why not have all linux stuff on one drive ?
how do you mean "spread the r/w load" ? - do you mean stress on a single disk, i've only had one linux drive fail in nearly 4 years - and it was imaged so there was no problem,

having multiple windows on one drive (and all using w7 bootloader) will allow you to edit grub to point to the windows drive and the options in your w7 boot screen, you can also choose which windows partitions you want read/write access to via fstab and ntfs-3g,

i'm not trying to tell you how to set up your system as a clone of mine, just how i do it in the easiest way i have found,
and i'm assuming that linux will be your primary operating system (it should be :) )

i see you want media partitions - mine is a multi-media home entertainment system - all done through linux - windows is for helping with issues and breaking
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#14
S.O.A.D.A.

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Linux is my only operating system. The only real one, that is : )
I intend to use Debian eventually (I heard Mandriva was also good, might give it a try sometime).
Windows is for experimentation purposes - I too like to fiddle.

hmmmm, that looks a little complicated for my liking


Heh. Well.....
My drives are 320GB, 160GB & 500GB (will be hd0, hd1 & hd2 respectively).

In order to improve performance (and because I'm supposed to be able to do it) I want my swap to be on a separate physical drive than the one my Linux is installed on. Same goes for the windaz pagefile. This way, if the computer wants to access system files and it also needs to access the swap, and while all this is going on I'm also watching a movie and downloading a big file in the BG, if the system is on hd0, the swap on hd1 and the movie I'm watching is on hd2, my system is less likely to be slowed down waiting for disk IO.

And since I'm tired of installing OSs over and over (and over....), I will also create images of all my good installations, just in case....

(as you are probably aware, to dual boot windows on the same drive its install the older system first - so for the point of this i don't need to have umpteen windows on the same drive as the windows bootloader is in the mbr, and thats the thing we need)


I'm not sure I understand. I know I need to install the older version of windoze first. I intend to have as many versions of windows as I want to fiddle with, which is 3, currently.

The Windows bootloader is in the MBR.... and the Linux isn't? From what I know, the MBR contains the partition table & a link to the actual boot loader, or part of the boot loader with a link to the rest of it, regardless of the type of OS installed.

now i have a 40gb sda, it doesn't matter how big the disk is (i've had mandriva on much larger drives), the / partition is always 7.8gb and swap is always 3.8gb, its only my /home partition that changes in size - i have also found this on other linux distos


I always partition manually, but those sizes seem optimal to me.

Oh, and BTW - for some reason, my /proc/partitions is empty.... I still feel so ignorant in Linux.

Anyways, I feel like going for it, the way I described it in the previous post. I do have a feeling that setting my swap on the same disk where my Windaz installations will reside is not a good idea.

You seem not to be too thrilled about having mixed partitions on the same drive (ext3 & ntfs, for instance). This way each system can manage its own disk, and avoid the others messing with it. But if I prepare all the partitions in advance with GParted and then have only one disk connected during installation of each OS, couldn't I avoid that problem?

i'm not trying to tell you how to set up your system as a clone of mine, just how i do it in the easiest way i have found


Sure, I understand.
But I don't want to go the easiest way, nor challenge myself too much and end up with a messed up system, which is the case right now. I'm posting this message from my sinking Linux ship, actually. Telegraph still working : )

Anyways,
Thanks for all your advice, man.
I think I'll go for it (after I read your reply to this post : ))

SOADA
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#15
hawklord

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In order to improve performance (and because I'm supposed to be able to do it) I want my swap to be on a separate physical drive than the one my Linux is installed on. Same goes for the windaz pagefile. This way, if the computer wants to access system files and it also needs to access the swap, and while all this is going on I'm also watching a movie and downloading a big file in the BG, if the system is on hd0, the swap on hd1 and the movie I'm watching is on hd2, my system is less likely to be slowed down waiting for disk IO.


never had that problem - i can transcode a home vid while i am downloading the latest linux i want to try and watch one i made earlier - with no 'slowing down' - all with a measly 3.2 prescott and 800mb ddr2 ram,

i only used bootloader as general in the mbr - windows adds the boot code to the mbr - same as grub,

to access the info in /proc/partitions just type (or copy and paste) this into a terminal
cat /proc/partitions
the output will look similar to mine,

i only have mine set up like i do so i can use my 4 storage disks as externals if my g/f wants to use one for some reason, she has xp with no ext2/3 support installed,
i can have my linux set up for no access to certain partitions, have read only on others and full read and write access to others, its really quite simple,

for windows to have full read and write access to ext2/3 partitions you would need to install this, then the linux partitions will show in my computer and not just disk management - you also allocate them a drive letter

windows will still know there is a disk there if you don't install the driver, just click on the disk in disk management and it will ask you do you want to format it,
linux knows that the windows disk is there as well but if you don't mount it then you can't access it, without ntfs-3g you won't be able to read and write to it,
(a piccy to show an unmounted drive at the bottom)

also, i wrote this small guide that may be useful, even if just for a reference point - here

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Edited by hawklord, 30 September 2009 - 12:23 PM.

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