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How To Dual boot Windows and Linux - The Aftermath

Author: Rover
Posted on: 10/17/2000
Discuss: In the forums

Questions and Answers
In my recent article "Dual Booting Win2K and Linux" I had caused some confusion. The article should of been named "Dual Booting Linux using Win2K Boot Loader". There also have been numerous questions regarding different setups than the one I used in the article! So let's have us a little questions and answers session for all the curious people who are too afraid to ask! Remember, we at LittleWhiteDog.com are never to proud too take a little constructive criticism, so long as it is constructive!

Question #1: What do I do if I'm already dual booting Windows9x and Windows2000/NT?

Answer #1: First off, the boot.ini file will likely be found on the Win9x partition/drive if it is the main boot drive! Many people couldn't find it in this situation. Other than that, the rest should follow the steps outlined in the article. Remember to place the bin file on the 1st partition, many readers have said they couldn't get it to work anywhere else!

Question #2: I've loaded Linux and Win2K and dual boot fine using LILO/GRUB!

Answer #2: As pointed out by a few readers, this is absolutely true. LILO is capable of booting into Win2K even if it is installed on an NTFS partition. I've tested this and its very simple to do. You can install LILO during the Linux setup right to the MBR, which in the article is hda, notice no partition number! You'll be without Win2K until you fix LILO but that shouldn't be a problem since you are going to fix that shortly! Below is my "lilo.conf" file that I am using to boot both Linux and Windows2000 Pro. If you don't want to see the NT boot loader just set it from within Windows2000 to not show . If you have the NT boot loader set to also boot Win9x just remove that option too and setup LILO to boot both Win9x and Win2K!
  1. Boot into Linux
  2. edit the "lilo.conf" file, here is my "lilo.conf" as an example.

    #This file has been generated by KLILO




  3. If Win2K exists on a different partition just change the "other=" line to reflect your specific setup. I've added the lines necessary to boot Win9x as you can see. Note the first OS in this "lilo.conf" file is the default OS that loads after the timeout!
Reader, Ryan stated he would install an OS to a drive then go into the BIOS change which drive is booted and install another OS. Not a bad little trick if you don't want to mess with the boot sectors.

Question #3: If I use Partition Magic to make some space for Linux at the end of the drive will the NT boot loader still know where Windows2000 is located?

Answer #3: As long as you don't change which partition Windows2000 is installed on I don't see why doing that would be a problem. I'm not for sure what would happen if say you added a partition in front of Windows2000 making its partition number change! Anyone with some suggestions on this drop Rover an e-mail!

Question #4: What if I screw up the MBR somehow, what can I do to fix it?

Answer #4: Well, this is an easy one if you don't mind going back to a Win9x MBR. Take a Windows98/95 boot disk, boot off of it and at the command prompt type "fdisk /MBR", minus the quotes of course. This will restore the MBR to what it was before! Or, you could reload LILO to the MBR if you plan to go that route! I've had a drive so screwed up that only a low level format fixed the MBR, but it took a lot of messing around to get it to that point! Win2K has a recovery console when you boot from the CD and choose "Repair Installation" that will also fix the MBR!

Question #5: What about free Boot Managers floating around on the web, can I use them?

Answer #5: Of course you can use them, some are very nice and others are not. Take a look at what you have to do in order to use them and from there make a determination! I say why use a third party when you have all the tools right in front of you!

Question #6: When I make the bin file of the Linux boot sector and copy it to a floppy it says that the file size is 1K, but your article says that it should be 512KB, what am I doing wrong?

Answer #6: Nothing that was a major typo on my part and I sincerely apologize. It should have said 512 bytes and I've since fixed the article. Again accept my deepest apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused!

Question #7: I've heard there is an NTFS module you can load to read NTFS partitions, is this true?

Answer #7: Yes this is true. Reader, Keitaro states that Win2K uses NTFS5 which is different than the NTFS used by WindowsNT 4.0, this is also true! Whether Linux can read this new NTFS I do not know but am looking into it!

Question #8: You mention GRUB, is it possible with GRUB to dual boot?

Answer #8: Reader Todd said his Win2K installation on a FAT32 partition booted fine after installing GRUB and he didn't have to do any fancy finagling as he put it. I would assume this to be very true since FAT32 partitions are readily seen by most current distributions of Linux!

Question #9: I've followed your directions but when I choose Linux from the NT boot loader all I get is "LI" and then the PC freezes, what's up with that?

Answer #9: I'd say something went wrong when you modified the "lilo.conf" file. Make sure you do not change the "install=" line and only the "boot=" line. I've run into this problem myself during testing and got the same results. Try again and see if that was it, if not send me a copy of your "lilo.conf" file and I'll see what I can do!

Question #10: If I upgrade Win9x to Win2K and then convert the file system to NTFS will my previous installation of LILO on the MBR still boot Win2K?

Answer #10: Reader, Eric M. says he did just that and was still able to boot into Win2K from LILO so if that's what you want to do give it a try. Brain has also mentioned that the Be boot loader has been known to do this also! If you run into problems see question #2 above for help!

Question #11: What do I do if I've installed Linux on the 1st partition and destroyed my "boot.ini" file for my Win2K installation on the 2nd partition?

Answer #11: That's a tough one! I've received some feedback from a few different readers and they all said that you are screwed. You can fix it by removing Linux, reformatting the partition to FAT/FAT32, recreating your "boot.ini" file and placing it on the reformatted partition. Of course you lose Linux and have to start over but at least you don't lose your Win2K install!

Question #12: I followed your directions to the letter but I can't seem to boot Linux, I have SCSI drives instead of IDE?

Answer #12: There is a linear option that may need to be turned on in the "lilo.conf" file. Also there maybe a geometry mismatch especially if you are in a RAID configuration, here's a link to the SusE site that may be of some help!

Well that about does it for questions and answers, I hope this has taken care of any situations you may have come across! Spot was nice enough to find an article that describes the process using good old FDISK. I'd like to thank each and every reader who sent in an e-mail with questions or suggestions on this topic, they were very appreciated. I've learned some new things about Linux, LILO and Windows and that's what it's all about...learning!

Copyright © by LWD All Rights Reserved.

Published on: 2004-02-22 (35430 reads)

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