Triple Booting on SuperSluggo

I’ve been maintaining EP Office on my Panasonic Toughbook laptop Krell, which dual boots Windows XP and OpenSuse 11.0. SuperSluggo, my main desktop dual boots OpenSuse 10.3 and Windows Vista. Unfortunately all my development tools for EP Office are older versions, such as InstallShield Express 4.0, and won’t run on Vista. So it was time to install Windows XP on SuperSluggo.

Setting up dual, or in this case, triple booting is never easy. Windows thinks it owns your computer and will happily overwrite the MBR, killing the Grub bootloader, and suddenly all your operating systems besides Windows disappear.So, in my case I have 4 hard drives and I had a long time ago set up dual-booting of Linux and Vista on 3 of the drives. (Long enough ago that I had forgotten the pain involved in the setup .) I temporarily changed the boot order in my bios so that the last drive became the first one to boot, and installed XP. Then I changed the order back, fully expecting that I would boot into Grub and then add XP with a simple

rootnoverify (hd3,0)
chainloader (hd3,0)+1

No way! I booted, and there was happy little Windows XP, no trace of anything else. So, first lesson learned: Windows XP overwrites the MBR on every disk! I got out my OpenSuse 10.3 DVD and was able to get into Linux. I ran Yast2 and restored the MBR using one of its options. Now I was able to boot into Linux or XP, but Vista was gone. (By the way, Yast2 messes up when creating menu.lst. It calls the first drive hd1 when it should be hd0. I had to manually edit menu.lst to fix this.) I then repaired Vista with its startup disk, which of course made Grub and Linux disappear. I redid the above, including manually editing menu.lst because of stupid Yast2, and then was back to Linux and Vista, but of course no XP. Finally I found a great free utility, EasyBCD, which can be used to facilitate dual booting on Windows.The XP bootloader had been left intact on drive F: (from Vista’s perspective) and I added an entry for XP to boot from there. After some cleanup (and I have to admit I have oversimplified what I did, deleting multiple false starts, dead ends, and cussing) I could boot into Grub, select Linux or Windows, and if I selected Windows go to the Windows bootloader and select Vista or XP. And it works. Next time though, I’ll probably look into virtualization — probably easier!

By mannd

I am a retired cardiac electrophysiologist who has worked both in private practice in Louisville, Kentucky and as a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. I am interested not only in medicine, but also in computer programming, music, science fiction, fantasy, 30s pulp literature, and a whole lot more.

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