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mega multi-boot question

hellos

i have a 1TB external hard drive and i am going to shrink it's partition so i can install as many flavours of Linux as necessary to get the best of the Linux world.

currently i have ubuntu and win7 installed on my internal hdd

now, my question to everyone is which AND how many distro's should i install onto the external hdd, AND why the distro's recommended vs others?

since ubuntu is debian-based i am looking for some more alternatives to ensure i get the best of Linux, but i'm not striking out other debian / ubuntu based distro's from the picture.

Comments

  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    I usually make virtual KVM guests when I need to look at a distro in order to help someone with a problem. Long gone are the days when I would try to see how many distros I could fit on one HD (and have working with grub). But, I'll admit, it's a learning project. Although, you might be disappointed, there aren't that many differences.

    .deb distro (Ubuntu, Mint, Mepis, Debian (make it Sid, it's more challenging)).
    .rpm distro (Fedora, Suse, Mandriva)
    Slackware
    Gentoo
    Linux from Scratch

    There'a a good start, just remember that some distros use legacy grub, and some use grub2, good luck.
  • woboylewoboyle Posts: 501
    The standard disc partition table can only handle 4 primary partitions, one of which can be an "extended" partition that can be further split up into multiple sub-partitions. With Linux, you can install the OS on either a primary or secondary partition. With Windows, the boot partition has to be on a primary partition.

    Personally, I prefer to run one primary Linux OS with /, /boot, and swap in primary partitions on the boot device, /home on another disc (or array), and run any other Linux, Windows, or miscellaneous operating systems in virtual machines under the primary host. That has proved the easiest to administer and most reliable for me. As a systems consultant, I often have to run multiple operating systems of various sorts, and this actually allows me to run one or more linux systems, Windows, and Solaris all at the same time.
  • MikeEnIkeMikeEnIke Posts: 88
    It's worth trying Arch linux, it is its own breed.
  • SteristSterist Posts: 18
    does legacy grub or grub2 pose any problems with booting win7?

    and

    if i'm installing these distro's on an external hard drive, will the boot loader on my laptop still be overwritten?
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    both versions of grub work with windows 7, the syntax for windows partitions is the same as xp partitions.

    Most bootloaders that automatically configure themselves try to overwrite the bootloader on the first detected hard drive, but you can manually tell them to install on the external HD's mbr, you will just have to remember to boot the system from the external HD which is usually listed as usb hdd.
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    In order to keep the Windows 7 boot loader away from grub, I use EasyBCD

    http://neosmart.net/forums/showthread.php?t=642

    I works with legacy grub, grub2, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Grub is great, but if you ever have to upgrade windows, it's nice having it working with a bootloader that won't interfere with whatever Windows is looking for during the upgrade process. I recently upgraded 2 dual boot laptops from Vista to Windows 7 without incident, and I believe I have EasyBCD to thank for that. At least take a look at it, it's an interesting app.
  • SteristSterist Posts: 18
    Goineasy9 wrote:
    In order to keep the Windows 7 boot loader away from grub, I use EasyBCD

    http://neosmart.net/forums/showthread.php?t=642

    I works with legacy grub, grub2, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Grub is great, but if you ever have to upgrade windows, it's nice having it working with a bootloader that won't interfere with whatever Windows is looking for during the upgrade process. I recently upgraded 2 dual boot laptops from Vista to Windows 7 without incident, and I believe I have EasyBCD to thank for that. At least take a look at it, it's an interesting app.

    thanks but that is not what i intend to do. i have windows 7, and it windows keeps getting worse so if i were to do anything like that i'd revert to xp, which probably wont happen in the first place because i'm on linux 95% of the time B)

    currently using grub.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    Sterist wrote:
    Goineasy9 wrote:
    In order to keep the Windows 7 boot loader away from grub, I use EasyBCD

    http://neosmart.net/forums/showthread.php?t=642

    I works with legacy grub, grub2, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Grub is great, but if you ever have to upgrade windows, it's nice having it working with a bootloader that won't interfere with whatever Windows is looking for during the upgrade process. I recently upgraded 2 dual boot laptops from Vista to Windows 7 without incident, and I believe I have EasyBCD to thank for that. At least take a look at it, it's an interesting app.

    thanks but that is not what i intend to do. i have windows 7, and it windows keeps getting worse so if i were to do anything like that i'd revert to xp, which probably wont happen in the first place because i'm on linux 95% of the time B)

    currently using grub.

    Have you taken actions and attempting an installation to the external hard drive to see what options are presented and if any errors populated on your chosen distro?
  • SteristSterist Posts: 18
    i'm not sure i understand your question but no i haven't made any moves with the external HDD yet

    do you have some info to offer? :)
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    Sterist wrote:
    i'm not sure i understand your question but no i haven't made any moves with the external HDD yet

    do you have some info to offer? :)

    This is a task that some including myself have not yet tried, I recommend giving it a shot and seeing what options it presents during the installation. If it does not work correctly, then all you have lost is the installation time, but you will gain a partial install that we can debug to correct any errors.
  • SteristSterist Posts: 18
    ...what is the task? i think i missed something lol

    for the record i'm all that savvy with debugging :/ all i have is the know-how to experiment with new stuff, ask the right questions, and find solutions.

    no programming background whatsoever.
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    I do believe "the task" that mfillpot is referring to is your mega multi-boot experiment. In other words, give it a shot, and see what happens. If you have a problem, ask us about it and we'll see if we can help.
  • SteristSterist Posts: 18
    ah i see lol

    well, i don't doubt i'll take action eventually but i don't like do make uninformed decisions

    here's my main concerns at the moment:

    1. what will happen to my installed boot loader (grub) after the external installation
    2. how to create 2 partitions out of 1 solid block of unallocated free space
    3. which distro's should i choose and why (currently looking at red hat & fedora as candidates for 1 of the partitions)
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    One and Three I can't help you with. I use parted magic when I want to manipulate partitions, it's a very simple task. Just shrink the one you have, then you have 2. Number one is the experiment, depends on what distro's grub your starting with and what distro you choose to share or replace it. And number three is all your choice.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    Sterist wrote:
    ah i see lol

    well, i don't doubt i'll take action eventually but i don't like do make uninformed decisions

    here's my main concerns at the moment:

    1. what will happen to my installed boot loader (grub) after the external installation
    2. how to create 2 partitions out of 1 solid block of unallocated free space
    3. which distro's should i choose and why (currently looking at red hat & fedora as candidates for 1 of the partitions)

    Sorry for the confusion, I was in fact referring to the original content of this thread which was your attempt at multi-boot on an external hard drive.

    1. Most distro installers include and advanced option that allow you to choose where to write the boot-loader, or not to write it at all. If you choose to keep you current grub configuration you can tell the distro not to install the boot-loader. If you choose not to install the boot-loader of the chosen distro then we can help you to reconfigure your current boot-loader.
    2. You can use gparted, cfdisk, fdisk or whatever is included in the chosen distro to choose you partitioning scheme. If you try a program like gparted it will be very easy to use.
    3. If you plan to develop for mainstream distros then I would say to go with fedora and debian.
  • SteristSterist Posts: 18
    3. i am unable to do anything with code other than make ~very~ minor edits to c++ so basically what i'm looking for in a distro is user friendly, feature rich, and low CPU overhead (ram overhead is fine).

    any ideas jump out?

    edit: i'm already using ubuntu :P
    edit2: it's nice i don't have to look further than this site to grab parted magic :side:
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    The Low CPU overhead is what jumps out at me. Ubuntu should fit all of your needs as long as you keep the desktop effects tuned down.

    For the experimentation installs it would probably be best if you went with debian or ubuntu derivatives so most of the functionality is familiar.
  • SteristSterist Posts: 18
    the whole reason i'm trying to do this is get the flavours that ubuntu doesn't have to offer ;)

    i have the resources to utilize numerous OS's and i'd really like to dive into stuff new to me, as long as it's mainly covered with a GUI lol
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    Sterist wrote:
    the whole reason i'm trying to do this is get the flavours that ubuntu doesn't have to offer ;)

    i have the resources to utilize numerous OS's and i'd really like to dive into stuff new to me, as long as it's mainly covered with a GUI lol

    Every Linux distro has an option of using a GUI, although in some causes it must be compiled, installed or activated. Are you wanting to play with different tools, different management options, different core processes, etc...

    Knowing what base functions interest you will help us to refer you to distros that would interest you the most.
  • SteristSterist Posts: 18
    base functions... basic utilities, sorry about the vagueness lol there's got to be something other than ubuntu (& other debian based distro's) that welcomes people coming from windows

    what's the most user-friendly of the rpm-users?
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    1. In that case you would want to review distros from each of the major group, such as something from a redhat base, something from a slackware base and probably something else like pclinuxos.

    2. I have heard from several people that mandriva using rpm style packages and is quite friendly.
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