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QUESTION: Dear Jeff

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operating_system
http://windows.microsoft.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux

Is it possible to install multiple Operating Systems in a single machine viz Server, Workstation, Laptop ?.

For example : Microsoft Windows and Linux.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

ANSWER: Hi Prashant,

Oh sure - absolutely.  There can be some things to be aware of, like File System Compatibility (whether both OSs can read/write to BOTH partitions.  

Here's a link that explains the concept, in some detail:
http://askubuntu.com/questions/164728/should-i-choose-exfat-or-ntfs-for-a-shared.

- watch out for that "hibernation" gotcha!

If it were me, I'd build the machine from scratch, and create separate partitions for each OS.  Make sure you make them big enough for the OS, swap files, applications and one bigger than the other for all your data.  You could also have 3 partitions, 1 for linux, 1 for windows and 1 for data but that can be trickier to manage if you don't have a lot of hard disk.  Personally, I'd install Ubuntu Linux since I've used it before - in it's own partitiion, leaving a lot of disk free.  Then Windows afterwards - and install that into it's own NTFS partition.  Ubuntu will be able to read the Windows NTFS partition.  The same won't be true of windows reading the linux partition UNLESS you install some 3rd party software that will allow you to do that.

You may also wish to ask your question over on the OS - windows and linux areas of allexperts.  Clearly, I DO have some familiarity with this stuff, BUT, I wouldn't call myself a linux expert.  And some of those guys will be more familiar with some details that I don't.  Let's face it - good PLANNING is the best first step.  Know what you are getting into, what can and can't be done, and plan exactly how to best partition your drive up, given your specific needs.  When we rush into things, that's when we get into trouble.  And it can be tough to know how many GB you REALLY NEED on each - so don't short-change it.  Make sure you make them big enough for whatever you need and MORE - just in case.  Running out of space on a partition isn't fun and you won't wish to need to rebuild the whole thing later on, if you didn't make the Linux side big enough to start with.

I hope this helps!

J.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Jeff

Thank you.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BIOS

Will this approaches also work ?.

1. BIOS program option to load Windows 7 or Linux on boot up with Two Hard drives installed in the machine. Hard Drive 1 has
Windows 7 installed, Hard Drive 2 has Linux Os Installed instead of installing two Os in a single Hard Drive.

In the Bios Setup program indicating Hard Disk 1 or Hard Disk 2 as Os Booting Drive. If User selects Hard Disk 1, System will boot Windows 7.0,
If User selects Hard Disk 2, System will boot Linux.

Here there will be additional cost of a Hard Drive installation in the computer.

2. If the above approach do not work because of technical reasons, Can we have multiple BIOS chips in the machine ?.

Choice given to user for loading BIOS 1 or BIOS 2 using two different function Keys, for example F10 or F11.

Pressing F10 will give the BIOS setup for Loading Windows 7 OS.
Pressing F11 will give the BIOS setup for Loading Linux OS.

IF BIOS 1 is selected during startup, Windows 7 OS will boot, IF BIOS 2 is selected during startup, Linux OS will boot.

In Both the cases, there will be two hard drives in the machine.


Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

Answer
Hmmmm ... well you COULD install 2 drives.  Thing is that USUALLY the BIOS is set to BOOT from one drive or the other, and generally there isn't a boot menu that does quite what you want (on boot-up it asks you "which do you wish to boot from").  One drive is set as primary and if it can't find that then it works it's way down a list.  It would be a super PAIN to go into the bios every time that you boot-up, change the boot order and then restart - merely to use 2 drives.  Now it MIGHT be that there are special bios things that I'm not aware of that would allow you to always CHOOSE what drive you boot off of, each time you reboot, WITHOUT going into the BIOS.  I don't know of any.  But ... I don't know everything  :)  I am also not aware of a way to have more than one BIOS in a PC.  I am not saying it can't be done but I've never had a need to even think about it.

It SOUNDS like you will have a desktop rather than a laptop - since you talk about a 2nd hard drive.  So it would be very easy and cost effective to just have 1 LARGE drive, and multiple partitions.  Even 500 GB is a small drive for a desktop these days and you could easily have a 750 or 1 TB drive instead.  That is a TON of storage to play with, even if you have a lot of movies.  In IT we have a saying "keep it simple".  That applies to a lot of other stuff too  :)

Keep your GOAL in mind.  Your GOAL is to have 1 PC with 2 OSs - not necessarily to have 2 drives and make your life complicated.  If your machine is a desktop then a single large drive is the perfect solution, and would have a ton of space for anything and everything you want to do.  Even a laptop these days can readily have a 320 or 512 GB drive.  For "normal data", that is a LOT of space.  If you do have a boat-load of movie files you could just get a usb hard drive and store those there.  A LOT of folks have 2 OSs on one hard drive.  Provided that your hard drive is pretty big you are likely worrying about stuff that isn't an issue.  I kinda have to assume that you are looking to "play around" with linux but don't really use it much yet.  So, your linux partition wouldn't really need to be super big - just enough for whatever experiments and applications you have in mind.  Your DATA can all be stored on the Windows partition - since both OS can read that.

I hope this helps!

J.  

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Jeff K

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Specialist in leveraging technology toward fulfilling a customer's business objectives: enhancing revenues and giving them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Networks: architecture, design, monitoring and trouble-shooting
Technologies: Bandwidth Management (QoS), WAN Optimization, Application Performance Management (APM), User Experience Management

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Over 20 years in computers and networking. Strong, broad-based expertise from years in Operations and Sales Engineering at major corporations and hardware vendors.

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B.A., various courses in computers and networking as well as many many years of OJT (on the job training) and real-world experience.

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