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Unix/Linux OS/Installing Multiple Os in a computer.


QUESTION: Dear Mkitwrk‎‎

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,

Yes - there are many ways...
You have lots of choices, but mainly using 2 methods:

1) Different partitions/disks/devices in combination with a reliable boot manager -

2) Different virtual machines -

This can be done on any type of machine where the desired O/S installations all support the underlying hardware. (or, in the case of virtual machines, the underlying "simulated" hardware).
(i.e. I doubt you would be successful installing Windows and VMS on the same platform...)

The most common method, when faced with limited resources, is to use separate, primary disk partitions and a boot manager. Sometimes, a particular O/S doesn't like being anywhere except on the beginning of the primary partition (Windows is that way sometimes). So, if you create a dual-boot Windows/Linux machine, put Windows on the first partition and Linux on the second.

The easiest method, when you have lots of resources, is to build virtual machines that you can run simultaneously as opposed to one O/S+Machine at a time.


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

QUESTION: Dear Larry

Thank you.

Similar to a single hard drive with dual os windows and linux installations possible, is it also possible to install dual os windows and linux installations in a single Pen Drive i.e. USB Flash Drive ?.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar


Yes it is possible -- with caveats...

Windows 7+ will only boot on the same or identical hardware configurations...
Windows 8 is an unknown quantity at this time. (I think it will go the way of Windows ME and Vista anyway...) It optimizes the drivers during installation and does not dynamically probe very many things during the boot process. That means you won't be able to carry it to other machines and boot up the Windows partition. If you use WinXP you can boot on "similar" machines, but there can still be issues. (different video, NIC, controllers, etc. - to a degree - can be handled.)

Linux, on the other hand, does probes during the boot process and will be more portable from machine to machine.

As you google "dual boot usb flash drive", you'll have to wade through a ton of information about how to put multiple ISO images on a flash drive for utilitarian purposes. - This is not what you are looking for... This is handy for carrying around installation CD's, anti-virus tools, UBCD's, Live Boot CD's etc. Real nice when working on a blank or compromised system, but not for "running" an O/S.

You are looking for tools to allow you to partition your flash drive and -install- O/S's on the partitions and provide you with a choice of which partition to boot.

It is not easy. It will take several attempts and once you get it working on one machine, you may not like it when you try it out on another machine.

From what I've seen over the years, it is best to use a Linux bootloader as the base booting tool.
grub2 is used a lot...
Put Linux on the first half and Windows on the second half of the flash drive.
Construct the additional menu entry for the grub2 bootloader (after booting into Linux) and supply any needed files (also under Linux, in the area where grub2 can get to them) and commit to the master boot sector on the first primary partition of the flash drive. This is the basic method used to achieve the switch to the other O/S's MBR.
If grub2 can get to the file(s) and access the partition and a compatible MBR is on the partition, and the hardware hasn't changed significantly since the Windows installation, it should work...

Like I said, it won't be easy.

Here's one link where they worked on Ubuntu/Win7:

Good Luck!

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Expert: Creating and managing *nix database/application servers for use with dl4/unibasic/mysql/apache/thoroughbred applications, especially in medical environments. Strengths: scripting, backup and disaster recovery, mysql, apache2, routing, samba/smbfs/cifs, LPRng, CUPS, telnet/ssh/sftp, vsftp, rsync, new system preparation, system duplication, database design, system conversions (AIX/SCO-OS5/Linux) Currently working on scripted setup of LAMP servers using PDO for MySQL and Oracle. Compiling Apache2, openssl, php and libxml2 from source and linking to libraries for MySQL and Oracle InstantClient. Works great so far! Familiar With: php, c, awk, sed, gnome, nfs and lots of other *nix tools


I've been head of development at our company since 1984. Our OS's at that time were Point 4's IRIS and Altos' Xenix. Then: SCO Xenix, SCO Unix, AIX, SCO-OS5, Caldera, RedHat 7, Debian Sarge, RedHat ES4, Debian Etch, Redhat ES5, Debian Lenny, RedHat ES6, Debian Squeeze. I've migrated our clients through those various versions with minimal interruption while preserving their investments in hardware and staff knowledge over time.

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