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


QUESTION: Dear Nix‎‎

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.

It is quite possible to install multiple versions of OS on one machine. How you would do it, depends on your requirements.


This is for situations where you would want to run only one of those OSes at one time. The technique is to partition your disk(s) and install each OS onto its own partition. Since each installation will, inevitably, overwrite the master boot record, the last one installed needs to have its boot loader configured to be aware of other OSes and be able to give the boot to them. This can be done in Linux, Windows XP or 7 relatively easily.

2. Virtual Machine

This is for situations where you would want to run several OSes at the same time. You would install one OS to be the master or (if you are really ambitious) just a "bare-bone hypervisor). On that OS you would install some software for managing virtual machines, like VirtualBox, VMware or Xen (on Linux). Then you would create a VM instance, initialize its disks and install additional OS(es) on those VMs.

VMs are slower, a bit and not 100% like the real OS, but offer a lot of flexibility.


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


Thank you.

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.

Can there be any advantages or useful of having more than one BIOS Chip in the machine viz Laptop, Server, Workstation, Mobile devices etc in any scenarios ?.

Can this be used as a Backup ROM Chip in case the primary BIOS Chip
fails ?.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar


Since each disk can have a separate MBR, if the BIOS can switch from one to another, that is also fine.

Loading multiple BIOSes is not something I have heard of. You usually have one BIOS, but can boot from multiple drives, like internal HDDs or USB sticks.

BTW, how about getting a hold of (or making yourself) a bootable USB stick with the desired OS, like Ubuntu? That is usually a piece of cake to make. So, you can have Windows 7 on the main drive, but Ubuntu on USB and choose which one to boot.


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


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


This is not a usual topic, I must say. People usually install one OS. on one USB drive. But, since USB drive is a drive, it can be partitioned, so it can have multiple installations on it. Again, you will need to setup multiboot.


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