Knowledge Center – Multi-Booting

Dual-Booting & Multi-Booting
Operating Systems

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The primary focus of this area of our Web site is the Dual-Booting, and even the Multi-Booting, of the various Windows operating systems. To demonstrate the versatility of the Windows NT and Windows 2000 Boot Loader and the dual and multi-boot process in general, we have also included MD-DOS and Linux examples to our scenarios.

Creating Dual and Multi-Boot scenarios for various operating systems can, at times, be difficult for no other reason than your are trying to do three things at once, perform the procedure, pay attention to what is going on and document it at the same time. So, if we’ve missed something or you think we may have left out a step, let us know by sending us an email.

While some of the principles surrounding the Dual-Boot and Multi-Boot process are, in some ways, set in stone, such as drive limitations and where boot code must reside etcetera, other portions are dynamic in that someone is always looking for an easier and better way to do it. We welcome your input on any methods that you have tried, and our only requirement is that you must fully document the process you use. If we can follw your documentation and the scenario you suggest is viable, we will credit you in our post.

For most of the examples we demonstrate, we use either the Windows NT or Windows 2000 Boot Loader. Of course, if your dual-booting Windows 95 and Windows ME, or some other similar Windows 9x combination, you won’t have access to the NT Boot Loader and will need another form of boot manager or utility, such as BootMagic, System Commander, Lilo (the Linux loader) or BootPart. Before you jump into the process though, you should understand some of the precautions that should be taken to keep you from ending up with a problem for which the only resolution is to remove your partitions and start over.

Remember, aside from the limitations imposed by your hardware and the operating systems you plan on installing, your only other limitation is your imagination! If you plan your moves carefully, your boot menu might look something like this, or better, when you’re done.

  Please select the operating system to start   Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional   Windows NT Workstation version 4.00   Windows NT Workstation version 4.00 [VGA mode]   Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition   RedHat 6.2   Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Recovery Console   Use    and    to move the highlight to your choice.
  Press enter to choose.

Dual and Multi-Boot Scenarios

Multi-Booting Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 98 and RedHat Linux 6.2
If you’re considering a multi-boot scenario, this is the best place to start. Here we discuss not only the “How” in constructing one of the more difficult multi-boot scenarios, but also many of the pitfalls that you will face such as hard drive cylinder limitations, where boot code must reside and in what order operating systems must be installed during the process.

Dual-Booting Windows NT with either Windows 95, 98 or even Linux
The following information will provide you with some basic guidelines to dual and multi-booting as well as some insight into the tricks and tools that you can use to manage a dual or multi-boot environment. In these examples, we use the Windows NT Boot Loader. Here, you will find a way to share the page file (swap file) between Windows NT and Windows 95/98.

Dual-Booting Windows 95/98 and Windows 2000
This guide will walk you through the process of mixing it up (dual-booting) with Windows 95/98 and Windows 2000 on your computer. The approaches taken presume that you have a hard drive with two separate partitions, or two separate hard drives. Here you can view the examples from a perspective of either operating system being preinstalled.

Dual-Booting Windows NT and Windows 98 – A Nuts and Bolts Discussion
All too often many of the articles appearing on the Internet regarding the dual-booting of Windows NT and Windows 98 presume that Windows 98 was installed on a FAT16 partition, but how many home computers really come configured this way? Most new home computers ship with a hard disk greater than 4GB in size, so installing Windows 98 onto a FAT16 partition instead of FAT32 partition doesn’t make any sense. Likewise, how many vendors will leave a small unused FAT16 partition and not use the entire hard disk space? None! Here we take you through the entire process to overcome these existing problems.

Dual and Multi-booting Windows 2000 and Windows XP (Whistler)
If you would like to test the latest versions of Windows, Windows XP and Whistler Server, here are some guidelines that will help you avoid some of the pitfalls that normally occur.

Multi-Boot Madness
Regardless of whether you’re a professional software developer or just like to try new ideas with several different operating systems, dual and multi-booting can save time and money. Shortly after publishing our dual and multi-boot segments last year, we received a comment and request from a technician who wanted to setup a multi-boot machine and was having trouble. Did someone say “don’t volunteer”? Well we did! This particular technician wanted to setup a single machine and wanted to be able to multi-boot Windows 2000 Advanced Server, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, Windows NT 4.0 Server, and Windows 98 Second Edition.

Boot.ini – Controlling the Boot Process
Beginning at the beginning – In the Dual and Multi-Boot scenarios above, we introduce you to the many various ways that you can dual and multi-boot various operating systems, including Windows NT, which includes Windows 2000. One of the key elements of dual and multi-booting NT is the NT Boot manager, more commonly referred to as the NT boot loader, which you can use to select which operating system will be loaded during the boot or startup process. In our article Controlling the Boot Process, we will walk you through the boot sequence, as well as show you how to configure or manipulate the BOOT.INI file in order to customize the entire process. You will learn about the ARC naming convention, which provides you with some insight on exactly where things are on your disk drives.

Notice: Windows® 95, Windows® 98, Windows® NT, Windows® 2000 and
Microsoft® Office are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Microsoft Corporation.

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