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Recipe 12.12. Adding Windows NT/2000/XP to a Multiboot System

12.12.1 Problem

You have a single computer and you would like to dual-boot Windows NT/2000/XP and Linux, because you use applications on both platforms. Or you have a small test network and you want to install as many operating systems as you can in multiboot configurations, so that you can test different combinations of operating systems without using a lot of computers. You don't want to use an emulator like VMWare, which lets you run both at the same time without rebooting, because it's too expensive or your hardware is too feeble. And you hope it's not as much hassle as Windows 95/98/ME.

12.12.2 Solution

Fear not, Windows NT/2000/XP is a lot easier. The installer is more intelligent—it will let you choose which partition to use, or create a new one. You can even add it to a system with Linux already installed, as long as you have enough free space and an unused primary partition.

Make a hard copy of your partition table, and note what you have installed on each partition. Windows won't recognize any of your Linux partitions, it will only print the sizes of them, so having it written down will help you keep track.

You won't need a boot floppy; just install it from CD like you normally would. When the installation is completed, you'll need to restore GRUB to the MBR. Load your GRUB boot floppy, then do:

grub> root (hd0,0)

grub> setup (hd0)

grub> reboot

Remove the boot floppy, reboot, and your GRUB menu will reappear. Boot to Linux, and create a menu.lst entry for Windows:

title            WindowsXP on /dev/hda4

rootnoverify     (hd0,3)


chainloader +1

It is not necessary to hide partitions from Windows NT/2000/XP.

12.12.3 Discussion

When you want to multiboot more than one version of Windows, start with the oldest, and install them in sequence from oldest to newest. You can install only one of Windows 95/98/ME, because it does not support multibooting. Windows NT/2000/XP all support multibooting.

You can use a single primary partition for all of your Windows versions, by dividing it into several logical partitions. Use the Windows NT/2000/XP installer to do the partitioning and formatting; don't use Linux fdisk.

12.12.4 See Also

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