One computer, five operating systems

My desktop has two hard disks. One is a SATA and the other's an IDE. The SATA (sda) always had WinXP on it, while the IDE (hda) housed Ubuntu, with the GRUB boot loader and a FAT32 Windows-writable partition.

I planned to have Ubuntu (7.04 "Feisty") still as my main Linux distribution. Then, I'd have the latest releases of Debian (3.1 on CD, moved to 4.0 "Etch/testing"), Fedora Core (6), and SUSE (10.2).

What I did was to leave the sda alone, and work only on the hda. I prepared two partitions that would be common to all four Linux distro installs I was planning: /boot and /home. The /, which contains the rest of the OS, would of course be different for each install.

I first did a regular install of Ubuntu. hda is a 120Gb drive, so I partitioned it so that I had, in this order:

- 200Mb for the /boot (primary)
- 500Mb for the swap (primary)
- 20Gb for Ubuntu's / (logical)
- 20Gb for Debian's / (logical)
- 20Gb for Fedora Core's / (logical)
- 20Gb for SUSE's / (logical)
- 20Gb for the Windows-writable drive, mounted as /windows
- the rest (19Gb) for /home (logical)

After the Ubuntu install, what you need to do is pop in the CD(s) or DVD for the other distributions and go on with the normal install. Be careful to mount the correct drives, while not formatting the data in /boot, /home or the other OS partitions. You shouldn't reinstall GRUB or any other boot loader from the other installs if you wish to keep Ubuntu's.

I had a little trouble with the Debian install (latest stable CD - 3.1 Sarge) because I chose the plain install, which had a Linux 2.4 kernel. Using "linux26" as the preferred install/boot mode made the install go smoothly.

I had to change the user id (in /etc/passwd) of my original user back to "1000" (the id of the first Ubuntu user) so that the same user can be used for Fedora Core. Given that the distros don't have exactly the same desktop configuration, it may be better to just move the home directory of these users to something else like /home/username-suse, and make symbolic links to user configs that do coincide (mozilla, mozilla-thunderbird, gaim, bash) from /home/username.


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Cedric published on March 27, 2007 1:21 PM.

NetworkManager instead of network-admin for wifi was the previous entry in this blog.

One computer, six operating systems (WinXP + 4*Linux + Solaris) is the next entry in this blog.

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