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How to Triboot a Computer

Discussion in 'Linux and Unix' started by cheetahman, Jan 25, 2006.

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  1. cheetahman

    cheetahman Thread Starter

    Feb 17, 2005
    Here is the tutorial I made with the info I got from budman7 and smolloy

    How to Triboot a Computer

    Distro 1= Prime Distro example (Windows)
    Distro 2= The 2nd distro to be installed, this can be any distro (This controls the bootloader)
    Distro 3= The 3rd distro to be installed, this can be any distro

    Things to do Before You Start if you are using Windows as the Prime Distro and if not you can skip it.

    Backup Computer
    Run Defraging tools
    Scan for Spyware
    Scan for Viruses
    Run chkdsk

    These are good steps for Window's users and can be used in Linux also

    This guide focuses primarily on the GRUB bootloader to Triboot

    This tutorial focuses on the Knoppix Live cd that includes QTParted.There are also other partitioners that come with your distro these include Diskdruid in Fedora Core, Qtparted in SuSE and Kdrak in Mandriva and GParted (Gnome Partition Editor) in the GNOME desktop. There are also partition tools that you can use that do the same thing but in text mode are Parted, fdisk, cfdisk

    Download A Copy of the latest Knoppix from http://www.knoppix.com/

    This is very important because this is the Live cd we are going to use to partition the hardrive to get it ready to Triboot.

    Step 1:Bootup the Cd you have made then make sure the computer can bootup the cd. To do this you need to get into the bios this can be accessed by pressing the "Delete" key, for some Compaq’s it's the "F10" key and there's even "F1" or "F2" for other computers. You will then find an option for the boot order.

    The correct setup should be


    Step 2:Once Knoppix is running you must now Unmount all partitions.

    You do this by going into My Computer you will then see all of the partitions. Right click on one of them it will then give you the option to unmount. Select it and it will then be unmounted you must do this for all of the partitions.

    You must do this for all of the drives or else the computer can't be partitioned

    Step 3:Click on the KDE logo then go to run application and type qtparted in lowercase then hit run or click QTParted in the menu

    Step 4:This will now startup QTparted

    The drive I am going to resize is a NTFS partition.

    Step 5:Now we begin the process of resizing the hard drive

    1.Select the /dev/hda for IDE or /dev/sda for a SCSI drive on the left, then you should see its info on the right

    2.Select the NTFS partition and right-click on it, then select Resize.

    3.Next you'll see the Resize Partition dialog.

    4.Enter the size you want for your existing Prime Distro to be resized and then click OK.

    This can be done in Gigabytes or Megabytes

    5.After clicking OK you'll see an updated view of your partitions. Note that nothing has actually changed yet; you must select File then Commit to apply the changes.

    6.Just click Yes on the confirmation dialog.

    7.You'll see the progress dialog and when it's done click the OK button

    8.Now Select File then Quit to exit QTParted

    9.You should now boot into the Prime Distro it will then detect the partition that you have made but it will be unformatted.

    Now boot back into QTParted the way you did before and Delete Distro 2 and the Swap Partition by right clicking it and hitting delete

    Now you should have the Prime Distro and a bunch of free space.

    Here is how you would go on to create the extended partition with two partitions inside of it that contain the two distros that will be added to the triboot setup.

    With QTparted this will be quite simple and you don't really need a guide. The Mepis guide that you linked to is quite detailed, and if you read that you will get the general idea of how qtparted operates.

    Basically you will want to click on any free space you have, and choose the option to create a partition (it will be an icon somewhere near the upper left of the screen). Then choose the option to make it an extended partition, and move the slider at the top to choose the size you want (in this case 8GB).

    After you've done this you'll be able to click inside this partition and choose to create another partition. This time make it a logical partition, and format it as ext3 (if that is indeed what you want). Also make sure to set its size to 4GB. Once you've finished this, repeat for the remainder of the partition, to create the second logical ext3 partition inside the extended partition.

    If you want to make a swap partition, then put this before (to the left) of the extended partition. In fact it might be best to do this before you create the extended partition. The process to do this is basically the same as before -- click on some empty space, choose "create a new partition", set the size, type, etc., and that's it.

    It really is quite easy and I'm sure you'll have no problems. Just be sure to defragment and chkdisk any windows partitions you intend to move or resize, and everything should go smoothly.

    Good luck.

    When installing the Operating System it will give you the most common options, which are Reiserf and Ext3.

    Also many distros support Custom Partioning, which will give you more formatting Options.

    A file system is added to the computer whenever you install an Operating System to it.

    Below are some examples of filesystems that can be formatted or resized.



    Its also a good idea to add Swap if you have a low memory computer which will use the Swap as temporary ram also the Swap partition should be formatted as Swap.

    If the swap is inside the extended partition, you will have to delete the swap first.

    Step 7:Now Install Distro 3 by Booting the install cd as if you were going to boot Knoppix and Install bootloader to the root partition.

    Step 8:Install Distro 2 using swap already created from installing Distro 3 and putting GRUB on the MBR which will make GRUB the bootloader that is controlled by Distro 2.

    GRUB can be put anywhere but for this tutorial we are going to be put on the MBR so Distro 2 becomes the bootloader.

    When installing other operating systems

    Distro 2 should now make an entry in GRUB for both the Prime Distro and Distro 3.

    The computer should now be restarted I you will be shown the Distro 2 GRUB Bootloader which contains the Prime Distro, Distro 2 and Distro 3.

    The computer can now Triboot

    Make sure you don't put Swap for Distro 2 on the partition where you are going to install Distro 2 to. By default Distro 2 should make a Swap partition or detect a Swap that is on the computer and mount it.

    For Installing new Linux distros install to the partition so Distro 2 Grub doesn't get overwritten

    A Big Thanks to budman7 and smolloy for supplying the info

    Here are two other sites that are a guide with pictures.

    http://ca.geocities.com/[email protected]/ubuntu/windowsxp.html


    And One for Isos
  2. saikee


    Jun 11, 2004
    (1) For resizing Windows, Kantotix is also suitable and quicker as it is in a CD instead of a DVD (now used by Knoppix v4 upward). Also Partition Magic is likely to be preferred by the Windows users as they know how to use it. The Live CD alternative is really a "free" alternative.

    (2) Should change title to multi boot. This is because the technique used for booting two systems is identical to booting 100 systems.

    (3) Once you got the first distro with Grub inside there is an easy way to add the additional Linux.
  3. cheetahman

    cheetahman Thread Starter

    Feb 17, 2005
    Knoppix 4 was split into a cd disc and a dvd disc both of which are going to be actively developed

    Triboot sounds better since thats what the guide is intended for
  4. Squashman

    Squashman Trusted Advisor

    Apr 4, 2003
    If you say so, but anything Two or above is Multi-boot because as Sakiee said, the process is the same. I think Sakiee has close to a Gazillion operating systems on his computer. I dont think he refers to it as Gazillion boot. He just calls it Multi-boot. And he is by far the for most expert here on Multi-boot.
  5. saikee


    Jun 11, 2004

    You turn my face red now.

    However I do feel that we have a duty to simplfy rather than amplify the technical explanations as long as they are factual.

    Any Linux user starts to dual boot a Windows by a method known as chainloading which is just a glorified term to "cut and paste" two boot loaders together.

    I used exactly the same technique with same 3 lines of instructions I boot a Windows to boot 85 of the 103 systems I reported.

    I therefore regard the word "triboot" a hindrance to our understand of the booting mechanism in Linux because it implies a special case.

    To me it would be easier to understand to just say

    If you want to boot any more Linux, BSD, Dos and Solaris just use the same method you boot a Windows.

    Cheetahman's description is a good contribution as he put down a lot of steps and fine details.
  6. cheetahman

    cheetahman Thread Starter

    Feb 17, 2005
  7. saikee


    Jun 11, 2004
    A Window can be booted by a Linux because it has a boot loader inside its root partition.

    When a user install a Linux there is a choice to

    (a) put the boot loader in the MBR


    (b) put the boot loader inside its root partition.

    If the latter is chosen then the Linux can be booted by chainloading in exactly the same way as a Windows being booted.

    There is nothing to stop a Linux user to create a /boot/grub/menu.lst with entries to all the empty partitions like this
    titile empty @ hdb1
    root (hd1,0)
    chainloader +1
    titile empty @ hdb2
    root (hd1,1)
    chainloader +1
    titile empty @ hdb3
    root (hd1,2)
    chainloader +1
    titile empty @ hdb4
    root (hd1,3)
    chainloader +1
    titile empty @ hdb5
    root (hd1,4)
    chainloader +1
    and so and so on
    Note: Grub counts from 0 so (hd1,4)=hdb5
    before he/she installs the Linux inside. A Linux installed into any of the above empty partition will be instantly bootable.

    The above is my suggested link of " an easy way to add the additional Linux".

    The above works on Lilo too except Lilo checks a partition for a boot loader first and wouldn't buy it. However if a boot loader is in each of the above partition Lilo can do chainloading similarly by commands in /etc/lilo.conf

    Would you not consider this way of "multi boot" is easier than the "triboot"?

    The important message is the above method works for all Dos, Windows, BSD and Solaris too.

    Why make things complicated when it can be easy and simple?

    Your effort is good because it has details. I am just being nosy by making it relating to the general principle.
  8. cheetahman

    cheetahman Thread Starter

    Feb 17, 2005
    Could I say there is an alternative way to do it and put a link or that in and by the way mine currently Dual Boots with Windows Xp and Fedora Core 4
  9. saikee


    Jun 11, 2004
    People can multi boot with Windows' NTlrd, Linux's Lilo and Grub to a maximum of 10, 27 and 100+ systems.

    All the BSD and Solaris systems I come across also quadboot the 4 primary partitions too.

    Then there are tonnes of 3rd party boot loaders, paid or free versions, available too. All claim to be able to multi boot. In many cases the 3rd party boot loaders are easier for a small number of systems as they got Graphic interfaces like GAG and XSOL to name a few.

    Then there are VMware and virtual PC where one several systems simultaneoulsly too.

    Thus in giving out a direction for others to follow it would be nice if it is a short cut.

    However providing a step by step write-up has its place because some readers like to taken by the hand.
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