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Linux Tutorial - Linux and Windows - Easing the Transition to Linux - Multi-Booting - Booting Linux from NT
  Multi-Booting ---- Windows9X and Linux  


Booting Linux from NT

For the most, Windows NT only knows about itself and to some extent other versions of Windows. However, you can trick Windows NT into booting Linux by creating a file containing an image of the bootsector from your Linux partition. Once you have Linux installed, create a file containing the first 512 bytes of the Linux partition using the dd command. Assuming that Linux is installed on the second partition of your first SCSI drive, the command would look like this:

# /bin/dd if=/dev/sda2 of=/bootsect.lnx bs=512 count=1

(if= is the input file, of= is the output file, bs= is the block site and count is the number of blocks to copy).

Note that it is extremely important that you specify a count of one. If you don't, dd will keep reading until it gets to the end of the device, which tends to fill up your hard disk.

Once you have the image of the bootsector, you need to get it to your Windows NT partition. This can either be done using the mcopy command or mounting a floppy disk with a FAT filesystem. Remember that the NTFS driver for Linux is still in the alpha stage, so I would not recommend using it in this case to copy the file directly to the NTFS partition. However, if the NT partition is on a FAT filesystem, than you can use the mcopy command or mount it directly. Otherwise you will have to use a floppy to make the transfer.

Where you put the bootsector image is up to you, but you need to keep track of it as you will be inputting the path to this file later. I recommend that you boot it in the root directory of your Windows NT system as this is where all of the other boot related files are located. Next, you have to tell NT about it, so you need to edit the file c:\boot.ini, which contains all of boot information for Windows NT. In order to edit this file you must change the attributes, so that it is no longer a system file and can be written to using the command:

C:\attrib -s -r c:\boot.ini

Next make the necessary changes to the boot. ini file. For example, you might have something like this:

[boot loader] timeout=30 default= C:\BOOTSECT.LNX [operating systems] multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Windows NT Workstation multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Windows NT Workstation C:\BOOTSECT.LNX="Linux"

In this example, we added the line which says C:\BOOTSECT.LNX="Linux", plus we changed the default, so that Linux will boot by default. The last step is to change the attribute of boot.ini back to the way it was. (For example, using C:\attrib +s +r c:\boot.ini). At this point, you should be able to reboot your system and see the Linux entry in the Windows NT boot menu.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind during this entire process. First, each time you make changes to the system (like building a new kernel), you will have to redo this entire process. Since it is relative cumbersome and I have a couple of different Linux distribution, I prefer to use lilo as my boot manager, rather than having to create a bootsector image for all of my system (and repeating it each time I relink my kernel).

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