View Full Version : Multiboot software recommendations?

08-25-2010, 09:08 PM
I'm trying to set up a 32-bit multiboot: Win7 Ultimate / XP Pro / TinyXP / 98SE (yeah).

In the past I've used System Commander, but it seems a bit flaky with Win7 (and won't accept more than one NTFS install). I will never use Vista, ME, 95x, OS/2, or older OS's ever again. I just can't let go of DOS622, but I'll admit I've found diminishing use for it over the last few years.

I keep my linux on entirely unpolluted (non-Microsoft OS) hdds; I just use lilo and grub for those whenever a BIOS doesn't support boot order.

Any multiboot software recommendations? Any recommended OS install order? I prefer something that'll let me restore full images if possible, I don't mind $$ for software if it's worth it (ie, does what I need and works properly).

08-26-2010, 12:52 AM
why dont you just use the windows 7 multi boot loader. that's what i have always used

08-29-2010, 03:24 AM
I can't use it to select multi Win7 installs unless they use different file systems; I prefer pure NTFS all the way for post-Win9x.

Got it working with System Commander anyhow; I was adding problems by using JBOD spanning.

08-30-2010, 07:06 AM
i have mince to setup so i can boot from ubuntu win 7 64 win 7 32 and xp 64 still.
i dont understand why you would run the same operating system ont he same machine twice or whatever if thats what your doing.

08-30-2010, 07:31 AM
It's partly just "because I can" of course.

Also partly as a convenience. Having all these options is useful when I am sometimes (unofficially) required to service sick PCs, particularly those that will only boot from internal HDDs. Less time is wasted (on frustration) when I can be confident the booted OS (and software payload) is complete, working, clean, safe, and even already configured to my preference. One HDD is also better to lug around than tons of discs and drives, be it at work or home or a LAN gathering.

There is also convenience in having quick compatibility with older software. Whether fixing/testing something the developers never updated or just playing old games or whatever. Fewer finicky settings and tweaks and such, and no need to help bloat down current Windows versions with bits of CONFIG.SYS code or Netbeui drivers or other ancient garbage. My computer is central when working on microcontrollers and electronics, an unfortunate truth is that many of the software tools I use are often written to work only in now-obsolete OS versions. Newer Windows versions have a greater tendency to destroy hours of effort by interrupting mission-critical tasks (like burning OTP chips) by launching some ridiculous system service or message popup or administrator-denial complication. Older Windows versions are far more easily labotomized when necessary.

Finally, there are sometimes significant performance advantages when using earlier OS versions. WinXP only requires 64MB RAM, TinyXP only 16MB, and 98SE only 4MB ... who cares how clunky, ugly, and brainless the GUI is if it will still launch a game (and support DirectX, etc) and actually run it faster? Small code runs faster, less bloat equals less failures, more free hardware resources equals higher frame rates and fewer software delays.

In a perfect world I'd linux all the way. In reality, many (if not most) of my computing needs are better served by Windows, and as often as not by older versions of Windows. Constantly swapping drives and fiddling with the boot order are less desirable options for me than a nice simple boot menu I only have to waste time on once. Multiple instances of the same OS allow greater versatility in quick system-wide reconfiguration; sometimes I enjoy Win7's sophisticated GUI eye-candy, sometimes I require no more than skeletal Win7 components, sometimes I explicitly need to deliberately "damage" system components in Win7 to work on some particular project or another. VMWare/etc doesn't always fill my need.

08-30-2010, 10:14 PM
i have a nice little disk called hirens boots cd. it has almost everything i need to fix a computer. norton ghost anti virus software stuff like that. it even has the mini xp on it.

thanks for clearing up what you were doing lol i was a bit confused. wouldn't it save you time and be a bit easier instead of damaging your system on the hardrive to just install a virtual machine and damage that?

08-31-2010, 04:50 AM
Virtual machines don't always work, they are not 100% compatible and perfect. They suffer from numerous problems on wimpy hardware platforms.

Unless my needs are "one-shot", I usually make a ready-to-go image of the relevant OS to quickly install/reinstall as often as needed. My multi-boot problem was caused by my requirement that OS images can easily be "swapped out". Booting from external drives, CDROMs, USB, or floppies is not always an option or a safe assumption when working on multiple hardware platforms. I prefer a single drive because it's easier/quicker to temporarily install in systems that sometimes contain many HDDs or RAIDs or whatever. I prefer to do what needs to be done on-site rather than moving computers around or using a tech bench.

08-31-2010, 05:50 AM
mm well you do have a great point. i think i may look into doing this now.

08-31-2010, 07:54 PM
I use win7X64 Ultimate and WinXP Pro on a separate hard drive and Puppy Linux on live disk or a cheap 2gig SD card, works fantastic and there is zero confusion in the system when I need to swap over the OS.

09-01-2010, 10:46 AM
My "Fix every (desktop) PC in the world" minimum toolkit:
3.5" IDE HDD with multiboot OS's ... as discussed above
Leatherman multitool modified for "computer/cellphone repair" (Phillips #1/#0/#00, Slotted 1/8", Torx TT5/TT6/TT10/TT15, knife and saw blades, needlenose pliers, really useful pointy thing, bottle opener, and various other weird attachments)
extra screwdrivers (Phillips #1, stubby and 10" shank with magnetic tip)
Diagonal cutters (called "dykes" for reasons never explained to me)
Dental mirror
LED MagLite
Cheap RadioShack pocket DMM
AA batteries and charger for both tools above
3-pin AC wall-receptacle tester
Working laptop with WiFi/LAN/modem internet access, BT, USB, PS/2, RS232 (plus all relevant plugs/cables/adapters)
PCI/PCIe (double-edged) IDE controller card and cables
spare RAM (ideally 2 each of mid-capacity: PC133 SDRAM, DDR400 2.5-3-3, DDR2-1066 6-6-6, DDR3-2133 11-11-11)
spare power cord, VGA cable, 80-pin IDE cable, SATA cables, molex splitters
spare ATX12V 600W PSU (I use a ZM600ST, all the connectors/outputs I ever need ... bulky so it usually stays in the car)
spare CR2032 coin cells
spare USB 1.1 and 2.0 sticks (1GB+)
Compressed air, Q-tips, toothbrush, popsicle sticks, chemicals (1,1,1-Trichloroethane Limonene, Stabilant-22a, anhydrous isopropyl, Krazy Glue + "kicker", WD-40, conformal sealant, epoxy)
electrical tape (good stuff with strong adhesive)
jar full of spare PC screws, nuts, bolts, standoffs, jumpers, a few backplates
spare 2" 8-ohm speaker and LEDs (with labelled connector headers)
spare antistatic bags (wrapped around RAM)
zip-ties, several sizes and colours
Sure there's plenty of other tools and parts I could bring along, but this setup all fits into a laptop case and isn't too heavy. No competent techie is realistically ever gonna start wirestripping and soldering and running his oscilloscope or doing component-level repair on mobos and PSUs on site - if things are that broke or time-consuming then they go to the shop. Anything I ever needed more than twice got included, anything I hardly (if ever) used did not.

As mentioned above, one HDD can replace vast libraries full of CD/DVD discs, floppies, USB sticks ... and will work on virtually every system, no matter how cantankerous, ill, or ancient.