There are… three… Operating Systems…
Numbers at a Glance
- Operating Systems installed: Windows XP, Windows 7 Beta, Ubuntu 8.10
- Time elapsed (total): ~12 hours
- Time elapsed (effort): ~3 hours for the OS’es, ~2 hours for the partition resizes, and ~1 hour figuring out why Grub wasn’t booting
- Time wasted: ~5 for food + entertainment
- We all know that Windows would smash the bootloader if it’s already on the machine, so it’s best to have Windows all settled in before attempting a Ubuntu install. It’s a pain to recover Grub after Windows got its fingers into the Master Boot Record, so following that mantra probably saved me a lot of time.
- I’m very surprised at how well Windows 7 and WinXP are playing together on the same environment. The Windows bootloader certainly does a good job at making Windows 7 testing a relatively painless process. Let’s just hope removing Win7 is just as painless.
- Personal Failure: My “primary drive” is actually connected to the second sata port, so booting had its own problems. Windows had installed its Win7 Bootloader in the MBR of the first hard drive, and Grub was on the second. Without me explicitly commanding that Grub boot first, there was no way for Ubuntu to ever boot without me following the instructions on the Ubuntu website. I had initially followed those instructions to the letter, but after a little investigation, I realized that I needed to run “setup (hd1)” rather than “setup (hd0)” to have Grub boot up before the Windows Bootloader. In any case, I learned something new.
- Interesting: Because I had two drives and two bootloaders, Grub did something very interesting. Grub is on hd1, and upon installation, set (hd0,0) as “Windows XP”. Since the bootloader on hd0 was taken over by Windows 7, the “Windows XP” option actually punted me to the Windows 7 bootloader. I sort of like this solution, but it’s something I wasn’t quite expecting.
- The Win7 install was very painless, save for the 5 minutes I had to wait with a non-interacting screen. Kudos to MS for ironing out a solid install process, even for a beta product
- WinXP is intact!
That’s it. I’ll be spending the next few weeks playing with Win7 and beautifying Ubuntu. At first glance, Win7 is pretty smooth and elegant… we’ll see how it holds up after extended usage.