The Haiku/BeOS Tip Server
Tips and tricks for Haiku/BeOS users

Install OSes in optimal order

Contributed by: Scot Hacker
This tip is valid for: Both BeOS and Haiku

[Editor’s note: Several readers have contributed to the expansion of this tip. Tip Server editors have not verified the accuracy of information here, though everything looks fairly sound.]

When building a multi-boot system, always install Microsoft operating systems first, then BeOS, Linux, or whatever you like afterwards. This is not a requirement, but will probably make life easier since most versions of Windows have a nasty habit of installing their own Master Boot Record (MBR), overwriting any you might have had in place for other systems. The problem can be rectified by reinitializing System Commander, LILO, or whatever you use as a boot manager. Nevertheless, it’s easier to avoid all of this by letting MS have its way with your hard drive first, then installing your superior operating system second, third, etc.

Note: A possible caveat to this is the fact that the OS layed down first will reside closer to the inside of the disk platter and will enjoy faster disk access. See Maximizing disk throughput for more on that.


Here are some more detailed notes on the subject from an anonymous contributor:

My own personal experience is that Microsoft’s products are the most fragile, and likely to screw other OSes up, so I always install them first. Then I try to do as little as possible to disrupt them, i.e., don’t muck with partitions if you can help it.

Here’s what I’d do (caveat: it’s been a while since I did this):

0. Plan it all out on paper. Figure out how much disk space you want to give to each OS, and for Linux decide how you want to manage your multiple file systems and partitions. Windows should go on the first hard partition of your drive. BeOS and Linux are both very flexible about where they can go; BeOS R4 probably has the edge on really big disks, as LILO has difficulties if your boot partition is above the 8 gig point on your disk (as did R3).

My order at home is:

Partition 1: Windows 95 (someday I’ll upgrade to 98, I’m sure)
Partition 2: BeOS
Partition 3: Linux root partition
Partition 4: Extended partition
Logical partition 5: Linux swap
Logical partition 6: Linux /home (or /usr, or some damn thing)
Logical partition 7: Linux /var (or /home, or /usr, or some damn thing)

0.5 If you have a partitioning tool, partition your drive now, before you install anything. Otherwise, just use the tools that come with each OS (I used Linux’s fdisk to do my partitioning, but it’s not a tool for the faint-of-heart. But if you, like me, are too cheap to buy PartitionMagic, it can do the job, destructively.)

1. Install Windows, make sure it boots.

2. Install BeOS, DON’T install Bootman when given the choice.

2.5 Make sure Windows still boots.

3. Install Linux, DON’T install LILO if given the choice.

3.5 Make sure Windows still boots.

4. Boot into the BeOS (using the floppy), and run Bootman at the command line. See http://www.be.c om/support/guides/installing_bootman.html for detailed instructions.

5. Reboot your system without the BeOS Boot Floppy, and use Bootman to boot into every OS, one at a time, to make sure they all work.

IMHO, Bootman is better than the Windows NT bootmenu, and it’s *way* better than LILO.


Adam McNutt (kancept at wrtech dot com) offers the following notes on working alongside OS/2 installations:

The biggest difficulty in installing OS/2 on the same machine with BeOS is that it doesn’t recognise BFS, and will destroy your BFS partition if you install it after BeOS. I’ve learned to install the OSes in the YEAR they came out. Win95 in 95…98 is based on the same code. OS/2 in 96. Be 4.5 this year, etc.


Kurt von Finck (kurt.vonfinck@earthling.net) adds the following 10-step program:

MultiOS Machines – Clean Install -10 Steps!

A couple of extra tips on configuring a multi-boot machine. A few caveats. If you’ve never run a partitioning utility before (DriveSetup, FDISK, Druid), don’t bother with these instructions. They assume a moderate understanding of partitioning, and aren’t for "innocent-bystanders." These instructions assume a clean install with all HD partitions wiped. It also assumes use of the Be OS Boot Manager, but LILO can be installed post-facto by penguinheads.

  1. Partition your drive first by booting from the Be OS cd (or floppy) and choosing to set up partitions at the opening install prompt. DriveSetup will open, highlight the drive you want to partition.
  2. Select Setup/Partition/Intel from the menu. Define your partitions (remember, NT and 95 cannot see drives/partitions greater than 4GB and 98 not more than 8GB). Initialize your partitions. Don’t bother initializing Microsoft partitions from within DriveSetup. Linux is happy with a Native and Swap initialization by Be, but let the NT and 9x installers format their partitions.
  3. If you’re installing NT AND 9x, install 9x first. Make sure to set 9x’s partition as “Active” before exiting DriveSetup and the Be installer! When you quit the installer, get ready to grab that Be CD when it gets ejected and toss that Win9x CD in, you have about 4 seconds…
  4. When installing 9x, exit the Setup program (if it autoruns or you forget to boot to a prompt) and format the c: partition from a DOS prompt. If the command-line Win9x shell can’t see more than 2GB, you might have to run FDISK. DON”T change any partitions, but make sure to enable large disk support (FAT32). If you run FDISK, you’ll have to re-boot, then format.

  5. Create a c:windowsoptionscabs directory and copy the contents of [CD drive letter]win9x from your CD to this directory. Run c:windowsoptionscabssetup.
  6. You’re installing 9x from your hard drive now, which is faster and eliminates the need to have the 9x CD around when you have to update drivers in the future. Make sure you don’t install Windows to c:windows.000 (which 9x will prompt you to do). Just install to c:windows and ignore the warning about overwriting a previous install. Once 9x allows you to boot normally to a desktop, move on…
  7. Now you can install NT. Let the CD setup run and format the partition on which you want NT from within the installer. Let it do it’s thing and like 9x above, when you can boot normally to a desktop, you’re done. You might want to get service pack updates done, though.
  8. Now install Linux. The native partition should be seen, as well as swap, but you can re-format if you want. Just use the proper partitions/free space! I won’t get as detailed as Windows products because Linux users should know the drill beforehand! However, make sure to install LILO to the ROOT and NOT the MBR (if you install it at all).
  9. After reboot, boot from the Be OS CD. Install Be and choose to install the Be OS Boot Manager (bootman). Select the partitions from which you wish to boot and give them prettier names than the volume names (yes, you may use spaces). Reboot to dual or triple-boot geek glory!

N.B. If you have a multi-OS machine with Be OS’s bootman and you have to re-install a Windows product, it’s gonna kill the MBR. Some folks will tell you to run FDISK /MBR to restore, but don’t bet on it. Better yet, boot from the Be OS CD and hold down the Spacebar during boot. Select a different partition from which to boot and point it at the Be partition on the HD. Boot to Be and run bootman from within the Tracker (nice GUI!) by double-clicking on /boot/beos/bin/bootman. Re-install bootman!

Posted in Miscellaneous


(comments are closed).