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Triple booting Windows NT 4, 98 and 2000.

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#1
ironman14

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Hello.

I was wondering if it would be possible to triple boot these three operation systems. I know that:
- I would have to install NT 4 first, then 98 and lastly 2000.
- Seperate partitions would be needed for each OS.
- Windows NT 4 can read FAT16 and NTFS partitions.
- Windows 98 can read FAT16 and FAT32 partitions.
- Windows 2000 can read FAT32 and NTFS partitions.

Would it be possible to triple boot these OSes? I don't care if I can't access different hard drives when that system is off. But would it be compatible to use all three?


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#2
jaclaz

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I know that:
- I would have to install NT 4 first, then 98 and lastly 2000.
- Seperate partitions would be needed for each OS.

No. :no: (see below)
 

- Windows NT 4 can read FAT16 and NTFS partitions.
- Windows 98 can read FAT16 and FAT32 partitions.
- Windows 2000 can read FAT32 and NTFS partitions.

Yes :yes:
 

Would it be possible to triple boot these OSes?

Sure it is possible :).

Fake :w00t: that instead of Windows 98 you are installing DOS (which is what you are actually installing), the simpler would be to install in this order:

  1. - Windows 98
  2. - Windows NT 4
  3. - Windows 2000

Each windows setup will attempt (and succeed) to write to the disk it's own VBR invoking it's own bootloader, the difference being that the NT 4's one was designed in such a way to allow booting DOS (and conversely Windows 98) and that the Windows 2000's one was designed in such a way to allow booting of both NT 4.00 and DOS (please read again as Windows 98) whilst the Windows 98 (yet again DOS) only boots "itself".

There are obviously a number of third party utilities that may allow you to install the operating systems in every order you choose (i.e. fix the booting mechanism) but if you are starting from scratch it would be easier to install them in the given order.

 

I have run for years such systems, the point that is worth some time thinking about is how to setup the partitioning scheme.

 

Both NT 4.00 and Windows 2000 were designed to be installed (apart a few boot files) on Logical Volumes inside Extended partition.

Windows 98 was designed to be installed ONLY on First Primary partition.

Windows NT 4.00 has some limitations on the size of the volume in which it is installed and it's position.

Additionally there is an issue with NT 4.00 and Windows 2000 "sharing" a NTFS volume, Windows 2000 will ALWAYS "upgrade" the NTFS filesystem to it's own version and a few NT 4.00 tools will NOT work properly afterwards (namely CHKDSK) and the NT 4.00 NEEDS to be at least updated to SP4 or it won't even boot.

 

There are however a couple of tricks that allow the installing of Windows 98 (again set apart a few boot files) on a Logical Volume inside Extended.

 

My personal way to setup these three OS has always been the following (you will get a lot of different suggestions about this, it has been debated for years):

First Primary FAT16 containing all the boot files and an "emergency" Windows 2000 minimal install, size less than 2 Gb 

Extended partition containing:

First Logical volume inside Extended Windows NT 4.00 install, size 1 Gbytes, formatted FAT16

Second Logical volume inside Extended Windows 98 formatted FAT 32 size 2-4 Gbytes formatted FAT32

Third logical volume inside Extended Windows 2000 install, formatted NTFS

....

Last logical volume inside Extended "Common Data", formatted FAT16 size 1 Gb

 

The attempt here is to have all volumes get the same drive letter under whatever OS is currently booting, I always suggest this because IMHO it helps in not deleting by mistake a file on the "wrong" volume.

 

The alternative is to have separate Primary volumes (each with an OS installed) and using a third party bootmanager (such as grub4dos or XOSL) to choose which one to boot, in this case each OS will have "it's own volume" as C: drive, and the other volumes may get "different" drive lettering. (the DOS/Windows 98 boot would anyway to be on First Primary unless you would some more advanced re-mapping in grub4dos or similar)

 

Of course *anything* midway is possible.

 

It greatly depends on how much "dignity" you want to give to each OS, and how (or how much) you intend to work on one or the other, I mean if you use (say) NT 4.00 only sometimes 

 

You will need some detailed instructions to achieve this triple boot as it is not "easy-peasy", but it is entirely doable :).

 

Start by reading (no matter if you will use it or not) the XOSL Faq's, as they contain a number of key informations:

http://www2.arnes.si...faqhow/faq.html

 

 

jaclaz

 

 



#3
ironman14

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My personal way to setup these three OS has always been the following (you will get a lot of different suggestions about this, it has been debated for years):

First Primary FAT16 containing all the boot files and an "emergency" Windows 2000 minimal install, size less than 2 Gb 

Extended partition containing:

First Logical volume inside Extended Windows NT 4.00 install, size 1 Gbytes, formatted FAT16

Second Logical volume inside Extended Windows 98 formatted FAT 32 size 2-4 Gbytes formatted FAT32

Third logical volume inside Extended Windows 2000 install, formatted NTFS

So, correct me if I'm wrong, you would install Windows 2000 twice? And if I choose to do it this exact way, would I install the "backup" windows 2000 first or the NTFS one first?

 

I am starting to read the XOSL page you linked to me. I'm not going to install it this way but it is pretty helpful with information.

 

Lastly, I have EaseUS partition manager installed on my computer. Should I use that for making partitions? Or should I make partitions as I install each OS?

 

Thanks for everything.



#4
jaclaz

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The order in which you install the two Windows 2000 instances doesn't make any real difference.

But normally you would install the "recovery" partition after having installed the main one.

Remember that in both  NT4.00 and Windows 2000 the "default" name for the "%Windir%" directory is "WINNT", what I personally use is "WINNT" for the NT 4.00 install and and "WIN2K" for the "main" Windows 2000 install (and I actually use "NT911" for the "recovery" install), this helps (for example in BOOT.INI entries) to quickly see which is which.

BTW, after the install of the "NT911" recovery 2K install I used to reduce greatly the size by deleting files I did not need, I guess that nowadays it would be easier/smarter to use nlite to make a very small install media.

 

I would not "trust" Easeus partition manager, not that it is not a good tool :), but it is simply "too new" :w00t: to be reliable (in the sense that all three systems use a cylinder aligned partitioning scheme and they are traditionally very picky with CHS addressing, whilst Easeus may decide to "adopt" the newere MB aligned scheme and/or create "queer" CHS addresses).

 

I would rather use the built-in tools (FDISK initially for the Windows 9x install and later the "inside setup" tools) and (if needed) some more low-level (or more "direct" and not "automagic") tools for MBR and VBR manipulation.

Typically I would use RPM (the Ranish Partition Manager) and grub4dos, while having handy (you never know) bootpart.

Additionally, if you are going down the way of installing Windows 9x to the logical volume inside extended you might need a couple more tools, Letter Assigner and/or COA2.

 

I know that I am flooding you with a load of information :w00t: , and that you will need to take some time to digest them :), don't worry, it seems more difficult than it is in reality, but you need to get a "general idea" of the possible issues (and corresponding solutions/workarounds) and to have a "plan" 

Spoiler

before getting to the "practical" part (and consider also how my memory might well be fading :ph34r: as these are things I did YEARS ago, so you will need anyway some patience and likely a few attempts).

 

jaclaz



#5
ihateusernames

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I had all three installed on a single FAT32 partition. 98 was installed, followed by 2000. Then NT4 was installed on a separate harddisk (or CF card with FAT16 in this case), and after the install was done I copied the WINNT4 directory to the FAT32 partition, along with the patched file system driver from bearwindows site (this enables NT4 to access FAT32). Then I modified BOOT.INI to add an option for booting NT4. I may have had to add the drive letter in the NT4 registry too but I can't remember (I know I had to add it for NT 3.51)

#6
ironman14

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I have read most of this page over time. I plan on doing this triple boot really soon.

 

But a few last minute things to clear up:

1. I know Windows 98 must be installed on a primary partition unless XOSL is installed too. Would it work if, not needing any extra programs, Windows 98 was on a primary partition and NT 4 and Windows 2000 were on seperate logical partitions?

2. I have done successful dual-boots before, mainly Windows NT 4.0 and 2000. I know that there is more info needed for triple boots, so they are not as easy. But, more or less, can a triple boot be treated similarly to a dual-boot?

 

Thanks very much.



#7
jaclaz

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1. Not really.

There is no need for XOSL, the trick is to rather to install on a primary partition and later convert the primary to a logical volume inside extended.

This can be done in a number of ways, nowadays I would use grub4dos for this, it is not particularly complex, once you get the hang of it and if you plan your partitioning accurately.

There are of course no problems in having it installed to a primary while the NT's are on other  logical volumes, the only "drawback" is that you will have 1 less partition slot available in the MBR (which is not a real issue if you do not plan to use other OS's needing primary partitions.

2. Essentially double boot and triple or n-boot are the same, you only have more items to choose from.

You may want to consider separate steps:

  1. dual boot between 9x and NT
  2. fake that you forgot about the 9x install and dual boot between NT and 2K
  3. fake that you forgot about both 9x and NT and dual boot between 2K and ...

if this makes it easier.

 You will find here a number of informations for simpler dual or n-boot setups:

http://thpc.info/dualboot.html

 

As hinted before, many of the "rules of the game" have been changed since the release of grub4dos with direct disk access, nowadays you can do *anything* or almost anything with this single utility.

 

jaclaz






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