Configuring boot on dual drive notebook

I bought an HP DV9700t series notebook that came with a single disk drive, but that has two drive bays. Windows Vista SP 1 came installed on the drive bundled with the system. After getting Vista running, I removed the Vista drive, and installed another SATA drive into the bay, and installed SUSE 11.0. I’m not sure if it matters, but I created a separate boot partition on the drive.

I have ordered the adapter kit so I can activate the second bay.

I would like to have the Vista drive in one bay, the Linux drive in another bay, and be able to boot both without modifying the MBR on the Vista drive. The BIOS does not seem to have the capability to change the order in which the drives boot.

Can I simply put the Linux disk in the first bay, Vista disk in the second bay, and somehow set up the GRUB boot loader to give me the choice between the two, without modifying the Windows drive? If I do have to modify the Windows drive, then can I at least avoid messing with its MBR?

Suggestions? Thanks.


As far as I know, HP notebooks do have a way to select from which device you want to boot. Generally, though, it’s designated as “multibay” or smth like that, and not as “2nd hard drive”. But then again, I don’t know your particular model, so I may be wrong. So I would go into BIOS and double check my boot options again. On my HP Compaq 6715b there are several options at boot, you are even offered to boot from your network etc., so I would be very surprised if there were none such options on another hp model.

Anyway, if that’s not viable, I’d put my Linux drive in the bootable drive bay and edit its /boot/grub/menu.lst file so that there’s another entry after your default Linux entries which were hopefully put there by your Linux install. You must edit it as root, of course. The lines to add are:

title Windows
rootnoverify (hd1,0)
chainloader (hd1,0)+1

After that you save the file and off you go. There’s no need to even touch your Windows drive. If anything should go wrong, you still have a bootable Linux system from which to troubleshoot. If such need arises, the first thing I’d do is NOT PANIC. Just check if Grub agrees with my drive designations. From a linux console (even a live CD would do) I’d get root and type “grub” to get the grub command line interface. Then I’d check grub’s partitioning scheme by typing:

grub> geometry (hd0)

Grub will enumerate your partitions on the first hard drive (hd0, grub counts them from 0). Then I’d issue

grub> geometry (hd1)

for the second hard drive.

That way you may make an educated guess as to how grub refers to your drives, in order to edit your menu.lst entry accordingly. Remember, both lines referring to (hd0,0) mean: first hard disk (hd0), first partition (0). It’s actually the location grub must call when you select to boot Windows. If there’s where your Vista resides, OK. Otherwise, change that to (hd1,0) or (hd2,5) or whatever your configuration may be.

For further assistance on grub see this excellent nutshell tutorial: Just booting tips - JustLinux Forums


I would just add that you may need to use the grub map command, too. I’ve not checked this personally with Vista, but earlier versions of Windows do not play nice if they think their system (boot) partition is not on the first drive. So if you have a problem with the above stanza, just add:

map (hd1) (hd0)

Thanks Josip and Mingus. I will try it when the mounting kit and connector arrive in a couple days, and report back.

Best regards,

The mounting bracket and connector arrived today. The basic approach described by Josip worked without a hitch. I did not need to use the geometry or map commands. Vista does not seem to mind if it boots from the second drive.

I have an older XP notebook being repaired that I want to configure the same way, so I might have to work with those commands when I get it back.

I thought that the bios might be aware that a second drive had been installed, and give me an option to boot from the second drive, but that didn’t happen.

Thanks again for all your help!