How to make SUSE boot independent of Windows?

I’m a new SUSE user. I have some rudimentary understanding of unix. IOW, please elaborate :wink:

I’ve read many, many posts about boot conflicts with Windows. I have an idea but I don’t know whether it is possible or how to do it. I have read the GRUB manual and am still at a loss.

I have Vista on hd0. I have SUSE on hd1. I would like independent booting so that if I ever reinstall or upgrade Vista I don’t have to use a grubby recovery disk to reinstate SUSE.

Is it possible to either:
a) Make the SUSE hd1 boot on its own? (I can select to boot from this drive in the bios menu)
b) Set up a CDROM or USB memory stick to act as a booter for SUSE on hd1?

If so, how?


1)Yes install grub to the same drive as Suse i.e hd1 it will default to the primary boot device(hd0) iirc so will take some user intervention when the grub install is presented. Just make sure you’re choosing to install to the mbr of the second drive

2)Yes both the netinstall iso does this anyway top choice is boot from harddrive. As for USB you can install grub to USB quick google Rene Mayrhofer - Making a USB Stick bootable with Grub (not a recommendation barely looked at it just an example) plenty of tuts about this.

  1. you can also chain load Windows I believe to do this. Think this tut works Boot Multiboot openSUSE Windows (2000, XP, Vista - any mix) with Windows bootloader.

If you make sure the grub bootloader is on hd1, what’s the problem. SUSE IS booting independent of windows.
All About Grub - openSUSE

Thanks for the help.
It is reassuring to know that the two disks can be separately booted with the right set up. I’m not sure why this wasn’t mentioned as a way to avoid Windows sabotage in any of the articles I read.

I did try the Rene Mayrhofer method yesterday but couldn’t get it to work. When I booted from the USB stick I only got a black screen and a flashing cursor. I may have done something wrong.

In the GNU GRUB manual it says to do something like:
grub> root (hd1,0)
grub> setup (hd1)

Is this all I have to do to boot SUSE off the hd1 drive? Or is there more to it (I expect so)?

It’s as simple as installing grub to hd1

If you have 2 HD’s with windows on one and SUSE on the other, it’s a great setup. The win hd doesn’t need to be touched. BUT it will be changed in boot priority in BIOS. We will need SUSE hd first! So although we say SUSE is on hd1 it will become hd0 in BIOS. How it is seen in SUSE will depend on your initial install setup of the HD’s
Ideally with win installed on hd0, then switch hd order to have Linux hd first, now install SUSE.
So long as you can identify the HD’s during install you can get grub installed correctly.

You can always remove the power from the win HD if unsure, install SUSE, then manually add all the necessary details for the win hd once pluged back in.

Are you trying to do this after the fact if so then try using yast boot loader as for your example yes it looks sort of correct but I tend to use yast. Sometimes the cli grub isn’t quite as smooth as you can wish for I had it refusing to recreate menu.lst the other day.

Though doing it this way will mean going into bios tbh I’m not surprised most people don’t want to have to go into bios to choose an OS. Though I can see why you wish to but personally and for many others re-installing any distro isn’t a common occurrence and the fix is minor and relatively easy.

If you have installed your two operated system in diferent hard drive you only need to change the boot drive in the bios.

Remember the boot loder of Linux has to installed in hard drive.:expressionless:

> It is reassuring to know that the two disks can be separately booted
> with the right set up.

well, it will only stay that way until the first time you have to fix
the Redmond side by reinstalling…

then, MS will overwrite grub and you will only be able to boot
Windows…until you undo Bill’s rudeness…


Only if grub is on the same HD as M$. But in this discussion it’s Not!

ok…sorry…i missed that fact…

but then i have to ask: if it is possible to give a new guy who
wants to dual boot, a surefire way to NOT have his dual boot
capability murdered by Redmond Killers the first time s/he has to do
the Redmond Cure-All (reinstall) then: Why the heck is that not the
default way suggested by the install script (when two hard drives are


Maybe something to put in the wish list. It’s a plan for sure. I guess, have a install method option: ‘I’m a Noob, decide the best and safest install for me’

or the other option: ‘I know what I want and how to do it’

caf4926 wrote:
> Maybe something to put in the wish list.

is something someone who dual boots should do…
i don’t.

Friends don’t let friends drive Windows[tm].

The story is that I am visiting my brother and using one of his networked PCs. He had Vista installed on hd0 and a spare hd1. Vista was playing up so I thought I would install linux to get some reliability and to see how they compare.

I started off installing ubuntu off live CD and it installed ok and looked pretty but I found a problem with Firefox crashing with Java applets. I refered to the Java website and saw they refered to SUSE and Red Hat but not ubuntu. So I decided to install SUSE off live CD. SUSE hung up during the live CD boot on this PC - blank screen and no explanation. A video card issue maybe? Anyhow, I finally tried a 4 hour internet install and that went ok.

So I then had Vista on hd0 and SUSE on hd1. The GRUB set itself up as part of the SUSE install on hd0. Then my brother wanted to reinstall Vista to fix problems. As Vista wipes GRUB from hd0 I couldn’t figure out I would be able to boot SUSE after the Vista reinstall. I tried making a bootable USB stick but that didn’t work. I then tried to install GRUB on hd1 but that turned out not to work. So when Vista was reinstalled I lost the SUSE boot option from the bios screen and went through a laborious “repair installation” using the SUSE live net install CD. A real pain though.

So next I’ll do a little reading and see if I can deduce the correct method using Yast or otherwise to install GRUB on hd1.

The tips are very helpful, thanks all. :slight_smile:

PS: re the default setup. As a newbie to SUSE I would have benefitted from some installation configuration examples somewhere easy to find. Windows users don’t need to know some of the detailed hardware stuff that linux users do.

I refered you to a comprehensive guide on grub, with much about Vista, in this post: How to make SUSE boot independent of Windows? - openSUSE Forums

Yes. I have scanned it and will read it in detail this weekend. Thanks.

I’ll post some things that I didn’t find obvious with the SUSE install too.

It seems from that article that Windows is very sensitive to the MBR setup on hd0 (where Windows always gets installed?), eg: updates may not work if the boot flag changes. This is a really serious issue.

So a newbie using Windows needs to be clearly made aware of this in the SUSE install process and perhaps an explicit option to install SUSE on a separate HD offered without altering the hd0 MBR in any way. It appears to me that SUSE defaults to putting GRUB on the hd0 MBR thus potentially upsetting Windows and deleting SUSE boot if Windows is reinstalled. Just a thought.

When I do more reading am I hoping to understand how to specify which HDs MBR GRUB gets installed on and how to tell GRUB which OSs to offer to boot up in its menu and how to tell GRUB which partition each OS is in.

You seem to be getting to grips with it. In your scenario with 2 HD’s it will not be an issue, just make sure Grub goes to the NON-Windows HD, as I described earlier. Remember you can always back out of an install if you are having doubts and want to go back and check things, your main thing is to KNOW and understand each HD and be able to identify each. It should be easy enough as the WIN HD will have NTFS partitions. It’s the bootloader part you need to make double sure about, make sure it looks like this:
See the X in the MBR selector and note the HD it lists just below that with the drop box. If you switch that to the HD you want, still check again in the final summary here:
Notice this is not showing MBR, that shouldn’t change if you have selected it but sometimes the HD you select can.

Having already installed SUSE on hd1, I tried using Yast: Boot Loader to change the location of GRUB. It doesn’t appear to let me. I’m not sure how to do it. The drop-down next to “custom boot partition” does not appear to have any effect (I crossed the “boot from MBR”).

One thing I did try just now is:
grub> root (hd1,0)
grub> setup (hd1)

I then rebooted and chose the bios menu (using F11) to specifically boot from the SUSE hd. It was unable to boot: could not find an OS. I noticed in the fine print that I could invoke a grub command line by pressing ‘c’. I did and tried to set the grub root again using ‘root (hd1,0)’.

To my surprise, it failed. Grub complained that no root was found. Then I entered ‘find /boot/vmlinuz’ (where SUSE puts the kernel image file(?) - not at /vmlinuz like several guides say) and this was found at (hd0,0). The bios had renamed hd1 to hd0 when I specifically chose to boot from the original hd1.

How confusing is that!!! :\

So I quickly changed my perspective and set the ‘root (hd0,0)’ and loaded the kernel image with ‘kernel /boot/vmlinuz’ and then ‘boot’.

This time it started the characteristic verbose boot but stopped after a page of text with a kernel panic because it couldn’t detect a super block or something. I’ll repeat and write down the complaint details and post it here. Could there be some essential kernel option that I left off?

I then rebooted the PC and booted up as normal (from the hd0 grub) and was able to boot up SUSE.

Ok, I managed to make SUSE boot from the grub command prompt (see previous post). I copied snippets from the ‘menu.lst’ file in /boot/grub.

grub> root (hd0,0)
grub> kernel /boot/vmlinuz splash=silent showopts vga=0x31a
grub> initrd /boot/initrd
grub> boot

This works. I suspect it is the initrd that swung it. I have no clue what initrd does, yet.

So this means that to have SUSE boot off it’s own HD via bios selection requires the GRUB to be installed on the SUSE HD’s MBR with instructions to boot off hd0 (even though SUSE was installed on, the then, hd1).

The other thing which concerns me is that the GRUB menu.lst and files may be set in stone at /usr/lib/grub when SUSE is first installed. Is that right? So if they are hdN-specific then the grub will always be N specific. Which is not what I want because SUSE assumes N=1 whereas I need grub to assume N=0. Can I use grub ‘setup’ and circumvent the SUSE default list and map files? I don’t know yet.

I must be missing something simple because this all seems asinine in its complexity. Ideally, wouldn’t GRUB scan for SUSE on every disk no matter where GRUB is and no matter what the bios calls it and then offer it up for booting?

BTW I am elaborating here for the benefit of anyone as ignorant as I who may be trying to learn this stuff.

It occurs to me that GRUB can scan for a SUSE installation. Using the command:
grub> find /boot/vmlinuz
This returns the root disk address of the form: (hdX,Y).

So what if one could pipe this output into the root command so that GRUB would automatically ‘point’ to the correct hd, then have it interpret a special menu.lst file that has had all absolute hd addresses stripped out?

I’ll sleep on this and do some more reading.

I suspect the confusion is down to boot priority in BIOS and how the installer sees your HD’s during install. It’s imperative you understand this. And it’s not always as simple as: ‘I have set this HD first in BIOS so SUSE will see it as first’. I recently did an install for someone where the BIOS was confusing me, all it actually required was that I change the order the HD’s were plugged in to the SATA sockets.