How to safely dual-boot with XP?

I have an HP laptop with an AMD 64 processor, running Windows XP Home Edition. I now have the 64 bit openSUSE 11.0 DVD. I want to make absolutely sure that I, a newbie, don’t ruin the existing XP installation. I’ve heard I can dual boot, but can what exactly can I expect to see and what should I do?

Like, when I put in the DVD, click the install button, and it starts installing, what options do I choose to ensure it will safely dual-boot? What should I expect to see? After installing, will I always see the green-background opensuse boot menu asking to choose between openSUSE and XP, or will it look like the command-line one that already exists for XP, and how can I make either openSUSE or XP the default?


Try this link should help you
GRUB Boot Multiboot openSUSE Windows (2000, XP, Vista) using the Grub bootloader.

Thanks, but that link seems to be a troubleshooter if you have already installed openSUSE yet are having boot problems. I want to make sure I get it right the first time around.

The link above is an excellent tutorial on installing the grub boot loader to control booting of all the OS’s. Just to add a bit re your questions . . .

With this method, at boot you will initially see the green openSUSE boot menu with a Windows line. When you choose that, you will be taken to the text Windows boot loader, exactly what you had before. What is happening is that one boot loader (grub) is handing off to another loader (ntldr).

What the tutorial doesn’t cover is the option to do the opposite. There are howto’s out there on this, too (Google it). It requires two steps: First, you install the grub boot loader to the boot sector of the partition openSUSE is being installed on. Second, you add a line in Windows boot.ini file which points to this location. (The howto will give you the exact syntax; not difficult). So with this option you first see the XP text menu, there’s a line for SuSE, that takes you to the green grub menu for booting SuSE.

Linux is all about choice.

That’s fine, but it’s a little confusing for a newbie like me, and it doesn’t talk about what to do during the inital installation. I just want to make sure everything is safe first time around, without deleting Windows by accident or messing up the boot loader – I guess I could just try to install it and then follow the tutorial afterwards, but I want to know how to do everything correctly from the start.

EDIT: You may decide based upon your ability to recover should something go awry. Anything that happens to the Linux boot loader (grub) can be fixed. But if for some reason you need to restore the Windows loader (specifically, what’s called the MBR or Master Boot Record), that requires a Windows installation CD. If you have one or can borrow one, you’re cool going either method. But if you only have the computer manufacturer’s “recovery CD”, that won’t work. There are other methods of restoring the Windows MBR are, but that’s rather involved. So this is one reason why some users choose booting Linux from Windows.

So here is essentially what is involved in using the Windows boot loader. Again, the vanilla install method inserts grub into the MBR, booting openSUSE, and from there, to Windows. This is only if you want to control the boot from XP instead. You should check out some howto’s (Ubuntu has a very good one, as I recall).

  1. Install openSUSE. At the step where the boot loader is configured, click on the heading, enter the dialog and navigate to the boot loader installation tab. Check the boxes for installing to the /boot and the /root partition.

  2. When the installation goes into its second step, it may reboot. If it does not find openSUSE (because you didn’t set it up to be directly boot into), reboot from the installation DVD, choose boot from hard drive and it will find SuSE and proceed.

  3. Once in Suse and installation is complete and you are logged in, you want to create a copy of the boot sector installed above. There is more than one method to do this; I’ll use the floppy method:

  • open a terminal window program (like Konsole)
  • insert a floppy previously formatted by Windows as FAT
  • switch to root: at the > prompt, type su, return, and then the root password
  • at the # prompt type: mount /dev/fd0 /media/floppy
  • at the # prompt type: dd if=/dev/xxx of=/media/floppy/bootsect.lin bs=512 count=1 (where xxx is the partition designator for where SuSE is installed, e.g., sda1)

You now have the SuSE boot sector with grub installed in it, on the floppy. Boot into XP, copy the file from the floppy into the C:\ folder (it must be the C:\ root directory!).

With Notepad, add a line to c:\boot.ini thus:

c:\bootsect.lin=“openSUSE 11.0”
and save the file.

Now reboot. You should boot into Windows with a menu entry for openSUSE, which will take you to the grub loader.

I did this from memory, but I’m pretty sure it’s all OK.

Try this one, might be useful: Boot Multiboot openSUSE Windows (2000, XP, Vista - any mix) with Windows bootloader.
But I think for new users the easier way is Grub.

I believe the safest way of installing openSUSE on the same drive as windows is to make room on the drive for openSUSE first – unpartitioned space. And let openSUSE install itself on the spare space, including to let Grub do its own thing. We are here for any problems later and I believe that with advice, your windows install is safe. BUT just as in the windows world, always back up important data before you play around with partitions.

Swerdna is right backing up what matters on your Windows drive is always the only safe way to do things.

Odds are if you follow the right steps for installing like he said it will be good and givingyou the option for either OpenSuse or XP.

gregosmith wrote:
> Swerdna is right backing up what matters on your Windows drive is always
> the only safe way to do things.
> Odds are if you follow the right steps for installing like he said it
> will be good and givingyou the option for either OpenSuse or XP.

Agreed. If you use something like TrueImage to take an image of your HDD
it does offer to write the “boot sector” if you restore (and possibly
only restore that) which may replace the GRUB boot - I’ve not tried,
so cannot say for certain. You may also find that the “active” partition
may need to be reset.

So far, I have had no problems installing openSuSE, from DVD or Network,
to dual boot with XP and I’m far from an expert :slight_smile: I usually ensure
there is free space on the disk before starting the install, though
the installer will adjust Windows partitions to provide that.

You can probably let the installer do its own thing - I make minor
adjustments - and get your Windows partition(s) automatically made
available to Linux. In future, you may put /home (equivalent to XP
“documents and settings” user folders) on a separate partition to make
upgrading less painful.

After installation, I use Yast to change the default option for Grub.


Asus M2V-MX SE, AMD 64X2 3800+, openSuSE 10.3 x86-64/XP Home dual boot
Asus M2NPV-VM, AMD LE1640, openSuSE 11.0 x86-64/XP Home dual boot

IMHO, in addition to backing up Windows first as a safety precaution (that should be done before installing/upgrading to a new version of Windows, too), if one does not have an actual Windows installation CD (from which repairs can be made, such as fixing the Windows MBR or boot sector), then the Windows MBR should also be backed up to a floppy or CD. There are instructions on the Microsoft support site or via google.

I do have on hand an XP install CD, so that’s no problem.