Install and boot several distros

I just bought a new 2TB hard drive and I want to install Windows 10, Leap 15.3, Tumbleweed, Manjaro, Ubuntu and possibly Slackware on it. I know that Windows should be first, but then what about the order of the rest. Is it possible in legacy boot mode? Any advice will be appreciated.

IMO multiboot is easier in UEFI mode, in no small part because GPT partitioning is used, which means there is neither any size limitation possible, nor arbitrary distinction between primary and logical partitions. In UEFI mode, order of installation really doesn’t matter, because unrelated operating systems don’t overwrite each others boot configuration. Since Leap and TW are related, they will by default overwrite each other. This can be prevented through /etc/default/grub, changing GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=“” to be non-null, such as GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=“opensusetw”. Do this with your first openSUSE installation and the problem is avoided. Do it on the second too, and a reinstallation of the first or addition of a third openSUSE won’t create trouble. New installations will usurp the default boot order, but that is easily corrected via a short trip into the BIOS when it happens. If you make a friend of the BBS menu hot key, you may find it doesn’t really matter which OS claims default status.

It’s important to take control with so many different installations. This means you decide the partitioning in advance, and put it in place in advance, so you don’t get curve balls thrown at you that you can’t anticipate or hit.

You seem to be looking at exactly what I have done on my laptop. I found this Arch Linux Wiki page really useful:

It covers both EFI and legacy booting along with the boot order (‘windows before linux’ or ‘linux before windows’).

Note the warnings about hibernation and farst startup!

Another alternative is to run the Linux distros as Virtual Machines under VirtualBox … but that is a very different solution.

Thanks, I read your post several times to be careful. Alright, I’m starting all over again. I set UEFI. Should I install Windows first on the empty drive, giving it 500M and 50GB, or should I first parttion for Windows and the Linux distros I am about to re-install? I usually use 30GB for the root mount, 10 GB for the home mount and keep all my data on a separate large partition that all the Linuxes mount at boot time.

With UEFI boot it’s probably best to install windows first and give it;

sda1 type ef00 size 512M
sda2 type 0c01 size 16M for Winx reserved
sda3 .... operating systems or if rotating rust put swap here

Now just be careful with openSUSE Leap and Tumbleweed as they will name the esp directory the same (as in opensuse) so you need to change (user nrickert has posted about this) which ever one and re-create the efi entry.

<br>Following your instructions I checked that the drive was set to UEFI mode in the BIOS and I deleted all the parttions. I then let let Win10 take 512M and 42G of it assuming it will be in GBT format. I won’t know until it finishes. Now if all is well I will format a swap partition, some several others and install Leap first since I am more familiar with it. I am more concerned with what Manjaro or Ubuntu will do. What if they fiddle with the MBR?<br>

There is no mbr with efi boot on a gpt disk, mbr is 'protected, unused, unwriteable, that’s the point, no mbr trojans :wink:

Problem. Using Linux fdisk I changed the disk label to GPT. When I install Win10 it changes the disk label from GPT to msdos.

By the way, I switched to using a 1TB drive that I know works, just in case.

Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t bother mixing Win10 and Linux on the same drive, just adding another drive. But on this motherboard there are only two SATA connectors and I need one for my DVD drive. I did add a board with a SATA connector, but it will not boot that particular drive, only read and write to it. Getting awfully complicated.

If you had done as I suggested that should not have happened, as GPT has no logicals, while MBR must for all the partitions you plan to have. With 8 or 12 existing GPT partitions, I doubt Windows would attempt to convert logicals to GPTs. If a formatted ESP already exists, and an empty type 07 (NTFS) exists, and a minimal (16mb?) Windows reserved, and UEFI contains boot entry(s) for Linux, Windows is highly likely to utilize the existing ESP, reserved and NTFS rather than proposing to make a mess of your planning. IME, Windows will always use existing partitions if they are satisfactorily presented (either empty and/or formatted to its liking, and suitably sized).

Partitioning is art as much as science.

Yes, for multi-boot you pre-configure the disk, in the Windows install select the custom install and select the type 700 partition you you want the install, if on rotating rust I always put at the end of the disk, slow where slow belongs…

Now just to confirm my understanding of your instructions, would this be the correct partitioning for two Linuxes and one Win10?

Disklabel type: gptDisk identifier: 882931CF-1D87-41A5-A9BC-39FD3B9A190E

Device         Start       End  Sectors  Size Type
/dev/sdb1       2048   8390655  8388608    4G Linux swap
/dev/sdb2    8390656  71305215 62914560   30G Linux root (x86-64)
/dev/sdb3   71305216 134219775 62914560   30G Linux root (x86-64)
/dev/sdb4  134219776 135268351  1048576  512M Microsoft reserved
/dev/sdb5  135268352 219154431 83886080   40G Microsoft reserved

No, I would do;

sdb1 type ef00 size 512MB mount in linux /boot/efi (NO FORMAT!!!!!)
sdb2 type 0c01 size 16M not for linux but MS reserved
sdb3 type 8200 size 4G mount as swap
sdb4 type 8300 size 30G mount for OS
sdb5 type 8300 size 30G mount for OS
sdb6 type 0700 size what ever is left for Windows

What linux OS is going on sdb4 and sdb5?

Here’s what fdisk shows…among many other partiton types. Nothing like “ef00”.

13 Microsoft LDM data             AF9B60A0-1431-4F62-BC68-3311714A69AD 14 Windows recovery environment   DE94BBA4-06D1-4D40-A16A-BFD50179D6AC
 15 IBM General Parallel Fs        37AFFC90-EF7D-4E96-91C3-2D7AE055B174
 16 Microsoft Storage Spaces       E75CAF8F-F680-4CEE-AFA3-B001E56EFC2D
 17 HP-UX data                     75894C1E-3AEB-11D3-B7C1-7B03A0000000
 18 HP-UX service                  E2A1E728-32E3-11D6-A682-7B03A0000000
 19 Linux swap                     0657FD6D-A4AB-43C4-84E5-0933C84B4F4F
 20 Linux filesystem               0FC63DAF-8483-4772-8E79-3D69D8477DE4

What are you using to partition? And as for the two Linux partitions Leap and Manjaro. But after I fully understand what you are telling me I want to add several other linux parttions after limiting Win10 to 42GB total.

sdb1 size 260MB mount in linux /boot/efi (type [ESP](, format FAT32)
sdb2 size 4G mount as swap
sdb3 size 30G mount for TW
sdb4 size 30G mount for Leap
sdb5 size 30G mount for Manjaro
sdb6 size 30G mount for Ubuntu
sdb7 size 30G mount for Slackware
sdb8 size remainder for data
sdb9 size 16M MS reserved
sdb10 size 60G for Windows

If you plan to use BTRFS instead of EXT4 for Linux system partitions, then you’ll need larger sizes for snapshotting, unless you disable snapshotting, which is one of the benefits of BTRFS.

There is no one right answer for most partition sizes. For the ESP, Windows defaults to 100MB, but

For Advanced Format 4K Native drives (4-KB-per-sector) drives, the minimum size is 260 MB, due to a limitation of the FAT32 file format.

My ESPs are always 320MB, because it is a neat 8410, less wasteful than 500MB or 512MB, but greater than 260MB, yet ends in 0. For my currently booted one, with 13 installed operating systems, space consumed on it is 12MB, leaving 96% free.

I’m confused. One post tells me

sdb1 size 260MB mount in linux /boot/efi (type [ESP](, format FAT32)

and another

sdb1 type ef00 size 512MB mount in linux /boot/efi (NO FORMAT!!!!!)

By the way I use ext4. It looks simpler to me.

Thank you both for your efforts. Since I am nowhere near you level of comprehension, I am fighting a losing battle. I hardly ever boot Win10 except when a friend asks me to confirm something. I am going to go down the coward’s road, install Win10 on it’s own smaller drive, and when I need it unplug my Linux drive and connect the Win10 drive. It’s crude, but it works.

Thanks again.

ESP by industry standard must use only FAT filesystems. They’re the only ones UEFI BIOS are trained to recognize. FAT32 is preferred for the ESP regardless of its size.

FWIW, all my own Windows installations are on multi-multi-multiboot PCS that have only one disk, whether HDD or SSD.