Separate drive dual boot install for Win XP and OpenSUSE 12.1 PC Desktop

For the past few days, I have attempted to configure my PC with XP/OpenSUSE 12.1 dual boot capabilities. My procedure is the same: Install XP, then OpenSUSE (via ISO DVD), which results in a unbootable PC, ( Most likely due to a overwritten MBR).

Pentium based PC with the following configuration:

Pentium 4 CPU 2.60GHz
2 Hard Drives, Intended use: (C:Windows XP SP3); and D:Linux OpenSUSE 12.1)
1 External USB Drive (Used for Backup)
2 DVD Drives (1 Read Only; 1 Read/Write)
1 CD Drive (Read/Write)
1 Floppy Drive (Primarily for ASR)

The following information has been acquired from previous OpenSUSE install attempts, and is the proposed partition config for my two(2) drive PC:


  • Create swap volume /dev/sda1 (2.01 GB)
  • Create root volume /dev/sda2 (20.00 GB) with ext4
  • Create volume /dev/sda3 (54.32 GB) for home with ext4
  • Set mount point of /dev/sdb1 to /windows/C
  • Set mount point of /dev/sdc1 to /windows/D
  • Set mount point of /dev/sdd1 to /windows/E
  • Set mount point of /dev/sdb5 to /windows/F


  • Boot Loader Type: GRUB
  • Status Location: ? (Tried setting Boot Loader Location to Root Partition with negative results)


  • OpenSUSE 12.1 (Default)

  • Windows 1

  • Windows 2

  • floppy

  • Failsafe - OpenSUSE 12.1

  • Oder of Hard Disks:

    /dev/sdb, /dev/sda, /dev/sdd, /dev/sdc

Could someone please provide a step-by-step procedure to successfully configure my PC for Dual Boot, with OpenSUSE as the default OS.

Finally, I have downloaded GAG 4.10 boot loader. Was not sure how to correctly implement (before, or after installing OpenSUSE). Once that has been accomplished, maybe GAG would be more obvious to implement.

Thank you in advance for all your assistance.

MarkL653 (Mark LeVine)

Set HD order to


Don’t set the system clock to UTC; don’t try to partition drive D:/sdb; simply tell openSUSE to use the whole drrive D:/sdb and it will partition it in a reasonable way. Don’t select any mount points - openSUSE will do it. Toggle the default options for the MBR. (This is how I installed openSUSE 11.4 and all previous releases on a Windows machine with C: and D: drives.)

I would like to pint you to some info on partitioning I have online you can find here:

If we can assume that Windows boots just fine in this setup, how is it that Windows is on sdb? Of course you can select any hard drive in your BIOS to be the first boot drive. Also, this sda hard drive you must one of two things, load Grub into the MBR or load generic booting code into the MBR and if you do the latter, you must mark the openSUSE root / partition as active for booting. By default a hard drive that is new or never used to boot Windows will contain a blank Master Boot Record and even if you did everything else right, will not boot when set as the first drive to boot in your BIOS. I see no other flaw in your setup if Windows already works just fine, but what is the boot drive in this setup where Windows boots fine?

Thank You,

First, Thanks to everyone who replied to my post regarding the installation of OpenSUSE 12.1 to a separate drive in my Win XP PC. I received many helpful responses, but not the information I was looking for.

My Win XP PC currently only has Win XP installed. The OpenSUSE 12.1 configuration I described in my last post (15JUN12) was not installed. The installation was not completed, but only used as a means to collect system config for technical guidance for setting up separate drive / dual boot.

The following configuration information is for review from my original post. OpenSUSE HAS NOT been installed yet. Only Win XP in running on this PC. The configuration listed below represents what the configuration would be if the OpenSUSE installation was allowed to complete:


[li]Create swap volume /dev/sda1 (2.01 GB)[/li][li]Create root volume /dev/sda2 (20.00 GB) with ext4[/li][li]Create volume /dev/sda3 (54.32 GB) for home with ext4[/li][li]Set mount point of /dev/sdb1 to /windows/C[/li][li]Set mount point of /dev/sdc1 to /windows/D[/li][li]Set mount point of /dev/sdd1 to /windows/E[/li][li]Set mount point of /dev/sdb5 to /windows/F[/li][/LIST]


[li]Boot Loader Type: GRUB[/li][li]Status Location: ? (Tried setting Boot Loader Location to sda2, Root Partition with negative results)[/li][li]? Boot from MBR[/li][li]? Boot from"/" root partition[/li][/LIST]


[li]OpenSUSE 12.1 (Default)[/li][li]Windows 1[/li][li]Windows 2[/li][li]floppy[/li][li]Failsafe - OpenSUSE 12.1[/li][/LIST]

Order of Hard Disks:/dev/sdb, /dev/sda, /dev/sdd, /dev/sdc

After two failed attempts to install SUSE, I don’t want to impact my Win XP configuration, which is running better than ever. What I’m looking for is a step-by-step which specifically addresses the installation BOOT configuration selections. I realize that the disk order needs to be changed. From: /dev/sdb, /dev/sda, /dev/sdd, /dev/sdc To:/dev/sda, /dev/sdb, /dev/sdd, /dev/sdc.What I’m unclear able is the Boot install selection. I believe I need to disable booting from the MBR, and enable booting from root “/” partition, with either an active flag set in partition table for boot partition, or writing generic boot code to MBR.

To be clear, all I’m looking for is to be able to boot my PC into either OpenSUSE (as the default), or Win XP at power up, Period.

Finally, does anyone know of a graphical boot loader similar to GAG that will run in the Win XP environment?

Thank you in advance for you assistance,


To be clear, here’s the safest way to do it:

  • Connect your Windows hard disk to the first SATA port
  • Connect the hard disk on which you plan to install Linux to the second SATA port
  • Change the boot priority in the BIOS so that the Linux HD becomes the first one to boot
  • Don’t trust device names such as sda and sdb! These names are assigned to your devices at boot time. It is not guaranteed that sda will be hd0. This problem has been discussed many times in other posts.
  • There is NOTHING wrong with installing Grub in the MBR of your Linux hard diks. On the contrary. However you will be able to boot both Linux and Windows with a generic MBR and Grub in the active partition of the boot disk, Grub in MBR is stronger and safer.
  • To boot Windows you might have to use map commands in grub menu:
map (hd1) (hd0)
map (hd0) (hd1)

I’m not sure you will need that, but that part is easy.
You don’t need any other boot manager. Grub is fine.