Triple boot: First: Vista, Next: XP, then: openSUSE 11

I would like to setup a triple boot in my lenovo R61 notebook with one SATA HDD.

I have installed first, Vista next, XP. And now I’d like to install openSUSE to a new EXTended partition.

What do I have to do exactly to an operable triple boot system?

My current HDD is the following:

Basic Hard Disk 0 (Hitachi - 149 GB)

  • Logical Disk (*) Not formatted 5,5 GB (ThinkVantage recovery partition) - Primary
  • Logical Disk (C) - NTFS 124 GB - Primary //Vista
  • Extended Partition
    -------Logical Disk (D) - NTFS 19,5 GB - Logical //XP

Thanks in advance!

First of all. Do you mean your term ‘logical disk’ is a Logical volume created by using Vista’s Logical Volume manager? I have a difficulty understanding 1) why you even wanted to share hidden file called and between Vista and XP. 2) Why XP on extended partition. You could have retained drive letter (C) for both Vista and XP if you used Linux fdisk or other third party partition editors. You could even have kept Vista partition hidden whilst you are on XP partition or visa versa. Additionally Logical Volume manager does not even come in play untill a way after boot stage 2 of these OS. If you simply have meant CHS partition by means of LBA28 (IDE, EIDE, before 2005) ATAPI, LBA32 (SATA) or LBA48 (SATA II) (LBA for Logical Block Accessing) then the following information may apply. There are basically two ways to achieve your goal.

  1. Use the Linux default grub to manage Suse installations as well as Windows. open Suse or Suse Linux does this automatically for you at near end of its installation routine. If you need a special setup such as multiboot with Unix (not Linux). Please do not hesitate to reply with your questions.

  2. Purchase 3rd party commercial Boot Loader suite such as System Commander. If you would go to software manufacturer’s web site or, you are able to download one limited to 60day free usage. I recommend to buy the same suite installation CD with greatly reduced price ($9.95-$19.95) from eBay to obtain license/activation number within that 60days periods. Do not buy from manufacturer for $49.95 - $69.95. I use this commercial Boot Loader option since it is more customisable and aesthetically better designed. It also has dynamic enumeration of block device mapping when you add more disks in the future.


Every copy of Partition Magic since v 7.0 (1998?), has also got a bootloader included, called Boot Manager. Works the same as you’ve described. Get v8 on eBay. I’ve used that (Powerquest’s last) version since I got XP in 2001, and have probably used it on about 50 installs. The Advanced Partition Hiding feature allows a lot of flexibility.


if you have already installed vista and xp, the bootloader is already there.
just bootup suse cd and make a new partition in the free area and install suse and the grub will manage booting vista xp and suse.
in the menu.lst you can change the default boot for vista.

First of all, you have some terminology confused. The Recovery and Vista partitions are not “logical” partitions. They are “primary” partitions, and the MS volume type is “basic” (in contrast to "dynamic). Logical partitions reside only within a primary partition container, the single “extended” primary permitted on an x86 machine. That is, there are 4 primaries possible, of which 1 can be an extended. You cannot install linux to “another extended partition”, as one already exists.

Your partitioning is problematic for installing another OS because the Vista partition holds most of the space and is followed by an extended inside of which is XP on a logical; this is non-standard (more below). Vista’s Disk Management will downsize the Vista partition probably to about a max of ~50%. If you have the tools/capability, it would be better/easier to put XP on a new primary partition placed after the Vista partition (you have an unused primary slot). For just an example, you could downsize Vista to 75GB, create a new primary using 25GB to which you install/copy XP to, delete/re-create an extended primary in the now remaining 25GB. Inside of that extended primary you would create 3 logicals at openSUSE installation; 1 for swap, 1 for root, and 1 for home. If you need to copy XP rather than reinstall it, you can do the copy off the logical to the new primary as long as you dismount the XP partition first and use the appropriate tool; IIRC the Windows xcopy program from the command line can do this (Vista may have something more). You would need to reinstall the XP boot sector in its new primary; this can be done with 1 of several Windows tools including the XP CD. And then modify the Vista bcd boot registry to find the XP boot sector, because . . .

Microsoft’s recommended approach to what you are doing is to install XP to the first partition, making its root (C) the “system partition” (MS term for the partition from which the boot is launched). Then Vista is installed in the second partition (D); its bcd boot registry will be placed in c:/bcd and its partition will be marked active. The MBR code will load the Vista boot sector from (D) will will call the Vista boot loader bootmgr which besides booting Vista (calling another program under Vista’s /windows/system32) will also call ntldr from C to boot XP. I detail this because of how well it also facilitates installing linux. Vista’s bootmgr is much more powerful than XP’s ntldr. When installing linux, put grub in the linux root partition boot sector. Then in Vista add an entry to the Vista boot registry (bcd) pointing to the linux partition; Vista will chainload to that boot sector and load grub. The Vista bcd can be updated with MS (horrendous) editor bcdedit or (the wildly popular, very easy to use) EasyBCD tool from Neosmart.

Whatever you do, you will need to move/re-create the extended primary and anything within it.

As an aside, be very careful deciding which tools to do any physical changes to the partitions. Vista uses different partitioning rules than any other OS, including XP. There are combinations of factors that can result in an XP changed partition making Vista unbootable and the reverse. You will see conflicting advice. In your setup, IMO it would be best to create the new XP partition with Vista; but note that one of the issues with Vista is how it handles logicals within an extended, so another reason for XP to be on its own primary. For the linux partitions within the extended primary, let linux create the logicals. Do not, repeat, do not use a 3rd-party commercial partitioning product unless its version is “certified” for Vista. Versions of Partition Magic and similar products which support XP and earlier versions of Windows, do not contain changes to accomodate the different partition alignment boundary rules in Vista; these tools can unintentionally destroy Vista partitions.

Very good info at

Can I install Suse linux to my HDD?
I have the following configuration:

First, bear in mind that the default approach is to use three partitions, one for root (the OS), one for /home (the counterpart to Docs & Settings in XP or User is Vista), and one for swap (the counterpart to Windows pagefile). Now, /home can be combined with root on the same partition; you just give up some flexibility. And swap can even be a file (again, like pagefile). In other words, you can do it with one partition although three is optimum.

Currently you are using four primaries, the limit. The fourth, an extended primary, holds a logical of the same size (so that was unnecessary), which is “F”. Your first option would be move the contents of “E” to “C” (where you have a lot of space) and then move (or reinstall) XP to “E”. That would free the extended primary; within it you could create three logicals (say, 5GB for root, 2 GB for swap, the rest for /home).

Alternatively, you could use “E”. You would again need to move its contents to “C”, then install the entire linux OS (so including /home) to that partition. In that partition you would create a file to use for swap.