Trying to multiboot windows, opensuse 11.4 , fedora 15


I’m attempting to triple-boot windows,opensuse 11.4,and fedora as the title states. I’m able to successfully dual boot windows and either of the linux distros. However, attempting all three is causing a real problem, I’ve tried reversing the order in which I install the linux distros and other silly stuff that is probably irrelevant. I’ve been attempting to share the swap partition, I think I’m doing something wrong in the partitioning. I’ve searched online for help and tried alot of ideas but still no luck. When I install suse last and amend the boot list in yast, actually I tried adding all the partitions to the boot list and attempted to “find” the fedora boot partition I am still unsuccessful.I would really appreciate any help.

openSUSE is very good at spotting existing Windows partitions but not other flavours of Linux in my experience, at least those using Grub2 like Ubuntu and probably Fedora. Best to edit Grub manually.

What OS is controlling grub NOW?

Actually, Fedora 15 is still using Legacy Grub.

Best to edit Grub manually.

Or use updategrub on openSUSE]( and/or Fedora]( It will add the other Linux to the Grub menu in both cases.

  • although I should say that I haven’t tried with Fedora 15 (that I’m installing right now). But I’ve been using it with openSUSE, Fedora 14 (and some others) for months and I added the rpm for Fedora 15 (the link above) in my repo.

OpenSUSE installs grub into the partition by default. There is also a choice “inhibit booting from MBR” (or something like that), I have no idea what it means.

Ubuntu installs grub into the MBR by default (well actually into the gap, because the MBR proper would be too small).

When installing OpenSUSE / Ubuntu dual-boot I just let both of them their defaults and ended up with 2 grubs. The machine boots from MBR and finds Ubuntu’s grub2. Into its list I had to manually insert a chainload entry so that it can start OpenSUSE’s grub in the partition.

The advantage is that evey OS owns its own grub and updating the menu list works always automatically (after inserting the chainload entry once)

I have no idea how Fedora handles grub. Would it be an option to put Fedora’s grub into the MBR and OpenSUSEs into the partition? With 2 chainload entries in the “MBR” grub’s list you can switch to either Windows or OpenSUSE.

When you install several systems, it’s important to stay the boss and not accept anything “by default”. None of the Linux setup was designed for multibooting with other distros. openSUSE is even the worst regarding dual/multi booting with other Linuxes - because “by default” it won’t hesitate to overwrite a Grub present in MBR with a generic boot code (nobody else does that). You have to consider yourself as “an expert”, meaning always choose the “expert” options (“Create partition setup” under openSUSE, “Custom Layout” under Fedora). Whenever you have the possibility to install Grub2 in MBR (rather than Legacy Grub), you should choose that option. Grub2 doesn’t like partition bootsectors that much. AFAIK it won’t even install there without the --force option.

Only if it’s a primary partition. Otherwise “by default” it will:

  • install Grub in the extended partition
  • set the bootflag on its logical root partition (it’s absurd).
  • write a generic boot code into MBR (it’s heartbreaking)

While this works fine for “normal” users - but who’s still normal nowadays? - multibooters should show some imagination and not accept default settings (which is perfectly legal an do-able in all setups, specially with openSUSE).

  • install Grub in the extended partition
  • set the bootflag on its logical root partition (it’s absurd).
  • write a generic boot code into MBR (it’s heartbreaking)

:smiley: LOL
Such fun

When you install several systems, it’s important to understand what the options (default or not) mean and how things work under hood. Defaults tend to work well for most single installations, but they might conflict if installing more than one system. However, each time you don’t accept a default and try “to be the boss” you run the risk that you enter untested fields or that some other part of the system does not work as expected for the non-default value, e.g. after the next kernel update. So I’d recommend to stick to defaults as long as possible.

Unfortunately the nice graphical installers don’t make it easy to understand what you really do. Is there any documentation for the OpenSUSE installer for example?

Thx for the responses,

What OS is controlling grub NOW?

Right now I only have windows, I’m ready for a fresh start at installing the linux distros. Exactly how should I partition opensuse and fedora? If I was to install fedora, do custom layout create swap, \boot, , then while installing opensuse choose the exising swap, and create \boot and \ again? Thanks

I think you have to be more specific and tell us what conflicts with what and in which circumstances.

“Trying” to be the boss is not enough.

If you don’t want to run any risk, stick to one distro … or - even better - do not own a computer; do not power it on; and do not use it (Robert Morris).

Grub2 users who install openSUSE after Ubuntu or (latest) Debian will love such advice. :sarcastic:

Create a single swap which can be shared
Create 2 x /home, one for SUSE and one for Fedora
Do the same for / (root)

Everyone will have different ideas about the next bit of info. But I would put them all in an extended partition. It may be your only choice anyway, because of the partitioning that comes with many windows machines today. Ideally we would prefer to see:
fdisk -l

Install Fedora
Install SUSE

We can add the boot entry for Fedora later

That’s the right way to do it. “Custom layout” under Fedora, then “Create partition setup” (and nothing else!) under openSUSE, and you can select your swap partition. Just pay attention to “format” the swap partition only once. For example, if you installed Fedora first, do not format the swap partition again in openSUSE setup. It would change its UUID and if the swap partition is mounted by UUID in Fedora (actually it is), it won’t work anymore… unless you write the new UUID of the swap partition in Fedora’s /etc/fstab … Sounds complicated but you’re an expert now. :slight_smile:

Actually the best way to achieve partitioning for several distros is to do it in advance with PartedMagic before installing any distro.

That’s the only variant I have tried.

I understood only MSDOS cares about the boot flag. Grub ignores it. So while it may make not make sense, what is the problem?

Could you please elaborate what is the “generic” boot code? Is it related to the option “inhibit booting from MBR” (or whatever it’s called exactly in 11.4)?

It might well be that you understand things better than me and others here. But if you cannot resist to particpate in the discussion, could you please share your knowledge instead of just giving sarcastic comments and hinting that other postings are incorrect. I’m sure many here don’t understand what you are really hinting at.

I’m writing this posting on a machine that is openSUSE / Ubuntu dualboot. And because I widely accepted the defaults Ubuntu’s grub2 is in the MBR
and OpenSUSE’s grub is in sda2. If I recall correctly I have installed OpenSUSE first.

So if you install OpenSUSE last it would blow away Ubuntu’s grub2 from the MBR?

Well, another piece of advice that nobody has mentioned here. Obviously you should not have important data without any backup on your disk when doing such excercises. And if you frequently backup your MBR and your partioining info (to some other media) while doing installations/partitionings you don’t lose all your work should one step go wrong, regardless whether it was a user error or an installer with stupid defaults.

I have had to recover my partitioning / re-install grub from a LiveCD when things went wrong. But the only data loss if have had was with the Ubuntu installer. It insists to write an LVM signature to all partitions of type 8e (LVM), even if the partition already contains a valid LUKS header and you explicitly select “Do not use” in the installer.

I’ve been mostly a lurker on this thread, as generally speaking those participating know more about the MBR and grub and what openSUSE will do than I. But reference this question, my understanding is exactly what happens depends on different factors and there may be no 100% definite single answer.

I think it depends on (1) what partition / hard drive Ubuntu is located on, and (2) what partition / hard drive openSUSE will be installed on to.

I do believe there is a significant risk that anything on the MBR could be replaced by a ‘generic’ MBR (by openSUSE), but I am not 100% certain that will happen by default in all cases.

Not here in this thread, but many of us have posted on this ad-finitum. I last posted on it here: A Nightmare! Helping a friend upgrade from XP to 7! and have done so many times I suspect other users are getting tired of my posts on same subject :slight_smile:

In short, I very very very very VERY carefully send this command with root permissions from a terminal (if one is backing up the MBR on drive sda) :

dd if=/dev/sda of=MBR-backup-440 bs=440 count=1

where ‘MBR-backup-440’ is an arbitrary name I picked. I could have just as well chosen ‘oldcpu-forum-MBR-folly’ for a different name :slight_smile: ie

dd if=/dev/sda of=oldcpu-forum-MBR-folly bs=440 count=1

One of these days I need to try LVM. Phoronix had an interesting article on LVM looking at it from a speed perspective : [Phoronix] Fedora Logical Volume Manager Benchmarks]( … now it was about Fedora, but still, GNU/Linux is GNU/Linux and it does give me as an openSUSE user food for thought ! … but that is clearly an off topic side comment of mine. :slight_smile:

It really doesn’t matter that much, which way round you install SUSE and Ubuntu
I never have any trouble either way.

So if you install OpenSUSE last it would blow away Ubuntu’s grub2 from the MBR?

Depends what you ask the SUSE installer to do

On 07/02/2011 09:36 PM, geuder wrote:
> So if you install OpenSUSE last it would blow away Ubuntu’s grub2 from
> the MBR?

this thread is far too long for me to read to see if anyone has already
introduced this bit of wisdom:


Absolutely. Unless you don’t follow your own advice and don’t accept the defaults, i.e:

If you follow this "advanced’ method (2 clicks away from the default settings), you’ll preserve the MBR and Grub2. Otherwise you’ll have to use Ubuntu’s live CD to reinstall Grub2, add Ubuntu to openSUSE’s Grub menu manually or with updategrub, or come back here and complain about not being able to boot ubuntu anymore after installing openSUSE.

Not quite, athough it is true that MSDOS insisted of having its partition active.

As soon as the control is passed to a boot manager (Grub or another one), the boot flag becomes irrelevant (at least for booting). So if Grub is installed in MBR, it doesn’t matter which partition has the boot flag or even if it is set at all.

I didn’t say it was problem. I just said it was absurd. For most people, the absurdity of life (including openSUSE installer’s default behavior among other things) is not a problem at all.