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Installing Win7 X86, X64, Win8.1 X64, Ubuntu & FreeBSD with each other

By abbasi ยท 26 replies
Feb 22, 2014
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  1. Hello all,

    I'm going to install Windows 7 X64, Windows 7 X86, Windows 8.1 X64, Ubuntu and FreeBSD all on my PC! I want to dedicate one separated drive for each OS. My main OS for daily working will be the Windows 7 X64. I have this purpose because I like to work and be familiar with all of those OSs. I don't want to use the virtual machines for that because I want to utilize all of the PC power when working with each one. Any one will be selected from boot (like dual boot).
    What's your opinion on this case? And which one should be installed respectively?
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014
  2. abbasi

    abbasi TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 321   +24

    No reply!?
  3. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,582   +248

    Perhaps its a really bad idea?
  4. abbasi

    abbasi TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 321   +24

    Why? what's the problem please?
  5. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    You will have to get over so many problems, it's hard to know where to start. Examples : a normal MBR partitioned drive can only have 4 primary partitions. A GPT partitoning scheme solves that one, and so (wastefully) does having a drive for each one. I assume you literally mean HDD, not partition when you refer to 'drive'.

    Some of those OS's have a different boot methodology. I don't even know how FreeBSD boots, but if you said it was via the same booting database as a recent Windows system (BCD store) then I would say Ok, maybe EasyBCD can handle it all. Or maybe not. Research BootIt Bare Metal which might cope

    Lastly, you will of course need full install media for all the OS's - possibly not just an OEM version. You might also have to locate separate hardware drivers for every OS.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
  6. abbasi

    abbasi TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 321   +24

    OK I understood the issues.
    Now I want to install each OS inside the Windows environment (not from boot menu), that is, now that I'm running in Win7 32-bit (on C:\ drive), I try to install the FreeBSD on the D:\ drive after that I install the Ubuntu on E:\ drive (also from Win 7 32-bit environment) then install the 7 X86 on F:\ drive, after it I install 7 X64, this time from boot menu, on C:\ drive, and then after restarting into 7 x64 I install the 8.1 x64 on G:\ drive. If you agree, I start to do it and whenever faced with a problem I'll post it here to get the help:). Thanks.
  7. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,410   +3,425

    You should toggle the active partition before installing each OS. Mark the partition you want to install to as the active partition (reboot after making this change and then install). Switching the active partition will change which partition the install media will modify for booting. Manually making this change will ensure the other OS boot files are not broken. And when finished, you can then worry about a boot manager.

    I recommend using EasyBCD for editing Windows Boot Loader files.
  8. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +419

    That is not going to work, at least if I'm understanding you correctly.

    You are not going to be able to install each OS to a drive letter that is assigned by Windows. Windows names partitions with letters, but nothing else does, they go by disk number then partition number. If that is what you want, you can do that, but not starting from installing them from within Windows.

    I haven't messed with linux in forever, but I do remember that you could install Ubuntu on to a Windows partition, I don't remember how natively that ran. If you are basing your installation method on that, it will fail for BSD. It is also not going to work from different Windows installations either.

    If I was going to attempt something like this I would install 7x64 first, then 7x32, then 8.1x64, with the big assumption that it is even going to let you launch the install from a running Windows environment. Assuming that works, then I would boot from the FreeBSD media you made (cd/dvd/usb) and install that. FreeBSD will recognize that Windows is there and allow you to set up dual boot (or quad in this case, but I'm not sure it will see all of them). Then I would install Ubuntu and hope it sees all 4 operating systems and installs its own boot loader.

    I imagine that will fail spectacularly, perhaps at the first portion of all this which is getting a triple boot with Windows working. You may be able to fix it with EasyBCD.

    If you have 5 physical hard drives it may be just easier to install to 1 at a time without any of the others hooked up, then pray EasyBCD sees them all once you are done.

    I suggest you read up on triple booting 3 Windows versions and start from there.

    Edit: Probably the easiest way is 5 physical hard drives, installing each OS with the other hard drives disconnected (but have the drives ran to the sata port they are going to be in permanently). Once all the drives have their OS installed, have them all powered up and use your motherboards boot menu option on boot to select the drive you want to boot from.
  9. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Do you follow what clifford and SNGX1275 are saying? You should not install another OS from within an existing one, or you may easily destroy the current booting files.
  10. abbasi

    abbasi TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 321   +24

    @gbhall, yes. Now I know I shouldn't install one OS within an existing one. But I think I should read the comment of "SNGX1275" once again more accurately.
  11. abbasi

    abbasi TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 321   +24

    @SNGX1275: OK. So I install all the three Windows (7 x64 then 7 x86 then 8.1 x64) on D, E and F drive each one from boot. When those are successfully installed and worked I go on BSD (on G drive also from boot) and then Ubuntu (on H drive from boot like before). In below image there is easyBCD 2.2 on my current OS. My question is this how and when I should use it?

    Attached Files:

  12. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +419

    Honestly I'm not sure. The idea with my proposed install order is that Ubuntu is smart enough to see your other installed operating systems and include them in its own boot loader.

    When you are installing Windows or any other OS you aren't installing it to a C D or E drive, those are totally artificial letters assigned to a drive and partition by Windows. They have no meaning outside of the Windows environment. So you technically will not ever install <whatever operating system> to the E drive, what you could do is install that operating system to the partition on a drive that Windows calls E. But, the reality is, if you do that, Windows isn't going to recognize a BSD or Linux partition and give it a drive letter (without special tools) because Windows can't read those disk formats.

    I honestly think you are better off installing each to their own drive with the others disconnected during the install and then letting your motherboard's boot loader give you the choice of which disk to boot from.

    If you don't have that many physical drives, I would at least separate them somehow. Perhaps BSD then Linux on the same physical drive but different partitions. For Windows, I would look up some guides on booting 32bit and 64bit and see how that dual boot should be set up. I haven't done a dual boot with different Windows versions since XP and prior. The boot loaders are different with Vista/7/8.
  13. abbasi

    abbasi TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 321   +24

    Thank you for your info. What do you mean by physical drive? Your meaning is hard disk drive (HDD)? If so, I have only one HDD. So I should think of a way for other solution of having many OSes on a machine. This multi-boot seems to be impossible.
  14. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Yes, the entire logic suggested by SNGX1275 (and anyone who may advise how to multi-boot) is dependant upon installing the different OSs upon separate physical hard disks. Whilst it is possible to install all on the same physical drive in separate partitions, it is a much more difficult (and dangerous) process.

    Since you seem to be a bit vague as to what constitutes a 'drive', the only sensible thing is don't even try. In all years up to quite recently it has not been possible, for instance, to have more than 4 OS's in separate partitions anyway, but now it is, as long as your PC supports certain recent hardware changes or has support of new software packages such as BootItBM which I mentioned.

    If you are learning about PC's you should refer back to post#5 and follow the link I gave there. There is a great deal of advanced information about booting obtainable from that software house, and until you can master the essentials of that, you will not be much use as a PC engineer. Note on that page about BootItBM there is a link enabling you to download the manual free......a lot of information in there.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014
  15. abbasi

    abbasi TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 321   +24

    OK. I installed some OSes on VMware because I thought that multi-boot is very difficult. After that, now, I try to read that link (and also the manual) for preparing myself for the next time in the future when I again will have a purpose of having 5 OSes in 5 separate drives without Virtualization.
    Thank you.
  16. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +419

    "5 separate drives" means 5 different physical hard drives. I believe what you should be saying is 5 different partitions.

    I don't want to discourage you, but like @gbhall said, you shouldn't be trying this ambitious of a project at this stage. All of my posts above were under the assumption you had different physical drives (based on post #1 where you said "I want to dedicate one separated drive for each OS"), hence my saying that you should let the motherboard's boot loader handle which drive to boot from. This is something you CAN NOT do with one physical drive and 5 partitions. You will have to use the operating system's boot loader.

    I don't see any real reason you should need to have 8x64, 7x64, and 7x32. What you should do is pick one of the 64 bit Windows and then boot off the Ubuntu disk and install that, using the boot loader Ubuntu supplies. It is difficult to screw up a dual boot too bad, especially with something as common as Ubuntu. FreeBSD is a bit tricker from what I remember, so I would make sure you can get Ubuntu working in dual boot and perhaps install FreeBSD in a VM. I don't think that most people that just want to toy with FreeBSD are going to lose much productivity by running it in a VM as opposed to native.
  17. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,410   +3,425

    That does seem a bit redundant.
    SNGX1275 likes this.
  18. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +419

    Yeah, I mean, if he could do it on 5 physical drives and boot them all independently then ok sure. You have 5 drives, go for it. But trying to make it work on 1 drive when you have 2 other operating systems that are COMPLETELY different from Windows, it just doesn't make sense to keep 3 Windows versions around. Win 7 32bit is pretty worthless if you have access to 64 bit versions of 7 and 8.

    To reiterate - Install whatever version of Windows you want, then install Ubuntu. It will see you have Windows installed as well and it will do a very good job of making your dual boot work with grub.

    I do encourage playing with FreeBSD, I did it for a while, and it was a good experience. Ultimately I decided I didn't have a whole lot to gain from learning that OS, but I still think it was a worthwhile thing to pursue.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  19. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,922   +630

    I didn't even read this whole thread, but - why?

    Just run them all in VM's somewhere. I can run host plus two VM's on a 2.0GHz dual-core pentium mobile with 4GB RAM.
  20. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    @St1ckM4n I suspect this OP is a young person, trying to learn to be an IT expert, but does not do enough research him/herself. To be fair that might be due to being behind an Iranian firewall. In other words, go much further and you may need to do a lot of spoon feeding.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  21. abbasi

    abbasi TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 321   +24

    I have never said I'm trying to install more than one OS on one drive.
    Anyway, I decided to utilize the VMware to arriving to that purpose for now.
    Thank you for your info.

    @gbhall: Posting a thread of problem on forums is exactly the thing that other searchers are trying to find that problem. When someone before has not posted a problem in forums so searching (most of the time) is without result. And furthermore, even though there are somethings that you know but I don't have info about them (I'm young in those ones) but also there are other topics that you certainly are young in them.
  22. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +419

    I know you didn't, that is precisely the thing that caused me to post a few posts that were unrelated to what you were trying to do. Either I'm misunderstanding or you are.

    1 drive = 1 physical drive
    partitions create the ability to have multiple segments (partitions) of one drive that appear as different locations on the same physical drive to the operating systems.

    In general, you cannot have more than 1 operating system on 1 partition. I really think you are equating partitions to drives, that is incorrect. It is forgivable since you appear to only have a Windows background and with Windows you always hear "C drive" or "E drive". That is not the appropriate way to look at it when you are involved in conversations about other operating systems.

    I have tried to make this clear in all my posts once I figured out you do not have multiple physical hard drives, apparently I failed.
  23. abbasi

    abbasi TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 321   +24

    @SNGX1275 : It's not at all a problem if you've posted a not-complete appropriate/accurate comment. And also either this happened because of my fault or your isn't important.
    You are in many parts right. When I said one partition I meant one drive, that is, the C:\ drive is one partition and so on.
    Although I said "I like to work and be familiar with all of those OSs" but I think I must would say I have been working only on Windows so far. Anyway, the issue is clean now. And I appreciate your helpings.
    And I didn't know that;
    "1 drive = 1 physical drive
    partitions create the ability to have multiple segments (partitions) of one drive that appear as different locations on the same physical drive to the operating systems.
    WOW. It's a valuable tip.
    If another time I want to have multi-boot instead of using the Virtualizations I reread this thread precisly and will aware you of the outcomes of my works on that project! Thanks for all.:)
  24. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,922   +630

    My tip would be to attempt a dual-boot (if you want practise/testing): Windows + Linux. Check out how the bootloader works with two OS's, and how you can modify it to set boot orders or default boot.
  25. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +419

    ^ yep. It is very difficult to screw up dual booting with any form of linux that is attempting to draw people from Windows (Ubuntu, Mint, any of the 'user friendly' ones).

    You will then see first hand GRUB or even lilo. I am not an expert on any of this, but it is something that once you see it first hand, you kind of understand the situation better than I have been able to explain in this thread. I'm confident it is possible to boot 5 different operating systems on one physical hard drive, but it is not a task that is easy to do. It involves more knowledge about how things work than most people have.

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