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Partition a Drive to Install more than one Operating System

Some people want to install Tinycore and other operating systems on a computer.

This can be done by creating a number of partitions on the hard drive, and installing a number of operating systems in them.

You can also create a number of partitions on a USB drive, and install a number of operating systems on the USB drive.

Warning: When partitioning a drive, all files will be lost. Before beginning, save a copy of all files you don't want to lose.

Set up all partitions before installing any operating system.

You may Install

  • Tinycore.
  • More than one different version of Tinycore.
  • Microcore.
  • More than one different version of Microcore.
  • Another Linux Distribution.
  • More than one Other Linux Distribution.
  • Windows.
  • More than one different version of Windows.

Primary, Extended and Logical Partitions

One hard drive can have a maximum of four primary partitions.

If you want more than four partitions, you can create an extended partition in the place of one of the primary partitions, and create logical partitions within it. For example, if you want eight partitions on one hard drive, you can have three primary partitions, and (one extended partition, containing) five logical partitions.

Linux Partitions on a Hard Drive

When installing on a hard drive, two partitions are recommended for one version of Linux, a root partition and a swap partition (Some people choose not to have a swap partition in a computer with a large amount of RAM).

The root partition is where the files go. It has mount point / (written as forward slash and called root). Any partition, primary or logical, can be used for a Linux partition. Linux root partitions are normally formatted using the Ext4 filesystem. If you plan to use Grub legacy, use Ext3.

If the Extlinux bootloader is used, it needs to be in a primary partition.

A swap partition, which may be called swap area or Linux swap, enables part of the hard drive to be used like extra RAM. A suggested size is double the amount of RAM. Any partition, primary or logical, can be used for swap. However, it is common practice to use the first logical partition.

To install more than one version of Linux on a computer, a root partition is needed for each version, and single swap partition which can be used by all.

Linux can be set up with different directories in different partitions, but this is not necessary. For example, you can have the home directory, where personal files are saved, in a different partition.

Linux Partitions on a USB Drive

When installing on a USB drive, or other solid state memory, one partition is recommended for one version of Linux, that is a root partition.

This is usually formatted with the Ext2 filesystem, which is a non-journalling filesystem, to minimize writing, and lengthen the life of the memory.

Do not put a swap partition on a USB drive or other solid state memory, as it will result in writing a huge amount to the drive, and greatly shorten the life of the drive.

If you want a swap partition when using a USB drive, create it on the hard drive.

Windows Partitions

One partition is needed for one version of Windows. Windows creates a swap file inside the partition.

More than one version of Windows can be installed on one hard drive. A partition is needed for each.

Windows can only be installed in a primary partition, not a logical partition.

Recent versions of Windows use NTFS.

Windows XP can be installed on FAT32 or NTFS. NTFS is ideal.

Following is a list of filesystems supported by older versions of Windows.

Operating system Supported file systems
Windows 3.1 FAT16
Windows NT FAT16, NTFS
Windows 95 FAT16
Windows 95 OSR2 FAT16, FAT32
Windows 98 FAT16, FAT32
Windows Me FAT16, FAT32
Windows 2000 FAT16, FAT32, NTFS
Windows XP FAT16, FAT32, NTFS
More recent versions FAT16, FAT32, NTFS

Partition the Hard Drive

There are many different partitioning applications.

GParted may be easier for new users.

GParted can be installed in Tinycore, and used for partitioning.

Parted Magic contains GParted, and may be used for partitioning.

Most Linux distributions have partitioning programs which are run during installation.

Whichever partitioning program you use, create appropriate partitions for the operating systems you want to install.

Install the Operating Systems

Install all of the operating systems you want.

Install Tinycore as explained in one of these guides

Set Up the Bootloader

Set up the Extlinux bootloader as explained in Extlinux Bootloader.

If you installed another Linux distribution, you may use the bootloader of that Linux distribution instead.

Active Partition

When using Extlinux, the partition containing Extlinux needs to be Active or Boot.

When using Grub, the partition containing Windows needs to be Active or Boot.

Only primary partitions can be set as Active or Boot. So both Extlinux and Windows need to be in a primary partition.

The Active or Boot partition can be changed after installing operating systems, by running GParted, selecting the partition, and setting the flag. This can be done with Parted Magic.

If the Computer already has Windows

If a computer already has Windows installed, see Install Tinycore if you already have Windows.

Windows Commands for Extlinux

If you are using Extlinux, and want to add Windows boot options, add the following to extlinux.conf.

LABEL windows
KERNEL chain.c32
APPEND hd0 1

Change hd0 1 to whatever partition Windows is in.

For more information, see Extlinux Bootloader.

Windows Commands for Grub Legacy

If you are using Grub legacy, and want to add Windows boot options, add the following to menu.lst.

title	Windows
root	(hd0,0)
chainloader	+1

Change (hd0,0) to whatever partition Windows is in.

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