Building a Massively Multibooting Machine

I'm getting a computer all my own this week and so I'm very happy. Now I'm not your average computer user and so i don't intend to use my computer for mundane things like just browsing the web and listening to music. I intend to turn this computer of mine into a Massively Multibooting Machine. First things first, what is a Massively Multibooting Machine (from now on referred to as MMM). Well, normally your computer boots or loads into memory one and only one operating system. For most people that will be some version of Windows. However it is quite possible to configure your system to be able to load more than operating system. Now that doesn't mean that you can run more than operating system simultaneously. You have more than operating sytem installed to your hard drive and you choose at startup which one it is that you want to use. A growing number of people who are moving to Linux from Windows normally double-boot Windows and Linux. Currently that's what I do. But there is really no reason to stay limited to just two operating systems. In fact a few months ago there was a post by person who had managed to create a multiboot system of over a hundred operating systems.

Now my plans are nothing as ambitious. I'll be happy to boot about five to six operating systems. Right now my plans are to install the following:

  1. Ubuntu
  2. Arch Linux
  3. PC LinuxOS
  4. Fedora Core 5
  5. FreeBSD
  6. Minix3

Now as you probably know, it is not recommended (in many cases not possible) to install more than OS onto a single hard disk partition. Luckily for me, I have enough space on my 80GB hard disk. So I can certainly make about eight 10GB partitions, six for the operating systems and two to store my documents and music. I've posted a thread on the Ubuntu Forums asking for help, because I am uncertain as to how to go about the process of making sure that each Operating System is installed without interfering with the others. If you have any experience please leave a comment. I will be continuing with this tomorrow and will keep posting updates until I actually manage to set everything up properly.

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Published by

Shrutarshi Basu

Programmer, writer and engineer, currently working out of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

One thought on “Building a Massively Multibooting Machine”

  1. 6 OSs… wow. Although technically you’re really installing just 3 OSs. The first four are just distros of the GNU/Linux OS. In fact all of them could use a single /boot partition as the kernel configuration can (and should) be exactly the same.

    The most I did was

    1) Linux
    2) OpenBSD
    3) Windows XP
    4) Windows Server 2003 (a 180 day trial CD I got from a seminar)

    In my case I had to make use of bootpart to enable Windows to load my other OSs’ boot images. I feel that this shouldn’t be a problem on your proposed multiboot setup since both lilo and grub can handle the native filesystems for your listed OSs.

    All the best! Looking forward to hearing your success story.

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