Preparing for a Massive Multiboot

Multibooting a host of different Operating Systems is a challenge, but first I need to get a machine to multiboot on. Here are the system specs in case you're interested:

  • Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz
  • 512 MB RAM
  • Samsung CD-RW/DVD combo drive
  • 80 GB Hard disk
  • 17 inch CRT monitor, mouse, keyboard, usual assorted cables

Everything is already at home, except for the monitor which is currently at my Uncle's house and which my dad's going to get in the afternoon. So in the evening I should be in a position to start to set up my Massively Multibooting Machine. But that also means that i need to decide exactly how many partitions I want. The simplest would be either eight 10GB partitions or ten 8GB partitions and that would be great if all the partitions had more or less the same function. But they don't. 

Referring to the Operating system list in the last post, Ubuntu will be my primary OS, which I will use for the more mundane tasks of emailing, blogging, writing documents etc.  Arch will be my Linux experimentation OS, where I can learn about the internals of a Linux system. So that's two partitions, which should have 10 GB each. Third is a partition for PCLinuxOS, which I want because I think that it is the best KDE-based distro currently out there, and I really don't want to install KDE in Ubuntu. That shouldn't need more than 5GB. 

Before I start making partitions for my experimental OS's I think I should set apart disk space for my media and documents. My music alone weighs in at around 5GB and is expected to grow. Then there is about a gigabyte of miscellaneous files which are currently in my Home folder. And I should have a good 2 GB spare for keeping ISO images of distros. That brings it to around 8 GB in all. It would be prudent to keep some margin so about 14GB should be more than enough to meet any eventualities. Add to that a gigabyte of swap space.

That brings the total to 25GB for permanent operating systems and 15GB for data and swap, making it 40GB in all. That still leaves about half my drive free. I am tempted to partition it all right now, but it would be a better idea to wait. Most Operating Systems won't need more than 2GB of space and my list of OS's that I want to try is bound to keep changing. So the 40Gb will be hanging around as free space for now.

Getting the host of Linux systems to coexist shouldn't be too much of a hassle, but i am concerned with other systems like the BSD's, Minix3 and other more exotic operating systems that I'm interested in trying. I'm currently looking through the 100-OS forum posts and the GRUB manual. I'll be too busy tomorrow to try anything interesting, so most of the multi-boot action will have to wait till Monday.

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Published by

Shrutarshi Basu

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

2 thoughts on “Preparing for a Massive Multiboot”

  1. that’s quite a number of operating systems but i can’t help noticing that all of them are linux based or very close to it. maybe you should give solaris or unix a try. i especially like unix. though i don’t have it, i regularly use it through SSH. console is so much fun šŸ™‚

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