Get the Multiboot Tools

Right, now that the boring checklist is over, you should be ready to move onto more interesting things, namely gathering the stuff you’ll need to make your multiboot a reality. Here goes:

1. A proper plan

Yes, this is important. It’s not a very good idea to just jump in and start installing stuff without any proper plans. Your plan should include a list of the operating systems that you are going to install and how much disk space each needs. This is important because it’s a good idea to set up all your partitions in one go, rather than in an ad hoc manner as you go along installing. Most standard operating systems today would requir about 2 to 3 GB of space for a complete desktop to be set up. Of course, there are a number of minimalist and lightweight OS’s that come in for much less. And if you intend to install every piece of software you can get your hands on, you should have at least 10 GB set apart. You would also want to keep a partition empty for storing your documents and other stuff. The size would depend on how much stuff you have. Most UNIX derivatives, including the Linuxes and BSDs require a swap partition. A good rule of thumb for the size of the swap partition is that it should be twice your RAM if it’s less than 1 GB, and the same size if it’s more. To top it off you might want to leave some free space if you want to install more operating systems later.

2. Get all your operating systems

Make sure all your operating systems have been downloaded properly and have been burnt to CDs or DVDs. you can check if everything’s ok in two ways: after downloading check the md5sum from the download mirror against one generated by your CD/DVD burning program. If the two are the same, you can burn it. Once again, I recommend CD-Rs over CD-RWs. After you have your CD/DVD pop it in and see if it boots up properly. You don’t have to install, just make sure it boots correctly. If it’s a live CD, keep it running for a while and launch a few programs. If everything works out ok, you’re good to go.

3. Get GAG

GAG is the Graphical Boot Loader and it will make managing your various operating systems much easier. Go to the site and download it and then follow instructions to install it a floppy. Then put it somewhere safe and easily accessible. You won’t be needing it until your operating systems are installed. If you’ve installed operating systems before, you’ll be able to understand what it does and how it helps. If not, I’ll explain in the next post.

4. Get a few glasses of your favorite drink, some snacks, a good book and a comfy chair…

because as I’ve said before, installing is going to take some time, especially if you’re doing everything at a stretch. You won’t have to stay glued to your monitor all the while, but you’ll have to devote some amount of time at the beginning of each installation setting up partitions, choosing programs to install and other such stuff.

Now the really fun part begins, actually installing the stuff. Go get a good night’s sleep (you’ll need it) and come back tomorrow.

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Published by

Shrutarshi Basu

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

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