about to delve into this world ... can u read my plan?


Hi all,
I've bought a 1T drive and want to multi boot my spare pc (quad core with 8gig so a good machine). Been doing a lot reading and I now think I have it nailed about what I want to do and would really, really appreciate some opinions before I jump in.

The setup for the 1T drive:
1. XP 32bit - NTFS 160g (c drive)
2. Win 7 64bit - NTFS 160g (d drive)
3. Mac OSX Leopard 10.5.5 160g (e drive)
(this needs to be FAT I think so that the macosx can then utilise its own file system)
4. Data drive A FAT120g (store data for the macosx) (f drive)
5. Data drive B NTFS 370g (video editing) (g drive)
Note that I have a home server which is NTFS and where all data is stored.

Installation plan:
1. format and install drive into pc.
2. create a gparted boot cd and boot the pc
3. use gparted to partition the drives
4. install xp
5. install win 7 ( i understand that when i reboot the pc will then ONLY boot into win7)
6. install easy bcd in win 7 and ensure xp and win7 are correct in the boot menu so that i can choose to boot either win7 or xp
7. install mac osx
8. reboot - i understand that macosx won't appear on the boot menu.
8. load win7 and go into easybcd and load the macosx into the boot menu.

So have i got my head around matters correctly? Have I missed something? Any comments would be great. I'm really excited about doing this but wanted to do as much reading and checking before i get my hands "dirty".

shaun in sydney
Hi Shaun, I'll leave details on OSX to others with experience of that, but what you're proposing looks good generally.
A couple of points.
When you install W7 into a preformatted partition, it won't do its "secret" boot partition trick that happens when you point it at an open space.
If you've already got XP on the HD, it will be "active" and "system", so W7 should add the \boot folder (containing the BCD) and bootmgr into the XP partition root and when you reboot you should find that the dual-boot is automatically configured.
All you'll need to do with EasyBCD is cosmetic (change "previous version of Windows" to "XP" in the boot menu and shorten the timeout - if you want to of course.)
You might need to prevent OSX from taking over the MBR. You certainly need to stop Linux doing it, but wait for confirmation on OSX from someone who knows.

Make sure you're using EasyBCD 2.0. The support for late build Linux and latest OSX isn't in 1.7, and XP support is much more automated in the new release.
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My advice would be to install XP first, OS X next, and then Win 7 last. That way OS X's bootloader will not be the one in charge of the boot when you're done installing the OSes. :wink: Then you can just add both XP and OS X to the Win 7 BCD with EasyBCD 2.0 Beta.
3. Mac OSX Leopard 10.5.5 160g (e drive)
(this needs to be FAT I think so that the macosx can then utilise its own file system)

You should format the partition for OS X in hfs+, the native filesystem for OS X. If GParted doesn't allow you to, use OS X's installer to format it and just simply partition the space with GParted. FAT is a Windows filesystem and though its possible for OS X to be able to read/write FAT partitions FAT is extremely aged and less secure. You won't be able to read the partition from Windows, but this shouldn't be a problem since you have a data partition you can use to exchange files.

For the data partition(s) I would make them NTFS formatted, but doing so means you can only read to and not write files to them from within OS X. OS X can read/write to FAT, so if you want you can format the data partitions in FAT.

In addition, you shouldn't need 160gigs each for each system partition, especially if you're storing your files on the data partitions. I would limit it down to 50gigs each so you can use the extra space to store your files.
Hi all,
firstly - a quick thanks for everyone taking the time with help and advice. I've taken much on board, got the install disks ready and gave a run tonight however gparted is refusing to partition the drive ... not sure why yet. Will need to tackle it tomorrow and will report back.

a couple of things
- gparted will format the a partition as hfs
- I am going to check the behaviour of macosx and the boot record before I proceed ... just so I know what to expect.
- I now plan to reduce the os partition sizes and will have one partition for data as ntfs only.

but first things first... gotta get the drive partitioned. will try again tomorrow and let you know how it works out.
Gparted can mess things up quite easily. If it doesn't appear to be working don't use it. You can just as easily partition/format with the OS installers themselves.