Triple Boot: XP, Vista Ubuntu


Dear support,

This is my setup:

1 IDE internal drive. 80GB. Contains two 40GB NTFS partitions. The first one is XP, the second is Vista. Vista bootloader sees both of them.
1 SATA internal NTFS drive 500GB. No OS's installed - used for storage.
1 USB external NTFS drive 500GB. No OS's installed - used for storage and backup
1 USB external enclosure containing a 160GB SATA drive. This is the drive to install Linux on. The plan is to have Ubuntu 8.04 root occupy a 50GB partition, the swap partition to be 5GB and the rest of it NTFS.

I follow all the steps described here:

Ubuntu - NeoSmart Technologies Wiki

the only difference is, that the rest of the space in the drive remains unallocated (to be formatted within Vista later).

After Ubuntu has been installed with GRUB on the ext3 root partition, I restart and go into Vista, as Linux is not yet visible to the system.

I start EasyBCD and attempt to add the Linux entry, but EasyBCD does not even see the drive! (it sees the other external NTFS drive all right, so I assume it has nothing to do with the fact that it is external). The drive is visible within Windows Disk Management.

What can you advise?

Thank you.

A somewhat unusual configuration. I think the problem will be in that you are using an external HD to boot Ubuntu. I am not sure this will work as the booting system will not see it. My suggestion would be to put linux onto the internal drive. but be careful when you do this that when you install Linux that the grub does not overwrite the MBR. Articles that might help you are:

Installing Ubuntu:

Information on Hard drive and partitions:

There is more information on hard drives and partitioning on the internet. There is a better article but i can't find it. however, it refers to System, Active, Boot etc. and where information about your OS's needs to be located.


Hi sanctimon, welcome to NST.

Gareth is right, the USB drive is causing the problems. Depending on the firmware used on the external drive's IDE/SATA controller, Windows will detect different external drives differently - not all will show in EasyBCD>
Hello all,

Thank you very much for your recommendations.

Actually, as mentioned, I have 2 external drives and Easy BCD saw the other one without an issue. (My motherbooard and firmware are advanced enough to see external usb drives as "regular" hard drives).

The answer to the problem was the connectivity of the USB drive.

Whereas the visible USB drive was directly connected to the motherboard USB slots, the drive I was trying to install Linux on was hooked up to a USB hub.

Once I exchanged the position of the two, it all worked perfectly. This is possibly an enhancement for a future version of Easy BCD, don't you think?
That's what I was trying to explain - EasyBCD sees the drives that Windows Vista reports as being physically attached hard disks. My original reasoning (the firmware on the external drive, not the motherboard) wasn't the issue in this case, but the direct cause remains the same: it all depends on how Windows Vista reports the drive.

Apparently if you connect it via a hub, Vista will not see it as a physical hard disk the way EasyBCD expects, so it won't show up. It all goes back to the way Vista sees it because that what EasyBCD checks with.

To the best of my knowledge, entries created with the hard disk attached directly to the PC should still work once you switch the drive to the hub - can you confirm if that's the case?
I had a similar problem with getting an external HDD recognized on the system ages ago. I think it's a simple power problem. Even though the HDD has a motor power supply via adapter, there's still too much of a power drop through a hub for some devices to function properly. I swapped around and eventually got everything working by confining the hub to flash drives and my camera, and putting the bigger devices like scanners and HDD into direct connections.
Hello Computer Guru,

I have shut the pc down, exchanged the location of the two drives and when in vista, EasyBCD could still not see the Linux drive, while it was connected to the HUB.

I hope this helps.

Let me know if you need a screenshot or any type of logfile.
I'm not sure I understand what you're saying.

As I said above, there is no workaround for getting EasyBCD to see the drive connected to the hub. All I'm saying is, if you attach the drive directly to the PC (no hub), add the Linux entry (since EasyBCD can see the drive connected directly to the PC as you said), then put it back on the hub, you should be able to boot from the entry you created regardless of whether the drive is attached to the hub or the PC at boot time.
If you assign a disk letter to a USB device when it's attached, it'll always be that letter whenever you plug it in, no matter which USB port you use.
...usually at any rate.

I absolutely hate it when I'm working on a file on my USB drive, I take it out, put it back, and the drive letter has changed. The programs that were editing the file go crazy looking at the wrong drive :\
Did you specifically assign a letter CG or let the system pick one ?
If you just plug in a new USB device, it'll pick the next spare letter to use (e.g. E:\), and you'll keep getting that letter each time as long as it's still spare, otherwise if a second device has nipped in and grabbed E, It'll use F.
But if you go into disk mgmt when you first use a device, and assign it e.g. P:\, then it'll register that letter to the device serial and it'll be P:\ each time you plug it in.
The trick is to use a letter far enough up the alphabet that nothing new will grab the letter if your registered device is not currently connected.
That's a bit difficult since right now I have C: through M: all connected and W: through Z: all mapped to network shares :tongueout:

Thanks for the tip though - I think I'll try my luck with Q: :smile:
Assigning drive lettersttached

I concur with Terry

I discovered this feature by accident as I built my laptop into a triple boot with an external HD, usb hub, printers sometime diractly attached to USB ports, and up to 3 usb sticks going into various usb ports available. I have assigned letters to all these to prevent confusion for programmes such as Outlook office getting confused. And before you say it, I need outlook because I am a consultant going into organisations who use it and I have to use their e-mail systems. If there was only an Open Source programme that did the same and was compatible and would synchronise my agin Palm M505, which I still like for its simplistice approach!


Hello again,

One week after having managed to install Ubuntu, I needed to go back into XP again.

However the moment I select XP from the bootloader menu, it restarts the computer. Any ideas as to what might be causing it?