Vendor complicated partition layout and multyboot

#1
Hi
I'm looking for some suggestions here.

My wife wants to try MeeGo linux on Samsung N150 netbook, and that happen to create a major headache for me.

Most issues come from vendor designed 3 primary partition setup of Windows 7:
there is a hidden recovery (15G) followed by system partition (100M) with BCD bootloader and 3rd one is the Win7 itself (120G) guided by standard windows loader. One primary slot left (another 120G used t be here) is enough to organize a boot partition along with root but BCD wont be able to boot anything there.

So my choices are:
  1. Leave partitions alone and replace bcd by a bootloader that can boot off logical partition
  2. Get rid of recovery partition, change bcd scripts so they wont use it and use an extra partition to use for /boot while leaving root and swap as logical
  3. Get rid of recovery and system partitions, move partitions so free space is all together, create primary /boot and whatever else linux wants as logical partitions in extended an then redeploy BCD and reconfigure it so both OSes can boot.

First one is not feasible since that would imply no sleep/hibernate functionality for Win7, i been told that they are dependant on bcd functionality being there and there are a lot of posts on quite a few forums claiming that grub/grub2/extlinux have issues with chainloading sleeping windows OS.
Second adds an issue with BIOS handled "F4" key which automatically loads Win7 from recovery when pressed at boot time. That should be resolvable to some degree with editing bcd scripts but they look too complicated to me. Also 15G boot partition is a bit of an overkill.
Third one sound like most hackish and have same BIOS issues of second and more. Particularly i am puzzled by how exactly could make win7 bootable again after getting rid of system partition with bootloader content and moving partitions, considering it is a netbook and i dont have usb dvdrom to boot recovery consle for fixing bcd.

Not sure if EasyBCD can help me with last one - but perhaps i am missing something?
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
You can just create a 4th Extended partition and define logical disks inside it where you can install Linux (use "advanced options to make sure that grub installs to the Linux partition, not to the MBR)
Use EasyBCD 2 to add a Linux entry to the BCD.

No need to do anything to the other partitions.
Linux is fine in a logical partition
You could even install XP in a logical.
There's no problem with any OS since XP SP1 being in a logical partition.
You only need one primary for the boot files, and you already have that.
Should you want to get rid of the "system reserved" partition
EasyBCD 2.0
"BCD Backup Repair"
"Change boot drive"
Point it to W7 (probably C:smile:
Reboot
W7 should now be "active" "system" "boot" leaving you free to delete the "system reserved" partition.

You won't be able to Extend W7 into the freed space from Disk Management though. You can only shrink/extend the back of a partition, not the front, because the BCD entry contains partition and offset information, which would break the boot if you move the start.

You can do it with a W7 compatible 3rd party partition manager.
 
#3
There's no problem with any OS since XP SP1 being in a logical partition.
You only need one primary for the boot files, and you already have that.
Should you want to get rid of the "system reserved" partition
So, essentially i need to follow the idea of my second approach, and have 15GB linux boot partition instead of recovery, because w/o that i do not have linux boot partition being primary. And i have to leave bcd boot manager partition alone as well preserve sizes of all "chunks" present?

Thanks for the reply btw.

Also, there are extra complications, such as grub/grub2 being not available on the linux by default as well as any easy way to compile anything there. But i know how to extract 512 byes of boot sector from boot partition and should be able to use that instead of preset loaders shipped with EasyBCD.

Another thing - with suggested "bcd repair option" - will that need extra bootmanager partition also or everything will be moved to same partition where win7 is?
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#4
The Extended partition can have an unlimited number of logical disks inside it.
You can make Linux and swap and XP and anything else you have the space for inside it. No need to do anything with any of the other partitions if you don't want to.
Don't go manually trying to play with the MBR or bootsector. EasyBCD will do anything you need.
"Change boot drive" copies all the boot files from the "system" partition, into your target partition ( W7), and sets it to be "system" "active".
That leaves the the original partition untouched but redundant, and no longer controlling the boot.
Don't touch your OEM recovery partition unless you've used an internal facility to make a replacement set of portable recovery media, and have tested that they're good. Removing it is the equivalent of throwing away the W7 DVD after installation, for self-builders like me.
(reading your OP again, I see you have no CD-ROM drive, so, unless the OEM has given you a facility to create a bootable flashdrive, leave the recovery partition alone)
The only "disposable" partition is the little "system reserved", but as I said before, you can do everything you need in logical drives inside the 4th extended partition you have room to create.
 
#5
I'm not a fan of of recovery solution intended to deal with harddrive failures located on same HD and storing recovery data there as well, so i have migrated it to usb stick, and recovery partition wasn't used before and wont be in use later. For software/system issues i have different approach which again does not relay on recovery software. For myself, after all, the most important object would be data and not the OS, since getting OS to work is just a matter of time and not that much time, while lost crucial data is irreplaceable. Hence partition based recovery tools are not an option at all and system issues should be resolved by internal measures rather than by system rollback.

That being said - it has very little relevance to my OP...
I have repartitioned the drive in a way that there is a primary /boot partitio.. but the there is another issue now.
MeeGo comes with extlinux botloader which is not directly supported by EasyBCD, but dealing with BCD itself before and being aware of ability to copy 1st sector with dd tools (similar to how it is mentioned here), I was trying to create a boot entry for MeeGo. Yet all my attempts to do it automatically with EasyBCD or manual with bcdedit fail with "Boot error"

Is there some extlinux specific issue here and i have to use grub/grub2 or there is some other problem?

Unfortunately, Meego comes only with extlinux and no easy way to get grub2, and i dont have another spare flash drive to use some other distro to deploy grub2.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#6
My Linux experience is limited to Ubuntu with grub (not even grub2, since I upgraded to 10.4 progressively from 8.x, and legacy grub therefore remains). AFAIK EasyBCD only handles grub/grub2 and lilo, so you'll need to wait around for CG or one of the Linux geeks for any help with that or post a Linux query in the General PC Help forum.
I agree that User Data is all important. I too only back up data, not OSs. But I do have the shiny MS CD/DVDs available on the shelf to recreate those from scratch if needed.
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#7
What's the question, exactly? I'm kinda lost :smile:
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#8
"MeeGo comes with extlinux botloader which is not directly supported by EasyBCD, but dealing with BCD itself before and being aware of ability to copy 1st sector with dd tools (similar to how it is mentioned here), I was trying to create a boot entry for MeeGo. Yet all my attempts to do it automatically with EasyBCD or manual with bcdedit fail with "Boot error"

Is there some extlinux specific issue here and i have to use grub/grub2 or there is some other problem?

Unfortunately, Meego comes only with extlinux and no easy way to get grub2"
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#9
You can try adding a BSD entry for MeeGo. Select the partition from the drop-down and see if that does the trick?

Addendum:

oh, and thanks, Terry :smile:
 
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#10
You can try adding a BSD entry for MeeGo. Select the partition from the drop-down and see if that does the trick?
BSD entry? I presume you meant BCD since there is not much in common between berkeley loader and extlinux.
Did not do the trick, unfortunately.
this is the bcd layout and this is the partition info derived from "Boot Info Script".

I used this method to obtain bootsector from linux partition, and it is actually the correct one which has been confirmed by syslinux/extlinux folks from #syslinux.
The MBR is what EasyBCD restored it to after i changed bootdisk to be Win7 partition.
 
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