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Author Topic: 2 distros 1drive  (Read 2110 times)

mike99

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2 distros 1drive
« on: March 17, 2010, 09:50:32 am »

Curios problem. I used Gparted to create 4 partitions. 1&3 for Distros. 2&4 for Swaps. When i install to either 1&3 and then install to the "other" partition, GRUB or LILO will include both linux partitions in their Menu (installed to the MBR) and the current linux always boots. BUT, the previous Linux Distro ALWAYS gets a kernel panic with msg. "Kernel not syncing".
At 1st i thought it was a quirk installing 2 Puppys. So, then tried a different #2 also using GRUB then= same msg.. So, then i tried Vector using LILO= same msg. 
So, now I'm thinking it must have something to do with the Bootmgr. & the MBR. I guess i could try NOT INSTALLING the Bootmgr. for the 2nd New Distro and see if i can just add it to the 1st installation Bootmgr.? Any ideas?  TANX! mike
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toothandnail

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Re: 2 distros 1drive
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2010, 11:59:50 am »

First, if you are using multiple distros, there is no reason to have more than one swap partition - either will see and use the same partition. So you can reclaim a bit of drive space ( :) and use it for a third distro..)

If you use Grub (legacy, not the new, all singing, all dancing Grub2) there is no need to have more than one copy of it installed. Pick a distro, install Grub to the MBR, then add the second distro to the /boot/grub/menu.lst of the first. Nice and simple.

It is possible to do similar things with Lilo, but I never found that very easy to do, so somone else will need to expalin that one to you if that is the way you want to go.

I (currently) have Vista (yuck - needed for customer support, unforutunatley), Zenwalk 6.4 Alpha, Vector 6.0 Light, Vector 6.0 Standard, Vector 6.0 SOHO beta and Salix 64-bit installed on my laptop. All the Linux distros use a single instance of Grub.

The only place it becomes difficult is with some very recent distros. The older Grub does not understand ext4 and also does not understand the modified version of ext3. If using any distros that use such things (and I'm about to install Fedora 12, which uses ext4 by default), I have to install the distro boot loader to the boot partition of that distro, and use chainloading from my Grub install to start it.

If you need information about menu.lst commands, I can provide some samples of what I use to start various different distros.

Paul.
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mike99

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Re: 2 distros 1drive
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2010, 10:27:28 am »

Hi & tanx tooth&nail! "Chainload"- I'd have to look that up. The way "i used to get around it" was to install the bootloader to a dskt. I tried adding a Distro to the menu.lst a couple times and it gets the "Kernel Panic, kernel not syncing" when it dumps to text. It made no diff. which was being installed. *I did notice that when i formatted & installed over ext.3, that when the grub went to load either hd1 or hd2, that it mentioned Linux on "ext.2" filesystem. Just thought, maybe thats my problem, that hte grub being used is "the older" style, but i am just using whatever comes with the distro that i am trying to install. Maybe it is not "Overwriting" the previous grub file? ALSO, you mentioned (as example for my question) that Fedora12 uses ext.4 by default!? I thought that if you format the partition ahead of time with GParted and make it ext.3 or 2, that whatever Distro you try to install installs at that format? A couple years or so ago it seemed to work that way, but maybe procedure or installing has changed and i just don't know it yet? I have not progressed that much the past couple years & of course, my machines are even older now. I just read that Parted Magic has a new grub that lists drives as SDA's instead of HDA's and they were NOT including older drivers for older drives(IDE). I didn't know grub used/had drivers? I thought it just worked off of the names and pointed to where the linux was installed. Sorry for the long rant, i just need to read more current stuff i guess.  mike
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toothandnail

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Re: 2 distros 1drive
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2010, 06:30:12 pm »

Hi & tanx tooth&nail! "Chainload"- I'd have to look that up.

'Chainload' is the method Grub (legacy) uses to boot file systems it doesn't fully understand. The normal sequence of commands for chainload would be as below:

Code: [Select]
some title
rootnoverify (hd0,?) (fill in the number of the partition, remembering that Grub numbers from zero, while Linux numbers from one)
makeactive
chainloader +1
boot

I have discovered that when Grub really doesn't understand the file system (as in the case of ext4), 'makeactive' fails, so you need to remove it. Using those basic commands, with 'makeactive' removed, I've been able to boot Fedora 12 installed to an ext4 partition.

Quote
The way "i used to get around it" was to install the bootloader to a dskt. I tried adding a Distro to the menu.lst a couple times and it gets the "Kernel Panic, kernel not syncing" when it dumps to text. It made no diff. which was being installed.

That sounds like an incorrect grub command, or not including the necessary information to pass to the kernel, but without seeing the command you were using, it is impossible to say which.

I have Grub installed on /dev/sda6 (I use the Vista boot loader and EasyBCD to pass control to Grub). I also have Vector 6.0 Standard installed to /dev/sda9. The command I use in /boot/grub/menu.lst to boot Vector is as below:

Code: [Select]
title Vector Linux 6.0 Standard
root (hd0,8)
kernel (hd0,8)/boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/sda9 vga=870 ro
boot

vga=870 sets a widescreen framebuffer mode (1280x800), so the normal Vector splash screen doesn't work for me, otherwise I would have 'splash=silent' and add an 'initrd' command below the kernel command.

Quote
*I did notice that when i formatted & installed over ext.3, that when the grub went to load either hd1 or hd2, that it mentioned Linux on "ext.2" filesystem.

ext3 is virtually identical to ext2, other than having journaling capabilities. It may well look the same to Grub. I think that error is probably spurious.

Quote
Just thought, maybe thats my problem, that hte grub being used is "the older" style, but i am just using whatever comes with the distro that i am trying to install. Maybe it is not "Overwriting" the previous grub file?

Again, without knowing more about the layout you are using, I can't really comment on that. I have seen instances where Grub will not overwrite an already installed Grub, but so long as the support files are where it expects to find them, I wouldn't expect that to cause any problems. I have definately seen problems attempting to install Lilo over an existing Grub install (at least when both installs are using the disk MBR rather than the root of the install partition). Lilo seems to be unable to remove the Grub signature, and will often leave the system unbootable. If I have to change to Lilo, I will always uninstall Grub first.

Quote
ALSO, you mentioned (as example for my question) that Fedora12 uses ext.4 by default!? I thought that if you format the partition ahead of time with GParted and make it ext.3 or 2, that whatever Distro you try to install installs at that format?

That is true within limits, but many distros will format a partition before install (by default, Vector Linux will always format the / parition, and the same is true of most other distros - its the only way to guarantee that there aren't files that will interfere with the new install). Most distros will give you some choice as to what file system to use for the install - Vector, for instance, defaults to Rieserfs, but allows me to change to xfs, which I find more reliable. Fedora will only permit either ext3 (which may be the new, sector modified version of ext3) or ext4 for the / partition, though it did let me use my /home partition (which is formatted as xfs) without complaint.

Quote
A couple years or so ago it seemed to work that way, but maybe procedure or installing has changed and i just don't know it yet?

:) See above....

Quote
I have not progressed that much the past couple years & of course, my machines are even older now. I just read that Parted Magic has a new grub that lists drives as SDA's instead of HDA's and they were NOT including older drivers for older drives(IDE). I didn't know grub used/had drivers? I thought it just worked off of the names and pointed to where the linux was installed. Sorry for the long rant, i just need to read more current stuff i guess. 

Drives listed as sd? instead of hd? are due to more recent kernels, which use libata. They no longer provide the distinction between PATA and STA that older kernels did. Some distros (Vector being one of them, though I now use SATA drives pretty well exclusively, so I don't know if this still applies) still use the old 'hd?' for PATA drives.

:) I hope that explains some of the problems you are seeing. If you provide samples of the Grub commands you are trying to use, I may be able to correct them for you.

Paul.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 06:33:14 pm by toothandnail »
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retired1af

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Re: 2 distros 1drive
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2010, 06:44:59 pm »

Depending on the drive, GRUB (or in my case GRUB2) may identify SD, but GRUB still loves that confusing hd0 and hd1 assignment! For example, my grub.cfg file shows:

Code: [Select]
menuentry "VectorLinux GNU/Linux, Linux 2.6.31.11" {
        insmod reiserfs
        set root=(hd1,5)
        search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set ce0a09dd-5651-4cc8-ac9e-6d4261ee54f1
        linux16 /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.31.11 root=/dev/sdb5 ro splash=silent vga=791   irqpoll rootdelay=10
        initrd16 /boot/initrd
}
menuentry "VectorLinux (6.0 Standard Final) (on /dev/sdb1)" {
        insmod reiserfs
        set root=(hd1,1)
        search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set 00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000
        linux16 /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.27.12 root=/dev/sdb1 splash=silent vga=791 rootdelay=10
        initrd16 /boot/initrd
}

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ASUS K73 Intel i3 Dual Core 2.3GHz

mike99

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Re: 2 distros 1drive
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2010, 10:45:40 pm »

Hello! I'll have to look and write it out tomorrow for you. I don't think it is Grub2, it is "more simple". But right off the cuff i think line2 is Root (hd0). And line3 does not repeat (hd0) but starts out /boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/  and here i tried either hda1 or hda2 or sda if the distro i was trying to install used it. BUT, I'll have to look when i get to work. Which reminds me, how do i know that what i am looking at is installed in the MBR or in the Distro i just installed? There are 2 Distros on the box, but the most recent is the one that boots. (vector 5.9 lite)   tanx,  mike 
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toothandnail

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Re: 2 distros 1drive
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2010, 04:45:33 pm »

Hello! I'll have to look and write it out tomorrow for you. I don't think it is Grub2, it is "more simple".

It it was installed by VL 6.0 Light, its almost certainly Grub legacy, not Grub2.

Quote
But right off the cuff i think line2 is Root (hd0). And line3 does not repeat (hd0) but starts out /boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/  and here i tried either hda1 or hda2 or sda if the distro i was trying to install used it.

I use (hd0,x) on each line due to paranoia rather than anything else. It shouldn't be necessary, but I like to make sure...

Quote
BUT, I'll have to look when i get to work. Which reminds me, how do i know that what i am looking at is installed in the MBR or in the Distro i just installed? There are 2 Distros on the box, but the most recent is the one that boots. (vector 5.9 lite)   tanx,  mike 

I'm not sure there is any easy way of telling. However, I don't know of any distro that will not install to the MBR unless the user selects something else. If only because using the root of the install partition requires some sort of primary boot loader, and that requires a reasonable amount of knowledge, which no install process is going to assume - its almost certainly not safe. So, unless you selected to install the boot loader to somewhere specifically, it will almost certainly have overwriteen (or attempted to overwrite) the MBR.

Paul.
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mike99

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Re: 2 distros 1drive
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2010, 06:26:05 pm »

Hi Paul, hi All, well. i am on Vector 5.9 Lite, "boot/grub/", there is NO menu.lst file in there!? I tried grub from the terminal and i could tab for a list of commands. I couldn't figure out how to view it.  So, how can i get to and modify the menu.lst file that i am using?  I can repartition and reinstall anything, but the "New Install" will overwrite the Grub and the "other Distro" will get a Sync error. I must be forgetting something here?  tanx!  mike
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mike99

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Re: 2 distros 1drive
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2010, 12:08:38 pm »

*Surprise= Vector 5.9 light is using LILO. Maybe that changed in 6.0!?  I tried a "Reconfig" in VASM. And it includes the other partition in the Menu (same as before). But this time instead of giving me an error msg (kernel panic, not syncing), it just goes blank as if it went to "no-where". mike
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nightflier

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Re: 2 distros 1drive
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2010, 06:36:26 pm »

VL Light 5.9 and 6.0 both use LILO.

On 5.9 there could be a problem with the kernel mis-identifying the drive, so it came with two different kernels. 6.0 is a lot newer, have you tried that one?
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mike99

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Re: 2 distros 1drive
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2010, 11:17:44 pm »

Hi! I'm thinking it's not a "Distro problem". Because it started with (2) versions of Puppy to start with. And then i tried a couple Distro's Not related to Puppy. I'm doing something wrong (not surprising), or maybe because i partitioned with Gparted ahead of time, and i did something wrong there!? I used to do this alot more before "Live" Versions came into play, and found there were ones that co-habbed easier on the same drive. And the ones that could/would not include each other- got a dskt to start them. I guess i could just go back to that. I have not progressed that much, I'm still just a user.  mike
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M0E-lnx

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Re: 2 distros 1drive
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2010, 06:57:17 am »

Please post your /boot/grub/grub.cfg and tell us where each distro is installed

Also, mount / of each installed distro (your partitions 1 and 3) and show us the contents of their /boot directory