Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Quad Booting Windows 7/8, OS X, and Ubuntu on a PC

The goal of this is to quad boot all four of these OSes on my computer. Ill start off a few months ago. The main reason I re-installed Windows 7 on my computer was because of the various programs i didnt need, leftovers in the registry, and the general slow down over time. I started off with a clean install of windows 7 and then installed all of my programs etc. Last, i made an image of it so that if anything were to go wrong in the future, i could simply restore the image without worrying about losing data, or having to re-install all of my programs. I used UBCD4WIN and is Image for Windows program.

Just a few weeks ago my computer became very laggy and ran the CPU cores up to 100% when the Task Manager wasn't running. This was an obvious sign a of a virus. I first though of simply restoring the image i made, but that would be no fun, of course! I decided to quad boot Windows 7, Windows 8, Ubuntu and OSX. Win7 is what i mainly use, I dumped Win8 a while back because the driver support was crap, and Ubuntu and OS X are for fun and what i will mainly use now because they are less prone to viruses.

Now, enough filler; onto the "meat".  The first thing i considered was the MBR format's limitation on partitions. Most would think that since its a quad boot and MBR supports a max of four primary partitions (primary are the only ones you can install OSes on), that it would work fine. Wrong! Windows installs another partition called "System Reserve" that contains a start-up fixer if windows doesn't start up properly (this is also Primary). There are ways to get around it, but i decided to simply choose a entirely different route.

Another format is called GPT. This will replace MBR because it has:
-An infinite amount of Primary partitions for OSes or data.
-A max hard drive size of 9.4 ZB (That is 9.4 Zetabytes = 9.4 BILLION Terrabytes). With 3TB HDDs  already being sold, and most computers not compatible with GPT this creates a disaster for us techies who want 2 or more TB on one drive. 2TB is the max MBR HDD size and you can still use 2TB+ HDDs on non supporting OSes, but you will only see 2TB.
To get my quad boot working i had to choose the GPT format. and as i said above, most computers don't have a GPT supporting OS, including mine. But there is a workaround: HybridMBR. This shows a legacy MBR to Windows 7 and others that dont support GPT, while still having all of the GPT pros and working with GPT native OSes. That being said, i couldve simply installed Windows 8 as it has GPT support, but then i would miss some drivers (Arduino, PPJOY) that Win8 doesn't support. In my quad boot Windows 7 is the "trouble causer". Ubuntu, OS X, and Win8 support GPT.

Here is how the process went. All of it is based upon this site. Thank him a ton!!!
1. Backup all data, or in my case i have the image.
2. Grab Ubuntu from here and burn it to a CD or make a liveUSB (ill do that in another post :)).
3. Go to gparted, delete all the partitions, make the HDD to GPT.
4. Create your partitions. Mine went like so:
---A) 1MB ext2 partition with bios_grub flag. REQUIRED!
---B) 250GB Windows 7 partition. Formatted to ntfs.
---C) 75GB Windows 8 Partition. ntfs.
---D) 75GB Ubuntu partition. ext4.
---E) 75GB OS X partition. Unallocated.
---F) The rest is a data partition formatted to ntfs as it is the easiest to r/w in all of my OSes.
5. Go to terminal and type sudo apt-get install gptsync.
6. Run gptsync /dev/sda2 in terminal and allow it to sync the partitions. This is the HybridMBR being made. sda2 is the HDD i made all of the partitions on in step 4. look at gparted to find this.
7. Install Windows 7 and 8 / restore the image.
8. Install OSX86.
9. Install the Chameleon bootloader. The one to rule them all (LOTR reference :D). This loader will detect all of the OSes and allow you to choose any of them.

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