Dual-Booting Vista and Linux

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Tech Analysis: Part Two: The DesktopLinux.com series pits Microsoft's latest wares—Vista—against Linux's fair-haired boy—Ubuntu. When we last saw our fearless curmudgeon, he was busy preparing a level playing field for Vista and Linu

Editor's Note: If you missed Part One of the series, you can read it here.

Last time around, I described the HP Pavilion Media Center TV m7360n that I'm using for my Vista vs. Linux shootout. Getting the PC was the easy part. Getting Linux and Vista to live together on the same machine turned out to be a bit harder.

On XP and earlier Windows PCs, making Windows and Linux live together was almost automatic. Any of the major distributions made it easy. With Vista, things have changed. Microsoft has deep-sixed its old boot.ini bootloader in favor of a new bootloader.

The new bootloader, BCD (Boot Configuration Data), is designed to be firmware-independent. It also comes with a new boot option editing tool, BCDEdit.exe, which isn't so much user-friendly as user-hostile.

I'm not, by the way, talking here as someone whose chief concern is dual-booting Linux. BCDEdit is a pain to work with no matter how you're modifying Vista's boot behavior. Unfortunately, though, you're going to have to work with Vista bootloader, because Vista doesn't deal well with being installed on a system that already has an operating system on it that you mean to keep.

In my case, I had already decided to blow away my system's existing Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, Update Rollup 2 operating system. I could have "upgraded" this system to Vista, but I really do want to give Vista its best chance to shine, and upgrading an existing Windows system appears to be an almost sure way to find trouble.

Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, you don't mind running into incompatibility problems, and you know exactly what you're doing, do not "upgrade" to Vista. Do a clean install, instead.

Read the full story on DesktopLinux: A Vista vs. Linux Matchup - Part 2: Dual-booting Vista and Linux

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor of eWEEK.com's Linux & Open Source Center and Ziff Davis Channel Zone. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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