2 Installations of XP, both being C:

July 8, 2009 at 00:27:16
Specs: Windows XP SP3
I need to boot a system into multiple installations of XP and Windows 7, and each OS should see itself as being installed onto "C:".

The first part of this question is about hard drive partitioning/formatting: say I want 2 installations of XP and 2 installs of 7. That makes 4 (primary) partitions and I'm running into problems creating any more partitions on the disk. So instead of primary partitions, could I instead create one small 1GB primary partition at the very beginning of the disk and then have my 4 logical drives (2 XP's and 2 7's) at the end of the drive?

If this is feasible, I believe it's my favored choice. That being said, the second part of my question; would I then need a 3rd party bootloader to be installed on the primary partition and pointing to each of my 4 OS's?
What bootloader/OS selector/... (whatever you call it) would you recommend? Any experiences with Acronis OS Selector?

Now, the thrid part ;-) how do I install Windows to different partitions and each have them "installed to C:"? I should be able to install the first XP onto the first logical partition and recognize it as "C", then do some unknown technique, then install the second XP onto the second partition but have it also see itself as "C"... etc.

Once booted up into the OS of choice, the other OS partitions could be seen as H: I: and J: maybe, so the data that's stored on them could be accessed but the basis of all life will remain C:.

Thanks much.

P.S. Does anyone else have a hard time dealing with "E:\Windows" or "F:\Program Files" ? I just cannot stand my OS not being on C:.

Also, I'm not interested in running Virtual Servers or anything of the like, I just want to partition and have stuff work. Thanks.

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July 8, 2009 at 04:38:58
First of all, you should not have more than one os on a partition. You can have multiple operating systems on a machine, but they should be on different partitions. Let's start by asking you why you want to have multiple copies of the operating system on the same machine? What are you trying to accomplish?

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July 8, 2009 at 05:58:49
There really isn't a good reason for having 2 copies of XP and 2 copies of 7 on one machine, that's just nuts!

You should (as said) install only one OS on one partition otherwise C: not being your preferred letter is going to be the least of your worries.

My advice would be to give each OS a good chunk of space each and install XP on one and 7 on another. A third partition can be created to keep all your files on if you wish.

H: XP Install
I: 7 Install
J: Data Storage Area

Thats how i would do it!

I am very curious to know why you would want multiple copies of the same OS on one machine?!


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July 8, 2009 at 07:16:14
In order to accomplish what you want you will need to have a third party boot manager. I have used BootIt NG for many years and have had to have xp installed multiple times ..all with their own activation licenses. of course :).

A free program called GAG has come a long way and is very similar to Boot IT NG.
Because of the limitations on how many primary partitions are allowed the best bet is to allow the new boot manager to create the partitions for you.

Once the partitions are created all operating systems will boot up as "C" drive. I must also state that it would be best to install to different drives, but it can be done as partitions and drives are seen as the same through any operating system and you should not have any problems with it so long as you do not try to share programs. Sharing a program is a no, no, no in this type of system.

BootiT NG will allow 200 + primary partitions if your system can handle that.
GAG only supports 9.

You will need to install the boot manager first before any partitions are created. Once the boot manager is installed then boot to it and follow the prompt for creating partitions and installing each operating system as IT IS THE ONLY OPERATING SYSTEM INSTALLED. This means that all drivers and all hardware/software installations must be installed separately as well. You can not over ride this so don't mess around or you can screw up the whole process

One thing I found to be easiest is to actually name the partitons so that they are seen in that aspect instead of Windows XP or windows 7.

In my situation I did a lot of film editing and needed a stripped down version as the background applications kept screwing up my work. I named it Films, then another operation was Games and I had one named for my wife as I did not like the Switch Users program in XP.

I never had any trouble setting up data partitions and using them so long as they were shared through all operating systems....but again be warned about sharing application files and back ups as these can cause issues later on...

For cleaning utillities in this set up, stay away from Norton or McAfee as these see the system as one unit. Ccleaner and other applications...be sure to check the for this installation only box as well. Install them on every operating system and set the preferences to only scan that system.

XP has some issues identifying other drives between H and T for some reason. I moved my optics drives to the "Y and Z " letter designations, This allowed XP to read any USB drives and see them much easier. In the Lower letter designations.

I ran this for a number of years as I couldn't afford multiple computers during that time. I never had any issues with it till DRM showed up and I lost two whole drives of music files over a bad DRM installation in which it is my past time in still trying to recover the lost files. What I did discover is that in dealing with the music files the files that I had installed in their own folders were not harmed. Only those single files songs got made unreadable and thus unrecoverable.

Hope that helps you!

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July 8, 2009 at 08:06:53
partition magic has a file called pqboot.exe. Using it allows you to set any primary parititon as bootable and as c: since it 'hides' the other partitions.

Problem with boot managers is they become corrupt you lose access to almost everything. PM has boot magic as a boot manager and I thought it sucked which is why I learned to use pqboot instead.

Instead of multiple partitions consider virtualization. Vmware and MS virtual pc have free downloadable versions. This allows you to "host" whatever OS you want without the multiboot rigamaroll.

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