Comprehensive multiboot guide?

Discussion in 'Acronis Disk Director Suite' started by brohmes, Aug 3, 2009.

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  1. brohmes

    brohmes Registered Member

    I recently purchased Acronis True Image Home 2009 and Disk Director Suite 10 for usage on a PC that has become my project machine. I purchased these products to put an end to my "install - tinker until it's broken - reformat" cycles. However, I've spent the past day using DD and scouring this forum but am still unclear as to the best method of attack in regards to a multi-boot setup.

    What I'm looking to do is to create 4-6 separate partitions for various OS's with the intention of being able to boot into either of them and be able to maintain backup images of each OS independent of eachother.

    I am currently plan to use the following os's:

    - Win XP
    - Win7
    - Kubuntu
    - LinuxMCE (custom Kubuntu distro)
    - Ubuntu
    - mythBuntu (custom Ubuntu distro)

    This list may change, so flexibility is a must in my ideal setup. From speaking with an Acronis pre-sales representative, it sounds like I should be able to achieve exactly what I'm after.

    I started out by installing winXP pro onto a 10GB partition on my 500GB drive.

    I then installed Kubuntu 8.10 (the required base for LinuxMCE) onto another 10GB partition, using ext3 filesystem.

    I then installed TI and DD with the OSS addon. I activated OSS and was able to select either Kubuntu or XP at boot up.

    I then created two more logical partitions. One to eventually be used for Ubuntu install, the other as a temporary storage point for TI images.

    Everything seemed to look OK, but I wanted to test TI before going any further. I created a backup image of my XP partition and then restored it. OSS now showed only WinXP; I had lost the ability to boot into Kubuntu.

    I've attached a screenshot showing my partition setup. "Ext3 (K:)" is my Kubuntu partition. I'm almost positive that it was always showing as a logical drive rather than primary (even before restoring the XP image using TI). It had been detected fine by OSS prior to the TI image restore. Since then, I've tried to change this to a Primary drive, but the "Convert" function does not give me that option for this partition?

    I've also attached my bootwiz.oss file.

    My questions are:

    What did I do wrong?

    How do I create TI backup images that maintain my current configuration while also allowing me to restore individual partitions as required?

    How do I resolve this so that I'm able to once again boot into Kubuntu using OSS? Or am I better off formating all the partitions other than my base XP and redoing things properly from the start. Which begs the most important question - what is the PROPER method for using DD / OSS for a true multiboot configuration? Is there a step-by-step guide anywhere?

    It seems that the official documentation for DD Suite is lacking, as the user guide really doesn't touch on anything but the basics. I must also say that so far DD doesn't live up to the reputation Acronis has built with the True Image line. I've been a very satisfied user of TI Workstation with Universal Restore in my business for years, and these positive experiences were my main reasons for deciding upon TI Home and DD Suite for my home use. I find it hard to believe that Acronis is content to attach their name to a product that has seen no upgrades since 2007!

    I appreciate any assistance.

    Attached Files:

  2. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    When you installed Kubuntu, did you have it install GRUB to the MBR or to the Kubuntu partition? Installing to the partition works better with OSS.

    There are many ways to setup a multi-boot system.

    For Linux, I would make all the partitions Logical partitions. This will save the Primary partitions for any Windows installations. The Linux Swap partition does not need to be a Primary partition.

    For Windows, install to Primary partitions. For each Windows OS, hide the other Windows installations and make the new destination partition Active. This keeps them somewhat isolated from each other.

    You might want to change your partitioning layout to three Primary partitions (for Windows) and leave the rest for Logical partitions (for Linux).


    I'm not sure exactly why OSS dropped Kubuntu when you restored the Windows XP partition. Did you install OSS to the XP partition?
  3. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

    I would not use the boot mechanisms in the Acronis, or any, products, rather, I would just use the built-in Windows boot manager.

    For Windows XP, and all the *ix partitions, you should be able to apply the info in the following:

    Installing Ubuntu and Windows using NTLDR[/QUOTE]

    Adding Win 7 to the mix may require a slightly different mechanism, but I'm not investigating that until Win 7 is released later this year. Probably will require using EASYBCD, or something like that, to tweak the Win 7 loader.

    In my opinion, unless you want to do things such as hiding drive letter, using proprietary boot managers is not the way to go.
  4. brohmes

    brohmes Registered Member

    I'm not sure; how can I check this now? Or am I better off just reformating that partition and installing Kubuntu again rather than trying to sort it out? If I reinstall, how do I ensure that GRUB is installed to the partition rather than the MBR. I don't recall that being an option as I went through the guided install.

    How do I make the partitions hidden from eachother? Are you meaning that all partitions are hidden while going through the install, or only after the installs are done, and i have DD installed to each partition/OS do I hide the other partitions?

    Yes, I installed OSS to XP's partition. Should I have installed to a separate logical partition?
  5. brohmes

    brohmes Registered Member

    Thanks, Howard. I will browse through that guide if I'm unable to get MudCrab's suggestions working with DD/OSS.

    It's just a shame that I even bought DD, I guess. I'm completely satisfied (always have been) with True Image. But it seems I would have been just as far ahead if I had set up all the partitions while going through my initial XP install. I don't foresee using many (if any) of the other features in DD; I got it primarily for the supposed features of OSS.

    As an aside, I hope you guys are getting paid for handling Acronis' support. I received an email today from Acronis asking me to confirm that my support request was now "resolved". Since you seem to be officially recognized as a support method, I hope you're getting compensated for it. :)
  6. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

    You are explicitly asked that question, at least during an install of Ubuntu,
    Read the screens carefully.

    I would recommend starting over, especially based on your comment about sharing partitions below.

    Can you currently boot to Win XP?

    I recommend first using the Windows Recovery Console to fixmbr for all drives.

    There's no reason to hide partitions.

    You will need a separate / partition for each *ix you install.
    You can share the swap partition.
    Initially, I would put everying, for each OS, in a separate / partition.

    Later, you could determine whether you want to use a common, say, /home or /opt or ....

    I would not use OSS, just use the built-inn Windows loader, see
  7. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

    ADD is a very good product for partitioning.

    I've never been a fan of operating system selectors. I've been doing real multiboot at least since Win5 was released in 1995. Never found any need for anything other than the mechanisms built into the OS.

    You can even use the linux based loaders to run Windows, but I prefer to use the Windows loaders as one never knows what MSFT will unleash upon us.

    What was that word you used, "support"?
    I'll have to look it up in my dictionaries.
  8. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    This depends on your setup, usage and preference. If it's always worked well for you, great.

    For me, it's a must. I don't want my Windows installations seeing each other. I've seen too many times where they've become entangled. This can happen whether you use the Microsoft boot manager or a third-party program. By entangled, I mean that a Windows OS will be incorrectly accessing and referencing system files on another Windows OS partition. This causes a mess and is very difficult to fix. Usually, a reinstall is the easiest and quickest solution.

    There are also other problems that can occur such as XP destroying Vista's restore points.

    Hiding partitions from each other helps to avoid problems like this. An even better solution is to "super hide" the partitions. OSS can do this, but it's limited and I wouldn't trust it. BING does a much better job with its unlimited primary partitions feature.
  9. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    That was the reason I purchased DD too. I ended up liking DD much better than OSS.

    We're just users of the programs. Acronis doesn't compensate us for any of our time helping others. This is currently the official Acronis Support forum, but most of the actual "support" comes from regular members, especially in the DD forum where Acronis is absent the majority of the time.
  10. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    This option can be hard to find. There is usually an Advanced button or options where you can select it. Also, you may or may not be asked depending on what the installer detects on the drive. I've usually used the alternate installer CD because it has more options and more control, but the option should be there in the standard GUI installer.

    When you have an OSS OS entry, you can select which partition is the Active partition and which ones are hidden. For Windows, the Active partition is the booting partition (usually the installation destination). For Linux, hiding partitions is not necessary. Instead, you can just not mount the partitions you don't want to see.

    The partitions must be hidden when the OS is install and also afterwards to keep them isolated. I usually prefer to do manual installations instead of installing through OSS. For example:
    1. Deactivate OSS (don't uninstall).
    2. Boot to DD from the CD. Start DD and select the Manual Mode for more control.
    3. Set the new destination partition Active and hide the other Windows partitions. Apply the changes.
    4. Install Windows normally from the CD/DVD.
    5. Once it's working correctly, reactivate OSS. It should detect the new OS and add it to the menu.
    6. Verify that the OSS OS entry has the correct partition set Active and is hiding the correct partitions.

    I prefer to have OSS installed to a non-OS partition. This can be a small (100MB or so) dedicated OSS partition or it can be a data partition. To select the OSS installation partition, you need to do a custom install.

    The reason for this is so you can backup and restore your OS partitions without affecting the OSS files.
  11. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

    Years ago, the problem was more severe.
    Now, the OS do not mess with each other.
    There are still a few misdesigned apps that put files on the wrong drive, but those files are shared by the app accross OS, and really cause no harm.

    In addition, for quite a few apps it is not so hard to share program files amongst the OS.
    This can save a lot of disk space, and makes things a lot easier when you boot from system to the other.

    As was pointed out in recent weeks, MSFT has a KB article on how to fix this.
    And if one does proper backups, system restore is not needed.

    Gee, I've not heard any mention of BING in a long time!
    I forget who makes.

    If I were ever to violate my religion, by using such a boot manager, I'd more likely try GRUB.

    FYI, I read the GRUB manual today.
    Looks like it could do the job, and GRUB2 may be even better.
  12. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

    Perhaps, but Vista and Windows 7's Previous Versions of Files is a feature that I would not want to do without, and uses the same storage mechanism (VSS) as system restore. If if you let XP see a partition that has VSS enabled, XP will wipe out the previous versions of files along with any system restore points.
    And Grub4Dos is better yet since it understands NTFS, and its ability to directly boot an ISO file is incredibly handy.
  13. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

    MSFT does file versioning badly.

    The proper way to do file versioning is to have it under user control, e.g., as was done with DEC's file systems. But that's a whole othe ballgame, and not gonna discuss now.

    I would never rely on a file system to save my file versions. If a version is important, the user can always save on their own.
  14. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

    Again it depends on your needs and intended usage. I agree that if you are a developer and need to keep multiple versions, then using a formal software versioning system like SubVersion is appropriate.

    My needs are simpler. Sometimes I do stupid things like open an old document file to use as a template then choose "Save" instead of "Save As", thus writing over the older file. Or I discover that I really needed a column from a spreadsheet that I deleted three versions back. In cases of my own stupidity, planning ahead was not even on the radar. But it is cases just like this that are covered well by an automated scheme like the Previous Versions of Files feature in Vista and Windows 7. This feature is a good fill-in between formal backups but not a substitute for a rigorous backup scheme. I've been using this feature since Vista's release, almost 3 years now, and it has become my favorite Vista feature. Sad to say I've definitely needed it on several occasions during this time frame. User stupidity knows no bounds, unfortunately.
  15. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

    Way back in 1985-1986, when we were developing the High Sierra format, the predecessor to ISO 9660, an individual frm MSFT stated that MSFT intended to implement file versioning. I never bothered to discuss their intent.

    I do suffer from a serious case of the fat fingerdisease, yet I have little trouble maintaining manual file versions for important files, and by copying things to say ZIP disks, and doing multiple incremental/differential backups, I rarely lose anything.

    I do this to avoid of the overhead of a built-in file versioning system.
  16. K0LO

    K0LO Registered Member

    Yeah, there is an overhead associated with any automatic mechanism but MS has come up with a pretty good compromise. I protect mainly my data partition which is 40 GB. By default MS would reserve 15% of the partition for the shadow copy files, or 6 GB, but I changed this to 5 GB. Their process works at the sector level on the disk so it doesn't care about or even need to know about file formats. They simply create a daily file that contains all of the differential changes to any sectors on the partition since the time of the last update, and store this in the shadow copy store area. In my 5 GB of reserved space I have daily previous versions of all of the files on the partition going back in time by about 2 months. There is no penalty to normal file operations. The differential change file is updated once daily by a background process that only runs when the PC has been idle for 20 minutes or more.

    Works for me, and you can turn it off if you don't like it.
  17. Howard Kaikow

    Howard Kaikow Registered Member

    You can save the critters using daily incremental backups with True Image.
    I oft do more than 1 backup per day.

    Of course, it has been alleged that most folkes do not have enough sense to backup their files, so ... .
  18. brohmes

    brohmes Registered Member

    Excellent, tyvm for this run down. I'm going to start again and follow these steps to see how I make out.

    What is meant by "custom install" here? simply selecting the separate partition when installing OSS?

    thanks again.

  19. MudCrab

    MudCrab Imaging Specialist

    When you install OSS, select the Custom option so it will let you select the partition. Otherwise, OSS will select the partition it thinks is best, which is usually the currently booted Windows partition.
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