Secrets to Running Multiple Operating Systems

Removing a Windows Partition

Q. I've decided that my system is better off running Windows XP. How do I remove the Vista partition?

A. Deleting the Windows Vista partition (using either the tools in the recovery console of the Windows XP boot disc or a third-party tool) is only part of the job: Windows Vista's boot loader will remain behind. To restore the Windows XP boot loader, boot the PC with your XP install disc, press R to enter the recovery console, and log on to the Windows Vista partition. Enter the command fixboot to write a new partition boot sector to the Windows XP partition, and then the command fixmbr to write the Windows XP boot loader to the Master Boot Record of the hard disk where the Windows XP partition is located.

Q. I like Vista--how do I remove the XP partition?

A. Deleting the Windows XP partition gets the OS off your hard disk, but not out of Windows Vista's boot menu. To delete Windows XP's entry from Windows Vista's boot menu, first open a command prompt with administrative rights (using the same steps described above for removing Vista); then enter the command bcdedit /delete {ntldr} /f.

Q. Can I add a Linux distribution to my PC without disrupting my existing Windows installation?

A. Absolutely. Novice-friendly Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and OpenSuSE include disk-partitioning software that lets you resize or delete existing partitions to make room for a new partition for your Linux installation. In addition, Linux distributions generally install their own boot managers (the most common one these days is the GNU GRand Unix Bootloader, or GRUB) and automatically add a system's existing Windows boot configuration to the Linux boot loader's menu.

Q. Can I triple-boot Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Linux?

A. Sure. The easy way is to install them one at a time--first XP, then Vista, then Linux. This arrangement yields a chain boot configuration in which the Linux boot loader (usually GRUB) appears first, listing the Linux distribution and Windows Vista. Selecting 'Windows Vista' launches the Vista boot loader, which in turn offers 'Windows Vista' and 'Windows XP' boot options.

Q. Now that OS X runs on Intel processors, can I install it on my PC?

A. Apple supports OS X installations only on Apple hardware, and it has added features to the OS that make installing OS X on non-Apple computers difficult. Nevertheless, several intrepid OS X fans have managed to install both OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and OS X 10.5 (Leopard) on systems with hardware configurations similar to those of Apple's Intel-based computers. If you're willing to buy the compatible hardware and battle through the incompatibilities and workarounds, you might be able to do the same. Start your quest at The OSx86 Project, where Tiger- and Leopard-loving PC users document their successes and failures on the site's OS X-on-Intel wiki. Or you could just buy an iMac.

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Scott Spanbauer

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