The Great OS Shuffle- by Chris Murray

If you're like me, you like to dip your hands into anything and everything related to computers. For me, this includes exploring the ins, outs, and benefits of various operating systems. However, an OS isn't as easy to "check out" as just another application. An OS wants your machine to itself, and it wants to organize your system according to its own ideals.

I run a BBS on my several machines, including my personal workstation. Therefore, I must be able to return to its native environment when I'm not working on something else. Although most OS's claim DOS compatibility, none of them allow me to run the BBS and my network setup the same way my BBS is used to running. So, I've built a system where I can easily switch between DOS for the BBS, Windows95 for Internet and Graphics work, and OS/2 and Linux for experimentation. For those of you who have considered trying a similar multiple operating system setup on your own machines, here is how I configured mine:

This setup is currently running on an FCS 6x86-100 (P-120+) System with 16megs RAM and 3 Hard Drives (850meg, 105meg, and 100meg). I've also had the same system running on a 486DX4-100 with 8megs and the same hard drive configuration. The 850meg drive is my Primary Master, so it's where most of the action happens. It has 7 partitions configured, which I set up with the DOS version of Partition Magic (DOS FDISK would work fine as well). They are set up in this order:

Partition Type & Number:Size:Type:Purpose:
Primary > 120megsFATDos 6.22
Primary > 22megsBMBoot Manager (OS/2)
Primary > 362megsFATWindows95
Extended > 4416megsFATAll Programs/Apps
Extended > 560megsHPFSOS/2 Warp
Extended > 6150megsLinux NativeLinux
Extended > 720megsLinux Swap Swapping

The first step in setting this up was to configure the first 4 partitions, leaving the rest as unclaimed space. I set up the second partition (P2) as a 2meg FAT partition, and then deleted it (leaving it unclaimed, for later). Lastly, I set the first (P1) as the active partition, and rebooted from a DOS floppy. The 20meg Partition was now my drive C:, and I installed DOS 6.22 onto it. After this was done, I tested the DOS setup by rebooting from the HD to ensure the partition was bootable.

Next came Windows 95. I ran FDISK to make partition three (P3) active, and booted from a Win95 setup floppy. This made P3 Drive C:. The install was then performed via CD-ROM, and as with the DOS partition, it was then tested for bootability.

Third came OS/2. I booted from the OS/2 setup disk, and headed into OS/2's FDISK. From there I installed Boot Manager in the 2meg empty space between P1 and P3, and set up a 60meg logical HPFS drive for OS/2. The rest of the space (for P6 and P7) was left untouched. Boot Manager was configured to boot either the DOS, Win95, or OS/2 Partitions. The remainder of the OS/2 Setup was then performed.

Once this was done, I booted DOS. I downloaded all of Linux off the 'net (over a few days) onto my program drive (P4), and then created a Linux Boot floppy. I used this to set up (using Linux's FDISK -- people sure are original in HD setup utility names!) the remainder of the drive's empty space as a 150meg Linux Native and a 20meg Linux swap partition. I then installed Linux from the Dos partition. The final step was to reboot, go into OS/2, and run FDISK to set up the Linux Native partition (P6) in Boot Manager.

You will notice that I only left enough space on each OS partition for the OS itself (Except Linux, as it doesn't handle FAT partitions well). All programs, for all OS's, were installed on my program drive. This is to prevent wasted space that would occur from having multiple data drives.

This setup is up, working, and I love it. It allows me to use apps for each OS, depending on its strengths. For example, I use Win95 for the Internet because it has so many TCP/IP clients, and I have built a wonderful collection that I love. DOS for my BBS, and as stated before, I'm exploring OS/2 and Linux. And, surprisingly, the total footprint for 4 OS's was only 312megs, and that includes space for Linux programs!

Be warned though, this didn't work overnight; it took a while to figure out the order of the above steps. If you're interested in more details of this setup, or need help with any similar configuration of your own, I can be reached at the address in my bio.


Chris Murray is the president of Fusion Computer Services in Dartmouth, NS. Although mainly a Win95 user, he also uses OS/2 and Linux, and eagerly awaits the release of Merlin for something permanent.

[Index]  [ Previous] - [Feedback] - [Next ]
Our Sponsors: [Indelible Blue] [Shenandoah] [Simply Intelligent] [SPG] [Surf'nRexx]


This page is maintained by Falcon Networking. We welcome your suggestions.

Copyright © 1996 - Falcon Networking