w3.1 - 95 - 98 - ME - 2K - XP - 6 - 7
Using Dr. Web for Multiboot Advice
Generally a rather tedious and convoluted process.
There's a lot of info on the magic web about multi-booting Windows 98, mostly with later versions of Windows.
Multi-booting Windows 9x with a later Windows versions such as XP, Vista and 7 is a breeze, as these later OS's are multi-boot aware.
Solutions that outline multi-booting different Windows on multiple hard disks are also fairly straightforward.
However, for this exercise I was initially only interested in multi-booting multiple versions of Windows 98 using one hard disk and without using a 3rd party boot manager - although after that experience I'm now exploring the boot manager option and I've found it to offer some advantages.
Most of the proposed solutions Dr. Web provided for multi-booting w9x (by w9x I include Windows 95 / 98 / ME) without using a boot manager were tested - and some suggestions I found were a little off the mark.
Some of the info I discovered on the magic web may help you avoid the pitfalls of multi-booting w9x installs.
Again, these comments only relate to multi-booting Windows 9x done without using a 3rd party boot manager.
As to how boot managers can overcome a lot of the restrictions listed below, please see my related page with comments on some of the quirks of multibooting with and without boot managers (I've only tested OSL2000, XOSL and BootitNG so far).
Some proposed solutions I found on the magic web for multibooting w9x were:
No, the second install will over-write the first install's boot files in C:\ so only the last installed OS can boot.
No, the OS select feature is only available in OS aware installers such as XP, Vista, w7, etc. - w9x versions only display an OS specific list of options for the individual OS being started if either the F8 key is pressed (Normal boot, Safe boot, exit to DOS, etc.) or BootMenu=1 is set in MSDOS.sys - this is not a real "Select OS to boot" menu.
The options menu does allow you to start in DOS only, but all this is doing is stopping the Windows GUI from loading (equivalent to BootGUI=0 in MSdos.sys).
No, any drag'n'drop OS on partition 2, 3, etc. will not work, as the current OS on C knows nothing about any other partition's boot files using this method and will always load the OS that's listed in MSDOS.sys on C:\ and this will never reference any partition other than 1 - unless the OS was installed on partition 2 using the Windows 98 installer process (which then over-wrote the other OS's boot files on C:\).
A similar situation applies if you drag'n'drop a windows 98 install onto partition 1 on a different disk - you'll get an error asking you to remove the disk and reboot or a similar WTH error.
No, as you'll get the SU0013 error at the beginning of the w98 install process.
This method is probably the most promoted method to get a w98 multi-boot install, and one I tried more than once, without success (error SU0013 every time).
Simple partition hiding (as opposed to true partition hiding) i.e., flagging partition 1 as "hidden" using a partition tool, won't cut it with 9x installers.
The windows installer knows you're not installing w98 to partition 1 and the installer insists on having partition 1 available for it's boot files.
On a native Windows 98 install the installer will spit the dummy if the first partition is not available for it's boot files - and if you have partition 1 available, you'll end up with a single boot system by default as Windows 98 will over-write any existing boot files on partition 1.
The fact that the Windows 98 installer does not ask you to select a partition for the install, should indicate it doesn't care what you think - it's going to default to partition 1 and spit the dummy if it can't access it.
Try it in VirtualBox or VMware.
Note: OSL2000 (for w9x only) and Bootit NG (for w9x and later) boot managers can work around this restriction.
My experience with OSL2000, XOSL and Bootit NG boot managers is:
I've also recently found a few other boot managers that I might get around to testing (one day):
zBoot Manager (claims up to 32 primary partitions)
Symon (claims up to 36 primary partitions)
Partition Boot Manager (claims up to 256 partitions)
If you're interested, all the boot managers I've found are on my FTP server shotterftp21.mooo.com (login as anonymous) in the Boot_Managers folder in the 000_Freeware_DLs folder.
I've also reviewed 50 DOS and Windows boot managers on this site . . . click here to view that page.
Edit mdjfff.dll and insert mother's maiden name, triple toss odd numbered dll's, spudge the widget api, rename MSDOS.sys to abracadabra, hash the total of the .sys files then copy and zip all uneven registry items and drop all files onto partition 7. Works fine.
What can I say ?
The bottom line to all this that Windows 9x are a reflection of the times when it's development occurred, i.e., a time when PC's and their OS were an expensive option, and the thought of people buying and installing multiple OS versions probably rated up there with a colour TV in every room and 4 cars in the driveway (and I'm not going to take a cheap shot at Bill G or anyone else for the lack of a crystal ball).
But it's still a pain in the proverbial for multi-booting, but a boot manager such as OSL2000 and Bootit NG can remove a lot of this pain.
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