Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Multiple Linux Distros on One Hard Drive With Yaboot

So I had this old 13 GB hard drive packed away in a box that I completely forgot about until a few days ago when I thought, "Why aren't I using this?" Then I went back to playing with my balloon.

Several hours later, though, I decided to stick it in my Sawtooth as a second hard drive and use it to test out Linux distros on two partitions. So in an act of impressive daring-do and engineering elan, I opened its door. (My sarcasm is well-earned. I'm a veteran of the 7100 wars [don't ask].) A few screws unscrewed and screwed, a quick jumper setting change, and I had a second hard drive on top of my primary one and I was ready to go. From there, I closed the door and got some install CDs out.

The decision on which two distros to install was a no-brainer. Since I already have Debian on a laptop, I'd install Lubuntu and MintPPC. But how do you instal two Linux distros on the same hard drive? Never did that before. After a bit of googling, I came to one of two conclusions: either it was so complicated that speaking of it was a lot like the first rule of fight club, or it was so easy that nobody even bothered to write up a how-to. After going through it, I can now confirm the latter conclusion was the accurate one. Or was it the former? I always get those mixed up.

Apparently when you install any distro that uses deb-installer, it will automatically recognize any other Linux distros on the drive and append your yaboot configuration accordingly. It also recognizes OS X partions, but in my experience not OS 9 ones. Those I have to manually enter into yaboot.conf. So the procedure is easy.

First I started with MintPPC. In the deb-installer I set up the bootloader, swap, and root partitions and left the space I had planned for Lubuntu as "Free Space." Then I went ahead with the install just like any other. When that was all done, I booted with the Lubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) alternate CD (graphical installers are a PITA), and in the partitioner I set the remaining free space as Lubuntu's root partition. No need to set different bootloader and swap partitions as the existing ones will be shared. Then I proceeded with the install and rebooted.

Now at the yaboot prompt you enter "l" for Linux just like always, but at the second screen you press tab to display your choice of Linux installs. In my case, "Linux" for Lubuntu and "Debian-Linux" for MintPPC. You can edit those names in yaboot.conf to something shorter. Then type which one you want to boot and it boots!

The only problem I have is sometimes my display says "out of range" when the yaboot screen is supposed to display, so I have to type blind. I'll have to investigate that, but in the meantime I'll just ignore it and hope it goes away.

So now I have MintPPC and Lubuntu to try out. I'll probably write up something more about them later, but for now they haven't destroyed my computer yet so it's all good.

UPDATE: Just don't run ybin on a boot volume where your yaboot.conf only has one Linux install listed. In my case, the yaboot.conf on my Lubuntu install was the one with both Linux volumes since it was installed second, and the deb-installer ran ybin off of that. I made the mistake of running ybin while in MintPPC and temporarily making my Lubuntu volume invisible to yaboot. I got things sorted by running the Lubuntu install CD in rescue mode and re-installing the boot loader. Lesson learned.

1 comment:

  1. Helo
    A friend make since many years multi boot USB it is here