dual booting XP and Linux

Mike McCarty Mike.McCarty at sbcglobal.net
Fri Apr 7 02:56:10 UTC 2006

Timothy Murphy wrote:
> Mike McCarty wrote:
>>>>I found it easier to let the WinXP boot manager chain load GRUB
>>>>than the other way 'round. MicroSoft products like to be in
>>>>charge. While GRUB+Linux is not a good match, it is a reasonable
>>>>match, and works pretty well, whereas GRUB+WinXP is a poor match,
>>>>and the WinXP boot manager is a pretty reasonable tool.
>>>That's nonsense.
>>How can *you* know better than *I* what was easier
>>for *me*?
> You made a general assertion that "Grub+Linux is not a good match"
> (what on earth does that mean?),
> and that "Grub+WinXP is a poor match".
> These are not simply statements about what was easier for you.
> They are general propositions which you presumably believe to be true.
> They are not true.

Well, the FSF and I agree on this point, and you do not.

GRUB was written to work with a standard for multiboot systems.
You may read more about that here:


Now, the last time I looked, Linux does *not* adhere to that standard.
So GRUB has a couple of kludgy little spots to make it work better with
Linux. (I'll admit that my information about Linux is a year or so
old now, but I haven't heard anything about it being made compliant,

So, Linux is not a good fit, but it is a reasonable fit.

Windows is not even close to the multiboot standard at all,
and makes no attempts (AFAIK) to make multiboot with it
easy. IIRC, you yourself suggested that it is better to
install Winxx first, then Linux/GRUB. This is because
Winxx routinely overwrites whatever is on the MBR during
install, without bothering to ask. It also in my experience
never asks whether you want to preserve current "other"
OS, and the MSDOS FDISK has historically been willing to
clobber the boot records on the start of partitions,
when all that is being altered is the size of the partition.

You might ponder this excerpt

The target operating systems

This specification is targeted toward free 32-bit operating systems that
can be fairly easily modified to support the specification without going
through lots of bureaucratic rigmarole. The particular free operating
systems that this specification is being primarily designed for are
Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Mach, and VSTa. It is hoped that other emerging
free operating systems will adopt it from the start, and thus
immediately be able to take advantage of existing boot loaders. It would
be nice if commercial operating system vendors eventually adopted this
specification as well, but that's probably a pipe dream.


One of the unfriendly things that some versions of Windows
do is check to see whether they are booting from the one
(and only) "active" partition of the primary disc. Certainly,
no version of Windows or MSDOS or OS2 has the standard
header in it. This is not too surprising, since many of the
MS products predate the multiboot standard.

This message made from 100% recycled bits.
You have found the bank of Larn.
I can explain it for you, but I can't understand it for you.
I speak only for myself, and I am unanimous in that!

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