I have more or less this configurations.
Partition 1: Vista
Partition 2: XP
partition 3: XP program files
partition 4: Linux
But i formatted partition 4 and merged it with 3 and installed linux on a sata disk (to avoid the grub+jmicron problem, since that disk is IDE)
Now there are few ways to do that! To partition the disk you can use Hiren's Boot CD (found in torrents).
If you dont plan to make an extra partition int he future then you can partition them all as PRIMARY partition!
If you think you may need an extra partition in the future, partition one as a LOGICAL partition (in my case thats XP)
you can do all these through Acronis disk manager, when you boot from hiren's boot cd. You don't need a swap partition, since there are alot of partitions you might want to skip that. There is a nice way to make a swapfile (check the end of this message)
The order i installed them was:
First XP! Xp bootloader writes itself to the mbr.
then vista! Vista bootloader overwrites mbr, but keeps the XP selection
Then linux and in the installation choose to install the bootloader on the partition
and NOT the MBR!
Now there are 2 ways to finalize the setup.
#1 and the easiest is by downloading EasyBcd (http://neosmart.net/dl.php?id=1
) and from Vista or XP (you will need .NET2 for the second) you choose to add an operating system to the vista bootloader. Select GRUB from the dropdown list (not NeoGrub) and point it to the linux partition (i.e. /dev/sda3 if its the 3d primary)
#2 use bootpart (http://www.winimage.com/bootpart.htm
) instead of easybcd. You run it first from XP in command prompt and find which partition number is linux in. then you run it again to extract a bootimage, say named ubuntu.lin . Finally you copy that somewhere easily accessible, say C:\ and add it to the boot.ini file like that:
You are ready to go! Now Vista bootloader can boot all 3 OSes
Another way i had seen in guide online is to make a small boot partition in FAT fs, install XP bootloader and add all the other entries with bootpart. I woudlnt recommend it since its not easy.Control via Easybcd is the easiest way to go since its automated and has a nice descriptive graphical interface. Again another way is to install XP first, then vista and then ubuntu and let Grub take over of the MBR. The you can add/edit boot entries in linux by editing /boot/grub/menu.lst file (bit technical but if you learn how to use it its cool)
About the data partition you can either make it NTFS or EXT3. In both Linux and windows there are programs that can let your system access them. I would recommend NTFS. All you have to do is install NTFS-3g from synaptic package manager in ubuntu and your ntfs drive will be accessible in linux.
And one more thing, if you use EasyBcd choose to backup the bootloader after you are done! This way if say you format XP and reinstall them (Xp will replace vista bootloader in the MBR) you install Easybcd in xp again and choose to restore the vista bootloader and everything will be fine!
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To add a swap file:
Determine the size of the new swap file and multiple by 1024 to determine the block size. For example, the block size of a 64 MB swap file is 65536.
At a shell prompt as root, type the following command with count being equal to the desired block size:
dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile bs=1024 count=65536
Setup the swap file with the command:
To enable the swap file immediately but not automatically at boot time:
To enable it at boot time, edit /etc/fstab to include:
/swapfile swap swap defaults 0 0
The next time the system boots, it will enable the new swap file.
After adding the new swap file and enabling it, make sure it is enabled by viewing the output of the command cat /proc/swaps or free.