I decided recently to see if I could install 6 different linux distros onto a spare hard drive of mine, and make them all portable(-ish) for use in college and at home, but I'm running into a few problems, and want to know if anyone can suggest some solutions for me.
Most of you are probably saying "6!!! Why 6!!!! Why not choose one and try it out!!!". Well, the answer simply is, I can't choose just one distro. I've seen 6 so far that I really like, and want to give them all a good thorough testing to help me decide which one I really like.
Anyway, to the important stuff...
The distros I've chosen are:
- Debian 4.0 (Etch) -> Installing from DVD
- eAR OS 1.10b -> Installing from Live DVD
- Linux Mint 5.0 R1 -> Installing from Live CD
- Mandriva 2008.1 (Spring) -> Installing from DVD
- openSUSE 11.0 -> Installing from DVD
- Sabayon 3.5 -> Installing from Live DVD
The system I'm installing them on is a basic Dell Inspirion 530 with 2GB RAM, a Pentium E2160, and an Intel GMA 3300. I've disconnected the internal hard drive so I can make the system see my external 120GB HDD as the only drive
I aslo want to partition the drives as such:
Size Mount Point Used for Distro Partition Type Device Path
256MB /boot Bootloader Primary /dev/sdX1
2GB SWAP SHARED Primary /dev/sdX2
10GB / Debian 4.0 (Etch) Logical /dev/sdX5
10GB / Gentoo 2008 Logical /dev/sdX6
10GB / Mandriva 2008 Logical /dev/sdX7
10GB / Mint 5 Logical /dev/sdX8
10GB / openSUSE 11 Logical /dev/sdX9
15GB / Sabayon 3.5 Logical /dev/sdX10
4.4GB /tmp SHARED Logical /dev/sdX11
40GB /home SHARED Logical /dev/sdX12
The X in the Device Path is for whatever drive the PC sees my HDD as, wether it be sda, sdb, sdc, etc
The main problem I'm having so far, is with the boot loader. I want to replace the bootloader with EXTLINUX when I have all 6 OS's set up, but until then, I have a problem.
Should I just go through each OS install, make sure every thing gets set up ok, and make each not install the GRUB bootloader to it's own root partition (and not use the /dev/sda partition just yet), then combine the contents of all the /boot folders on each / partition, and then re-map each /boot folder to the /dev/sda partition, with all the various vmlinuz & initrd files, and make a master GRUB menu.lst file there, and install GRUB on the /dev/sda1 partition?
Would that work?
Otherwise, would it be possible to install GRUB on the /boot partition and have it link to each distros GRUB bootloader.. For example...
Main Grub Menu:
Debian -> links to the Debian bootloader on /dev/sda5
eAR OS -> links to the eAR OS bootloader on /dev/sda6
And so on...
One last thing.....
The main problem with a portable linux OS is X11 not re-detecting changed GPU's automatically. Is there anyway to make 2 config's for each OS, one for Intel GPUs, and one for ATI GPUS, and have an option to choose one or the other (and possibly generic VESA) at the boot menu?
Any and all help would be greatly appreciated, cause I'd really like to get this set-up working, for 4 of the 6 distros, it won't be so hard, as I can follow Falko's The Perfect Desktop guides for some of the OS's.
Anyway, I'll keep tinkering away on trying to get this to work, and I'll report back on any progress I make...