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I have a dual (XP/Linux) boot Compaq Presario S4500UK with a couple of spare partitions on the boot drive which I want to use for testing different Linux distros/configs before installing them on "live" machines.

I tried this with Oneiric which worked fine until I came to un-installing the test system. Fortunately Oneiric uses Grub2 and so redirecting the boot-loader to work from the original Linux partition was a piece of cake - if a bit annoying. I now need to do some tests on Hardy and DSL (Damned Small Linux), neither of which use Grub2.


  1. Is it possible to install a test operating system without adding/replacing the boot-loader (i.e. so I can still use Grub2 from the original partition with its nice interface and recovery facilities)?

  2. Is there another way of uninstalling/decommisioning a test OS which doesn't trash the boot loader? (The only way I know to do this is by deleting/reformatting the partition which takes with it the boot-loader which is in that partition)?

Any help would be much appreciated.

share|improve this question
Use VM or Virtual box in windows or linux to install your test Linux system...It won't affect any of your data such as boot loader...but you may need more ram (more than 1GB ram) – Prasad RD Oct 6 '12 at 13:50
I have no experience with other Distros but ubuntu usually offers to NOT replace the bootloader in MBR or to install it in the first sector of the partition instead so that you can chain it with your primary boot loader. This might work for other Distros? i.e install without bootloader and then run update-grub with your main OS to add them – Karthik T Oct 8 '12 at 8:12

I advise you to use virtual machines as the following article says :

  1. Xen

  2. VirtualBox

  3. VMware

  4. QEMU

  5. Microsoft Virtual PC

  6. Parallels

share|improve this answer
Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. – Eliah Kagan Oct 6 '12 at 15:51

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