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I would like to install more than just a few distributions and i would like to avoid spending the time to install them one by one, having my system practically non operational for half a day - or more. Is there any way to install them while i am still running Ubuntu?

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

You could probably try Unetbootin, but I have not tested this and would not suggest it necessarily.

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doesn't unetbootin just create a usb where i have to restart in order to install the system? I thought it was just a way to avoid burning a cd – Chriskin Jul 3 '11 at 22:10
@Chriskin to my memory you can use it to install systems inside other systems or something similar. – RolandiXor Jul 3 '11 at 22:39
Seems like this one would work, after all. it can do both the live-usb thing i knew and what you are saying (at least according to the wikipedia article). I will test it tomorrow and - hopefully - return to mark this one as the answer – Chriskin Jul 4 '11 at 0:54
seems to be the fastest way, having tested it now. unetbootin makes a partition as a "frugal install" , an install that - even though isn't a complete one - is good enough for my testing . for more information here : – Chriskin Jul 4 '11 at 15:29

I suggest VirtualBox.

VirtualBox is a powerful x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualization product for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers, it is also the only professional solution that is freely available as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2.

You can use it to make virtual drives for each operating systems or Linux distributions.

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I'm not searching for virtual solutions - just a way to install different distros to a dozen different (logical) partitions – Chriskin Jul 4 '11 at 0:52
@Chriskin : I know you aren't searching for virtual solutions. But in your question I would like to avoid spending the time to install them one by one, having my system practically non operational for half a day .Virtual solution is more easy and fast to create distros inside Ubuntu with less effort and time. But when you tell you want to install to different partitions , you can do this by dual-booting or triple-booting, which takes time and effort! – Binarylife Jul 4 '11 at 7:10
And while I am still running Ubuntu You can run virtual box and run another Ubuntu inside the main distro. – Binarylife Jul 4 '11 at 7:12
I am not sure we are on the same topic here. I want to install them on different partitions (i already have a dozen ext4s waiting for me) for a real multi-boot experience (it's already triple-boot, i don't know how to call it from there on :P) . VirtualBox can't be the answer, since the distro won't be able to work at 100% , thus making my testing useless. It's not that i don't know the good parts of virtualbox though - i use it for some years already , especially for cases where wine fails and i am too bored/busy to reboot. - I just wanted to avoid the time of the installation of the distros – Chriskin Jul 4 '11 at 15:20
@Chriskin : I see,sorry maybe I didn't get you at first. – Binarylife Jul 4 '11 at 15:43

I don't think it is possible, and not even convenient, because the installation process of various distributions is not particularly long.

Only thing you can try is to install on a virtual disk with virtualbox, then could be possible to move the installation on a real partition, with the required modifications, to fstab and to grub for example, but the process is not simple, and I cannot recall exactly the details.

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i have found a way like the one you are describing here but it seems to me like it is targeted to the original grub, not grub 2. can i just add menuentries in grub 2 as well? as for whether it is convenient, i don't have a problem taking a long time to do it - i want to avoid stopping certain applications that are running on my system for as long as possible – Chriskin Jul 3 '11 at 22:08

There is no problems installing other distros on your disk. You just need to partition for it. Make sure you give each distro all the partitions it needs.

It should also be possible to install the other distros on a file, like wubi does on Windows, since grub supports booting from disk images. At least it supports booting from ISO-images. I don't know any reason why you shouldn't be able to boot a normal raw disk image just as easily, but I'm not entirely certain. There are several ways you can create a disk image and install an operating system on it, but here's one way to do it without any virtualization (which might be easier):

Create a RAW disk image using qemu-img. Boot a live-cd for the distro you want to install and use qemu-nbd to mount the disk image you created so you get a block device. I skip and references to invocations here because you really need to read the manual for those commands. (It's not difficult) You can then create partitions on that image as if it was a normal disk. Install the operating system and boot loader.

Now, you have to configure your grub to boot from that disk image. Unfortunately, that's where my knowledge ends. Good luck. :)

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