I want to become a first time Ubuntu user. I have a desktop with Windows XP running on it. Now I want to set up a multi boot.

I have two hard disk drives. One 60 GB with Windows XP (we call it A). The second drive has 500 GB (lets call this B) and just data on it.

A has 3 partitions (plus bootsector), and B has 2 partitions.

I want to install Ubuntu on the second partition (40 GB) of drive B. (The first partition I use for my (windows) data files). I have reserved a 2 GB partition on drive A for the Ubuntu Swap-file (and also an empty 12GB (FAT32) partition without a current purpose, but I thought it might be useful sometime perhaps).

Now I have not started to install yet, because I have two problems. I can't boot from my DVD-drive, so it won't autorun the installation DVD. (Booting from another CD-ROM drive is possible). But I found a way around this by first running an IDE drive diagnostic. By accident I found, that after the diagnostic process, the PC does boot from the DVD drive.

My second (unsolved) problem -the reason why I'm posting my question here- is that I can't find the drive B in the setting of my bootsequence. It's just not showing! While in the IDE drive diagnostic it does show, as well as in the running OS.

[edit: not showing means: when I enter the boot setup (using F2 at startup), I can alter the boot sequence. But the only options shown are 1. Diskette Drive; 2. IDE CD-ROM device; 3. Hard Disk Drive C:. I wish to select my WDC-500GB-Hard-Drive here, but I don't know how].

I've read that the drive that has Ubuntu on it, must be first in the bootsequence, in order for GRUB to make the desired multiboot selector thing.

I see three options (but I not sure how and if possible): 1. Find a way to get drive B to appear in the boot sequence setting menu (my prefference, but clueless on how to do it). 2. Set Ubuntu on the drive B, but set GRUB on the drive A (can this be done?) 3. Switch the drives A and B physically (I'm very affraid to lose data or functionality).

Can someone help me out?

  • Thnx. Done the edit. The link confirms my thoughts, because it states "In the BIOS set to boot from the Ubuntu drive." and that's what I don't know how to. – Follow Jul 21 '14 at 14:25
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    Is this an older IDE/PATA system? And then do you have drive set using 80 conductor cable, not 40 conductor cable and jumpers set for cable select? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_ATA – oldfred Jul 21 '14 at 15:44
  • My guess is that this is indeed a IDE/PATA system (not sure how to check). It's a Dell Dimension Desktop bought already in 2002. Still used intensely though, and still running pretty nice too. Two times reinstalled Windows. Upgraded to 2GB RAM (max) and added a hard drive. BIOS not updated. – Follow Jul 21 '14 at 16:05
  • Really old IDE systems did not have cable select, or you could not set boot drive in BIOS. You only set one drive as master and second as slave. Only master would be bootable. You need to review cables & jumpers on hard drive. See pictures in wiki link above. – oldfred Jul 21 '14 at 16:52
  • Thanks. This will be the case. But if I can install GRUB on '/dev/hda' by choosing '/dev/hda' as the option for Device for boot loader installation and put Ubuntu on 'sdb2' at the same time (I think this is what @user68186 meant), it should also work with less effort. Thanks. – Follow Jul 21 '14 at 17:44

Step 1: Backup

Backup your data in your Windows and second hard drive to an external source, such as an external hard drive, USB drive, or DVD. This is very important. We will do things that cannot be changed back. If you make a mistake, your data will be gone forever.

Step 2: Test and verify

Test that your computer can run Ubuntu without any problems, and all the parts are recognized. To do this, boot from the Ubuntu DVD and choose the option Try without installing... This will boot Ubuntu directly from the DVD. It will run slowly, so give it some time to come up. Test that sound, wifi or wired Internet, etc. are all working correctly.

Verify the drive names. Ubuntu uses a different naming convention. There is not C:\ and D:\ drives etc in Ubuntu. The two physical drives will probably be called /dev/hda and /dev/hdb (or /dev/sda and /dev/sdb). Verify that C:\ is in /dev/hda or in /dev/hdb. To do this open gparted from Dash, the gray icon on top left bar.

Gparted will show /dev/hda initially. See if you can identify all the partitions, such as 'C:\'. The partitions are numbered. For example, the first partition in /dev/hda is /dev/hda1. Write down the name of the partition you plan to use for Ubuntu. For example if /dev/hda is your drive A, then identify the new name of the partition you want to use for swap and write it down. Make sure you don't write down the name of the wrong partition. Choosing the wrong partition will result in data loss. If you have already formatted this partition in one of the Windows formats, this is a good time to delete the partition and make the space unallocated. Ubuntu will use a special format for Swap.

Within gparted, look at /dev/hdb next, by selecting it at the top right corner. Verify that this is your Drive B. Identify the partition you have created to install Ubuntu in and write its name down. It may be /dev/hdb1 or /dev/hdb2 etc. Make sure you don't write down the name of the wrong partition. Choosing the wrong partition will result in data loss. If you have already formatted this partition in one of the Windows formats, this is a good time to delete the partition and make the space unallocated. Ubuntu will use format ext4.

Step 3: Install

When you are ready to install Ubuntu, proceed with the Install Ubuntu icon.

Follow the prompts will you come to the Installation Type page.

enter image description here

Select Something Else

The next page will be very similar to the Gparted and show /dev/hda by default. If this is your Drive A, select the Unallocated Space you have identified for Swap and mark it to be used as Swap. Also make sure that Device for boot loader (GRUB) installation is /dev/hda (assuming that this is your Drive A). Do not install GRUB in any specific partition such as /dev/hda1.

Now switch to /dev/hdb (your Drive B). Assign the Unallocated Space you had created before to be formatted ext4. Assign it a mount point of / from the drop down menu. Select format partition option.

Proceed through the installation and follow the instructions from Step 6 onward in the official Ubuntu page.

Special Note on GRUB

Normally I would put GRUB on the same drive as Ubuntu, /dev/hdb. Since in this case, you can't boot from the second drive, we put it in /dev/hda.

Keeping GRUB in the same drive as Ubuntu keeps things simple, particularly for those who don't want to "mess with" the drive with Windows. Reinstalling Windows will overwrite GRUB in the MBR (Master Boot Record) of /dev/hda. Then you will have to put GRUB back there to boot Ubuntu again. See How can I repair grub? (How to get Ubuntu back after installing Windows?)

Hope this helps

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