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1. Introduction

After many days of struggle and frustration, I finally figured out how to accomplish what I wanted. I have a 1.2GB HD and 16MB RAM PC. I wanted to have 4 operating systems on my system: MSDOS v6.22, Windows 95, OS/2, and Linux. Until now, I have found no Linux HOWTO to perform the task of getting each and every one of these operating systems on one machine and still have the ability to boot each (it is possible to write the OSs to different partitions, but getting them to boot and not hang at the ``Starting MSDOS'' message, for example, is something that I had to figure out. Well, after much trial and error, I have come up with the following recipe to perform this feat:

Before I begin going through the procedure step-by-step, let me first clue you in on what I eventually wish to accomplish:

<NAME>                      <SIZE>   <LABEL>  <PARTITION NUMBER>
---------------------------------------------------------------------
MSDOS v6.22                   11MB   P1       Primary Partition 1
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Windows '95                  350MB   P2       Primary Partition 2
---------------------------------------------------------------------
OS/2 Boot Manager              2MB   P3       Primary Partition 3
---------------------------------------------------------------------
DOS/Win Data                 511MB   E1       Primary Partition 4
OS/2 Warp 3.0                127MB   E2       Extended into 4 logical 
Linux Slakware 3.2 Swap        XMB   E3       drives (sub-partitions)
Linux Slakware 3.2 Native  219-XMB   E4       labeled E1-E4
---------------------------------------------------------------------

What does all of this mean? Well, let me talk you through it. First, we need to use up all 4 partitions on our 1 harddrive. Partitions 1 through 3 are PRIMARY partitions. We will store MSDOS, Win95 and the OS/2 Boot Manager (which inefficiently requires its OWN partition) on these partitions, respectively. We then have 1 partition left. But, we want to have a drive just for DOS/Win95 data (this gives us a large place to dump all of those ZIP files we so often download from the Internet as well as a place to store Win95 programs and data that we don't have enough room for on the Win95 partition), OS/2, and Linux (both a Linux native as well as Linux swap partition).

Now, I've been getting a lot of grief through e-mail lately about why I have a separate partition for Win95 and one for DOS and one for Win95/DOS data. Here's my answer: having separate Win95 and DOS partitions isn't for everyone. Perhaps you don't even use DOS anymore. Perhaps Windows '95 is your answer for any software written for a Microsoft platform. Well, there are some people out there who still use DOS and can't live without it. Whether it's because DOS can run 16-bit applications faster and more efficient, or because the certain DOS program that you may use won't run under a Windows environment (the Gravis Ultrasound soundcard setup program comes to mind), you simply MUST be able to boot into DOS from time to time. This HOWTO was written with those people in mind. If you still have difficulty swallowing the fact that the word ``MSDOS'' is included in this HOWTO, then feel free to sit down and write a Linux-Win95-OS/2-only HOWTO. :)

Now, back to the diagram above. Like I said, we have 1 partition to cram 4 things onto: DOS/Win data, OS/2, and Linux native & swap. This can be done by creating what are called logical drives (or logical partitions, depending on which book you read) within the 1 primary partition. When we create these logical drives within a primary partition, we refer to this primary partition as an EXTENDED PARTITION (because it is extended beyond the scope of a single, primary partition and instead contains up to 3 subpartitions (logical drives)). Confused? If so, you might want to read the OS/2 manual about this topic. It will explain it better than I have here.

Now, you might be scratching your head saying ``he wants to cram 4 things onto that extended partition, but he just got done saying we can only have 3 subpartitions to put them on!'' This is true, at least in MS-DOS's and OS/2's reasoning. But, here one of the many powerful advantages to Linux comes to save the day. Linux can create more than 3 subpartitions on an extended drive. Just how many, I don't know. But, I know it can create at LEAST 4 (what we need). So, when we go through the steps of the installation procedure below, keep in mind that when we create partitions using an MSDOS or OS/2 program, we will only create 3 logical drives. Then, when we go to Linux, we will split one of them into two. Essentially, you can think of it as ``tricking'' MSDOS and OS/2 into seeing only 3 logical drives, but in reality (and to Linux), there will be 4.


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