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I have a machine that I wish to install 3 operating systems on. The systems are, in no particular order, Windows 8, Ubuntu, and Backtrack Linux. Is there some document or step-by-step guide to the correct way to partition the drive and bootloader in order to install all 3 operating systems?

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1 Answer 1

General rule of thumb is "dumbest first". This means start with Windows, as its installer assumes that there are no non-Windows OSes on the disk, and it will happily wipe grub or whichever bootloader you have. After that, which of the linux OSes you install probably doesn't matter much, as long as one of them gets to create the 'master' bootloader and chains into the other. I don't know anything about Backtrack Linux, but IIRC, Ubuntu's installer is rather clever and should be able to detect both Windows and another Linux bootloader and automatically configure itself to chainload into either.

So your steps are, roughly:

  1. Install Windows, keeping enough free space for the other OSes on the disk
  2. Complete partitioning using a Linux-based partitioner
  3. Install Linux OSes
  4. Fix bootloader if required, and adjust to taste

Alternatively, if you want to avoid any and all potential problems, get a separate hdd for the Linux bootloader, and let Windows have the other (at least as far as boot sectors go); this does mean though that you have to select the boot disk in the BIOS rather than through the bootloader menu.

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Ubuntu runs a bootloader script which detects other installations of Linux, but it doesn't chainload them -- it boots their kernels directly. This doesn't always work properly. –  teppic Sep 5 '12 at 21:02
    
ubuntu also has the os-prober package, which it uses to detect other operating systems automatically when update-grub is run and add entries to the grub boot menu for them. –  cas Sep 5 '12 at 22:57

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