Related to my post about my Arch installation, I'm wondering whether the following procedure would work:

  1. Disconnect sda
  2. Install Arch normally on sdb as if on a single-drive system
  3. Disconnect sdb, reconnect sda
  4. Install Win7 on sda as if on a single-drive system
  5. Reconnect sdb
  6. Tell BIOS to boot sdb
  7. In Arch, edit GRUB settings for dual-boot

I guess this depends on whether step 7 will work, i.e., boot Arch even though there's another hard drive present that wasn't there during installation.

And a related issue: Does anyone know whether Windows 7 needs to be (a) installed first, whether or not there's another hard drive present, and (b) on the first hard drive, i.e., hd0 (if the Linux drive is going to have the bootloader on it, it might as well be first if possible)? I know that installing two systems on the same hard drive requires Windows to be installed first because otherwise it will overwrite the MBR, but what about separate drives?

  • Step 7 should work. My memory's foggy but I believe I once installed either Vista in a two drive set-up similar to what you describe. Ubuntu was already installed. Windows installed its boot loader onto the Ubuntu partition despite that being the 2nd drive in the BIOS order and otherwise not making much sense in general. Caused all sorts of headaches while I worked out what had gone wrong. Since then I've always disconnected all other drives while installing an OS where it's going to be a heterogeneous multi-boot set-up.
    – boehj
    Commented May 1, 2011 at 15:50
  • @boehj: Interesting to know. I think I probably will try this plan out, except that I'll end up with Linux and Grub on hd0 and Windows on hd1.
    – Wolf
    Commented May 1, 2011 at 15:59

1 Answer 1


This will mostly work. It's a good way to eliminate most of the software hassles, transforming them into hardware hassles.

You'll still have to solve your disk assignment problem at step 7. If both your disks are connected to the same IDE, SCSI or SATA controller, swapping there order so that the Linux disk appears as /dev/sda will make your life easier, since the Linux disk will then be the first disk both according to the BIOS and to Linux.

Things get easier with Grub 2, because it can scan disks looking for a filesystem label. With Grub 1, I don't think you can escape a step of getting the drive numbers right.

  • Thanks. It seemed to me this ought to work. I figure even step 7 should be straightforward, since Linux will be (hd0,0) and /dev/sda, and Windows will be (hd1,0) and /dev/sdb. The only issue I can see is that there's a chance Windows won't like being installed as hd0 and then moved to hd1; but for all I know it might not care. I think Arch supports Grub 2, but not during the initial installation. So perhaps once Arch is installed I could install Grub 2 before going on to set up the dual-boot. But I'll read up on Grub 2 first.
    – Wolf
    Commented May 1, 2011 at 15:44
  • It worked. I haven't actually tried step 7 yet, but the Windows install worked and the Arch install worked. Thanks for your input!
    – Wolf
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 21:10

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .