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This question is very vague, so allow me to be more specific:

I divided my USB drive (a temporary storage device until I get an SSD) into 6 partitions using GParted. I planned to use Rufus to install multiple Linux distros (up to 6), but I forgot that it actually identifies the whole USB drive, not individual partitions. The partition table is formatted as GPT, and each partition is ext4.

I also don't know how that would work, since wouldn't the GRUB boot loader install on each partition? Would this cause any flaws? Should I make a partition containing only GRUB?

I am still learning the concepts of Linux OSes so I'll be at a slow pace. My main goal is to be able to boot up any OS of Linux I have installed by choosing it in the GRUB or something of the sort.

  • Don't know what kind of "work" you are talking about, also don't know about rufus. Installing GRUB to partition is not recommended, although possible. To achive the goal mentioned in the title, you need to have a seperate partion used as ESP and another bios_grub partition (might need to be the first partition) in case of BIOS. Also, of course, a grub.cfg config file unless you wanna type boot command every time. – 炸鱼薯条德里克 Jan 9 at 2:59
  • Alright, I'll look into that. Are you aware of any ways to install an iso into a partition? I'm not sure of what program to use. – TheRyGuy Jan 9 at 3:53
  • I don't know what you mean by "installing an iso into a partition". – 炸鱼薯条德里克 Jan 9 at 4:12
  • By that I mean what application/commands can I use to put an operating system on a single partition to load from? – TheRyGuy Jan 9 at 4:24
  • When you install your OS, there should be a step letting you decide the partition scheme to install your OS, depending on the OS and installation method you're using, there's no certain solution. As for the exact method to setup GRUB, RTFD. – 炸鱼薯条德里克 Jan 9 at 4:27
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Should I make a partition containing only GRUB? I am still learning the concepts of Linux OSes so I'll be at a slow pace. My main goal is to be able to boot up any OS of Linux I have installed by choosing it in the GRUB or something of the sort.

GRUB = Grand Unified Boot Loader

yes, it would make sense to partition your [USB] drive to something like this for example, Grub is a boot loader that can boot anything hence its name:

  • format disk partition table as GPT, since that will handle anything. Using the legacy MBR will only allow for 3 or 4 partitions and have other problems (research difference between MBR and GPT as well as UEFI vs BIOS).
  • make first partition called boot, and format as either EXT2 or EXT3 would be my recommendation since those file systems will be readable by anything. Install GRUB on this partition. Basically the boot process from EFI, or BIOS, on your motherboard will then read GRUB on this partition; and GRUB will handle everything from here on.
  • you then need to configure GRUB {this is what makes it grand} and then upon booting when GRUB runs it will prompt with a bunch of menu options to those linux distro's you've installed on N partitions.
  • you will need to learn the in and outs of GRUB, probably GRUB2 since that's what's current now, to do this effectively
  • you will need to plan ahead for how many linux distro's you want when making partition sizes. Partition 1 {boot} at a size of 1GB for GRUB2 would be plenty. Leave rest of disk as free space, and if you did 100GB partitions for each linux distro that would let you do 9 distro's on a 1TB disk for example.
  • during a linux install tell it the existing /boot partition on partition 1 with your GRUB2, then partitition 2..n will be the root partition for that linux distro. Whether the linux install is smart enough to recognize GRUB2 already existing and modifying it I don't know. So partition 1 called and labelled /boot will contain GRUB2 and all the linux bootable images that you've installed, and then in each of those will reference their corresponding root partition from partitions 2..n.
  • Partition 1 that boot partition will have just one instance of GRUB2 configured to recognize all the linux distro's installed where each linux distro's kernel executable (files such as vmlinuz-3.0.101-108.77-default) will all be on this partition. Problem you may run into is if one distro uses the same name file as another, so you may want to manually organize partition 1 mounted as /boot to something like /boot/grub and /boot/rhel7 and /boot/sles11 and /boot/centos7 and /boot/ubuntu and so on.

Using Rufus or whatever tool to format USB flash memory as a bootable device, just use Rufus to put a GPT partition table on it but leave the entire thing free space, you just want to make it so as acceptable storage {disk} space when doing a linux install.

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