Jargon Demystified: Dualbooting

>> Thursday, December 31, 2009

Us geeks have a penchant for different operating systems. We always want to get our hands dirty with something new, something faster, something just-out. It's part of the adrenaline rush that's so very essential for our tech-happiness. And the one thing that is essential to trying out new OSes, is dual-booting.

The worst part about wanting to try out a new OS is the fact that moving to a new OS environment is like changing your neighbourhood. And just like it's a bit crazy to get to know people around your new neighbourhood, it's equally crazy to personalize your new OS just as you want it. So, to keep our personalization intact and for that occasional nostalgia, we use something called dual-booting.

Dual-booting is essentially refers to having two operating systems installed on a single computer. The user gets to select his choice of OS at each boot. Simple, right? Not quite. When you actually get down to doing it, dual-booting can be a major pain in the ass. There are a lot of things to consider. Partitioning, filesystems, blah, blah, blah. Below is a simple list of things you need to do to make your experience as smooth as possible.

  1. If any one of your OSes is Windows, then install Windows before you install any other OSes. The bootloaders of other OSes do a much better job of recognising Windows installations than Windows does of recognising them.
  2. Make sure you have atleast one partition, which uses a filesystem that can be read by both operating systems. This way, you can shuttle critical files back and forth without the need to shove in a flash drive each time.
  3. Whatever you do, make sure you have a backup of all, yes ALL files on your system. You don't know when something might go wrong and you'll end up using all your work. Create disk images before you sit down to install another OS.
  4. And last, but not least, make sure you read the documentation for your new OS before you start installing it. You never know when a tip from any John Doe around the world may come to your rescue.

Dual-booting isn't child's play. But it isn't nuclear science either. With the right tools and a focussed head, you can go about it in a very painless fashion!

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This blog was created out of my passionate following for technology. After spending most of my life behind a monitor, and bent over a keyboard, I decided that it would be wonderful if I could pass on a bit of my knowledge to fellow netizens. And with that, I realized that it's time to start my first Blog. I hope that I will be able to keep posting quality content regularly. Please drop your comments about the blog on the Feedback page. I will do my best to respond.

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I am a final year Engineering student. This blog is my attempt to provide perspective on technological developments (computers and the Internet) from around the world. This is my first attempt at blogging and any feedback (good or bad) is welcome.

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