Every hard drive has something like a secret place, that you can not normally access or write to with partitioning tools. It is very small and is usually refered to as the mbr, or the first boot sector of a hd. it is NOT a /boot partition. I will refer to it as the mbr. the mbr works like a sort of trigger that allows usually one /boot partition to begin working.
Now if your computer has multple hard drives, each hd still has its own mbr, but there is basically a total system mbr also. the total system mbr is not another secret place. it is basically an idea that is determined by the hard drive sockets on a motherboard. example: if you look at your motherboard you will probably see atleast 4 sata connections. they are labeled sata1, sata2 and so on. yes, you can change your bios boot order, but most os's will always consider the hard drive plugged into sata1 as the first hard drive in total system mbr, and may possibly write thier bootloader there, regardless of bios bootorder. many os's or hd's tend to look foward in total system mbr toward either the next hard drive or the drive on sata 1. this is why pushing f5 in pc-bsd's boot menu will always go to the next drive in total system mbr not bios boot order. if you want to use total system mbr style make sure sata1 is first in the bios boot order, and plan your installs accordingly.
bootloader only writes to mbr of the hard drive you install it to, if you enable the "install bootloader" box during install. it will never write to total system mbr if you are using multiple hard drives. but it has an awsome option to press f5 on the bootloader screen to jump to the mbr of the next hard drive in total system mbr order, where you can have another os's bootloader written. the reason the pc-bsd bootloader looks plain with only f1, f2, f3, f4 and f5 options is the system is running on that tiny mbr at that moment and there is not enough space to make something really beautiful. this is different than grub and windows bootloaders. you never actually see anything from grub and windows on the mbr, they use the mbr to trigger thier /boot partitions, where you see the grub menu or windows menu. The PC-BSD bootloader will continue to work and even see new os's even if PC-BSD, the os, is removed.
uses the mbr as a trigger, you dont actually see the grub menu there, the grub menu is in the /boot folder or partition.
see my next post in this thread for Grub Legacy
using grub2 can, by default, write to total system mbr, but many distros offer bootloader options to not install bootloader, install to a particular hd's mbr, and/or to a partition. Grub will usuall see other linux installs and ms windows installs. it however will not see BSD installs without doing extra work. Grub2 will also not see or boot other grub2 systems where /boot is installed on a seperate partition from /.
Grub2 acually begins at version 1.90, and above.
a simple and easy way to add new installed os's to a grub2's menu of an already installed linux, is to log into the previously installed linux. open a terminal and switch to root user, then enter this command:
grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
sadly it will not pick up any bsd's this way. to add any BSD's to grub check the pc-bsd handbook 4.7.3 and google
, and maybe here:
some useful links:
much like the corporation that makes it, is rather arrogant, in my opinion, i could be wrong. it never looks for another operating system. it will also overwrite and destroy anything written to the mbr with no possible option to do anything different. it is recommended to always install windows first in a dual/multi boot system. keep in mind that windows xp can be installed as many times as you like, so long as its on 1 computer
. but the license changed with vista and continues with win7 that you can only reinstall 1 time. . . atleast not without a bunch of headaches. for these and other reasons i always install windows first, to the hard drive that is 1st in total system mbr, but i set it to last in bios boot order, as everything will see it, but it refuses to see others, unless you force it by installing easyBCD on windows to add other os's to it's boot menu. however in my experience using easyBCD will only work on os's installed on the same hard drive as windows. atleast for me easyBCD seems to see the other hard drives and partitions, but for whatever reason it only seems to work with os's on the same hard drive, there may be a work around to that, but i didnt try.
works quite well on a single hard drive setup, it may work well on multi hard drives, but i think it requires some work arounds. it is activly developed. it is not a bootloader. it is a program that you run from windows to force windows into allowing other os's into the windows boot options menu, which you never see unless options are put in. it works with BSD's and all things linux.
more info here:
the graphic bootloader is a nice option. like the pc-bsd bootloader the screen you see is actually running on that tiny mbr space, not on a /boot partition or folder. because it is so small little can be done to modify it, it looks like something from the windows 95/98 era, but an improvement to the f selection screen of pc-bsd i think. the interesting thing i found is it will install to the mbr of 1st drive in the bios boot order, not to total system mbr.
Windows, including windows 7 is easily added to GAG by choosing the 100mb windows boot partition, if windows uses a boot partition.
All BSD's work with GAG, including pc-bsd with an encrypted / slice, you only need to make sure you have a 500mb /boot slice in your pc-bsd partition. assuming you have all your pc-bsd slices on one primary partition, you only need to direct gag to that partition.
GAG also works with grub2 as long as your linux install does not have a seperate /boot partition. gag needs grub2 or /boot to be inside of / to work. for many that is ok, but anyone encrypting / in linux it simply wont work, unless you change your boot partition to grub legacy or llo and that is not really viable in my opinion(this is not only a gag problem, but grub2 itself wont see or boot other grub2 systems where /boot is on a seperate partition from /).
GAG will see and work across multiple hard drives, regardless of which hard drive its installed on, but itself only installs to the mbr of 1 hard drive.
the last release was in 2008. . . but keep in mind its ultra small, how much can you really develope it ?
downloading, installing, and using gag may be 1 of the fastest and easiest things you ever do on a computer. its actually quite simple and light.
the download is found here:
you can find other useful information at these links:
the download is a zip file (1.4mb, lol) which needs to be unzipped/uncompressed using your favorite archive/zip utility. the new folder should be named gag4.10 (as of the date of this writing) now a whooping 4.7mb. inside the folder you will find various files and folders. this is because you have basically 3 options to install: 1. floppy (yes, its true) 2. live cd iso (3.2mb, ultra lol, yes 3.2mb) or 3. run from desktop. One thing i find very useful is in the "docs" folder, 2 files named "instruction.html" and "instruc2.html". open these 2 documents with open office .org writer and you can find very useful install and use information. also the pc-bsd handbook has a somewhat condensed version in section 4.7.2 (as of this writing).
i thought i was one of the last people to cling to floppy use, and i gave that up a few years back. . . but its there if you want it. i was a bit concerned about breaking any of my systems, so i did NOT choose option 3, though supposedly it can be run from linux or windows desktop. i tend to do a lot installs and reinstalls of os's so i thought it might be handy to burn the cd iso to cd. the cd iso is all you need, the other files are for other install methods.
I burned the iso faster than I could light a cigarette, lol, but not surprising as the iso is only 3.2mb. You run the cd/dvd at reboot the same as installing an os.
NOTE* it will overwrite the mbr of the 1st hard drive in bios boot order, no options to choose which hard drive. If you are worried, than physically unplug any hard drives you dont want to lose the boot loader, by some accident or mistake.
The graphics look like they are from windows 95/98, but remember it is installing to a tiny place and not much can be done to improve it as the mbr is just too small. You can only use the keyboard, no mouse. Use arrows, numbers, and letters to make selections. You need to save to hard disk after each os selection is made and icon set. The red letter in each button is the key you need to push to make the selection. By default the program is english keyboard layout I believe, so if you have something different it may not work, or you may need to push random keys to see which key does what.
feel free to post any helpful info of your own.