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Dual boot freeBSD / Windows 7

Discussion in 'Installing and Upgrading FreeBSD' started by gwb, May 15, 2010.

  1. gwb

    gwb New Member

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    Hello everybody,

    I installed my very first freeBSD yesterday, and I wanted it to dual boot with windows 7. I must say I ran into a lot of trouble before getting it to work properly. Since I found very few threads (except that of andrnils) on how to achieve that, I thought it could be of some help if I gave a feedback. So here is how I did it:

    First Attempt (Failure):

    I had my Disk partitionned In two: Archlinux on the first, and Windows 7 in the second. I deleted Archlinux and tryied to install freeBSD on the first partition.
    I got freeBSD working all right by lost windows 7 (or at least I was no longer able to boot it. I was getting a lovely message telling me a crucial windows 7 component was missing).

    Second Attempt (Success):

    Right after that failure, I adopted another strategy:

    1. I erased all my disk (with Ubuntu Live CD and gparted) and created two partitions:
    an NTFS partitions of 30G in the beginning of the disk, and I left the other partition
    unused. As you can imagine, I definitely lost all my windows 7 data in the process (I
    had backuped all the important stuff of course)

    2. I installed windows 7 in the first partition. There is nothing special to say here, the
    process is very simple. Just make sure you chose "Custom Install" and chose the right

    3. I installed freeBSD on the second partition. Here you have to make sure you install it
    on the unused slice when you get to the FDisk part of installation. The second important
    thing is to chose the option "Install BootMgr".

    And you're done. It worked perfectly for me. I think that the important part is to install windows first, and to make sure it is installed in the first slice of your disk.

    I hope this will help,

    PS: I am sorry if my english is not brillant, but I am French..
  2. sk8harddiefast

    sk8harddiefast Active Member

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    I would never run other os except bsd & solaris. Eespecially dual boot. Really I hate to have more than 1 os on my system. But this is good thread for all this they want to do it :D
  3. sysman

    sysman New Member

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    Actually, I feel to suggest avoid installing freebsd bootmamanger on the mbr, and prefer grub/grub2 instead. This is reasonably best choice to manage different OS situation.
  4. rden

    rden New Member

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    If they are all on disk0 why bother with grub - it's an unessesary extra step with zero gain, just copy out FreeBSD's boot1 and load it from win7 boot manager. Fast, simple, elegant and user-friendliest boot selection.
    (Used to have XP, FBSD and Win7 all booting from Win7 boot manager - until I removed Win7 and went back to XP's boot manager.)
  5. Bunyan

    Bunyan Member

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    In the past I used to apply the well-known C: \boot.ini hack when dual-booting FreeBSD with WindowsXP, but I am not sure whether it works with Windows Seven.

    Now I have FreeBSD as my ONLY Operating System on my hard drive and I am not planning to play with any other OS, because FreeBSD
    and the Ports Collection offer me everything I need.

    If you really want to give FreeBSD a try, just dedicate it the whole hard disk and dive into it.

    Another idea is to use GAG on a floppy.
  6. JimW

    JimW New Member

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    Yes.... I've learned over the years that if you want to have multiple operating systems on a single machine... one of them being Windows.... to avoid headaches and aggravation, always install Windows first.

    Also, if you want multiple versions of Windows on the same machine, always install the oldest version of Windows first.
  7. gwb

    gwb New Member

    Thanks Received:
    @Bunyan: Yeah, I had read something about a boot.ini, but many forums said that unfortunately, it wasn't possible with Win7 (though I admit I didn't even give it a try).
    As for Dual Booting, I must say that I am new to Freebsd, and that my knowledge of Unix is limited to a few months struggling happily with Archlinux (wich is a very nice linux distro), so I didn't want to leave everything to BSD at first.

    @JimW: I second that. If anyone has some issue with dualbooting, my only advice would be to install the win system first!

    @rden: I will give it a try eventually, but for the moment, I am quite happy with the fbsd mbr, and I will stick with it until I have finished setting up my box.
  8. Dr_Phoenix

    Dr_Phoenix New Member

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    Heh...not so easy making friendly Win7 and BSD or Linux, now I'll tell you my method.

    The problem is in the Win7, this OS will not allow you to make changes in it's boot sector, so if FreeBSD or Linux replaces it's by self BootManager win7 will not run and showing you the critical error message at the boot time.
    You can install GRUB or make other magic movings, but there is an easier way, 100% working result ;)

    • 1) Splitting hard drive by partitions, for sample look at the scheme:
         Primary(active)   Primary      Primary               Extended
         --------        -----------     ---------    -------------------------------
         | win7 |        | FreeBSD |     | Linux |    |     |    Logical disks  |   |
         --------        -----------     ---------    -------------------------------

      As I know you can't create more than 3 Primary partitions with 1 oxtended, so if you are crazy tester or want to have 5 or more OS'es on your PC, you must create its logical disks in Extended partition.

    • 2) Install Win7 to the 1st Primary partition as usually, test it...

    • 3) Now we will install BSD to the 2nd Primary partition, we must leave 1st primary partition active and do not make any changes to the boot sector of win7 partition!

      • a) chose custom installation

      • b) goto 3 (Partitions), press 2 times Z key to view sizes in MegaBytes, find your 2nd partition and create slice here. Find your 1st partition and select it, press S key to make it bootable (for default BSD making self partition bootable), press Q to quit partitions manager, now it will ask you about boot record -> select None (Leave boot record untouched)

      • c) Select 4 (Label) to make labels for your install (if you read this on this forum I think you know what is it and what labels and its sizes you need)

      • d) Next steps of BSD installing as usually you do it, select distributions, sources, etc...

    • 4) When BSD install finished your system will reboot and run Win7. You asking me, where BSD? Now all right and nothing dangerous, see the next steps )

    • 5) Install your other OS's if you need, but one important: do not touch MBR of 1st Primary partition! If you install Linux you can chose it, if you install Win XP and want to boot with this Win7 configuration, you must set Active (bootable) partition where you want to install XP, after its installs you must back Active partition mark to 1st Primary with Win7. Better to use any partition manager from LiveCD to set partitions bootable and splitting your HDD by partitions.

    • 6) Now the most interesting part! Goto http://neosmart.net/dl.php?id=1 and get simple program, named EasyBCD with the latest version. This program allows you to write your self defined sections to Win7 Boot loader configuration (in XP it was boot.ini, in win7 a bit differs). Install this tool and run it. Now you will see the boot loader sections in your Win7, must be only one and default. Click |Add new entry|, select FreeBSD as OS type, select partition to boot from (be careful here).

    • 8) Reboot system and you will see the Win7 loader prompt with list of your OS'es to boot. Congratulations, you are done!

    I'm using only Win7 + BSD (earlier testing Linux too) on my PC and there were no problems to switch betweeen this OS'es using this method, good luck!

    FreeBSD - the power, the power to be free ;)

    (P.S. sorry for my bad English)
  9. zeiz

    zeiz New Member

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    I wish I could...
    But how do you communicate with the rest of World if you only use Port Collection?
    For example any employer reads your CV using MSO. If you did it with OOO then some formatting could be incompatible and your CV would look like a garbage in MSO: it's written there that you know computers well but who is going to believe if even your CV looks like that?
    Similar happens with Excel and Spreadsheet and etc etc...

    If you know workarounds please share ... :)
  10. DutchDaemon

    DutchDaemon Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator

    Thanks Received:
    Zeiz, that question does not belong in this thread. Please open a topic elsewhere (I suggest the 'Off-Topic' forum) to inquire about this type of problem and possible solutions for them.
  11. zeiz

    zeiz New Member

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    Indeed. Sorry.