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(!) Dual boot systems made easy

From Murray Hogg

Answered By

Just a little tip which I've never seen before, but solves alot of the problems invovled in partitioning drives during a Linux install.
Rather than go to the trouble of partitioning the hard-drive on a functional Windows system (is that an oxymoron?) I simply placed it in a hard-drive caddy. When it came to installing Red Hat 7.2 I replaced the drive in the caddy with a second drive I happened to have from an obsolete system. Now, by simply inserting the appropriate hard-drive in the caddy, I can boot into Win98 or Linux with no more effort than it normally takes to use a Linux boot-disk -- assuming, of course, that your system BIOS allows to autoedetect the hard-drive on boot-up.
Just a few comments on the advantage of doing this;
It can be a cheap way of getting into Linux as it's actually cheaper to buy a new hard-drive and caddy for install in a new system than it is to go out and buy an old 486 or Pentium I (or whatever) -- it also takes lot's less desk space!
It has the advantage that the Linux and Windows installs are totally independent -- a crash on one has no chance of effecting the other whatsoever and it circumvents the problem that later versions of Windows have to be the only OS on a system.
The one draw-back is the need to add a second (third?) hard-drive to allow swapping of files between two OS's.
Finally, I'm not a developer or hacker, but I imagine using multiple hard-drives would also be a great way to experiment with new Linux distro's or versions (or even software packages) without risking damage to a known and trusted installation.
Hope someone finds it helpful, regards
Murray Hogg

Hi again,
I just recieved the following warning about the use of hard-drive caddies which I thought ought to be attached to my dual-boot system idea;
Thanks to "Dutch" for the following insights.

You make a few good points in your post. Now from 10 years as a hardware technician I'm going to inject a few cautionary notes.
1) If you are going to use a caddy system, be sure you get a decent one with solid, well designed alignment rails and good heavy duty connection pins. Over time the cheap ones can become mis-alligned and cause bent pins on the internal connectors. Best case the drive won't be recognized, worst case is a short causing damage to your system.
2) Along the same lines, most removable drive setups do not make solid metal-metal connections to conduct heat from the drive into the case where it is dissipated. So any caddy worth buying should have a cooling fan of some sort built into the tray.
3) Make sure to wait (usually a good slow count to 20) until your drives have COMPLETELY spun down before you remove them. Removing a drive that is still spinning is just asking for damage to the bearings, heads, etc.
4) Treat the removed drives with care (like they were delicate glass). I've seen people yank a caddy out of a machine and just drop it on their desk like a book. How long do you think something as delicate as a hard drive can take that kind of abuse?
5) Be extremely careful of static discharge, especally around the connection pins on the back of the caddy. ESD can kill a drive in a caddy very easily since the drive is not attached to any sort of protective ground.
"I think therefore I am...usually in a lot of trouble."

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