I just bought a new hard drive so that I could convert my XP-only machine into an XP-Ubuntu-Windows 7 triple boot machine. Since the drive is absurdly huge (1 TB) I wouldn't mind throwing ReactOS into the mix, too.
I just found out that master boot records are limited to 4 entries, meaning 4 primary partitions. I had Windows XP set up on my old drive as a boot partition, a program files partition and a media partition. Since I really didn't want to install XP from scratch, I cloned this setup on my new drive.
This leaves me one MBR partition entry for installing Windows 7, Ubuntu and ReactOS. I'd like to avoid having to install XP from scratch like the plague, partly because it's supposed to be a safety net in case things go wrong with my other OS's and because I've invested a lot of time getting it set up exactly the way I like it.
Here are the options I've considered and why I don't like them:
- Install Windows 7 on my media partition. This would work, but I prefer to keep my media partition completely separate from any OS, so that I can reformat an OS partition without affecting my media partition at all.
- Use wubi or something to install Ubuntu in the same partition as something else. Again, this is brittle.
- Move all my media to a logical drive on an extended partition. Create another logical drive on this extended partition for Ubuntu. The problem here is that extended partitions are rather brittle--if you nuke one, it renders the rest useless.
- Just put the old drive back in my computer and run XP off it. Use the new one for the other OS's. The problem here is that the old drive is slower and uses extra power, generates extra heat, etc.
Can anyone suggest any other possibilities that I may have overlooked?