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I like to experiment with operating systems a lot, and I was wondering if there exists kind of a unified solution for managing the boot sector (or whatever it's called) so I can boot into different OS's and remove them whenever I want without having to worry about updating boot.ini, GRUB, LILO, etc.

Maybe a program I can put on a CD and it will somehow detect what OS's I have currently installed and let me boot into them. Sorry that the question is poorly worded, but I don't know exactly what I want, at least please point me in the right direction, thank you.

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3 Answers 3

I do not know of an automated way of doing it, but NeoSmart EasyBCD is close to what you want.

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However, if you want to mess around with different operating systems, it is possible to break working ones if you are not careful - and even if you are, I wouldn't really recommend it.

Take a look at virtualisation - it will allow you to run an operating system within another one. Personally, my favourite is VMWare Workstation, however there are many free solutions such as Virtual PC for Windows 7 (For Windows Vista or before) for Windows or VirtualBox which is cross platform.

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Did I get that right? In general, with EasyBCD I would have to have Windows installed at any given time to make changes? Also, when installing other OS's, I would have to order them not to set up any bootloaders, and then come back to Windows to add new entires to EasyBCD? –  George Jan 8 '10 at 19:26
    
Also, I have been using VirtualBox, which is very nice, but I want to finally install Linux or BSD on my laptop, and we all know how terribly compatible laptop hardware is... –  George Jan 8 '10 at 19:28

If you're experimenting a lot with different operating systems, i recommend a 3rd party boot manager such as BootIt NG

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Now you can select the OS you want to boot, but it doesn't stop there: you can also properly hide system partitions from each other, avoiding any interference from other operating systems that may cause damage to other bootloaders.

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Thanks for the suggestion. So I should be looking for 3rd party boot managers. Sounds good. But I think I'll check out EasyBCD first just cause it's free. :) –  George Jan 8 '10 at 19:32

You might be better off using virtualization, that is, running a computer on the OS you're using right now. This prevents a wild OS from running over OS(es) and it's faster than rebooting.

Download VMware Player and use an VMX creator.

http://dcgrendel.thewaffleiron.net/vmbuilder/2.04/

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