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I want to install Windows 7, Windows 10, Ubuntu, and Fedora in a multi-boot configuration. When the boot loader starts up, I want to select any of these operating system and boot it.

I believe I will need:

  • a boot partition,
  • two Windows partitions,
  • two swap partitions, and
  • two ext4 partitions for Ubuntu and Fedora.

So I need 7 primary partitions. Is it possible to have seven primary partitions on an MBR disk? How can I set this up?

  • Why 2 swap partitions? both Ubuntu and Fedora can share the same swap. And if your computer has UEFI, it's better format the drive as GPT and you can have as many partitions as you want – phuclv Jan 14 '16 at 15:54
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Is it possible to create 7 boot partitions by editing MBR file ?

No. When using MBR you only have room for four primary entries. You can not add more.

What you can do is add an extended partition (which uses one of the three primary entries). Then you can create more partitions inside that extended partition.

Alternatively you could use GPT setup, which is highly recommended for any semi-modern hardware.

so I need 7 primary partitions.

No need for that many primary partitions. Ubuntu and feadora run fine if you use an extended partition. Same for that swap (which you only need one from which can be shared between the linux partitions.

I sspect that windows 7 & 10 like their primary partition though, or at least one shared primary /boot partition.

That leaves you with:

1) Primary boot for windows (both of them)  
2) Primary win7  
3) Primary win10  
4) Extended.  
   a) Ubuntu /  
   b) Ubuntu swap  
   c) ... (possible other Ubuntu partions sunch as /home, /usr/local, /tmp, ...)  
   ...   
   d) Ditto other linux distributions.  
  • Dunno whether GRUB would be happy that way, it may need a primary partition, too. Haven’t tested it, though. – Daniel B Jan 14 '16 at 8:30
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    According to linuxquestion.org using a primary loader in the MBR and the GRUB part in an extended partition should work. – Hennes Jan 14 '16 at 10:24
  • Windows Vista and up will boot just fine on a logical drive, no need for primary partitions like XP anymore – phuclv Jan 14 '16 at 15:52
  • Was that with a separate boot partition on a primary or one single partion in extended? (I guess I could test in VMs, but if you have such a setup and could check...) – Hennes Jan 14 '16 at 16:24
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Many modern operating systems do not need to boot from a primary partition. It sufficies to just use a boot manager.

Even windows 7 and 10 can be installed for extended partitions. I ran windows 2000 of the h:/ and windows NT of a primary partition on the second hard disk.

  • What is the h: volume supposed to be? – jiggunjer Jan 14 '16 at 11:32
  • I guess it was the sixth partition on Wendy's disk with a filesystem which windows recognised. The first probably labeled C:, the second D:, ... the sixth H:. Which is not a common setup but is one which should just work. – Hennes Jan 14 '16 at 14:45
  • No, Windows up to XP can be instaled anywhere. I had three copies of XP on the same disk. It is only vista and later that seem to install on c: the bootdisk of windows 2000 was h:\fenster. It could still see c, d, e, &c, but it lived on h: The plan was DOS on C: D: as a data, E: Win95, F: OS2 H:\ Winnt 5 and so on, but i never got past the H: drive. – wendy.krieger May 23 '16 at 23:37
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You should go the Boot Manager route and make your life easier..

http://gag.sourceforge.net/

http://www.ranish.com/part/

http://www.osloader.com/

etc..

Why you need to use a Boot Manager

Standard MBR structure contain a Partition Table with four 16-byte entries, that means 4 partition entries for primary partitions. The usual case being 3 Primary partitions and 1 Extended partition when multiboot is involved. In case that you need to boot more than 4 OS than you need to use either GUID Partition Table (GPT) or a boot manager that can set logical partitions to be active. In the case of Windows 7 ( actually after Vista ) on fresh install to non-partitioned disk the first created partition will be at exactly 1MB offset ( Absolute sector 2048 from MBR ) and set size of 100Mb - this is called "System Reserved" partition / for Windows 8 the size is 350Mb .. etc. / So clean Windows 7/8/10 install will take 2 partitions by itself. In Linux following best practices you need at least a few like : Swap, boot home, / .. so simply put to have 2 Windows OS and 2 Linux OS the best way to go is to use a Boot Manager

  • Hi, I really needed to know the theory behind the editing MBR not to use tools. – Suranga Premakumara Jan 14 '16 at 7:33
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    Just pointing to some products doesn't really explain why they're a good solution or how to accomplish the solution. Please see guidance on recommending software. Thanks. – fixer1234 Jan 14 '16 at 7:37
  • I'll follow the guidance from now on, sorry about that. About the theory it is something that has been discussed a lot in posts and forums, a good read is : multibooters.co.uk/multiboot.html – Setekh Jan 14 '16 at 8:08

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