I have two drives:

The first one is a SSD with my OS (Windows 10 last update). The second one is a HDD, internally connected by my CD/DVD bay slot.

I want to convert my HDD into a multiboot drive, with 5 different partitions. First partition is going to have a kind of Tool-Disk (like Hiren-boot etc). Second partition, is going to have an Antivirus Rescue Disk (Avast). Third partition is going to have the Windows Media Creation Tool. The other two partitions don't need to be bootable, because are going to have just folder and file backups.

I succeeded to do this by using YUMI on my HDD. However, I can only do it if I put the three ISOs in the first partition. I couldn't do it by putting each ISO in different partitions. For personal reasons, I need to use different partitions (so, I am not interested in other solutions like using just one partition, or an external USB, CD etc). I confess that I already read a lot of about the subject, but is still difficult for me to find the right tutorial, perhaps because I am a very basic computer user.

Please, my questions are:

1) How to configure my BIOS for my HDD? Legacy? UEFI? Both? (my SDD already uses UEFI for Windows 10).

2) How to format my HDD? MBR? GPT? Primary? Active? NTFS? FAT32? Etc?

3) My HDD is not recognized as an USB or external drive! Every software I tried to use (Rufus etc) in order to make my HDD bootable, didn't recognize my HDD. Please, what kind of software do I need? How to use it for Hard Drives? I ask because most of these software seem to be only for USB. I couldn't find tutorials for Hard Drives.

4) I tried to manually install Grub4Dos in the first partition of my HDD. It didn't work (perhaps because my lack of know-how!). I tried in two ways, by putting ISOs files in each partition, and the second way by extracting all the ISOs content directly on each partition. It didn't work. Is Grub4Dos the right software for my case? Please, how to use it in my case? Or, where I can find a tutorial for my case?

5) Is this forum the right place for my questions? Do you recommend me another forum?

Thanks a lot in advance!


Broadly speaking, there are a large number of options for this type of configuration in general; however, one detail you noted begins to collapse the option space significantly:

my SDD already uses UEFI for Windows 10

If one OS is already booting in EFI mode, then it's easiest, by a wide margin, to use EFI mode to boot everything else. This in turn implies using the GUID Partition Table (GPT) on all your disks. (An exception to the latter might be if you're adding a disk that already uses the MBR partition table, but depending on various factors, it might be easiest to convert it to use GPT even then.)

It sounds like you want to boot various tools that you have in .iso form, each from a separate partition. I know of two ways to do this in EFI mode, although each has significant caveats:

  • rEFInd -- You can install my rEFInd boot manager on the computer's EFI System Partition (ESP), along with its ISO-9660 filesystem driver (iso9660_x64.efi). You can then create partitions for each of the tools you want to boot, making each one at least as large as its .iso file, and write the .iso files "raw" to its partition. For instance, in Linux you might do dd if=image.iso of=/dev/sdb4 to write image.iso to the /dev/sdb4 partition. Be very careful with this command! If you specify the wrong of= value, you could wipe out something important! If all goes according to plan, when you reboot, rEFInd should appear and give you an option to boot each of your OSes and each of your tools. There are several caveats, though. Most importantly, there's no guarantee that any given tool will be configured in such a way that rEFInd will be able to boot it. This is especially true for tools that are designed to be booted in BIOS mode; rEFInd simply won't work with them. Even for EFI-mode tools, though, rEFInd might not recognize them if they're mastered in certain ways; and even if rEFInd starts the launch process, the tool might get confused because of the way it's being booted. A second caveat is that you might run into problems with Secure Boot. This is most easily dealt with by disabling this feature, but it's better to ensure everything's set up to work with Secure Boot. See the rEFInd Secure Boot documentation for further information on this topic -- but be aware that you may need to add hashes or otherwise adjust each of the tools you want to boot.
  • GRUB -- The GRUB boot loader, which is the default boot loader for most Linux distributions, provides a somewhat more elegant approach to the problem than does rEFInd; but I know less about how to set it up. Specifically, GRUB can read .iso files using its own loopback support, meaning that you can store the .iso files as such on filesystems, rather than writing them directly to partitions using dd (or some equivalent tool). GRUB might work better with a wider range of .iso files, too, but I'm not positive of that. This Ubuntu wiki page describes how to configure GRUB in this way; however, I've never done this myself, so I can't help beyond providing this pointer. A Web search is likely to turn up additional tutorials and documentation. It might be easier to set up GRUB in this way if you install a Linux distribution on your computer, but in theory it should be possible even if you don't do so.

I've set up rEFInd to multi-boot various Linux installers from a USB flash drive using the first procedure. I have not tried setting up the specific tools you say you want to install. Thus, I can't really say how likely it is you'll succeed with them. My suspicion is that some would work and some would not work, but that's just an educated guess.

There may be other tools that will do what you want, but if so, I'm afraid I don't know what they are.

If booting all your tools in EFI mode proves impossible, you might be able to use BIOS mode; however, you'll then need to either learn about switching between BIOS mode and EFI mode or re-install Windows in BIOS mode. The former can usually be done by using the computer's built-in boot manager; or rEFInd can do the trick, if you reconfigure it by commenting out scanfor in refind.conf and ensuring that hdbios is among the options. This approach would require putting a BIOS-mode boot loader to handle the .iso images on your hard disk. I'm afraid I have no pointers about doing this, although I know this type of configuration is possible.

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  • Thank you @RodSmith! As I mentioned, my OS is in my SSD (first drive), but my focus is only my HDD (my second drive). Considering that this second HDD at present moment is in my DVD bay slot, basically acts as a removable disk, so in the future I can use it in other devices. Therefore, I don't want to touch my SDD, or boot from there. I look forward to boot from my HDD, but I need a kind of "multiboot menu" that allows me to chose which partition from boot. As I mentioned, YUMI worked, but only if I put all files or ISOs in one partition. – Demet Jul 1 '17 at 20:44
  • I tried to use Grub4Dos, I read a lot of tutorials, but I don't have know-how, and couldn't make it work for me. Most of the software are for USB drives or for Linux, and is not my case. I believe I need a kind of tutorial for Hard Drives multiboot, with different partitions. Anyway, thank you again for your answer! – Demet Jul 1 '17 at 20:44
  • GRUB4DOS is a BIOS/CSM/legacy-only tool; you'd need to use the EFI version of GRUB 2. There must be tools or instructions for installing this from Windows, but I'm not familiar with them, offhand. You could install rEFInd on either the SSD or HDD; either way would work for your purposes, although putting it on the (removable) HDD would enable you to boot from it on other computers *if you used the fallback filename of EFI/BOOT/bootx64.efi. There are several other subtleties involved, no matter what you do. – Rod Smith Jul 1 '17 at 21:48
  • I will try EFI version as you recommended (thanks again). However, if I couldn't make it work with Legacy Grub2, I am not so sure it will make difference the EFI version. Again, I don't believe the problem is with EFI or Legacy or Grub etc. The problem is my lack of know-how. I am a basic computer user, and really need a tutorial, step by step. But not for USB drives or Linux. I need a tutorial for Hard Drives and non Linux software. Other problem with EFI, is that some ISOs don't work with EFI. Most of the tutorials recommend Legacy, MBR and FAT32. I am pretty lost here. – Demet Jul 1 '17 at 22:22

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