Sorry for the hard to understand title but it's difficult to describe in one sentence.

What I'd like to do is install Windows and several different versions of Linux on the same system. After everything is installed, I'd like to switch between operating systems from inside the operation systems.


I'm inside Windows but I want to reboot into Ubuntu 9.04. I need to run a command to update the boot manager so it knows to boot into Ubuntu 9.04.

I do not want to walk to the physical box to make a menu selection.

EDIT: I'd like to be able to switch between Windows 7 and Ubuntu (9.04, 10.04, and 10.10)

  • 1
    Why not just run a hypervisor on the box? VMware Server or MS Virtual Server... – Clint Apr 4 '11 at 18:27
  • Because one of my USB devices doesn't work with USB passthrough so I'm forced to do this... :( – SofaKng Apr 4 '11 at 18:36
  • You'd need a way to access your boot manager from whatever OS you're in so you can set the default OS. I'm not sure how to suggest going about it for Windows, but you should be able to do this from linux easily. Just found this: it.fht-esslingen.de/~zimmerma/software/ltools.html which may help you edit the file you need to edit. From windows, I don't think there is a really clean method of doing what you want. – MaQleod Apr 4 '11 at 18:37


  1. Network KVM
  2. Use grub, and reconfigure from Linux, With boot-once to go into Windows.
  3. With boot.ini and reconfigure from running system.

3 is may have difficulty handling some upgrades.

PS: Ubuntu 9.04 is out of support from Canonical, so you might want to drop it as soon as possible.


More recent Linux distributions use the active partition flag for this. The Linux bootmanager (usually grub) gets installed not in the MBR but in the root partiion.

The active partition flag can be set from both Linux and Windows.

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