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I've got a strange situation. I must install two windows 8.1 systems and one linux (for example Debian) on one machine (one disk). I know that there is a huge amount of information about it on the internet, but none of them talk about two copies of Windows 8.1.

What I want to have?

  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 8.1
  • Linux (for example Debian)
  • One boot manager (best GRUB, worse M$ boot manager).
  • Three operating systems list to decide which one to run

What doesn't matter

  • Speed of booting (UEFI or not, I just don't care). Microsoft &^%*$& systems are here only for some specific microsoft programs, and Linux will be used for 99% of time (24 hours a day, without powering off :P)

What I've tried so far?

  • I installed two windows (windows installed its own boot manager with two choices (windows, windows)).
  • After that I installed Linux and grub into /dev/sda MBR and I've got three systems, but also two boot managers. When I select Windows on grub, it relods windows manager and then I must decide which windows to run. And if I decide which windows, sometimes the system reboots (UEFI) and I must select WIndows once more from GRUB. This is a little blured, but I hope you understand the problem.

Idea

I thought about installing one Windows. Make it partition hidden. Install second one (so it possibly don't know about the first one, and install boot manager once more???). Then unhide partitions, and install Linux with grub in MBR, and manually enter windows options. But I'm not sure if this will work.

Any help will be appreciated.

PS. I'm a gentoo user, so I love terminal (no problem about manual configuring). Also the answer can be really a sketch of solution. As I'm searching only for idea. Hope everything is clear, if not please ask questions in comments. Thanks for your time!

  • I suppose that using a couple of VMs would not work for you? – thkala May 11 '14 at 19:31
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Installing 2 Windows 8.1 copies and a Linux distro is asking for trouble tbh, especially if you are trying to install it using bios /mbr, as the 4 partition limit would severely limit you. , why would you need two copies of Windows 8.1? If you need to separate the two windows installations, you may want to consider one Windows 8. 1 install and a Windows 8.1 vm inside it or inside Linux. Another thing you may want to consider is support. It will get confusing very quickly which version of Windows 8.1 has been updated /has the files you need etc - it is difficult enough to juggle 2 Os's on one machine, without dealing with potential future update problems - it is very unusual to install 2 instances of the same Windows version. Can't verify this as I don't know but I have no idea how 2 Windows 8 installs would run on a UEFI board - their bootloader is saved to /efi/Microsoft/boot by default, they would be overwriting each others loader all the time, no?

If you are using UEFI, then it is fairly trivial to install the rEFInd boot manager as your default boot manager for all the OS's. It works very well with the dual boot system I use (win 7 + Debian 7)

One potential solution is to install Windows first, and then install the Linux distro. After that try booting. If it leads you to grub (if you are using bios or your UEFI board is super friendly to non Microsoft boot loaders ) then all is well, if not, you are likely running on a UEFI system - the rEFInd boot manager would save you some hairpulling as the windows 8 bootloader isn't great - it boots Windows halfway, and only then asks you which OS to boot .

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