Installing SUSE 12.1 alongside SUSE 11.4


I have a Dell Dimension C521 (AMD AthlonX2) with a 160 GB internal HDD
and and an external Hard Disk (Seagate GoFlex ITB capacity on USB) with
3 GB RAM. The system has dual boot for Windows Vista Home Premium and
SUSE 11.4 64 bit. 

The internal HDD is dedicated to Windows Vista. The GRUB is installed
on the MBR of the external HDD. The booting order is DVD drive, external
HDD and then internal HDD.  If the external HDD is not switched/powered
on, the systems boots into Windows Vista directly.  I can then switch on
the external HDD and access the Windows partitions (first three primary)
on it.  Booting off the external HDD brings up the multi-boot options
for SUSE 11.4 (64 bit) regular and fail safe,  Vista normal, Dell
Utilities and Rescue.  SUSE is installed in the extended partition on
the external HDD.  I have loads of space in the extended partition.  All
stuff is working fine.  Thanks to  jdmcdaniel3, lenwolf, gogalthorp and
Knurpht who guided me through the installation of 11.4 on external HDD..

Now I wish to install SUSE 12.1 (64 bit) as an addition, that is
without losing the 11.4.  Where would it be best installed – (a) in
the existing partition for 11.4 or (b) in its own partition?  Also I do
not wish to rewrite the existing boot menu, only add the new
installation options to the existing, how do I go about it?  The basic
idea is that I should have one tried and tested version available.




2/2/2012 7:36:02 AM 14389 articles. 0 followers. Follow

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On Thu, 02 Feb 2012 07:36:02 +0000, PrakashC wrote:

> Now I wish to install SUSE 12.1 (64 bit) as an addition, that is without
> losing the 11.4.  Where would it be best installed – (a) in the existing
> partition for 11.4 or (b) in its own partition?

Absolutely in its own partition.  You couldn't install it into the 
existing partition and have two working systems - there would be library 
conflicts that would cause you loads of problems.

I would also recommend separate home directories for each install, as the 
versions of GNOME and KDE are different and while you may get the newer 
versions to work with the older settings (indeed that would be normal for 
an upgrade installation), the older versions may not understand all of 
the new settings.

You might do better to play with 12.1 in a VirtualBox VM (though if you 
run GNOME3, you'll get fallback mode only) and then decide which version 
you want to stick with for the time being.


Jim Henderson
openSUSE Forums Administrator
Forum Use Terms & Conditions at
2/2/2012 7:41:26 AM
To add to the above. I have on my system two pairs of partitions, On
each pair (a- / -and a- /home-) I have a version of openSUSE. Multiboot.
Thus I can allways install a newer level alongside my production level,
test, and then plan a switchover (going into runlevel 3 and copying the
-/home- from production to new for the last time) and from then on
running the new as production. I then still have the old file systems as
a backup, which comes in handy if you want e.g. to have a quick glance
at some- /etc- config file of the old system.

As long as I think it is usefull to have access to the "other" sysem's
files, I put them in -/etc/fstab- to mount them read-only on
-/mnt/oldsys- and -/mnt/oldsys/home- (or similar).

Henk van Velden
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2/2/2012 10:36:02 AM
I had a close look at "SDB: Install another distribution".  This in turn
took me to "Making a Dedicated Grub Partition" at
From what I gather, it would be preferable to make a dedicated Grub
Partition.  The following points need confirmation or further
elucidation, study:

a) The Dedicated Grub Partition must be a primary partition, or could
it be a logical partition, (as mentioned earlier I intend to install it
on the external HDD)
b) The version of grub to use for (a) above, should it be Grub 2 or 
Legacy Grub,
c) The updategrub for openSUSE  would be used to add new distributions
or alter existing ones,
d) Any new OS added should not be writing anything to Grub or MBR
during installation,  how to ensure this particularly in openSUSE.

Any pointers please.


PrakashC's Profile:
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2/5/2012 7:16:03 AM
As both openSUSE levels you want to have installed use Legacy GRUB, all
the precautions you mention here are not applicable.

a) I do not kno what a "Dedicated Grub Partition is", that may have to
to with the fact that I did not study Grub 2, which is not used in
When a partition "must be a primary partition, or could be a logical
partition":, that is a useless remark, as there are no more tastes of
partion that are excluded for this usage then. This means IMHO you
probably do not understan much about partitions, thus read: 'SDB:Basics
of partitions, filesystems, mount points - openSUSE'
( .
Also the fact that a disk is inside or outside the physical box of your
system does not make it special. It's partitioning is certainly not
influenced by that.

b) There is only Legacy Grub for openSUSE.

c) updategrub is not used for Legacy Grub.

d) Installing openSUSE 12.1 on partitions alongside openSUSE 11.4 on
other partitions will detect that openSUSE 11.4 and it will make you an
offer in how to handle that short before it realy starts installeing.
This is in the list of all other things it offers you for inspection
like partitioning it will change, file systems it will recreate,
software packages it will load, etc. You decide there if you like the
proposals or not. You can change there or abort the install. That is the
last moment you can do this and leave your existing environment
untouched. You should understand all things there. If you are in doubt,
please abort, write down what it proposes and why you hesutate and here

Henk van Velden
hcvv's Profile:
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2/5/2012 9:26:03 AM
PrakashC;2437488 Wrote: 
> a) The Dedicated Grub Partition must be a primary partition, or could
> it be a logical partition, (as mentioned earlier I intend to install it
> on the external HDD)

What do you mean by "Dedicated Grub Partition"? Grub has two parts:
stage1 and stage2. Legacy Grub stage1 can be installed in any
bootsector, the first sector of any partition (VBR),   including the
extended partition which contains no data, or/and the first sector of
the disk, knows as the MBR (Master Boot Record). stage2 is installed in
the /boot/grub directory, which can be in any partition, primary or
logical. If you install stage1 in MBR, Grub will also install and use 
stage 1.5 in the sectors directly following the MBR, on the first track.
Having Grub in MBR is always better, because it can access the
filesystem at a earlier stage. 

PrakashC;2437488 Wrote: 
> b) The version of grub to use for (a) above, should it be Grub 2 or 
> Legacy Grub,

It "should" be Legacy Grub, but it doesn't have to. However only Legacy
Grub is supported by YaST and later by the Perl BootLoader (which
rewrites the menu after a kernel update). To easily install Grub2 under
openSUSE, you can use updateGrub2, which is included in the updategrub
package. But I don't recommend to do it if you don't know what you are
doing, especially because Grub2 is not supported by the system. You will
be on your own. updateGrub2 can be used however to refresh the menu -
since the Perl Bootloader won't. 

PrakashC;2437488 Wrote: 
> c) The updategrub for openSUSE  would be used to add new distributions
> or alter existing ones,

It could... with 2 limitations though:

- The Perl Bootloader blindly and arbitrarly removes any foreign
  kernel boot entry (but not chainload entries!) , whether they were
  added manually or by updategrub. It's possible to prevent that by
  hacking the Perl Bootloader scripts or even disabling it completely
  (by setting  LOADER_TYPE="none" in /etc/sysconfig/bootloader. but
  please DON'T).  The solution is to delete all but the native entries
  in menu.lst after a kernel update (it doesn't happen that often) and
  run updategrub again. 
- Sometimes updategrub doesn't add some of the other OSes, because
  os-prober doesn't detect them. The solution is to mount the partition
  where the other kernel is located. This is an os-prober issue, not
  updategrub's fault. There is no logic in this behaviour. It might find
  an OS one time an not the next time on the same machine. 

PrakashC;2437488 Wrote: 
> d) Any new OS added should not be writing anything to Grub or MBR
> during installation,  how to ensure this particularly in openSUSE.

please_try_again's Profile:
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2/5/2012 12:16:03 PM
hcvv;2437512 Wrote: 
> c) updategrub is not used for Legacy Grub.

On the contray, -updategrub- is only used for Legacy Grub. The Ubuntu's
script is called -update*-*grub-:

please_try_again's Profile:
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2/5/2012 12:26:02 PM
On 2012-02-05 13:16, please try again wrote:

> What do you mean by "Dedicated Grub Partition"? Grub has two parts:

There is a method for multibooting, where you create a /boot partition with
grub and nothing more, or at most, a really small Linux system, for
emergencies. It doesn't matter if it boots from grub code in mbr or generic
code. The trick is that the menu.lst file is used to "chainload" (the
correct word is not chainload, but I don't remember the correct word) other
grub menus on other partitions, ie, to choose which operating system you
want to boot, not to choose a kernel.

This is a meaning of "dedicated grub partition". I don't know if this is
what he means.

Cheers / Saludos,

		Carlos E. R.
		(from 11.4 x86_64 "Celadon" at Telcontar)
2/5/2012 5:38:06 PM
This is all nice digging in all sorts of details of more or less obscure
regions wich do not have much to do which the OP's original question:
can I have openSUSE 12.1 installed alongside openSUSE 11.4 and Windows.
The ansswer is a simply: yes, and does not need things like extra
boot/grub/whatever partitions outside the partitions needed for the
different OSs. And it also does not involve the need to use Grub 2. This
is all making it much more difficult and ununderstandable.

@PrakashC, it is not very usefull when you study documentation about "
Install *another* distribution" when you only want install the *same*
distribution, namely openSUSE (only a different level).

Henk van Velden
hcvv's Profile:
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2/5/2012 8:46:02 PM
Thanks hcvv,
I was thinking too far ahead!  I would be better off sticking to basic
present needs and take up advanced steps when I reach the level.


PrakashC's Profile:
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2/6/2012 2:46:02 PM
Well finally got 12.1 up and running after a couple of false starts. 
Also got the NVDIA driver in place.  My main worry was that the existing
Windows Vista and SUSE 11.4 installations should not get damaged by some
seemingly small oversight!


PrakashC's Profile:
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2/11/2012 1:56:03 PM

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