Lotusphere Laptop Configuration (Part 2)

In my previous post, I promised to write more about my adventures trying to get my Lotusphere laptop to dual boot, or in this case actually triple boot.

First a short background:

  • The laptop is an older one, with a 1.83 GHz Core Duo processor, 512 MB memory and 120 GB harddrive. It is not powerful enough to run VMware.
  • I need Notes 7.0.3 installed (client, admin and designer), as that is the version used at work. I found that if I open Notes templates in Domino Designer 8.5, the program make some changes, like adding element (mostly related to Xpages). I don’t want to risk that my templates get messed up.
  • I also want Notes 8.5.2 installed, as that is what my home setup runs. If I need to access my home server, or if I want to test something I learn at Lotusphere, I want that version.
  • Since IBM in their infinite wisdom makes it very hard to run Notes 8 and any previous versions in the same installation, I decided to install XP Professional twice on the laptop, and boot between them.

Since I don’t store a large amount of data on the harddisk (and I am bringing a 500 GB external drive anyway for photos), I can as well install Ubuntu 10.10, just for fun. That way I also get GRUB installed (version 2 comes with Maverick Meerkat) automatically.

I wiped the content (and partitions) on the drive, and then happily installed Windows XP SP3 on a 40 GB partition. I installed all the drivers, as well as security updates and patches (101 patches weighing in at 250 MB in the first round, a handful more after reboot, for a total of about 300 MB of updates). Next I installed and configured all the software I wanted in both XP installations, including OpenOffice, Cam2PC (an excellent program I use to transfer and organize my digital pictures), IrfanView, Flickr uploader, Dropbox, Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Writer, as well as a handful of other programs.

Next I used Clonezilla Live to clone the XP partition. I did not test anything yet, as I still did not have a way to easily switch between the operating systems. But the next step would take care of that. I popped in the CD containing Ubuntu 10.10 and installed it using the choice "parallel with existing operating system". Worked like a charm, I rebooted and had a nice menu Where I could choose between Ubuntu, Windows XP and Windows XP.

Of course, it would be nice to clean up the menu somewhat, and actually display some meaningful text for the two Windows installations, making it easier to select the right one, even after a beer or two at #ls11. 🙂 So I installed a piece of software in Ubuntu that let me edit the boot menu. I changed the labels and voila, it all looks great!


I selected the first Windows XP partition and installed Notes 8.5.2. I then rebooted and selected the other partition. But when Windows started, I already had the icons for Notes 8.5.2 on the desktop. I rebooted again, making sure I selected the correct (7.0.3) installation. Same result. What I eventually figured out is that I have to hide the first partition, then make the second one unhidden and set the boot flag. So, how do I do that?

After a few hours of searching the web, I found some info. I have to build a custom menu, and using parttool I can then make partitions hidden/unhidden and bootable:

menuentry "WinXP with Notes 7.0.2 (on sda1)" {
insmod ntfs
parttool (hd0,2) hidden+
parttool (hd0,1) hidden-
parttool (hd0,2) boot-
parttool (hd0,1) boot+
set root='(hd0,1)’
drivemap -s (hd0) ${root}
chainloader +1

menuentry "WinXP with Notes 8.5.2 (on sda2)" {
insmod ntfs
parttool (hd0,1) hidden+
parttool (hd0,2) hidden-
parttool (hd0,1) boot-
parttool (hd0,2) boot+
set root='(hd0,2)’
drivemap -s (hd0) ${root}
chainloader +1

Now I just had to find where to put it. Well, GRUB2 is slightly more complicated than the original GRUB bootloader. The configuartion is now stored in the file /boot/grub/grub.cfg and is not intended to be edited. It will be overwritten occasionally anyway. What one have to do is to go to the directory /etc/grub.d/ and edit the files there. I ended up editing the file 40_custom and adding the code above. Finally I had it working as I wanted. I could now boot on the second Windows XP partition and install Notes 7.0.3.

This again shows how powerful Linux can be, but that you need a lot of knowledge if you want to do something outside the limited GUI options you have. In my opinion, Windows still let you change more settings, and they are located more logical.
Linux is shooting at a moving target (it was Windows XP, then Vista and now Windows 7). And as we all know, in most cases engineers makes for bad UI/UX designers… Some applications are designed pretty badly from an interface standpoint. This is the weakest part of Linux. Linux needs a Mary Beth Raven.
The strongest part of the operating system is of course the security and it’s flexibility due to the open source code. And as Linux is written by engineers, initially for engineers (or at least very technical people), you can do things you can’t do in Windows.


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