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Setting Up a PC with Multiple Operating Systems

1667 15/08/2021

Setting Up a PC with Multiple Operating Systems


August 6, 2004


Jimmy S


Windows installation

Last Updated on

May 5, 2012

This Tech-Recipes tutorial explains installing more than one operating system (OS) on a PC (i.e., dual booting, triple booting).


At times, you just want to run a certain program in Windows 98 or Windows 2000. Most users have a separate PC with one operating system installed. However, this tutorial will explain how to set up multiple operating systems on one PC.


-Basic knowledge of installing an OS. (If you need more information on this topic, please see specific Tech-Recipes tutorials that explain the process in detail.)-Setup disks for each OS or a custom bootable DVD (with all operating systems on it)-Bootable Windows 98 floppy disk-60 GB of free, unpartitioned space (best size for partitions:15 GB for Windows 98, 20 GB for Windows 2000, 20 GB for Windows XP Professional)-Multiple partitions (We will need to be sure to install Windows 98 to the C: drive.) or multiple hard drives (not covered, but briefly explained)

For this tech-recipe, I am recommending you do a COMPLETE backup of all your personal files; and starting from scratch, conduct a clean install to avoid frustration.

Also, if you are using this tutorial as a guide, be sure to print it out.

Step 1. Preparing Hard Drives for Multiple OS’s

The first thing we will do is delete your partitions.

a.To do this, we will need to change the BIOS/CMOS settings so your PC will boot to floppy first.b.Insert the Windows 98 boot disk, and reboot your PC.c.It will bring up a Windows 98 Startup Menu screen. Choose the first option:

Start Computer with CD-ROM Support

. The boot disk will load and eventually return to a DOS prompt ( A:\).d. At the A:\ type


and press


.e.This will now load the FDISK utility. The first screen might ask you “Do you wish to enable large disk support?” Choose


for yes. Also, if your C: was formatted as a NTFS drive vs FAT32, it might also ask you if you want to treat non-FAT drives as unknown or something else. Again, choose


for yes.

Now, you should be at the FDISK menu.

f.The first thing we will do is [4] Display Partition Information to see what we have set up and what we need to delete.g.Once we see what we have set up,


back to the Main FDISK menu. Then go to [3] Delete partition or Logical DOS Drive.Now, it will bring up the following four options:

1.Delete Primary DOS Partition2.Delete Extended DOS Partition3.Delete Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition4.Delete Non-DOS Partition

When you delete partitions, here are some basic guidelines.

The order to delete partitions is as follows (first to last):



Logical DOS Drive(s)


Extended DOS Partition(s)


Primary DOS Partition

-If you have any NTFS drives, if possible, try to delete them in Windows before booting to floppy. It makes life easier, especially if the partition is created in an Extended DOS Partition. When trying to delete them from FDISK, you might receive the notice, “Cannot Delete Extended DOS partition while logcal drives exist.” However, when you try to delete the logical drive, your PC indicates that none exist. (I will explain how to avoid running into this problem in the creating partitions section.) If this is the case, go ahead and quick start install XP. Once the XP setup gets to the disk part, delete the NTFS partition from there, and then start your whole installation from scratch again (Delete all partitions and create new ones.).Once you have deleted all of the partitions, go back to the main FDISK menu. Proceed to the next step.

Step 2. Creating Partitions with FDISK

(A 60GB or greater hard drive is recommended for this.) As an example, I will use a 60 GB hard drive.

a. First, let us decide how many operating systems we want to be able to use on this PC (of course, only one at a time). In this tech-recipe, I will use these 3 operating systems as an example because these usually are the three Windows operating systems most people use and need:Windows 98 SEWindows 2000 Prof.Windows XP Prof

I have always used and recommended creating individual partitions for each operating system you plan to run. This way, there are no issues with pagefiles, directories, etc.

b. e should still be on the FDISK menu (below).

________________________Choose one of the following:

1. Create DOS partition or Logical DOS Drive2. Set active partition3. Delete partition or Logical DOS Drive4. Display partition information

Enter choice: [1]Press


to exit FDISK_____________________

c.Go to [1] Create DOS partition or Logical DOS Drive and press


.d. Then go to [1] Create Primary DOS Partition and


.If you have a Primary DOS partition, it will give you a message which reads “Primary DOS Partition already exists.” You will need to delete this. (put in italics, smaller)e. It will now state that it is verifying drive integrity. Once it is done with this, it will ask the following:“Do You wish to use maximum available size for a primary DOS partition and make the partition active (Y/N)?”Choose


. (pic below):

________Create Primary DOS partitionCurrent fixed disk drive : 1Verifying drive integrity, 100% complete.Current fixed disk drive: 1Do you wish to use the maximum available size for a primary DOS partitionand make the partition active (Y/N) ………………..? [N]________

f.It will now ask what size partition you wish to create, in either bytes or in percent (xx%). Also, you might notice that the space free/available might not match up with the size of your hard drive (if it is bigger than 20gb). This is because FDISK is limited to seeing up to 20GB. I typically create partitions based on percentage. In my example, I have 60 GB hard drive, so I am going to create this partition to be about 15GB (This will be my Windows 98 SE partition. I do not run many programs with Win98, so I probably only need about 10 GB.). So I would find out what percent of 60 GB is 15 GB.After the math, 25% will equal approximately 15 GB.

Enter the percentage as follows: xx% . (Be sure to put in the % sign, or it will take the value as size in bytes.) Then hit


and it will create your partitions.g.Once it finishes, it will bring you to this screen. Just


to the FDISK menu. At the bottom of the FDISK Menu, you should see the following message:WARNING! No partitions are set active – disk 1 is not startable unless a partition is set active.h.Go to [2] Set active partition, and enter the number of the partition set as active and press


. It will let you know that Partition 1 is now active.



go all the way back to to the DOS Prompt (a:\) and reboot your computer. Be sure to leave the boot disk in since we will need to format the drive we just created.

Step 3. Formatting the Drive / Pre-installation

a.Again, choose

Start Computer with CD-Rom Support

and let the boot disk load to the a:\ DOS prompt.b.Now type: format c: and follow the prompts.c.This might take a few minutes to complete. Let it finish.d.After you have the c: drive formatted, we can start the installation of the first operating system.

Step 4. Installing the First Operating System

a.We should still be the a:\ after the format has completed.b.We will need to go to the CD-ROM by typing


and pressing


.c.The prompt should change to e:\.d.Now, we need to go into the windows 98 directory, and type

cd win98

and press


.e.The prompt will now change to e:\win98.f.(Optional, but recommended) Enable smartdrv to speed up the installation. Do this by typing the following:




again to see if disk cache is enabled for the c: drive.g.Now, at the E:\win98\ prompt, type:

setup /ie

h.Go through the Windows 98 setup.i.Once you are finished with the setup, Windows has to reboot. Reboot your PC, and be SURE YOUR FLOPPY IS not in the drive.j.Go through the rest of Setup. You should now have Windows 98 SE installed on your C: drive.

Step 5. Installing Additional Operating Systems


-When you setup your PC as we are now, the installation order of the operating systems is VERY important.Microsoft recommends this order for installing OS, for multiple booting (first to last):Windows 98 SE > Windows ME > Windows 2000 > Windows XP > Non windows OS (e.g., Linux, Unix, etc.)

Windows 98 SE is installed and running on our pc. The setting up of the remaining two operating systems will be simple since we can do the partition creation and formatting within the Windows 2000 / XP installation.

a.Insert your Windows 2000 Setup CD.b.Go through the Setup Wizarda.BE SURE TO CHOOSE installation type: Advanced (CLEAN/NEW, not upgrade!)b.After Windows 2000 Setup copies the files to your PC, it will reboot into the installation programc.When it gets to the choose partition to install, you will want to create a new partition and format it as FAT32 (You can convert it later on. This just makes things easier). Once it finishes creating and formatting the new drive (d:), choose that as the drive in which to install Windows 2000.I recommend a 20 GB sized partition.d.Go through the rest of the setup as normale.Once you reboot, it will come up with a “Choose Operating System” screen. Choose the

Windows 2000

option.f.Once you do, it will load Windows 2000 from the d:. Now, we will install Windows XPg.Put in the Windows XP setup CD and again choose


as installation type (not upgrade, since we want to install XP on a new partition).h.Again, once it finishes copying files, Windows will reboot. If the boot loader shows up, let it load by itself. It should load up the Windows XP Installation Program.i.Once you get to the drive location, we will create a new partition and format it as FAT32 file system. You can make the size of this drive to be whatever is remaining. (Be sure that you do the math prior to this so that this partition is at least 15 GB or more, depending on whether or not you have another hard drive in your PC that you have your music, personal files on. This is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.).j.Again, finish the install, and XP will be added to the Choose Operating System. Once you finish the setup of XP, you are good to go.


-When you install programs for Windows 98, 2000 or XP, that program is ONLY installed for that OS, not for ALL of them.-You can edit the order, labels, and timeout in secs of the booting of Windows.In your Windows XP, right click

My Computer > Properties > Advanced > Startup/Recovery

. The top options are related to how Windows boots. If you click the Edit Boot.ini, it will open up the file in which you can remove items, edit, change, and add. Be sure you know what your changing before you do!-DO NOT CHANGE YOUR PAGEFILE location! I did this once. It put my XP pagefile on the same drive as my Windows 2000 pagefile. Let us just say bad things happened.-If you format your 2000 and XP partitions to NTFS, Windows 98 will not be able to see them (unless you have a program that allows for Windows 98 to be able to access NTFS drives).

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