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Überhacker II, Chapter 3: How to Get Many Operating Systems on One PC, continued ...

How to Create a Triple Boot System without Boot Magic or System Commander

One of the nice things about Boot Magic and System Commander is that they are pretty good at enabling you to boot operating systems located to far down the disk for your BIOS to boot them. However, you can get around this without buying these products. Stuart Carter says,

When creating a dual-boot, I always use a 32MB /boot partition for Linux, then Windows comes next. This ensures both boot partitions are below whatever limits my BIOS has. After Windows comes the Linux root and swap.

Become a Computer Recycling Center

Stuart Carter says, "Now I just build a new machine for each OS. I'm the local repository for discarded computer parts!" Seriously, in many cities businesses have to pay a fee to dispose of old computers. Yet oftentimes they are plenty good for your hacker lab. The really nice thing about this is that your local trash removal system probably doesn't charge individuals to get rid of computers. So your risk for giving homes to these discarded boxen is low, and potential for fun is high.

Run Virtual Machines at the Same Time on One Computer

Joe Klemencic says:

A drawback of using a multi-boot computer system is that only one operating system can be active at one time. If you want to use both Windows and Linux at the same time, you need a separate machine for each operating system. If you have a powerful machine with a lot of RAM, you can create Virtual Machines and run a multitude of operating systems at once, all on the same computer.

VMWARE (http://www.vmware.com) is a popular commercial Virtual Machine application, and costs about the same as two new hard drives. You can download a 30 day trial to see if your computer can handle the additional processing and load of multiple concurrent operating systems before you shell out the cash.

VMWARE offers two different versions and two different operating system types.
· The Workstation version for Windows NT/2000/XP and Linux clients allows a single workstation to load up any number of additional operating systems (the list of supported operating systems grows with every version, and even supports the upcoming Microsoft .Net server). The Server version allows for you to create virtual clusters on a Windows NT/2000 Server or Linux server to partition your applications.

For your hacking use, VMWARE Workstation is the preferred choice. You can install Windows XP as your master operating system and later install SuSe, Windows 2000, .Net, Novell and Mandrake Linux, all without having to add additional hard drives or setup dual booting. Also, if you have a dual or triple boot machine, VMWARE can make use of those already configured disk partitions instead of having to reload the operating systems from scratch.

Another benefit of a Virtual Workstation such as VMWARE is that you can configure it to run in persistent mode. In this mode of operation, you can mark the operating system to NOT make system adjustments and installed applications available after a reboot. This allows you to safely tryout new malware and viruses without the fear of any anomalies being present after a reboot.

It is also handy for handling the Spyware when visiting certain websites. Surf the Internet within your VMWARE session, and after the next reboot of that Virtual Machine, all Spyware is removed.

You can also use Virtual Machines to setup your mini-lab, since access to network resources is available for both inbound and outbound connectivity.

To be legal with the license terms, you only need one copy of VMWARE Workstation for each computer, and that license can boot any number of Virtual Machines. However, you are still responsible for owning a valid license for each operating system you install.

Gavin Heer is another VMWARE enthusisast.
I love it especially the Linux version. What I like to do is set up a VMWARE installation of my "target" machine and I try to break into it using the host installation. It runs in another window so it's easy to switch back and forth. Plus you don't have to worry about dual booting or wrecking your hard drive while trying to install Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Red Hat on the same computer (now THAT was an adventure lol). Of course you need a pretty fast computer but it's pretty sweet.

Further Reading

Many multi-boot resources can be found at http://tldp.org.

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