Tri or Quad Boot Mac Intel Machine

By Akbar
I recently got new MacBook Pro notebook. This is my first Apple notebook. I am regular user of the Windows and need it for both work and home (game playing). I also like to have a Linux flavor on my disk to do the time to time research and testing. So as soon as I got the new notebook, the first thing I explored was hot to setup multi boot system so that I can install Windows XP, Vista and Ubuntu along with the OS X.
I explore the web for this and of course there are hundreds of pages discussing those option. Most of these discuss whether one should go for the Boot Camp (with actually booting into the target operating system) or using some Virtualization software (VMWare of Parallels) to run those operating system in parallel with other. As being Windows user for years, I was more inclined to do the actual boot in to windows. Virtualization is good for the OS X users who just want to explore how the Windows looks like (there are good chances that the the experience is a bit bitter) or for some one who just want to do a quick task which can be only done on the Windows and return back to OS X as soon as possible.
I am not going to start a debate on which operating system is best. I think each one has its own purpose and it really depends on what you exactly needs to do. One thing can be done better in one operating system, while other is best for specific kind of task.
Anyway, coming back to my original problem. I had to do a multi-boot, so I start digging the web for the possible options. The first option, and best for the beginner is the Boot Camp by Apple. Though it’s very cool and required (for Windows Drivers), the only problem with it is that it only allow configuration of just one parallel operating system whether it’s XP, Vista or Linux flavor (but it should be just one).
Of course, it’s not the end of the world (in Computer Sc., only few things are impossible), so people have already found some workarounds. For the start, I found this one really simple and easy to follow article:
The only problem is that on my old notebook I had a configuration like this:
C Drive – Windows XP
D Drive – All my personal Data, backup and Project files
E Drive – Windows Vista
The problem is that if I leave the existing OS X partition at top, the partition table would look something like
1. EFI Protective Partition
2. OS X
3. Windows XP
4. Data
5. Windows Vista
And here comes the problem. Vista partition number is 5th, but unfortunately on old BIOS partition scheme (not in the new GPT layout), we have a limit of maximum 4 primary partition. So, the problem is that we can’t create the Windows Vista partition. I tried force doing it and as a result corrupted my partition table. Ahemm 🙂
Once my partition was corrupt, I rebooted from the OS X and using the OS X Disk Utility created the following partitions (in the listed order)
1. EFI Partition (it’s auto created and required for GPT)
2. Windows Vista
3. Data
4. Windows XP
5. OS X
Yes, I moved the OS X at last and it still works. The reason is that OS X does recognize the GPT structure and this new scheme has limit of 128 partitions (thank God). Read more about the GPT here at:
So just go ahead and partition the disk using the above structure. Warning! This will remove all your existing data on the disk. This is ideal for setup on the fresh Notebooks only or when you are sure you have backup all you important data.
Once you are done, first install the XP and then Vista. If you install Vista first and then install XP, it will corrupt the Boot loader for Vista and you will need to repair it (matter of few minutes, but you will need Windows Vista CD for this).
That’s all for today. I will soon write an article on how to access all of these partitions (yes, all of these) from the VMWare Fusion to access these installed operating system quickly from the OS X as required.