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How can I get fedora20 to dual boot with Windows98

asked 2014-09-23 18:48:30 -0500

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I just installed fedora20 on a spare partition on my PC. The other partition had an existing Windows 98 installation. Now I cannot see or boot into windows 98 any more. From what I have read I gather that fedora has installed GRUB2 as a bootloader. My real question is what can I do now to be able to boot Windows 98 as well as fedora?

Out of curiosity (I am old) I would also like to know: Can GRUB2 recognise a fat32 partition? Is fedora likely to have installed GRUB2 in the MBR using the BIOS or as EFI? Can I just install LILO or something similar? My preference would be to boot using the BIOS as I know this works and I suspect it is less likely to upset Windows 98

Please note: I really don't know very much so detailed instructions would be good if possible.

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May I ask why you are using Win98?

abadrinath gravatar imageabadrinath ( 2014-09-24 20:08:37 -0500 )edit

j3frea and bull500 Thanks for the advice, I will give your suggestions a go, starting with updating /etc/grub.d/40_custom.

In reply to 'hello': Win98 is a stable functional system with low overhead. (Load it up and you will find it is surprisingly fast on a clean system.) Subsequent versions have added many features of great benefit to commercial providers with whom I interact, but of no benefit to me; they just make my simple tasks take longer and use more computer resources. That said, there are some things you can't do on a win98 system, so it won't be the choice for everyone.

Blank Reg gravatar imageBlank Reg ( 2014-09-29 02:32:00 -0500 )edit

True dat. Well, I certainly would prefer Win98 over the 'Metro' stuff, I feel it's better than the 'start screen'.

  • Can GRUB2 recognise a fat32 partition? Yep, I think it can. My GRUB boots off a VFAT partition (it's EFI though). :)
  • Is fedora likely to have installed GRUB2 in the MBR using the BIOS or as EFI? I really have no idea what you're talking about.
  • Can I just install LILO or something similar? I'm pretty sure Fedora doesn't support LILO anymore, just GRUB. The main question: Honestly, I think the problem is just that you have Win98 (it probably has trouble recognizing it). So, you probably have to manually feed GRUB the Windows bootloader. Which Fedora are you using?
abadrinath gravatar imageabadrinath ( 2014-09-29 23:58:45 -0500 )edit

Yeah, just like @j3frea did. +1.

abadrinath gravatar imageabadrinath ( 2014-09-30 00:00:27 -0500 )edit

3 Answers

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answered 2014-09-24 02:49:33 -0500

I'm not that clued up on EFI so maybe someone else can weigh in but I'm almost certain that you have a regular old BIOS startup because I don't think Windows 98 would support EFI.

The Windows 98 bootloader will not automatically recognise your Fedora partition so you'll need to use Grub (or something similar). When you installed Fedora, Grub was put into your MBR. GRUB2 can certainly support your Fat32 partitions. Quick googling reveals that you are not the only one with problems related to Grub2 and Windows 98 so know you're not alone.

Someone has solved this problem by adding this to /etc/grub.d/40_custom::

menuentry "Windows 98" {
        insmod chain
        insmod fat32
        set root=(hd0,1)
        chainloader (hd0,1)+1

Obviously those disk references would have to be the right ones for you. The guy who shares your problem suggested a more generic alternative as well:

menuentry "Windows 98" {
        insmod chain
        insmod part_msdos
        insmod fat
        set root='(hd0,msdos1)'
        search --no-floppy --label --set 'Your label'
        drivemap -s (hd0) $(root)
        chainloader +1

If found that advice here:

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answered 2014-09-30 10:15:03 -0500

Blank Reg gravatar image

Looks like fedora 20 sets up using efi after a redirect from BIOS. I tried the /etc/grub.d/40_custom solutions, but GRUB2 only recognised the fedora install plus a 'linux recovery version 0.0' where the windows 98 should have been.

What I have done, using a win98 startup disk, is use "fdisk /mbr" to rewrite the MBR and now my windows is restored without a hitch. So fedora 20 did no permanent harm, only overwrote the MBR.

I probably need a way to install GRUB(2) with a BIOS option, which I will experiment with.

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Why do you think Fedora is using EFI? EFI is a feature found on new computers, and new computers tend not to work with Windows 98. And "redirect from BIOS to EFI" just doesn't make sense.

Anyway, the step missing from @j3frea's answer is @bull500's answer - which might even pick up the Windows install without needing to edit the files.

randomuser gravatar imagerandomuser ( 2014-09-30 13:04:39 -0500 )edit

Yup, EFI is only for 2012+ computers (usually). In rare cases, you can convert an old disk to it though. Have you done that?

abadrinath gravatar imageabadrinath ( 2014-10-04 22:55:52 -0500 )edit

UEFI is the motherboard firmware, the replacement for BIOS. "converting a disk" to UEFI doesn't make sense.

randomuser gravatar imagerandomuser ( 2014-10-05 02:16:51 -0500 )edit

answered 2014-09-26 05:47:14 -0500

bull500 gravatar image

Mostly guessing its bios try running this command in your terminal - grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

It'll rescan an update your bootloader menu entry. More info -

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Asked: 2014-09-23 18:48:30 -0500

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Last updated: Sep 30 '14