BootIt NG high level steps - best approach??


J

Jason

Good Day.

I'm looking at rebuilding my home servers over the next month and
wanted to get off on the right foot.

I currently have two machines (cheap ass e-machines) that have been
very stable. At least one of them has a bios that would allow me to
boot from a USB device, though I;ve never tried.

Here's how I operate today.

One is PROD and the other id DEV. Both windows 2000. Both have at
least 4 partitions, at least two configured bootable from the windows
2000 menu. Both have a 5 gig FAT partition, not formated for boot.

My recovery model basically consists of doing weekly DB backups and and
a quarterly full drive image using ghost. To recover, I boot from a
norton CD that loads USB drivers and allows me to restore disk images
from an external usb drive.

I'm looking to move to windows 2003 and sql server 2005 and so I'm
going through the install process on a partion on my DEV server. Once
that install feels stable enough I will make two ghost images I likely
will never need to use.

Here's what I want to do.

I'd like start from scratch with a bootmanager that will allow me to
boot from DOS, Linux, XP, 2000 and 2003. Currently, I don't think I can
even boot from XP and 2003 on the same machine boot menu... not sure
but I think I tried and could not.

Some things I want:

* To be able to boot to the DOS prompt from the boot menu and see all
my drives and recorver and rearrange
* To be able to boot from a USB flash and see all my drives and be able
to recover and rearrange partitions. Ideally to be able to see network
drive spaces.
* A boot menu with boot options for all the mentioned OSes

I don't see BootIt NG offering any USB bootable option, but if it is my
best option I may not need a usb boot option if a safe alternative is
out there that does not require a working primiary drive or CD drive.

At a high level what are my steps if I go with BootIT?

Install Bootit? where?
Backup? where?
Boot disks? locations?
Reformat? Repartition? after what?
restore? when from where?
expected recovery steps if I loose my primary drive and the system no
longer boots to whaterver boot menu?
Once stable what can I expect to see when I boot?
what would be the steps if say, I wanted to add a dos boot partition?
do I need to have a copy of DOS or can I use rawrite? how?

sorry for the 20 questions.. Im just a bit puzzled when I see all these
new recent sw tools that require you to first make a floppy bootable so
you can copy the bootsector to a flash drive for flash drive boots..
huh? what if you don't have a floppy and your os does not support
formatting with the dos os? Why isn't there a generic bootsect or tool
that can format a flash for boot.. perhaps flashboot can do this.

Thanks!
 
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J

Jim

In all honesty, I don't understand all the concern for a bootable USB flash
drive. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that you don't have a floppy option,
so should your system fail to boot, you're considering this option as your
backup boot strategy. Is this correct? Anyway, let's put that issue aside
for the moment since I believe it can be addressed later.

As far as BING (BootIt NG), I should tell you I've been using this software
for MANY years, iirc, since 1999 or so. It's absolutely terrific and will
make managing your bootable options and partition management so much easier.
In fact, it's three products in one; a boot manager, imaging solution, and
partition manager. That alone will eliminate having to use third party
software like Norton Ghost. I used to use those other tools too, but
haven't for years since BING provides all these features.

Let me make some general observations. Stay away from using too many
partitions. This complicates life unnecessarily. As soon as you go to
multiple PCs, it becomes exponentially more difficult to maintain those
machines (updates, app installations, backups, etc.). KEEP IT SIMPLE! In
fact, the ONLY separation I make on my own PCs is between OS (which includes
apps) and DATA. IOW, I will have many small partitions which only contain
an OS (all load as C:, of course only one OS is booted at any given time)
and all have access to a shared data partition (D:). That's it! In fact,
ideally I will place the OS partitions on a striped array (thus 2 hard
drives) and the DATA partition on a mirrored array (also two hard drives).
I use a Promise IDE PCI controller card for these purposes. I will
sometimes also maintain a fifth hard drive on the primary mobo IDE
controller ONLY for the boot drive (where BING will be installed). Why? I
find it's always a little safer and easier to manage the bootable hard drive
from the mobo's primary IDE controller. From there, BING boots the OS of
choice from one of the available OS partitions stored on the stripped array
(that gives me high performance). My BING menu items for each OS always
include the DATA partition from the mirrored array (being mirrored protects
my data from drive failure). Using this strategy, I gain high performance
w/ the OS partition(s) and data integrity w/ the DATA partition. Because
I've separated the OS from DATA, it means I can use different backup
strategies for each (which is appropriate since each has different
characteristics). The OS is *expendable*. While I will make periodic
backups, it can be done less often. And even if one of the OS hard drives
on the stripped array fails, I can either rebuild from the last image copy
(made w/ BING) or simply reinstall. It's not a big deal, just a hassle at
worst. In contrast, loss of my data would be a catastrophe, so I manage it
quite differently. I make more frequent incremental backups. These take
considerably longer since the DATA partition tends to be MUCH bigger than my
OS partitions. My OS partitions may be as small as 4-8 GBs depending on the
OS.

That's the basic strategy I employ. Keep the OS separated from the DATA,
mimimize partitions, place the OS(es) on a stripped array for performance,
and the DATA partition on a mirrored array for protection. From that
starting point, I will make adjustments as necessary. Obviously you could
eliminate the raid array from the picture to save money or further simplify.
But having raid options available and using them wisely can be very
effective. Just depends on whether you have the features and money to
employ it. To my mind, it's well worth it.

As far as BING and multi-booting, BING is magnificent at handling many
different OS installations. The beauty of BING is that it can HIDE other
partitions (OS or DATA), and thus all OSes can be installed as C:! That's a
big deal because it means each OS can be installed INDEPENDENTLY, with
absolutely no dependencies on other partitons, as it would be say, using the
Windows default boot loader. That means you can move partitions around w/
ease, reorder, delete, clone, etc., without any concern about implications
to other OSes. And because BING supports unlimited partitions (as an
option), you can install essentially an unlimited number of OSes to your HD.

That said, the reason it can be difficult to support some combinations of OS
from Windows has NOTHING to do w/ the boot manager. It's strictly
limitations in the OS. For example, the maximum size of a MS-DOS partition
is 2GB, *AND*, the load point for that 2GB *MUST* be within the first 2GB
from the head of the HD. If it's not, and you attempt to boot it, you'll
just get a blinking cursor in the upper left corner of the screen. Other
OSes have similar limitations. To be honest, I've forgetten many of them
over the years since they have long since been either unsupported or viable
for my own purposes. But I seem to recall NT 4.0 not being able to boot
beyond 4GB at one point, then that was updated to 8GB w/ a service pack.
Win95/Win98/WinME are all based on MS-DOS, therefore, they too have the same
MS-DOS 2GB load point limitation. In general, because the older OSes tend
to be more restrictive than newer OSes (e.g., XP, as far as I know, has NO
load point restrictions), it makes sense to install the older OS partitions
BEFORE the newer OS partitions. You avoid a lot of problems that way. Of
course, if you wish to install several MS-DOS partitions (including
Win95/Win98/WinME), they all have to compete for that first 2GB of space.
Thus, no matter how big the HD, you're somewhat limited in how many you can
install for practical purposes. As I said initially, a lot of the problems
in multi-booting are artifacts of past OS limitations, NOT BING. They hold
true for ANY boot manager, including Windows own boot loader.

Ok, I admit I didn't directly answer your questions point by point. But
frankly, the setup I'm recommending is a good starting point. Should the
boot drive fail, you can always gain access to the OS and DATA partitions by
merely booting the BING CD. I don't see why have a bootable USB flash drive
is necessary. That's not to say it can't be done. Frankly I've never
attempted to create one w/ BING (never felt the need). But I suppose if a
flash drive can be made bootable with either a floppy or ISO image (which
BING provides), and your mobo supports USB booting, then it should be
possible. In fact, I might try it myself one of these days (out of
curiosity). I see no reason an external USB HD wouldn't work either. You
could simply use BING to clone the BING partition to the external enclosure.
Then when you needed it, change your mobo boot option to point to the USB
device. NOTE: You'd actually have to install BING to the external
enclosure's boot sector, of course, before it would actually boot BING.

Oh, and btw, something I didn't mention. I strongly recommend you install
BING to its own partition, it only needs about 8MB. Yes, it will thus
consume a partition, and w/ limited partition option ON, this does take away
1 of 4 possible partitions. But it makes BING independent of any other OS.
If you install BING to an existing OS or DATA partition (which you can do,
as long as its FAT or FAT32), you've introduced a dependency. I just find
this limiting. I like to be able to back up BING separately. Or move it
around to another location if desired, etc. Or not having to keep an old OS
partition around just because it contains BING. But that's your choice, I'm
merely recommending this strategy based on many years experience w/ BING and
over 25 years experience w/ 'puters :)

HTH

Jim
 
J

jobs

Thanks for that!

I'll definetly will use the product moving forward. I agree with
seperating data from OS, that just makes good sense. And for
production, I agree keeping it simple and clean is the only way to go.
However, development for me is and will always be one giant mess of a
scratch pad that likely has to be rebuilt every now and then. There I
do need a handful of partitions and Im not too worried about keeping it
too clean or safe. As I write this, I'm loading 2003 patches on one
partion and having to remember that the OS is on F: when it boots. No
biggie, but I see your point.

That said, back to my questions.

I've got about 80gig on my dev server. Curerntly I've got it partioned
as 30gig, 20gig, 20gig and 10gig FAT. when I boot from Ghost I only see
the FAT, so I do keep soom images there.

One of the 20gigs has my future environment on it and it's looking good
for moving forward with that. But 20gig it turns out is too close for
comfort for all the new stuff. So i'd like to go with 30gig 30gig 5, 5,
5 and 5 or some combination. 2 partions for 2003 boots, one for
Bootit, a couple of Linux and maybe one for DOS, unless Bootit can boot
to itself and not need an OS.

So where do I start. In the past I would using windows 2000 to format
and partion the drives. will bootit do that? and use windows2000 boot
menu.

steps I see:

1. boot from bootit CD?
2. backup up partions? with what?
3. delete create partions?
4. format the drives using what?
5. any bootit step when installing an OS in a partion?


Thanks!
 
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H

Harry331

jobs wrote...
steps I see:

1. boot from bootit CD?

It's up to you. BootIt Cd for floppy.
2. backup up partions? with what?

It's up to you. BootIt, Ghost, Acronis True Image or whatever
backup software you have.
3. delete create partions?

It's up to you. I hope you know what you are doing.
See below.
4. format the drives using what?

It all depends on what OS you are installing.
When installing XP, it prompts you to format a partition.
You can also format partitions with 3rd party softwares like
Acronis Disk Director.
5. any bootit step when installing an OS in a partion?

I suggest you play around BootIt on a Microsoft Virtual PC,
or VMWare. You will gain yourself confidence on something
that you can afford to screw up ..... before you use BootIT
on your real environments.

Good luck.
 

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