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9 installs of Windows 7 on one drive?

Discussion in 'Technology' started by Chickenmunga, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. Aug 26, 2011 at 1:07 PM
    #1
    Chickenmunga

    Chickenmunga [OP] Nuggety

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    Alright, not expecting much out of this, but maybe someone has my magic bullet.


    I need to do testing for 9 different language versions of Windows 7 (so Italian, French, Chinese, etc.), and I'd like to install as many as I can to one drive.

    With a partition table of MBR, Windows demands a primary partition. As per MBR, you can only have 4 primary partitions, so I only get 4 installs.

    I'd like to use a GPT partition table, which doesn't have such a restriction. However, I've only been able to get Windows 7 to install on a bare drive - once I get to installing the secondary OS and so on, the installation errors, "this is a GPT partition, windows does not support this, yadda yadda".

    Have you encountered anything like this or know a solution? If it helps, I'm using a Lenovo T420 and I have access (or should be able to get access to) just about anything I need.
     
  2. Aug 28, 2011 at 7:14 AM
    #2
    Goober

    Goober Earthlings are fun to watch!

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    Maybe you could virtualize a system. VMware?
     
  3. Aug 28, 2011 at 7:29 AM
    #3
    bigef12

    bigef12 Well-Known Member

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    ^^^^ This. If you choose this method, VMware is the best I've used as far as paid apps go. VirtualBox is free and may suit your needs as well.
     
  4. Aug 28, 2011 at 7:45 AM
    #4
    zomg

    zomg Well-Known Member

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    If this is temporary go with virtual box. Vmware for a permanent solution.
     
  5. Aug 28, 2011 at 9:54 AM
    #5
    Chickenmunga

    Chickenmunga [OP] Nuggety

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    Man I wish I could, but I'm doing testing that requires hardware testing and I can't virtualize the hardware
     
  6. Aug 28, 2011 at 9:56 AM
    #6
    Greensystemsgo

    Greensystemsgo Clean 1 owner with low miles.

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    use a virtual machine, virtual box will work great for what your doing and works great, oh and its free :D

    what kind of hardware needs to be tested using different languages? and really you can just install once, and change the language pack (windows 7 ultimate).

    let me know whats up, i own and operate computer repair company :D
     
  7. Aug 28, 2011 at 11:18 AM
    #7
    Chickenmunga

    Chickenmunga [OP] Nuggety

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    I'm not sure how much has been released to the public, so sorry if I seem taciturn, but my testing involves commands sent directly to the processor and controlling a custom BIOS.

    Installing Windows 7 in English and then changing the language pack just changes the language that is presented. I need to have a more native environment.
    To give you a better idea, install Win 7 English, then install Win 7 Japanese. for english, file paths look like "C:\Windows\system". In the Japanese release, that path would be "C:¥Windows¥system". There's other things as well, for instance the other day we had a bunch of login failures - I found out that there is no @ symbol on some keyboards (I think it was Italian?), so our default testing password of "P@ssw0rd" needed to change to something more universal.

    I tried some more with GPT by inserting a blank HDD in a different machine and using Windows disk management to create a fresh GPT partition table. I stuck that HDD back in my target computer and tried installing Windows. Windows complained it can't install. Booted into GParted and noticed that when the GPT was created, the first partition of the drive is some "unknown" partition. I proceeded to move the partition 100MB down the drive, then left the rest unallocated. Tried to install Windows again, this time it's happy - it uses the first 100MB to install the System partition, then the rest of the unallocated space for the OS. The drive now looks like

    100 System
    128MB unknown
    XX GB Windows OS

    I then went into GParted, reduced the OS partition to 50GB, then left the rest unallocated. I tried installing German. I was getting tired at this point and guess I wasn't paying enough attention to what I was doing, but I managed to install. I'm not sure if it overwrote the system partition or not? Anyway, I now have:

    100MB system
    128MB unknown
    50GB Windows 7 English
    XXGB Windows 7 German

    I tried doing the same thing again - reduced German to 50GB, left the remaining space unallocated. I tried installing Italian, and now it fails (can't install because the drive is GPT).

    Anyway, I found that there's a few other reasons why GPT might not be the way to go:

    -Microsoft doesn't support it. In their documentation online, they state GPT is only meant for storage drives.
    -GPT requires UEFI enabled motherboards for Windows to use it.


    At this time I think I'm going with 3 hard drives per machine. I'll install 4 versions per drive using MBR.
     
  8. Aug 28, 2011 at 11:21 AM
    #8
    brian

    brian Another Traitor

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    Windows 7 installs are pretty quick if you ask me, especially if you are running a SSD. I think my last one took less than 15 minutes. Why not just blow the partition everytime instead of trying to have 9 partitions. Maybe keep it to 2 partitions, one for your EN OS and one for another language, just in case you need a baseline. You're never going to have them all runnin at once on a single machine, I don't imagine why it would take any longer.
     
  9. Aug 28, 2011 at 11:22 AM
    #9
    Chickenmunga

    Chickenmunga [OP] Nuggety

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    base installs are quick

    Windows updates take forever :(
     
  10. Aug 28, 2011 at 11:25 AM
    #10
    brian

    brian Another Traitor

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    You still have to do it, regardless of partitions, unless you are trying to keep all the partitions installed so you can come back in the future. In that case, I think the cheapest option is a bunch of cheap hard drives.

    If it helps you, I can direct you to a friend in Astoria that owns a computer recycling business, I bet I could get you a few hard drives for cheap.
     
  11. Aug 28, 2011 at 11:48 AM
    #11
    Greensystemsgo

    Greensystemsgo Clean 1 owner with low miles.

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    get yerself a large drive. set up all partitions, THEN install windows to each individual partition. It SHOULD recognize the bootloder used and prompt you at boot as to which install you want. that 100mb unknown is the bootloder partition, ntfs is fine.
     
  12. Aug 28, 2011 at 11:53 AM
    #12
    Chickenmunga

    Chickenmunga [OP] Nuggety

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    Yep, I will need to re-use the installs.

    I don't have a hard time getting hardware at work. We just restocked the lab with about 10 more 500GB laptop hard drives
     
  13. Aug 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM
    #13
    Chickenmunga

    Chickenmunga [OP] Nuggety

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    If we are talking MBR, there is a better way: create all 4 primary partitions. Set the first to NTFS, set the rest to something windows can't recognize. Install. Windows will not attempt to create the system partition. Dole out one partition at a time for your other installs. This way, you can get 4 operating systems on a drive instead of wasting a partition with the system partition

    If we are talking GPT, I'm not sure. I might have to do something like

    Windows english
    128mb unknown
    Windows German
    Windows Japanese

    ...and so on. I will try that monday
     
  14. Aug 28, 2011 at 12:28 PM
    #14
    Greensystemsgo

    Greensystemsgo Clean 1 owner with low miles.

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    just pull up first install, and install it to a 25gb partition leaving the rest blank. next, install next, and take 25gb, itlll use a mbr, really best bet without using separate drives.
     
  15. Sep 15, 2011 at 2:58 PM
    #15
    [eric]

    [eric] Well-Known Member

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  16. Sep 15, 2011 at 9:38 PM
    #16
    Chickenmunga

    Chickenmunga [OP] Nuggety

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    Doesn't work in the situation I was testing. I was testing Intel vPro, which requires direct processor and chipset interaction.

    I ended up sticking 4 partitions on one drive, 4 on another, and kept English on its own drive. For anyone else doing this, Vistaboot and Visual BCD Editor are invaluable tools for editing the boot loader.
     
  17. Sep 16, 2011 at 11:08 AM
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    Evil Monkey

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