2. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This FAQ only reflects the installation guide in its present form, and various many queries which were present in the earlier versions have been edited and left out. If you have something to ask which is not listed herein, shoot an email at <sghosh.oxon at yahoo dot co dot uk>

What is the aim/purpose of this guide?
The information in this guide can be used for installing and configuring three different OSes on a single hard disk of a computer. Firstly, Windows XP is installed, then OpenSolaris 2008.11 is installed and finally, we round-off the guide by installing CentOS 5.2
Why have you used 3 OSes for this guide?
I personally wouldn't want any more! I do have a system which has Windows XP, FreeBSD, Ubuntu & OpenSolaris installed, but the overall installation, configuration and post-installation configuration in the multi-boot loader is too cumbersome to exemplify in a written manner. Thus, I thought of sticking to three OSes.
Did you yourself try out the steps mentioned in this guide?
Yes, I did test each and every step mentioned in this guide on my personal computer systems. Once successful, I often replicate the entire procedure on other systems of varying configurations to re-check and validate errors, if any.
What is the config of your test bed?
My test bed consists of multiple machines with varying configurations. The PC which was used for this guide is an ACPI x86-based PC, Mercury PIG31T mainboard, Intel Celeron CPU @ 1.80GHz, 1.0 GB RAM, a single 150GB ATA HDD and other usual accessories which runs Microsoft XP (Service Pack 3), OpenSolaris 2008.11 and CentOS 5.2
All your installations are "CD/DVD-ROM" based installation types. What about "Ethernet", "FTP", "HTTP", "NFS" installation types?
This guide has been kept as simple as possible. It is intended for all types of users, ranging from intermediate Linux users to the most experienced UNIX experts. Since, NFS, HTTP, FTP and other such installation types usually require network access with servers up and running, which is impossible for an ordinary home-user to have access to, I have only covered the CD/DVD-ROM based installation types.
Why would anyone ever need to run 3 OSes on the same hard disk of a computer?
For lots of reasons. Fun, for learning new installing and booting methodologies, for gaining inside knowledge of multi-booting, partitioning schemes, how boot loaders operate and so on, or simply because you just cannot afford 2 separate hard disk drives for the 3 different OSes you want to tinker with. Last but not the very least, if you do wish, you can always install and configure your computer system with 3 varying OSes installed in 2 separate hard disks. Not only is it highly recommendable, but mandatory if you have significant data in question.
Why CentOS? Why *not* RHEL, Debian, Slackware, Caldera, SuSE, TurboLinux and others?
Using CentOS is virtually same as using Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) which is virtually same as using earlier builds of Red Hat Linux. CentOS is a community-supported, freely-available OS which is a 100% compatible rebuild of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Since most of my past Linux projects and work in general has been related to RHEL and currently with CentOS; CentOS has been considered over other Linux distros. If you are using any other Linux distro, follow the same steps by replacing with adequate steps from your specific Linux distro. If something fails, shoot an email at <sghosh.oxon at yahoo dot co dot uk>
Where can I get the CentOS and OpenSolaris CD/DVD installation media?
CentOS can be freely downloaded from http://isoredirect.centos.org/centos/5/isos/i386/. OpenSolaris can be freely downloaded from http://www.opensolaris.com/get/index.jsp or register here online and submit the form to request for an OpenSolaris 2008.11 x86/x64 media kit. A media kit would be shipped from Sun Microsystems absolutely free of cost to your doorsteps.
Why OpenSolaris? Why *not* Sun Solaris, Digital UNIX, HP-UX, IBM-AIX and others?
OpenSolaris is an open source OS based on Sun Microsystems' commercial version of UNIX, Solaris. OpenSolaris is gaining wide popularity amongst students, Web 2.0 developers and deployment, open source OS developers worldwide, since apart from the source code which is 100% freely available, documentation & support is readily available as well. Since the motto of writing this document is to keep it as open-source and thereby as 'free' as possible, OpenSolaris has been chosen over other commercial versions of UNIX.
Which kernel version have you used for CentOS 5.2?
Linux Kernel 2.6.18-92.el5 has been used for CentOS 5.2.
Which kernel version have you used for OpenSolaris 2008.11?
OpenSolaris 2008.11 is based upon Solaris Nevada Build 101b with the Sun 5.11 kernel.
I installed 3 OSes on my computer; and then unfortunately, something went wrong somewhere. My hard disk crashed and I lost all the data. Would you be kind enough to take the responsibility for all this mess?
Use the information in this guide at your own risk. Do not try this on your primary laptop or PC, and if you do, then backup any significant data that you maybe having. You have been warned. If your hard disk does crash, and you do end up losing valuable data, I shall not take responsibility for the mess.
I have Red Hat, FreeBSD and OpenBSD distributions and/or releases. Will they work?
I am sure they would with a few modifications at places. All steps mentioned in this guide should behave in a normal manner if you are using Kernel 2.2.x or higher (for Linux). For FreeBSD users, if you are using not earlier than 4.X-RELEASES, there should not be any problems whatsoever.
My PC dual-boots WinXP and Linux. Is there any way to check out Solaris/OpenSolaris on Windows without actually installing the OS?
You can run OpenSolaris 2008.11 as an application on Windows or Linux using VMware. VMware is an application that emulates a PC or runs as a virtual machine (VM). So basically when you run OpenSolaris on VMware, it acts as its own dedicated box, when actually, it is running as an application on Windows or Linux. This article takes you through the steps to get OpenSolaris up and running on VMware: http://wiki.genunix.org/wiki/index.php/Getting_Started_with_OpenSolaris_using_VMWare
I have WinXP, CentOS and OpenSolaris 2008.11 running on my PC. I reinstalled WinXP and my boot loader got overwritten. What do I do now?
Do not worry! Reinstalling WinXP does not delete or render the boot loader permanently inactive. Recovering GRUB for Linux and OpenSolaris is a pretty straightforward procedure. This article takes you through the steps to recover the boot loader (GRUB) for Linux and OpenSolaris: http://salmanjamali.blogspot.com/2008/04/recovering-opensolarissolairslinux.html
I have never used OpenSolaris fdisk. Is it similar to MS-DOS fdisk and Linux fdisk?
Yes and no. Yes in the sense, the underlying architecture and trick used for partitioning a hard disk drive space remains the same across all OSes, though terminology may change from one OS to another. OpenSolaris fdisk looks very similar to MS-DOS fdisk, but closer to NetBSD style partition editor in core functionality. Check out this link for an excellent treatise on OpenSolaris fdisk functionality: http://docs.sun.com/app/docs/doc/819-2723/disksxadd-19036?a=view
I am not very clear as to how GRUB helps in booting the 3 OSes. What is the functionality of a boot loader anyway?

A PC when switched on can only execute program code found in ROM and RAM which does not include bigger software like OSes. Thus, a small program stored in ROM is executed which loads the bigger data set and programs (usually the OS) which are then executed from RAM. This small program which loads the bigger program and data into RAM and prepares the computer system for subsequent usage is the boot loader or bootstrap loader. Though it may sound very simple, the detailed functionality of a boot loader is indeed very complex and needs minute understanding of the underlying architecture of the computer system that it prepares to bootstrap. I would encourage everyone to read these documents over and over again:

Is there any specific reason as to why you first install WinXP, then OpenSolaris and round-off by installing CentOS?

Yes, there is. It is explained in detail why this particular sequence was preferred to other sequences in Chapter 4: Installing CentOS.
More queries would be added in the future.

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