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As shipped, my R40 hard drive was formatted FAT32, with an ~3G hidden area containing the full WIndows XP install/recovery image and some additional utilities. This so-called "predesktop" area is hidden by BIOS. It is not a separate partition, so it is possible to create 4 primary partitions, or 3 and an extended partition as I have without deleting this hidden area.
When booted for the first time, the drive will be reformatted as NTFS, and winXP installed from the predesktop.
The predesktop area can be made visible via a BIOS option:
Security->IBM Predesktop Area->Access IBM Predesktop Area-> [Disabled|Normal|Secure]. Disabled makes the area visible.
Warning: even when "invisible", the Predesktop area is still visible to some versions of fdisk. It is possible to modify the drive in ways that confuse some operating systems. If you want to wipe this area to free up some space, make it visible. If you want to keep the predesktop area, leave it invisible, and be VERY careful with partitioning tools!
Note: some of the IBM/third party software installed on the HD is not available from the ThinkPad R40 Software and Drivers matrix. In particular, the DVD playing software and the CD burning software must be saved from the original installation. Installable (not just installed) copies of this and other software is located at C:\IBMTOOLS\APPS. Save it if you want to use it in winxx other than XP.
Update 2005.01.19: The description below is a faithful recount of what I did, but it turns out that it probably wasn't the best way to go about it - and it may have contributed to the problems caused later by Solaris and Linux installs. See my partitioning notes for further information.
There are several partitioning tools around, but the one I am familiar with is System Commander 7 from V-Com which is a boot manager and set of partitioning tools. Partitions may be created, deleted, moved, and resized by booting the SC7 CD directly, or when the system is (re)booted once SC7 is installed as the boot manager. Included are other useful/necessary tools: scout.exe which extracts and saves HD partitioning information in a scout.txt file, and scin.exe which can perform several utility functions, and allows manually editing partition tables.
Warning: I have used and recommended System Commander for years. However, I cannot recommend their SC8 version. Installing it on my R40 garbled the HD sufficiently that Win2K would no longer boot. After discussing it with their support people, I tried a fresh install rather than an update. That too damaged the HD. In the end, I went back to SC7 and had to do a total Win2k re-installation. On top of that, support was very slow to respond, and so far they have refused to refund the purchase price because I took too long to ask - since I waited for their support to reply! Very sad.
I booted the SC7 CD directly, and used it to delete the NTFS partition (but not the predesktop area -- SC7 can't see it when it is protected). I then created a FAT32 partition for the win98 installation, and installed win98 from CD.
I then installed System Commander in win98, and created the win2k partition. At that point, I didn't create the Solaris or extended partitions. I wanted win98 to be the C partition, and win2k the D partition. Just a personal quirk of mine... If extended (FAT?) partitions are present when win2k is installed, it will pick some other partition letter for its installation. Installed win2k from CD. The win2k installation will overwrite SC's boot info, so reboot to win98, and use the SC program scin.exe to re enable SC7.
Win2k was installed in a FAT32 partition to make it accessible from the other OS installations.
Once win2k was installed and configured, I created a Solaris partition w/ID 82, and ran the SC program scout.exe to capture a picture of the partition table. These are necessary steps! If you allow the Solaris install to create its own partition it will make a complete hash of the partition tables. Even with a previously created Solaris partition, it will damage the existing partition information, but it can be repaired. If Solaris is allowed to create a partition, it may not start/end on cylinder boundaries - big trouble when co-existing with other OSs.
The Solaris install will once again overwrite the SC boot info, so reboot to win98 or a dos prompt, and run scin again to restore it. Also, at this time use scin.exe to manually edit the partition tables to restore the pre-solaris install state:
scin>Special Options>Diagnostic Checks>Partition Checks>F2.
When Solaris is up and running, use scin to change its partition ID to something else - 99 is my favorite - in preparation for installing Linux. The Linux swap partition ID is also 82, and if the Solaris ID is left at 82, Linux may well overwrite it, if not during install, then during operation.
I used SC7 to create an extended partition containing the Linux boot, swap, and root partitions, as well as a FAT32 partition filling the rest of the (non predesktop) disk space. (The FAT32 logical partition is a shared area to be used by all OSs.) and did the Linux install.
Since SC7 is my overall boot manager, I had the RH install put the Grub bootloader in the Linux /boot partition, not in the HD's MBR.
Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! The initial RedHat 8.0 installation was done without creating its partitions first; I used disk druid during the install. This is how I normally install RedHat Linux. The RH install scribbled the partition tables! Fortunately, I had saved a scout image of the tables before the install, so I was able to manually repair them. Unfortunately, the install had crippled the win2k installation! Win2k would boot almost all the way, then get stuck in an endless loop saving and restoring configuration. Nasty. I don't know what was broken, but I have seen this kind of thing before when trying to Ghost win2k between different disks.
To try to understand what was up, I repeated the RH install, but this time with pre-created logical partitions. Same bad behavior. In the end, I repaired the damaged info manually, and THEN reinstalled win2k. I have only seen this once before, when installing to a 120G drive on a deskside P4. I seem to be the only one on the planet who has experienced this problem but you have been warned!
Update 2005.01.19: I may have finally figured this out. See partitioning notes.
At this point, I set the Solaris ID back to 82, and all 4 systems are up and running. Still lots more to do, but at least the basics are done.
An edited scout.txt partition table report is available here: scout report.
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