Wednesday Jan 07, 2009

Multiboot OpenSolaris on Dell XPS 1530 with MediaDirect

Got a new Dell XPS 1530 laptop.  Looks sleek.  186GB, DVDRW, 4GB RAM, 9 Cell Battery, soft touch keys for eject and volume control.  Pre-installed with Windows Vista 32 bit. It also has a feature called MediaDirect.  This can play music, video, pictures and presentations from the media in the dvd drive or from the user's Document's directory in the Vista partition without booting the Vista Operating System!

MediaDirect is actually running a scaled down version of Windows XP.  Mediadirect still uses the display, harddrive, CPU and memory.  Its not going to save much on power.  But is surely a quick way and convenient way access the files.

MediaDirect is indeed a nice feature.  But it has some limitation:

  • It requires a primary partition at the beginning of the disk of around 47MB.
  • It requires a logical partitions of around 2GB in an extended partition at the end of the disk.

That takes away 2 partitions.  Vista takes one more and Dell Recovery of around 10GB takes one more partition.  Thats it.  No space to install OpenSolaris.  Unfortunately, you cannot install Solaris in an extended partition (as of now).

Blowing up and reinstalling everything, including OpenSolaris, would screw up MediaDirect.  Pressing the Media direct button would give the grub option or boot Vista directly or switch the functionality of the power and mediadirect buttons or completely destroy everything on the disk!!

I and two of my colleagues experimented with different methods of installing.  Our requirements were:

  • Multiboot with grub
  • Vista and Solaris in primary partitions
  • Extended partition for additional OSes (like Linux)
  • Do not care about Recovery Partition
  • MediaDirect must still work

This is the sequence of operation that has to be followed in this order \*only\* to meet the above requirements:

  • Partition with MediaDirect CD
  • Re-partition with Gparted
  • Install Windows Vista
  • Install MediaDirect inside Vista
  • Check Vista and MediaDirect operations
  • Install OpenSolaris
  • Check Vista and OpenSolaris operations through grub menu
  • Check MediaDirect with the button
  • Install Additional drivers and applications through the CDs provided

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jkini

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