If you have a Windows 9x system, you need to be careful, especially if the system was pre-installed. Many of these systems are installed using the newer FAT32, which allows you to create larger filesystems. However, with older distributions (and therefore older kernels) you will not be able to use lilo to boot your Windows 9x system. Instead, you will need to configure loadlin to book Linux from Windows 9x.
If you have a VFAT/FAT16 filesystem, (or a newer distribution) then you will be able to configure lilo to boot your system, as we described before. However, it is also possible to get Windows 9x to boot Linux for you. Both Windows 95 and Windows 95 can be configured to boot Linux using loadlin (Linux Loader).
Linload is a DOS executable which loads a kernel image from a DOS HD (or floppy) and then boots the rest of the Linux Operating System from an appropriate root partition. You will find that with many distributions the Linux installation is done from Linux, which has been booted off of the CD using loadlin. If your kernel was small enough, you could even use loadlin to boot from a floppy, pull your root filesystem from the network and run without a hard disk in the machine.
Keep in mind that you cannot start loadlin once either Windows 95 or Windows 98 has started. Therefore, you need to stop Windows from booting while it is in DOS mode. This can be done by pressing the F8 as soon as you see the message. “Starting Windows 98…”. You are presented with a number of option and you need to select “Safe mode, command prompt only.”
Once at the command line you start loadlin, passing it the name of your kernel and the root device. Such as:
For more details on multibooting, check out the DOS-Win-to-Linux HOWTO, Linux+NT-Loader mini HOWTO and the NT OS Loader + Linux mini-HOWTO.