Making a multi-boot DVD

Q How do you make a DVD boot multiple distros? I want to make something similar for relatives and friends on dial-up to experience the Linux difference. I've got a DVD burner and media, so I think that should take care of hardware. I just need to know how to burn multiple distros and make each one bootable.

A Making a multi-boot DVD is tricky: you need to be familiar with the Grub and Isolinux bootloaders, and the structure of the distros that you want to combine. First, create a new directory and copy the contents of the first distro CD into it. If you haven't burned the CD, you can loopback mount the ISO image as follows (as root):

mkdir /loop/
mount -o loop discimage.iso /loop/

Once you've copied the contents of the disc into your new directory, you should access the second distro disc in the same way. Look at the files and see if there's any clash with the contents of the first disc. If there is, you'll have to manually hack the distro (possibly even rebuilding it), so in effect you're out of luck. If nothing clashes, or if the clashes are limited to directories called grub or isolinux, that's OK. Copy the second distro disc's files over to your new directory. Now you have a directory containing two distros. You then need to configure the bootloader for multibooting. Select the bootloader of one of the distros (in the boot, grub or isolinux directory - whatever the distro uses), and edit its configuration files (ie menu.lst, isolinux.conf - see the documentation for Grub and Isolinux to find out typical filenames).

Edit the configuration file and add boot entries for the second distro; you can get these from the second distro's bootloader directory. The bootloader config file for the first distro should now contain boot entries from the second distro's bootloader configuration file. Still following? It's tough, but make sure you keep track of the bootloader config files of both distros, and you can merge them together. Then burn the directory to a disc, using the first distro's bootloader directory contents as the boot block - this will be named something like isolinux.bin (for Isolinux) or stage2_eltorito (for Grub). If you've merged the bootloader config files correctly, and no directories from the distros have overlapped, you should be able to boot the new disc and choose your distro from the boot menu.

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