Hi again,

given that I have very little information about your problem and
situation, I just give you a very big pile of ideas - maybe there
is something useful in it, or maybe something to ponder further.

>> First of all, I did not make myslf clear.  I was not running win98.
>> I was only running the dos portion of win98.  I wrote over the dos
>> portion of win98 with freedos using the sys command.  My concerns
>> are two:
> 1) In a multi-partitioned environment, how am I supposed to correctly
>  install freedos on a partition without writing over the mbr where 
> grub/lilo/etc resides.

The SYS command does not overwrite the MBR. So DOS only boots when
you select to boot from the DOS partititon in your GRUB / LILO menu.

I am assuming that your boot menu does not need a copy of the DOS
boot sector as a file. Instead, I assume that your coresponding menu
item is defined as "(chain-)boot the boot sector of that partition".

If your menu does support boot sector files, that obviously gives
the interesting opportunity to have MS DOS and FreeDOS in separate
menu items while both DOS versions still share the C: drive, but
you already said that you do not need that.

What happens if you select Linux in your boot menu now? You wrote
that there was a problem for you to boot Linux at the moment. Or
is the boot menu itself not there? If so, how did booting Linux
work BEFORE you installed FreeDOS? Maybe you had a boot menu in
MS DOS, not in the MBR?

Note that you can use menus like metakern and grub4dos that can
be installed on a DOS partititon: Metakern for example has the
option to boot your Linux partition. It is possible that there
is a LILO or GRUB *there* which then loads Linux. If you install
grub4dos, you can even define menu items to boot specific Linux
kernel files, but I myself have no experience with grub4dos...

Also note that no matter if you have your Linux boot menu in
the MBR or at another location, the MBR also contains a boot
flag telling which partition is booted by default. It might
be that one setting brings you to a boot menu installed in
a partition while another just directly boots the operating
system installed in another partition. I am not sure which
situation you get with the boot menu installed in the MBR,
but most boot menu systems have a tool to reinstall the boot
menu itself without touching the partitioning.

While it was once popular to have boot menus in the MBR, I
would now prefer having them installed in the partition of
the operating system to which they belong (only if they do
support doing that in a safe way without breaking contents
of that partition, of course!) to avoid having to "fight"
over which operating system gets to put their menu stuff
in the MBR. Linux against Windows / MS DOS, for example...

According to wikipedia, GRUB 1 is installed in the MBR and
a few kilobytes following, while GRUB 2 is installed in the
MBR and optionally in the boot sector of a Linux partition
of your choice and in a few kilobytes after the MBR. That
gives you a second possibility to boot GRUB 2 even if the
MBR itself is in use by something else... For EFI systems,
a small boot partition is used, not "few kilobytes ..." but
EFI only applies to computers much newer than yours. LILO
can be installed in the MBR or the boot sector of a Linux
partition, too, plus either a few kilobytes after the MBR
or some sectors at some other place (the place info can be
updated by some tool). The LOADLIN boot menu, finally, is
a DOS program which lets you boot Linux kernels from DOS,
but you have to copy the kernel to a DOS-reachable place.
SYSLINUX is vaguely similar to LOADLIN. As you see, there
are many ways to boot Linux, e.g. PLoP, Smart Boot Manager,


> 1a) Do I need to install FreeDOS on each fat32 partition?

As with MS DOS 7.10, you only have to install FreeDOS on C:
to boot from it. You can then use the other partitions as
other drive letters. Simply the same as with Microsoft :-)

> 2) Now I am unable to access my linux partition.  This drive has 6 
> partitions.  Three are fat32 dos partitions, one is Linux swap, one
> is Linux and the last is about 2 gb laying fallow.

Because SYS does not change the MBR, I wonder which other step
damaged your boot menu. I hope you have not changed partitions
with FDISK? If only your GRUB or LILO are damaged, you could
boot Linux from a CD, DVD, USB, network or similar and "simply"
install GRUB or LILO again. I think SuSE even had some boot CD
menu option for repairing installed Linux / make it boot again.

I think your problem can be solved in two directions: If you
are experienced with the low-level side of Linux, you probably
can solve it yourself more easily than explaining all details
now. On the other hand, you may want to explain what exactly
is the current situation and what exactly caused it and what
exactly was the original situation, possibly interactively on
IRC or Skype or similar, to get more specific instructions.

As you noticed, I somehow have a tendency to misunderstand you
when your descriptions are short. Part of this is because when
Win 98 was still popular, people typically wanted to install
FreeDOS but still keep Win 98 or MS DOS 7 working at the same
time. Sometimes they even only wanted to try FreeDOS, so they
just wanted to get rid of FreeDOS and wanted to boot only MS
DOS 7 or Win 98 again. Which is why I assumed you wanted to do
the same. But now you explained that you actually want to put
FreeDOS instead of MS "DOS" 7 but now FreeDOS shows a warning
about geometry and there is SOME problem in booting Linux or
in accessing the Linux partitions from FreeDOS or similar...

Maybe another expert already has an idea or maybe you yourself
already have an idea for (carefully!) repairing your boot menu,
or maybe you want to start by explaining the problem in more
detail. In any case, please keep us informed and stay safe :-)

Regards, Eric

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