Start Linux with Dell Mediadirect button – updates
For people who dual boot Windows OS and Linux in their notebook, Dell Mediadirect(TM) is an features that most learn to hate. Dell allow one to hot start the Dell notebook by pressing the MediaDirect button that locate in front of the notebook. However, MediaDirect is not very useful if user scratch Windows XP with minimal OEM junks application : Windows XP startup is as fast as the MediaDirect application.
At the end, the MediaDirect turn out to be useless application with little value. In 3rd Quarter of 2006, Dell install Inspiron notebook with MediaDirect 3.0, and change the way of installing MediaDirect. Under MediaDirect 3.0, when you press the button, it will load the boot up record which locate in the main partition to bootup MediaDirect.
This change means anyone can replace MediaDirect software with Linux Operating system without messing around with the default Windows XP boot loader.
The follow are some step to install Dual boot Windows – Linux system with MediaDirect enable.
- Delete all the partition inside the notebook.
- Repartition the notebook and allocate some space for Linux OS (5GB and more)
- Install Windows XP
- Insert the latest Linux installer CD (I am using OpenSuse10.2) and boot the installer
- At the Linux partition manager, assign the remaining space for Linux operating syste. Leave around 256MB space for swap partition.
- Select your desire application and start the installation. Change the CD when asked.
- During the final stage, the system will ask your choice of boot loader
- The system will suggest to put the bootloader into MBR, DO NOT choose the option to write bootloader into MBR. Choose to write the bootloader into your first Linux partitions. For OpenSuse, this mean using the default setting.
- The system will reboot after done the installation.
- When the system reboot, it will boot up Windows XP.
- Just shutdown the Windows XP and press MediaDirect button. You will notice MediaDirect screen will show for a while and the GRUB boot loader will show afterwards. If you just leave the GRUB loader on, Linux will booting up after the timer laspe.
Evan question about Linux boot process when pressing MediaDirect button.
Here is my Dell Inspiron 640m linux hard drive grub.conf
setup --stage2=/boot/grub/stage2 (hd0,2) (hd0,2)
- And to extract MBR records, boot into linux and issue the following command. (must be root to do this)
dd=/dev/sda of=mbr.bin bs=512 count=1
- The file command will the mbr information in verbal forms.
mbr.bin: x86 boot sector; partition 1: ID=0x7, starthead 1, startsector 63, 40965687 sectors; partition 2: ID=0x7, starthead 0, startsector 40965750, 109193805 sectors; partition 3: ID=0x83, active, starthead 254, startsector 150159555, 6136830 sectors
ID=0x7 show that both partition 1 and 2 using NTFS. ID=0x83 mean the 3rd partition using ext3.
- For more details, using od -xa will print the binary command in ascii forms.
# od -xa mbr.bin
Click this MBR file to inspect the record. (sorry, I can’t decipher it without further research)
p/s : IBM has write an article :
Inside the Linux boot process which describe all necessary step to investigate linux bootup process. Above step are derive from IBM articles.
It seems Dell has make a tool call Media Direct Repair Utility, which will help to reinstate MBR record with MediaDirect info.
After reading brief information about Master Boot Record, it is safe to derive the following conclusions :
1. MediaDirect has programmed MBR to make it dual boot.
2. From power off state, pressing MediaDirect will initiate the MBR dual boot section and may program to load the last partition boot loader. (As what Evan has suggested)
3. From power off state, pressing Power up button will take the first MBR dual boot instruction to boot OS inside Active partition.
4. For Dell notebook owner, it is advisable NOT TO load Linux boot loader into MBR. As this might overwrite the MediaDirect button functionality. Install the boot loader into the Linux partition will save you all the hassle.