Quote: Your plan is doable provided the first
primary partition on your drive is ext2
Sorry for delay between posts.
To clarify, I think the "first" primary partition means that the Ext2 partition is the first entry in the MBR (master boot record) partition table, right? And not the first partition on the physical drive (That is, "first" does not mean the partition starts at the beginning of the hard drive).
When I tried NASLite, I used PM8 to create the Ext2 on a machine with an existing Windows partition. Thus, the Ext2 partition was the second
entry in the MBR table. Using PM8 to move the Ext2 partition to the beginning of the drive didn't help because the Ext2 was still the second MBR entry.
I think "smeyer" is right that deleting the existing Windows partition and then creating first an Ext2 partition, and then a Windows partition, will work, because then the Ext2 is the first entry in the MBR. And if you have a large drive, you can use Partition Magic to move the Windows partition to the beginning of the drive, if needed for Windows to boot -- this will put the Ext2 at the end of the drive but keep it as the first entry in MBR (I haven't verified that NASlite will work fine with an Ext2 partition that is the first MBR entry yet located at the end of the drive, but I suspect that this is ok)
For me, the problem with this strategy is that if you delete existing Windows partition, you lose the Windows software installed. I know you can backup and restore, but I thought it would be nice to be able to just add NASlite to an old PC while keeping existing Windows setup, in case you might want to use the old Windows PC for a test, or use some old software, etc.
However, if the issue is just the order of the entries in the MBR table, then software to modify the MBR could be a workaround. I found and used "MBRWizard", which has a /Sort switch -- this sorts the MBR table to match the physical order of the partitions on the drive. Since I had already used PM8 to move the Ext2 partition to the beginning of the drive, MBRwizard moved the Ext2 MBR entry to the first entry. Once I did that, NASLite would boot from a floppy. And I could also boot Windows from the hard disk if I removed the floppy.
I found MBRwizard at
There are manual MBR editing tools, such as MBRTool
) which I assume would allow you to edit the MBR entries (carefully) to write down the MBR values, then edit them to swap entries 1 and 2. This would allow you to create an Ext2 partition at the end of the drive, and then manually swap the MBR entries. This saves the step of using PM8 to move the Ext2 partition to the beginning of the drive. I did not test this.
Tip: If you don't have Partition Magic, there are several Partition and MBR tools, such as the free Ranish Partition Manager and MBRTool, along with many other useful computer test and management tools, available on a single boot CD, called the "Ultimate Boot CD" or "UBCD". You download an .iso image (or download a compressed Windows .exe that unpacks to an .iso image) and then use CD-burning software to burn the .iso image to a CD.
Maybe this information will be useful to others.