I was installing RedHat 6.1 onto a PC with an existing NT
4.0 installation. I read the instructons for where to
install LILO, and I *thought* I followed them and told it to
install lilo at the beginning of the boot partition instead
of in my MBR.
Nevertheless, when I rebooted after the installation, up
came Linux instead of NT.
At this point, I tried to restore my MBR using the NT setup
"rescue" tools, and that didn't work. I then tried to
restore the MBR by doing various different upgrades and
reinstallations of NT, and that didn't work either. In the
process, I screwed up my NT installation somehow and had to
reinstall it from scratch (a time-consuming and frustrating
experience). Somewhere in the middle of all this I
consulted the support.microsoft.com and discovered that what
I *should* have done right at the start was logged into
Linux and run "lilo -u /dev/hda" to put the MBR back to its
previous state. Doh!
When all the NT garbage was done and I had a working NT MBR
again, I reinstalled Linux. This time, it put LILO in the
right place, which makes me suspect that it's possible that
I didn't specify the correct location the first time even
though I thought I did. But I still think there are at
least two, and possibly three bugs here:
1) Is it possible that the installer *sometimes* puts lilo
in the MBR even when told to put it at the beginning of the
boot partition? If so, that's obviously a bug.
2) The installer has a good idea that NT is installed on the
machine, since it knows there's an ntfs/hpfs partition. In
that context, if the user asks to install LILO in the MBR,
the installer should display a really obvious warning that
by doing this, the user could screw up his NT installation.
When software can prevent the user from doing stupid things,
it should :-).
3) The documentation should explain very prominently how to
recover from the mistake I made, i.e., right after the
section explaining what to specify on the LILO installation
screen, it should explain that "lilo -u" can be used to
restore the MBR if it is screwed up accidentally.
I will keep an eye on lilo and make sure that things are working
right, but in all of my testing, I have yet to see lilo go somewhere
that I did not tell it to.
As for second guessing the user, this is really not an option. Lilo
is capable of booting an NT installation and therefore installing lilo
in the MBR of a machine which is going to dual-boot NT and linux is
not a totally bad thing . . . it just means that you will be using
lilo to boot the NT boot loader which will then boot NT.
I will pass the suggestion about insrtuctions for removing lilo on to
the documentations staff.