Crazy Boot Loader Idea for Dual Booting

The problem: I dual boot and have one OS set as a default but whenever I want to boot the other OS I have to select it during the timed event. Most of the time though I want to push the power button, walk away, and come back a minute or two later.

My crazy idea: A usb device, like a flash drive, with a boot loader and some sort of physical switch that toggles the default selection.

So now I ask, does anything like this exist? If not would it be possible to have a physical switch toggle a setting in the boot loader? And finally what are the less crazy solutions to this problem?

There have existed — for quite a while — physical HDD/SSD power switches. Eliminate the boot loader selection entirely, and only power on the drive with the OS you want.

An example (but not a recommendation — as I haven’t personally used one):

There are several different companies that make them — the above is just what came up early in a DuckDuckGo search for “hard drive power switches”.

set your uefi to boot to USB first. Set the USB to autoboot one OS, the Internal HDD to boot the second.

When you want OS 1, plug in the USB stick, when you want OS 2, take it out.

If you want a switch, use a USB extension cable, strip the middle, and attach a switch to it.

Super hacky and DIY, but it’ll work.


Oh yea I have this usb hub lying around, it seems so obvious now Im not sure how I didnt think of it.

Well yeah you basically are talking about the old days where systems had a boot disk. I had a grub detect and lilo detect floppy just for fun a few years ago. It wouldn’t bring you a bootloader, you needed the floppy, and once loaded it’d bring you your data. Had to use an ancient version of grub though…

Also you can remove the timer.

Unless you are using antique hardware (which does not support UEFI), or antique software (which may be better off being run virtualized), this sounds like a solution, in search of a problem. When I boot my machine, (a 3-4 year old X99), I get to my UEFI boot prompt in +/- 5 seconds and I then select the OS that I wish to be booted. Without intervention, it automatically boots Linux. If someone has less than a 5 second attention span, then tinkering with computers may not be a particularly good fit.

Of course if you are just thinking out loud about alternative, creative ways to approach common tasks, then full steam ahead; I do not wish to harsh your creative juices.

Speaking of creativity, I have an Icy Dock cage in my machine. Each OS that I routinely use is installed on its own standalone SSD. Swapping SSDs takes literally seconds and, as I use UEFI to select which OS/disk to boot, there is no tinkering with the likes of grub.

OSs that I infrequently use get the Virtual Box treatment.