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Old 01-29-2007, 08:34 AM   #1
SilverMermaid
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Multi Boot question


I have a three year old HP/Compaq laptop with a 20Gb hard drive. It originally came with Win XP SP1 and I've now upgraded it to SP2. I've been able to run Live distros of Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Knoppix on it successfully without problem.

Now I would like to try Linux as an installed OS instead of a Live CD.

I downloaded and ran PerfectDisk and I now have about 6Gb contiguous space free at the end of the drive. Windows XP takes up about 12/13Gb but I could trim about a quarter to a third of that by uninstalling stuff and moving excess stuff to my external hard drive.

I'd really like to have space for two or three Linux distros so I can try them and see which I prefer. I need to have Win XP as the default OS (hubby uses the laptop and I don't want to give him a fright!)

I know Linux takes up rather more space than it did when I first dabbled and 500Mb was considered pretty vast.

How big should I make the two or three partitions for Linux?
Do I need a swap partition?
Can this be shared by any Linux distros that I have installed?
How do I set up the computer to multi-boot?

Thanks in advance for your help,

SilverMermaid
 
Old 01-29-2007, 08:58 AM   #2
brianL
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Why not try a few live CD distro's, then install the distro you like best? Better than cramming three into a small space.
 
Old 01-29-2007, 10:09 AM   #3
syg00
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Agreed.
I have a similar configuration, and manage to squeeze Ubuntu Dapper into a bit over 4 Gig (plus swap). About a third is free, but needed for the continual updates - it's been up to 98%, and I haven't even tried the Edgy upgrade.
Trying to get multiple distros on would be a bit of a stretch for you.

Yes you'll probably need swap, and yes multiple distros can use the same one.
Most mega distros will handle the boot-loader auto-magically for you,including Ubuntu and its derivatives..
 
Old 01-29-2007, 03:12 PM   #4
SilverMermaid
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Wow, 4 gig for a Linux install - that's pretty big

syg00, I see what you mean about not having room for two or three distros on the same bit of space at the end of my hard drive but it's reassuring to know that multiple Linux installations can use the same swap file.

OK, I'll put a different slant on the question.

If I create a 5 Gig partition for a Linux distro and a 500Mb partition for swap, how do I 'sample' one distro then replace it with another? I know from fruitless hours spent re-installing Win ME that the only way to do a fully clean install of Windows is to zero fill the hard drive first. Is this necessary using Linux or can you just install one distro straight over the top of another?

I've also seen advice to create individual user and backup partitions to keep those files intact and separate from the main installation - is that a sensible thing to do?

I apologise for so many questions but I'm not one for leaping before I look .... very carefully

Silver Mermaid
 
Old 01-29-2007, 04:06 PM   #5
syg00
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Note I said "mega distro" - Ubuntu qualifies. Most (new - especially Windoze) users, want everything and they want it to look like windows.
That means a window manager as a minimum, and both the common ones (Gnome and KDE) are big. And slow.
Individual user partitions are pointless, but a separate /home partition (for user config files) is worthwhile. All (non root) users get theirs allocated here.

New distro is same as the initial one. Toss the CD and start the install - most, if not all will find the swap and use it. Just use the advanced/expert option to specify root and home partitions, and let it go. Best to allow them to be reformatted - also gives you a chance to try different filesystem types.

Added: forgot the backup question. Go get a USB external drive - real cheap these days. You really don't have enough disk. Or use DVDs if you have a burner - only the user data really needs backing up.

Last edited by syg00; 01-29-2007 at 04:09 PM.
 
Old 01-30-2007, 09:04 AM   #6
SilverMermaid
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Thanks for your help syg00

I'll go away and think about it all ... in the meantime I'm having fun trying to find a small Linux to install on my elderly Thinkpad (P133, 2Gb HDD, 48Mb memory)... just for practice

SilverMermaid
 
  


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