LinuxQuestions.org
Download your favorite Linux distribution at LQ ISO.
Go Back   LinuxQuestions.org > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - General
User Name
Password
Linux - General This Linux forum is for general Linux questions and discussion.
If it is Linux Related and doesn't seem to fit in any other forum then this is the place.

Notices

Reply
 
Search this Thread
Old 10-02-2007, 07:43 PM   #1
adasiak
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Sep 2007
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Distribution: MEPIS
Posts: 18

Rep: Reputation: 0
How to partition, if you expect to switch distros?


How would you recommend partitioning a hard drive, if you thought you might want to change distros someday, but didn't want to lose the hard work you'd put into your current one?

Having played for a while with Debian, Kubuntu, openSUSE, and Fedora, I may be ready to wipe my hard drive clean and settle for now on MEPIS. But what if I change my mind later? What if MEPIS starts cranking out dog-turd distros, or stops cranking them out entirely? What if I become a Slackware nerd? I'll have put some labor into downloading software, adding users and groups, and tinkering with preferences -- and I don't want that all to disappear just because I thought using Gentoo would make me more of a man.

Can folks suggest some partitioning schemes? I'm running a 512-MB RAM, 80-GB HD, desktop-dedicated, non-server machine.

--Paul

Last edited by adasiak; 10-02-2007 at 07:45 PM. Reason: Alerted to "need" for tags. Changed nothing.
 
Old 10-02-2007, 07:56 PM   #2
SlowCoder
Member
 
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Southeast, U.S.A.
Distribution: Fedora (Desktop), CentOS (Server), Knoppix (Diags)
Posts: 934

Rep: Reputation: 38
You should only need 3 partitions total.
#1 - location of your root (/) directory. 10-20 Gigs of your hard drive should be sufficient for current, and future installations for a few years.
#2 - Swap partition. 1-2 Gigs of space should be sufficient.
#3 - location of your /home directory. Give that whatever's left of your hard drive space.

With this configuration, you should be able to blow away your Linux installs whenever you want, and your data should be safely on the /home partition.

Note that you'll probably want to back up your /etc directory periodically to preserve any system settings. However it should be noted that different distros may have different configuration files and locations within the /etc directory.

This is just my opinion. It's worked for me.
 
Old 10-02-2007, 08:57 PM   #3
Sepero
Member
 
Registered: Jul 2004
Location: Tampa, Florida, USA
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 733
Blog Entries: 1

Rep: Reputation: 30
I partition similarly to how SlowCoder says, except I have 2 partitions for #1 (root).

That way I can have two root distributions installed at the same time. It let's me test a new one out, while I keep my original.

PS.
I've never had a Linux #1 (root) partition need more than 7GB. I think 10GB should be more than enough to last the life of your computer.
 
Old 10-02-2007, 10:02 PM   #4
jschiwal
Guru
 
Registered: Aug 2001
Location: Fargo, ND
Distribution: SuSE AMD64
Posts: 15,733

Rep: Reputation: 654Reputation: 654Reputation: 654Reputation: 654Reputation: 654Reputation: 654
I would recommend having a separate /home partition. You could either give yourself a new username on the next distro or rename your home directory such as appending "-old" to the name. Then install as normal but make sure you don't format the /home partition. Some distro's like SuSE use a different regular user UID range of numbers. So you may need to use chown to change the permissions on your old user home directory.

If you have produced a number of packages from source, you might want to backup your old /usr/local/ directory. Installations usually work better if you delete the old partitions that will be replaced and let the installer reformat them. Usually you have to use the expert formatting option.
 
Old 10-03-2007, 01:25 AM   #5
jlliagre
Moderator
 
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: Outside Paris
Distribution: Solaris10, Solaris 11, Mint, OL
Posts: 9,481

Rep: Reputation: 354Reputation: 354Reputation: 354Reputation: 354
I would recommend also to spare primary partitions and create the Linux filesystems on extended ones.

This would allow you to install, should you want to, non Linux O/Ses which are almost all requiring a primary one, like *BSD and Solaris based distributions.
 
Old 10-03-2007, 01:38 AM   #6
2damncommon
Senior Member
 
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Calif, USA
Distribution: Debian Wheezy
Posts: 2,838

Rep: Reputation: 48
I currently use 6GB partitions for total trial installs and 10GB partitions for preferred distributions. Swap can be shared. I have a data partition I can move shared data to and burn cds or dvds as needed.
On an 80GB drive I would reserve 20-40GB as a data partition, create swap as 2x RAM, and split the rest in 5-10GB chunks as I saw fit.
The next time you do it you will know better what you want.
 
Old 10-03-2007, 04:36 PM   #7
adasiak
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Sep 2007
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Distribution: MEPIS
Posts: 18

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 0
User-installed software stored where?

Thanks for your suggestions, friends.

As some of you have suggested, I already partition into (swap), one / (root) partition for each distro, and a /home shared among the distros.

I think jschiwal cuts closest to the heart of my question: when I install new software (e.g., Opera, Google Earth, or w3c's Amaya), where is the program itself kept? Surely not /home? Is it always in /usr/local?

To use a Windows analogy: in Windows, there's a "Documents and Settings" folder that seems analogous to /home. There's also a "Program Files" folder with the .exe, .dll, and other program files not related to a specific user. That's the stuff I want to avoid losing if I decide to change distros.

Is there a single place in the filesystem standard where user-installed software is kept? If not, in which places is stored? Or, if so, what else is store there? anything distro-specific that would start making my new Fedora (or Linspire, Slackware, etc.) OS start behaving like my old MEPIS OS?
 
Old 10-03-2007, 07:50 PM   #8
SlowCoder
Member
 
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Southeast, U.S.A.
Distribution: Fedora (Desktop), CentOS (Server), Knoppix (Diags)
Posts: 934

Rep: Reputation: 38
You would need to read the documentation for each program to determine where it installs.

But ...

You will need to reinstall all of your programs when you change distros. Typically, when a program is compiled, it is compiled to work with a specific kernel, and may only work in the current distro. Hence, saving the programs themselves would be a waste of your time.
 
Old 10-03-2007, 07:59 PM   #9
AceofSpades19
Senior Member
 
Registered: Feb 2007
Location: Chilliwack,BC.Canada
Distribution: Slackware64 -current
Posts: 2,079

Rep: Reputation: 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowCoder View Post
You should only need 3 partitions total.
#1 - location of your root (/) directory. 10-20 Gigs of your hard drive should be sufficient for current, and future installations for a few years.
#2 - Swap partition. 1-2 Gigs of space should be sufficient.
#3 - location of your /home directory. Give that whatever's left of your hard drive space.

With this configuration, you should be able to blow away your Linux installs whenever you want, and your data should be safely on the /home partition.

Note that you'll probably want to back up your /etc directory periodically to preserve any system settings. However it should be noted that different distros may have different configuration files and locations within the /etc directory.

This is just my opinion. It's worked for me.
What do you do to take up 1-2 gigs of swap space, I only have 256 mb of ram and I use 30 mb at most of swap space
 
Old 10-04-2007, 03:32 AM   #10
Sepero
Member
 
Registered: Jul 2004
Location: Tampa, Florida, USA
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 733
Blog Entries: 1

Rep: Reputation: 30
There is no transferring of programs with Linux. If you switch distros, you will need to reinstall ALL programs. Reinstalling all programs may seem like a big deal, but it's not because of programs like apt-get/Synaptic. It allows you to easily select all the programs you want installed, then it downloads them all and installs them. easy

All of your personal settings for each program will be saved in /home. So as soon as a program is reinstalled, you're automatically back where you left off before.

There are many reasons programs aren't transfered. One reason is that different distributions can have different names for the same files and different locations for installing them.

(You may ask "Why are they different?", simply because sometimes people disagree.)
 
Old 10-04-2007, 05:20 AM   #11
RamanaRao
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Oct 2006
Posts: 6

Rep: Reputation: 0
How to partition, if you expect to switch distros?

Hi

Have you thought about using VM Ware on Top of Linux.
You can have a base Linux version [ as a Standard ] and rest all are guest OS es just in case if you want to explore.

The day you want to throw it out it's matter of throwing out one or more files.

How ever you may need to get more RAM on your system.

Cheers...

RamanaRao
 
Old 10-04-2007, 06:31 PM   #12
SlowCoder
Member
 
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Southeast, U.S.A.
Distribution: Fedora (Desktop), CentOS (Server), Knoppix (Diags)
Posts: 934

Rep: Reputation: 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by AceofSpades19 View Post
What do you do to take up 1-2 gigs of swap space, I only have 256 mb of ram and I use 30 mb at most of swap space
I have 2Gig of RAM, and 1 Gig of swap. It's all just a matter of opinion. However, I calculated 1-2G swap for him because he doesn't know what he might be doing with his computer in the future. If hard drive space is not a huge issue, I don't see where it is bad to have that much.
 
Old 10-04-2007, 11:25 PM   #13
Sepero
Member
 
Registered: Jul 2004
Location: Tampa, Florida, USA
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 733
Blog Entries: 1

Rep: Reputation: 30
I have 2GB swap. I've never used it all, but if I had, I'd probably increase it. I run virtual machines sometimes and it helps.
 
Old 10-05-2007, 06:36 PM   #14
AceofSpades19
Senior Member
 
Registered: Feb 2007
Location: Chilliwack,BC.Canada
Distribution: Slackware64 -current
Posts: 2,079

Rep: Reputation: 57
For people that just run everyday apps, I don't see why someone would need more then half a gig of swap
 
Old 10-05-2007, 07:14 PM   #15
saikee
Senior Member
 
Registered: Sep 2005
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne UK
Distribution: Any free distro.
Posts: 3,398
Blog Entries: 1

Rep: Reputation: 112Reputation: 112
Typically I would leave the primary partitions sda1, sda2 and sda3 for the MS systems, BSD and Solaris.

Thus the sda4 is used as an extended partition. I like putting swap at the front so it would be sda5, size 1Gb as it is easy to remember.

When Pata hard disk could have 63 partitions I chopped the remaining hard disk space in logical partitions of 5Gb each. Now that Pata can have only 16 partition I increase the partition size to 10Gb each.

I always use one partition for one Linux and amend the first distro with Grub to boot all the empty partitions. The empties won't boot of course but if one is fill it boots immediately.
 
  


Reply

Tags
distribution, distro, distros, partition, partitioning, partitions


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Should I switch distros? szim90 Linux - Distributions 21 04-28-2007 04:30 PM
how to partition for several distros bricedebrignaisplage Linux - General 3 02-27-2007 11:02 AM
comes with Debian, should I switch distros? GuySkarpz Linux - General 6 09-12-2006 07:54 AM
How do I know which partition my distros are on? (Multi distros) glenn69 Linux - Newbie 3 06-18-2005 02:43 AM
Kernel Recompile & switch distros Tarential Linux - Software 1 08-29-2004 09:47 PM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:56 PM.

Main Menu
My LQ
Write for LQ
LinuxQuestions.org is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
Syndicate
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
identi.ca: @linuxquestions
Facebook: linuxquestions Google+: linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration