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Old 08-02-2005, 06:42 PM   #1
Mawos
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Windows + Multiple Linux Distro booting


I've been trying out several different distros, and now I want to set up a multi-boot system with several distros at a time, and Windows XP, as other people who use the comp prefer it. I've read several different sources on how to set up multiple distros, and how to set up a dual-boot Windows/Linux box, but haven't really seen too much about both at once, so I wanted to clear some things up...

From what I understand, my plan is to partition the /swap area, then the /boot area, make a partition for XP, install it, then start partitioning areas for different Linux distros, and installing them. Is this the correct order to get all the OSs to come up in the boot menu? If I remember correctly, Windows is installed first so that the linux distros will detect it and add it to their boot loader.

Also, is it necessary to make a partition for the other linux directories under / ? Or can I just partition a / for each distro, and just use those partitions for the subdirectories of each distro?

From what I gather, the advantage to putting them on separate partitions is to prevent certain things from crowding others, for example, I have heard that servers bog down sometimes because it goes crazy and starts putting a bunch of logs and stuff in the root that bog everything down... But that particular problem would not be an issue to me, as I am just playing around with it as a hobby. So, is there some reason someone like me who is just playing around with linux, and not using it for anything critical, would need to subpartition the / directory?

I am thinking about putting the /home directory in it's own partition though, so that I might be able to share it between distros and to prevent the system from interfering with downloaded stuff in /home, and vise versa. I have heard there are issues with sharing the /home directory though, so I may just make a /home for each distro, (or just not put it in a separate partition, and let it inhabit the / partition) and then just have one FAT32 partition for shared files like downloads between all the distros and XP.

Do I have a good grasp of what I'm doing? Or is this all completely off? In the end I'm planning to have XP, Fedora Core 4, Gentoo, and Debian Sarge (if I can ever get it working, I'm having a strange problem with it: details in the "Debian installation lockup on language selection" thread in the Debian forum) and possibly Mandriva and Slackware and MEPIS.

Thanks for any advice and help
 
Old 08-02-2005, 08:00 PM   #2
christine_lewis
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Sounds to me like you're on the right track, I'm not sure everything you're trying to do will work exactly right for you on the first try, but as long as you're willing to play around with it a bit, awesome.

Someone else may be able to advise you better than I on this but there is at least one advantage to having seperate root partitions for all you distros. If, at some point, one of them somehow goes nuts and corrupts its filesytem the worst you might have to do would be to reformat the partition completely. In this case if you had one disro per partition you'd only have to deal with restoring one of them (and you'd presumably still be able to boot into one of the other ones from which you could potentially do some last minute rescuing of files... if you didn't keep regular backups )

Just my two cents.
Cheers
-Christine
 
Old 08-02-2005, 08:16 PM   #3
rarsa
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Quote:
I've been trying out several different distros, and now I want to set up a multi-boot system with several distros at a time, and Windows XP, as other people who use the comp prefer it. I've read several different sources on how to set up multiple distros, and how to set up a dual-boot Windows/Linux box, but haven't really seen too much about both at once, so I wanted to clear some things up...
I think that you have most of the concepts right. I have a system very similar to what you want to achieve. I've reformatted and moved partitions around to meet my needs and now I feel comfortable with what I got. Here is My partition setup.

/dev/hda1 -> 50 GB -> NTFS -> Windows XP
/dev/hda2 -> 20 GB -> extended partition
/dev/hda5 -> 1 GB -> Linux swap
/dev/hda6 -> 20 GB -> FAT32 -> Fat partition to share data between XP and Linux
/dev/hda7 -> 20 GB -> ext3 -> Fedora Core 3
/dev/hda8 -> 20 GB -> ext3 -> Fedora Core 4
/dev/hda9 -> 3 GB -> ext3 -> Vector Linux
/dev/hda10 -> 3 GB -> ext3 -> SuSE
Free -> 20 GB (for future distros)

My only 'permanent' partitions are XP, the extended, swap and FC3, the rest come and go with my distro evaluations.

So, here is what I've learned in relation with your questions.

- Be sure to have a Live CD distro at hand to solve problems. My favorite, Knoppix.

- For this setup is better to have XP in a primary partition and have all your other partitions in an extended partition. (A PC HDD can only have 4 primary partitions)

- For a home computer it's better to just have one partition for each distro ( / ) or you will end up with too many partitions to manage and too much wasted space.

- Personal preferences and personal configuration files are normally stored in /home, different distros would come with different versions of the same applications. If you have a single /home partition to share, you may have conflicts in the future.

- I prefer to have all my 'data' files in a shared partition (in this case FAT32) and mount it by default in all my distros.

- Most distros will recognize your XP partition and they will add it to the boot manager but they may not add the other linux partitions, so you have two options: Only install the boot manager while installing the first distro. When you add distros you could just add them manually to the boot loader menu. You could always install the boot manager when you install a distro, and add all the rest of the distros to the boot loader menu. Beware though that sometimes installing and reinstalling different versions of the boot manager may corrupt the MBR.

I think that I went overboard with my FC3 and FC4 partition sizes, I am planing to scale them down to 10 GB (or less) and double the size of my shared partition.

- I've played with many distros including all the ones you mention (except MEPIS) and they all played nice with this setup, except Debian that did not like my HDD geometry.

- Sometimes I've had to prepare my partitions with Knoppix before installing a distro.
 
Old 08-03-2005, 02:51 AM   #4
Mawos
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Thanks a ton! It's good to know that I'm finally getting the hang of how partitioning works under linux.

So do you think 10GBs is about the max you'll need for the average distro? I can't go too crazy with partition sizes, as I'm doing this on a laptop for now, and it's limited to it's ~60GB HD. So I'll probably do about 15GB for XP, 1GB for swap, and around 5-10GBs max for other distros.

I noticed you don't have a boot partition... I'm assuming it can just live in one of the other distro's root directories? Not that it would matter too much, I think, I've read about only giving it a couple hundred MBs anyway.
 
Old 08-03-2005, 10:57 AM   #5
rarsa
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Quote:
So do you think 10GBs is about the max you'll need for the average distro?
It depends on the distro and how much you want to install.

Here are some of my stats:

FC3 is my main distro. A standard Destkop installation of FC3 takes about 2.5 GB,
I've installed many applications. Here is my usage:

A 'Install everything' installation of FC4 took about 6 GB

A standard Vector installation takes about 1. GB

The SuSE default installation took 2.2 GB

A full AVI movie takes about 1.5 GB. To encode it to DVD you will need at least three times that amount 4.5.

Quote:
16K ./lost+found
0 ./proc
0 ./sys
1.6G ./var
384K ./tmp
0 ./dev
38M ./etc
60M ./root
8.0K ./selinux
12M ./boot
3.7G ./usr
359M ./lib
66M ./bin
400G ./home
8.0K ./initrd
53K ./media
8.0K ./mnt
19M ./opt
15M ./sbin
8.0K ./srv
8.0K ./misc
8.0K ./.automount
7G .

Last edited by rarsa; 08-03-2005 at 01:05 PM.
 
  


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