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Old 06-10-2004, 03:18 PM   #1
Scarecrow Man
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Question dual boot w/ partition magic


Here's what I want to do, excuse me for being a

Asus TUV4X 478 w/ P III ~799MHz
30GB Hard Drive
654MB SD PC133MHz Ram (various chips from various computers)
Creative Live! Sound blaster
NVidia GeForce 2 MMX 400 16MB
Winmodem (I think, wouldn't work in Knoppix but I didn't get a chance to play with it)
D-Link Ethernet (not currently used as I am on Dial-Up and do not have a network.....yet)

I'd like my Linux partition to be as small as possible giving me some functionality for installing programs and such.

I have Windows XP Home SP2 RC1 installed, and running correctly. I would like to expand and incorporate a Linux distro onto my system. I have partition magic 8.0 which has options for installing OS's (formats and sets up file systems for you).

What I want to know is, Should I just leave my Windows XP alone, use Partition Magic to set up a partition (or two) for Linux, or should I format my drive and fdisk it to set it up?

I don't mind backing everything up and formatting (actually I may go back to win2k instead of XP, but that's another story).

Basically it comes down to this:

1. Use Partition Magic, set up a partition for Linux (please give info if you have done this before)

2. Format entire disk, re-install everything (please also give info for this)

3. Format and set up multiple partitions for differen't parts of windows/linux

4. Give advice of what you think I should do!


Please note:

This is my home machine (shared with 3 other family members) and I don't want to ruin what everyone already has (formatting is no problem, I do back ups). but I don't want to buy a new box for Linux.

Please feel free to ask about my computer by way of this post or e-mail (below) if this is not enough info as I am at work right now, and when I get home I will tell you exactly what I have

Thank you.

Nick Spence (militia at sympatico dot ca) <-- e-mail not posted due to harvesting.

Last edited by Scarecrow Man; 06-11-2004 at 12:21 PM.
 
Old 06-10-2004, 03:33 PM   #2
jschiwal
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If I were you, I'd first defragment the hard drive so the data is toward the front. That could make the next step go quicker. Resize the XP drive leaving room for linux. Install Linux. Let the linux install program format the partitions for linux.

If the drive the computer boots off of, you might want to follow the instructions for one of the NT Lilo Boot Howto's on the web. This entails using the NT loader that XP uses to start the booting process, with a menu option to load linux. Often this works best with NTSC drives due to the different way that XP loads.
 
Old 06-10-2004, 03:46 PM   #3
Scarecrow Man
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So, if Linux formats the partitions for me, does it also create multiple partitions? I read a post about having /home and /usr etc. on seperate partitions. Does this help? or will 2 partitions work?

By The Way

I will probably be the only user using Linux. Everyone else barely knows how to use windows let alone Linux
 
Old 06-11-2004, 01:19 AM   #4
Electro
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I assume that you have one partition normally called the primary partition. In Partition Magic, just create an extended partition and do not format it or add logical partitions. Like jschiwal said, let LINUX make the additional partitions and format the partitions. Using Partition Magic to format the partitions for LINUX can give you a lot of trouble. If you want an easy installation, Mandrake is great and some others not so easy to install can be found at http://www.distrowatch.com. Mandrake finds unused space and specifies default partitions. It will make atleast three partitions (/, /home, swap) be default. You can make two partitions (/, swap) if you think you are not going to download a bunch of files and saving them in /home. For the filesystems, you can choose from ext2, ext3, reiserfs, or XFS. You may want to pick either ext or ext3 if you want to access some LINUX files in Windows.

I suggest backing up files that you can not recreate very easily like your documents, graphics, sound, video, etc when dealing with hard drive utilities.

LINUX can not write to NTFS partitions, so if you have format your Windows partition as NTFS you can not write files to it in LINUX. You can read from NTFS with out any problems in LINUX. If you do not mind converting NTFS to FAT32, I suggest doing it if you want to save files to your windows partitions in LINUX. Use Partition Magic for the conversion.

Defragging is optional because not all files will be placed in the front such as swap file and many other log files after you reboot from Windows XP. Defragging can save some time with Partition Magic but just do a space defrag because its a lot quicker than a full defrag.

To make your learning experience with LINUX great. I suggest getting some compressed air or a compressor. Then blow out the dust. Usually the problem with novice LINUX users have is heat buildup because LINUX uses up to 100% of the computer instead of about 60% to 80% of the computer used with Windows. Also change memory settings to their fail-safe settings and make sure the BIOS assigns the IRQ instead of the OS.

Creative Labs Soundblaster LIVE! is the most crappy sound card that I heard and it corrupts data in many of my systems. I have Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 and Turtle Beach Santa Cruz. Both work in LINUX but the Prodigy 7.1 is a little sticky when I'm playing a video file. Also both of them have much, much, much better sound quality than Soundblaster LIVE! and they do not corrupt my system's data.

You should not mix different memory brands and models together. Its best to have the same brands and models. Also stating the speed like PC233 (do you mean PC266 or PC133 because I never seen or heard of PC233) does not really show the speed of the memory. Stating the accessing time like 8 nanoseconds or 7 nanoseconds shows the real speed of the memory.
 
Old 06-11-2004, 04:11 AM   #5
J.W.
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Okey-dokey, well, to get back to the questions the original poster asked:

1. Unless there is a compelling reason to change from XP to something else, I'd leave it alone. Evidently it is working OK for you and the rest of your family, so I'd just stick with it. It's one less task that you'd have to deal with, and as they say, if it ain't broke.....

2. You definitely do want to run a Windows defrag before you attempt to resize your partitions, because defragging will leave you with the greatest amount of contiguous free space, and consequently, will maximize the potential size you could allocate to your Linux partition(s).

To illustrate, suppose your drive contains 1000 storage sectors -- if some stray fragment of a Windows file lives in sector 917, then you would only be able to allocate 83 sectors to Linux, whereas if you degragged first, the existing data might only be stored in, say, the first 418 sectors, which would allow you to allocate 582 sectors to Linux. (You wouldn't want to actually do that becuase then you'd be unable to save anything new in Windows, but you get the idea.) Defragging first will maximize the amount of contiguous free space on your drive, which will maximize the amount of space you could allocate to Linux.

3. If you don't actually care to preserve your existing XP installation, then Yes, it would be equally fine to start completely over. Drop all your partitions, recreate whatever partitions you want for Windows and Linux, reinstall Windows, and then install Linux. Note that if this is the way you decide to go, it is much easier to install Windows first, then Linux.

4. When it comes to allocating Linux partitions, everyone you ask will have their own opinion on what is the best way to do it. At a minimum Linux needs a swap partition and a root partition, but I think it is definitely worthwhile to create separate partitions for /home and /usr. You didn't say how much of your 30G is devoted to XP and how much to Linux, but suppose it's 15G each. I'd suggest going with a 256Mg swap, and roughly 5G each for /, /home, and /usr Again, partitioning schemes are subjective calls, others may recommend other sizes.

5. Definitely do backups ahead of time, just in case.

Good luck with the project. -- J.W.
 
Old 06-11-2004, 12:20 PM   #6
Scarecrow Man
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Ram is PC133. This system is basically something I have built over the years I had had it, and it's nothing special. It runs, and that's all I care about

Thanks for advice everyone, I am just going to get some live CD's for now and when I get a bit more into it (and a laptop) I will install some full distro's
 
Old 06-11-2004, 03:44 PM   #7
Scarecrow Man
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Max Swap 128?

I hear the max Swap is 128MB.

Is this BS, or is it because it's from an older source?
 
Old 06-11-2004, 06:38 PM   #8
J.W.
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You can allocate pretty much any amount of disk space for swap, but partitioning more than say 256Mg isn't really going to do you much good.

In the days were having 64Mg of RAM was considered bleeding edge, the guideline for calculating your swap space was 2X RAM. In those days, swap was a crucial component of your installation because it doesn't take much to fill up 64Mg of RAM with data, and as soon as that happens your PC needs to start writing memory pages out to disk (ie, to the swap space).

These days however, machines with 256Mg or 512Mg of RAM are pretty much standard, and the likelihood of pushing your RAM past its capacity (and thus requiring swap) are greatly reduced. Even if your system does occassionally need swap, it's unlikely that it would need more than a few dozen megs. As a result, if you've got at least 512Mg of RAM and you decided to follow that old rule and allocated 1G for swap, it would be a good bet that A.) you probably will never use swap anyway and B.) even if you do sometimes use swap, the amount would probably be less than 50Mg. Therefore, setting aside an entire gig of space for something that might only need 50Mg once every month or two is just a waste.

There may have been a 128Mg limit on swap way back when, but these days, assuming a person has at least 256Mg RAM, my advice would be that a 256Mg swap space is the most you'd ever need. -- J.W.
 
Old 06-11-2004, 06:39 PM   #9
Electro
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The maximum is 2 gigabytes for each swap partition or file.

A LIVE LINUX CD is a good choice. You do not have to give up a few gigabytes for LINUX partitions and you do not have to mess around with a boot loader. I'm sure you do not have enough disk space left because of Windows XP.
 
Old 06-11-2004, 08:55 PM   #10
jschiwal
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Having a seperate /home partition partition is a good idea. If in the future you want to install a different version (rather than upgrading), you can opt to not reformat the /home partition. This will retain your personal data. The /usr partition contains a directory hierarchy that is very similar to the initial root hierarchy. This is were programs added after the initial install go. The /usr directory tends to grow in time, as you add programs. If both /home and /usr are on seperate partitions, the main root partition (/) can be smaller by comparison. You may want to have the /usr partition be from 1/2 to 2/3rds the size of the home partition. If you have a massive hard drive, you could get away with less.

You can have Mandrake auto allocate the size of the directories, however, I find that it under-estimates the size needed for the /usr directory. You may want to use this feature as a guide, and increase the /usr size by 50%.
 
Old 06-14-2004, 03:27 PM   #11
Scarecrow Man
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If I was to run a Live version of Linux, I know there is a way to save configuration files and such, but what I want to know is:


1. How can I run a live CD from my Hard drive?
2. What dir's or files to I have to save on my HD to keep my configuration?
3. Should I just install a regular distro? (I want to dual boot with winxp or win2k, both if possible)

Thanks everyone!
 
Old 06-14-2004, 03:35 PM   #12
Scarecrow Man
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I F'd my windows XP this weekend by using PM (Partition Magic). For some reason, I was able to create the Linux partition, boot from it and start the install (Caldera 2.? from an old mag). The install was NOT sucessful and it rendered my system useless because it was booting from a partition with no OS.

So, I installed windows 2k on the partition I just made for Linux, and ran PM under win2k. I made the winXP partiton active and rebooted. This worked, kinda.

I kept seeing "Windows XP Media Center Edition" at the OS choice menu, which I thought was wierd.

Long story short, after about 6 hours (3 solid work hours) I fixed it and managed to get winXP back but now key things weren't working. I figured I had wrecked some part of the OS, so I just use the win2k partition now, and am backing everything up from winXP.

I hope my future experiences with Linux go a little better, but I am SURE the reason it gave me so much trouble was the old version the Kernel.
 
  


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