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Old 09-15-2004, 07:59 PM   #1
NobodyImportant
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Linux HDD setup


Alright, I was planning on fiddling with a few Linux distros so I ordered an extra WD 74 Raptor for them. Right now, I have Windows XP Pro on one of my Raptors. What I want to do is use the other Raptor for putting Linux distros on. However, I can't figure out how to get any on the other HDD =\ I've got Norton Partition Magic to make the partitions, but I've got to mount/format it before I can create the partitions. How exactly do I go about doing that?
 
Old 09-15-2004, 08:21 PM   #2
CroMagnon
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This is a little confusing... you can't mount or format anything until you partition it - partitions are what get formatted or mounted!

I wouldn't use Partition Magic for this, if the drive is brand new - just use the partitioning tools in your linux install - just pay attention to which drive you are partitioning! You don't want to lose your windows install
 
Old 09-15-2004, 08:28 PM   #3
NobodyImportant
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So would it be a good idea to unplug the Windows HDD so that I'm sure I don't screw anything up?
 
Old 09-15-2004, 08:29 PM   #4
Cake
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Most major distributions will partition and format the drive for you during the install process. If you are installing from CD, I suggest you boot into the installer and see if it can handle partitioning for you. The following distributions I have tried, and each had a straightforward and self-explanatory system to format the drives appropriately:

Red Hat, Fedora, Slackware, Debian, SUSE, Gentoo

The installers often use fdisk. I recommend the Gentoo installation guide: http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/. Choose the appropriate platform (probably x86 if you're running Windows) and then look in Installing Gentoo->Preparing the disks. The instructions apply equally to all distros. The guide has a good section on explaining how to use fdisk, which is probably run during the installation of whichever distribution you choose.

Once partitioned and formatted, the major distributions will likely offer you either the LILO or GRUB bootloaders. These will enable you to dual-boot the two operating systems. Again, bootloader installation is usually automated during distro installation.

-Hugh
 
Old 09-15-2004, 08:37 PM   #5
Cake
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Just saw your last post...

You need to leave the Windows drive plugged in during distro installation so that the installer can detect Windows and configure the bootloader so that both OSes are accessible. fdisk will show the two drives as /sda and /sdb if they are SATA drives. One of them will show up as formatted NTFS - probably /sda - and the other will be unformatted. You want to format the one which is unformatted and leave the other untouched.
 
Old 09-15-2004, 08:38 PM   #6
NobodyImportant
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Ok, well I have SUSE Linux Pro 9.1, Slackware 10.0, and ArchLinux. Which one would be best to boot from first and make all the partitions?

Thanks for the help guys, I was completely lost^^
 
Old 09-15-2004, 08:44 PM   #7
Cake
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Well I'm using Slackware 10.0 myself at the moment, so I'd have to recommend that, although I might be a bit biased! It's my favourite of the ones I've tried.

If I remember rightly, and I installed not long ago, the Slackware distro has its own formatting tool built in to the installer. Are you installing from CD?

And by the way, helping out is its own reward! I tried Linux for the first time 9 months ago, and I was in your position, and people on the forums helped me through installing for the first time. Now I'm hooked!
 
Old 09-15-2004, 08:49 PM   #8
NobodyImportant
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Yer, I burned Slackware 10.0 off on two cds. Hopefully I won't screw anything up^^
 
Old 09-15-2004, 08:51 PM   #9
CroMagnon
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From what I remember of slackware, it's a very 'get your hands dirty' distro (although that was a while ago, I think the basic philisophy is still the same). SUSE is supposed to have a very nice installer, so I'd start with that one, though really, any of them should explain things enough for you. Don't forget to create extra partitions for the different distros - you probably don't want to try sharing system storage between them. You can safely share the swap space or /home partition if you create one...

In fact, I would recommend doing something like this:
1st partition for swap, say 512MB
2nd partition for /home - give yourself heaps of room here (say 30GB)
make the 3rd, 4th and 5th partitions in an extended partition, roughly 10GB each for each of your distros. Since you're just playing around with these, I doubt you'll be setting up important servers, so you don't need to make extra partitions for /var or anything.

If you do it this way, be sure not to format your /home when you install the second and third distros.
 
Old 09-15-2004, 08:55 PM   #10
Cake
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You can't go far wrong. You just need to format the right drive. The installer will ask you if you're sure before it lets you destroy any data. Having said that, I should probably give the disclaimer that it is always a good idea to back up important files before making changes to your operating system. I copy my documents to my old computer just in case, although I've never had any problems. The only issues I've ever had are with the bootloader. If you change partitions around after install using Partition Magic or the like, you can expect trouble from the bootloader.

Can you still access the internet while you are installing?
 
Old 09-15-2004, 09:02 PM   #11
NobodyImportant
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Quote:
Originally posted by CroMagnon

In fact, I would recommend doing something like this:
1st partition for swap, say 512MB
2nd partition for /home - give yourself heaps of room here (say 30GB)
make the 3rd, 4th and 5th partitions in an extended partition, roughly 10GB each for each of your distros. Since you're just playing around with these, I doubt you'll be setting up important servers, so you don't need to make extra partitions for /var or anything.

If you do it this way, be sure not to format your /home when you install the second and third distros.
Erm, sorry, could you elaborate? What exactly is the swap partition? I thought I just created, maybe 4 partitions and installed a different distro on each partition =\ What about the home partition?

-Edit-
And yeah, I can still get on the internet from another PC if I screw something up. I'll probably have to start on this tomorrow, as I have homework^^ But thanks again guys.
 
Old 09-15-2004, 09:03 PM   #12
Cake
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I might be confusing SUSE with Slackware when it comes to the installer. I'm sure though that one of them leaves you with the 'bare' fdisk utility, while the other has a semi-automated interface to what is basically the same program. As far as partitioning goes, I have

one swap partition (twice the size of my system RAM - someone once recommended that to me)
one partition for /home (equivalent to 'my documents' in Windows)
and another partition for the rest

I've never tried more than one distro at once. The installers should detect existing installations and configure the bootloader for you.
 
Old 09-15-2004, 09:12 PM   #13
Cake
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Missed your post again!...

The filing system in Linux is like a big tree, starting with '/'. If you like, you can take any part of the tree and keep it on its own partition. On the other hand you can get away with having just one partition, named '/'. This contains everything - the actual OS, your files, and so on. Often though, it's convenient to store your personal documents in another partition. This means you can share the docs between distros, and they aren't destroyed if you reformat. This is the '/home' partition.

You actually need one other partition. The swap partition is temporary storage space, an extension of your system's memory. You have to have a swap partition, although you can share it between the distros.

If you want multiple distros on the drive at once, you will need further partitions. This is where it gets confusing, and I can't help !
 
Old 09-15-2004, 09:41 PM   #14
CroMagnon
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When you go through the SUSE installer, it will give the option to create partitions and set a 'mount point' for each one. Cake has given a good summary of what happens, but it's not very intuitive if you come from Windows and haven't done the same thing with NTFS.

Imagine under windows you have a C: drive and D: drive. Now, instead of accessing D: directly, imagine you 'hide' it under C:\MyData instead... that is, if you go to the MyData directory, you see the contents of D:\ . There are still two drives, but the operating system pretends they are the same. This is effectively what linux (all unix) does - your main drive is called your 'root filesystem', and the path to it is just /

If you have an empty directory on /, you can mount another partition 'inside' that directory. As an example, this is how you access your CD-Rom drive - you mount your CD to a directory (say /cdrom), and as soon as that's done you can see all the CD's files in the /cdrom directory.

A swap partition is what's used under linux instead of a swapfile like Windows uses. You set a separate partition to be used as virtual memory, and the system currently running scribbles all over that as it needs to, and doesn't risk destroying any data on your real partitions. SUSE will give you an option to make a partition for swap space, so don't worry about it too much. Just create a reasonably sized one, and you can forget about it after that. Whenever one of your linux installs boots, it ignores what's already written in the swap partition, so you can use the same one for each system.

/home is a lot like "Documents and Settings" under windows - every user (except root, usually) has their own subdirectory there that they can use to store their data. If you make a separate partition for this, you can store all the data you want there, and if you feel like changing to another distribution later, you can just nuke one of your system partitions, and not worry about deleting your files.

So, to sum up:
Make sure you create one partition for swap space.
If you create a partition for /home, be sure to set /home as the mount point for that partition when you install each system (and don't format it!) [edit - format it the first time you create it ]
After those two partitions, you can create the other three for the different systems. It's up to you whether you create all of them in SUSE first, or if you just leave some space and create them with the other installers.

Keep a notepad beside the computer and make a note of each partition as you create it - write down things like "sda2 is my /home", "sda3 is my SUSE system", etc.

Last edited by CroMagnon; 09-15-2004 at 09:44 PM.
 
  


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