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Old 04-08-2007, 05:46 PM   #1
azurehi
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Need Help with Partitioning


Hi All - I am looking to dual boot a linux distro with windows xp and have successfuly used ubuntu 6.10 edgy, installing with their "automatic" patitioner. Presently I have windows on a 95mb ntsf partition; 140gb unallocated. I would like to learn how to create partitions for linux with the gparted live cd or qtparted in, e.g., mepis 6.5. I am unsure what to type-in in various places.
firstly, should the unallocated be a primary or the logical? For label, what do I type in? I have read that linux needs a / partition - is that what I type in for label? Primary? Logical? Also read that I need swap - again, is that what's typed-in? And ext.3 - same questions and also for /home. Sorry to be so dense. Meanwhile, I'm searching for tutorials. Thanks for any help, suggestions.
 
Old 04-08-2007, 07:17 PM   #2
Junior Hacker
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You are allowed a maximum of 4 primary partitions with traditional hard disk layout. If all you want is a dual boot, I suggest making just 4 primary partitions if this is just a home computer not used for programing or a server, with this sort of a layout on a 250GB drive:

Windows --> 15GB
Linux swap --> Twice the ram amount, no more than 2GB
Linux / (root) --> Formatted ext3, 10 to 15GB
Shared data partition --> The rest of the drive, formatted NTFS

In this scenario you do not have a separate /home partition which is in the root partition. Home will just carry user settings and the likes. All data can be stored in the shared data partition so you can access it from either operating system. Using this type of layout makes it easy to make a back up copy of both operating systems that can be stored and restored from the data partition using ntfs-3g in Linux to give read/write access to the data partition. Or if you choose to re-build from scratch, all your data is separate from the OS's making it painless to do so. User setting and custom desktop settings can also be stored and restored from the data partition through theme managers in Linux, Windows doesn't offer to much in custom settings but also has a transfer wizard to do the same. Having Windows on a 95GB partition impairs performance and makes it cumbersome to back it up with free open source utilities.

The other layout to consider would involve setting up an extended partition which will allow many more "logical" partitions which can come in handy if you think you may want to add "try" more Linux distributions after installing this one. In this scenario I recommend setting it up like so:

Windows XP --> 15GB Primary
Shared data --> 80 - 100GB Primary
Linux swap --> Same as first scenario, Primary
Extended partition
Linux root --> Same as first scenario on a logical partition
Free space for future expansion on the rest of the drive.

If gparted allows you to allocate a partition high "at the end of the drive" and leave free space in between, the data partition would be better allocated high, but I don't think it will give you this option with an extended partition.

Last edited by Junior Hacker; 04-08-2007 at 07:25 PM.
 
Old 04-08-2007, 07:26 PM   #3
bigjohn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azurehi
Hi All - I am looking to dual boot a linux distro with windows xp and have successfuly used ubuntu 6.10 edgy, installing with their "automatic" patitioner. Presently I have windows on a 95mb ntsf partition; 140gb unallocated. I would like to learn how to create partitions for linux with the gparted live cd or qtparted in, e.g., mepis 6.5. I am unsure what to type-in in various places.
firstly, should the unallocated be a primary or the logical? For label, what do I type in? I have read that linux needs a / partition - is that what I type in for label? Primary? Logical? Also read that I need swap - again, is that what's typed-in? And ext.3 - same questions and also for /home. Sorry to be so dense. Meanwhile, I'm searching for tutorials. Thanks for any help, suggestions.
If it's a standard IDE hard drive, then the maximum number of primary partitions will be 4 AFAIK.

I'm gonna suggest that you use logical partitions as that'd give you maximum flexibility to do what you want, and then some.

I've never used qparted, well I don't think so - I seem to recall a flirtation with cfdisk.

So, are you now, or later, gonna use the windows partiton ? How big is your hard drive ? because the figures don't quite add up i.e. XP on 95 megs ??? that doesn't sound right.

What is it that you actually want to do ?? because that can make a difference in partition size etc etc.

Ok, I'll explain how I used to have my hard drive set up when I still had a windows install, and how it is now.

Originally, my system came with XP and 3 partitions. One had the main system, one had a recovery section (about 2 gigs) and the rest was called "data" - I think that was about 18 to 20 gigs - this was with a 40 gig hard drive.

I didn't understand what it was that I was doing, but new that the data partition had nothing on it. So I just put the disc in and booted it. Initially it said that it couldn't put the distro on the recovery partition as it was too small, so I told it to put it on the data partition - I just kept hitting OK and accepted all the defaults (this was with SuSE 8.0 by the way). Whatever I did, I managed to get it installed OK.

Some time passes and I realise that it'd be better if I had a larger hard drive, so I just dug around until I found one that'd probably do the job, at the right price. I installed a 120 gig device.

I installed windows onto it, followed by Partition Magic 8. Using the PM8, I shrunk the windows partition, guessing that 40 gig's should be more than enough (it was as I didn't do much with the windows). I then put the (by then), mandrake, onto the rest. Their default was just / (root) partition and /swap. Again I just clicked my way through the defaults and ran it that way for a while.

Because I used to use the "windows mentality" of problem solving i.e. re-install over the top, I got used to loosing all data, address books, customisations etc etc. This eventually pissed me off, enough to look into partitioning "properly", as it was about this time that I wanted to try other distros in a proper multi-boot system. So I ended up with the 40 gigs for windows followed by logical partitions for 4 distros and /swap. I did manage to install (with the help of a mate from my LUG) debian, mandrake and knoppix - it was a real pain keeping it all up to date, especially as I wanted it so that I could look into each of the other distros from the others.

It got too much hassle when I tried to install gentoo as well - I found that gentoo had a default (at that time, not sure about now) or /boot, /swap and / (the root), but as I'd got pissed of loosing all the data stuff I'd started gathering, I did enough reading to learn that I could follow the gentoo default, but add an addtitional /home partition.

Which is what I did. So it ended up as 40 gigs for the windows, 1 gig for the /boot (which is probably too much but seemed like a nice round number), about 25 gigs for the / because I just wanted to ensure that I had enough room to install whatever I wanted, but wouldn't be likely to have any problems with expanding log files etc (I never did have any problem with that because the gentoo defaults only keep log stuff for so long i.e. not long enough for it to become a problem). Then the /swap, I made 1.5 gigs, because I had 768 megs of RAM and the wisdom said that the /swap should be no more than 2 X the installed RAM - in fact I doubt whether I've ever actually used the /swap as I don't really do anything that'd eat up that much RAM. The rest was for /home as I wanted to rip all my CD's (actually into 2 formats, flac and oggs - flac files can be, like 4 times the size of an ogg, but it was flac for when I wanted music from the PC and oggs to transfer to an mp3 player that supported it).

The windows partition was primary - formatted as ntfs, the /boot was primary - formatted as ext3, the /swap was also primary - which meant that I had to make the other primary, extended. So that I could make logical partitions out of if - these, I decided after reading about disc formats, where both formatted as reiserfs.

the installation of gentoo went fine, not that it's hard to do a "stage 3 + GRP" install - all that other stage 1 or 2, bootstrapping and other shit was just miles over my head.

Since then, I realised that I was using the windows less and less, and it was the only way to force my partner (she's an infant school teacher - windows all the way) to use linux, I said it was all about safety/security and so on, and just binned the windows completely.

I still used the PM8 to change the partitions, so that there was just 4, all primary. Of 1 gig at the front of the drive for the /boot, I shrunk the windows again, down to about 25 gigs, then about 1.5 gigs for the /swap and the rest for the /home. Except the windows, I made all the other partitions unallocated.

I then re-installed the Gentoo, but followed the install hand book very closely because I had to make sure that all the partitions were correctly labelled, formatted etc etc - they were and it installed fine.

Thats the partition scheme I have today.

So after that saga, I'd say, that you can change partitions without too much of a problem, lots of the installers (especially the major distros) have graphical partition facilities, so you can either change numbers or sliders (the one in Mandriva - formerly mandrake) is quite helpful I found. If you do set up something similar to one of the arrangements in my saga, don't forget that with "normal" EIDE/PATA hard drives you can only have 4 primary partitions, if you want more than that, you'll have to extend one of the primaries so that you can make the logical ones. Oh and while I remember, when I had the windows installed, it would name the partitions thus, hda1 would be the windows, hda2 would be the /boot, hda3 would be the /swap, but as what would normally be called hda4 was extended, it would then name the / (root) as hda5 and the /home as hda6 so that there was never any hda4 showing.

The principle of having a seperate /home is so that it doesn't matter which distro you want to install, once the /home is set up, as long as you tell the installer of any other distro you might want to try, not to format it, and you always install the same packages in the / then more often than not, the whole system "just works" - yes, you loose any customisations i.e. colour schemes, backgrounds, custom icons etc, it all reverts to the distro defaults, but you will have retained address books, browsing history - cookies etc and downloaded emails etc etc. It's only not "just worked" the once, that was moving from gentoo, which I screwed up, to SuSE 10.0 - it was something to do with how SuSE managed UID numbers etc - I didn't actually loose anything, I just had to change more stuff so that the SuSE could see/use it all.

Erm I don't know if theres anything about partitioning at the linux documentation project or not - if there is, it's probably gonna be hard work reading/following, but it should give you the info in a better, formal, less anecdotal way than I can.

regards

John
 
Old 04-09-2007, 12:31 AM   #4
azurehi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjohn
If it's a standard IDE hard drive, then the maximum number of primary partitions will be 4 AFAIK.


So, are you now, or later, gonna use the windows partiton ? How big is your hard drive ? because the figures don't quite add up i.e. XP on 95 megs ??? that doesn't sound right.



John
My hard drive is a Maxtor SATA 250GB. Windows XP is 95GB, NOT 95 mb, as I mis-typed. Yes, I intend to keep XP for awhile.

Thanks for the repiles Junior Hacker and bigjohn - I really appreciate such speedy responses. I'll look them over and post later.
 
  


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