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I am installing Ubuntu 7.10 and eCS (OS/2) into a 40 GB disk of
IBM Thinkcentre M50 besides pre-installed XP. eCS is there already
and both XP and eCS boot happily from BootManager, so now I need
to create Linux partitions, install Ubuntu and add Grub into Linux
boot partition. That should work provided I can keep Linux installation
from touching MBR (not even the partition table). I have 14 GB left
with one primary partition. I have had differing opinions about the
need of a separate /boot partition. I planned to have just root and
/home, put Grub in the root and mark it bootable for BootManager - but then I do not know a lot about Linux so I might overlook something.
Would it be good or bad idea to have a separate /boot and why?
If good, should I give the primary partition to /boot and put root
into a logical.
This 40 GB disk is mainly for the operating systems and essential
programs and it will be kept cloned at all times for backup.
In your case, since you're using a 3rd party boot manager, I would not make a separate /boot. Most of the time, I make a separate /boot only if grub is going to be controlling the boot. That way if you wipe that version of linux (i.e. delete the / partition), then you can still boot your other systems from the grub menu.
So I would just make a separate /home and / (with /boot living in /). Oh, and swap...
Another reason to have a separate boot partition is your choice of file system. If you use ext2/ext3, it is safe to place boot onto your / partition. Placing grub onto an xfs file system, however, is most definitely not recommended and many distros will prevent you from doing so. As a workaround, you can place GRUB on a separate boot partition that uses ext2 or ext3.
Your root partition does not need to be marked bootable, GRUB is smart enough to figure things out. Also Linux does not require a primary partition at all. 14GB is not a lot of space so using separate / and /home partitions does not necessarily make much sense in this case. It may be more interesting to increase your XP by a few GBs and use ntfs for storage if you do not want to store personal data onto your Ubuntu / partition. Using ntfs means you can access your data from XP at any time without having to install extra drivers (XP doesn't understand Linux file systems).