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... to shrink XP (NTFS). I plan to use either of the partitioning software that just came with SimplyMEPIS 3.4, or the gparted LiveCD (ain't got PartitionMagic for NTFS). I'll free up about 100Gb on my HDD and create 4 x 25Gb partitions for Linux (or keep one spare), then use a partition on HDD2 for the swap file.
1. which partitions need to be FAT32, or can they all be ext2/3? Does it matter?
2. can XP read ext2/3, and vice-versa? (I believe Linux can read-only NTFS)
Reassuring advice appreciated for a as I'm contemplating at least doing the partitioning today. Really don't want to screw up Windows (just yet!)
PS - any feedback on SimplyMEPIS? Looks OK to me (but I know diddly...)
If you do that with qtparted, don't be afraid if it takes long. My experience is that resizing ntfs partitions is very long (took me 3 hours for a 40gb -> 20 gb partition (about 10 Gb were used)). The resizing was successful though.
The ntfsprogs package for linux is *excellent* - resizing NTFS is safe. The GUI frontends (qtparted or gparted) sometimes fail the resize and don't give you any messages. Your data isn't at risk - the ntfsresize (part of ntfsprogs) which gets called to do the work, gives messages, but the GUI loses them. No damage done.
If you have problems, just call back.
Have one FAT32 partition as a safe data exchange partition - both sides suppport full R/W natively. You can "play" with the others when you are more comfortable.
As for Mepis, I think it is a great distro for someone weaning themselves off Windows. Has all you need without screwing around looking for extra packages. DVD player, MP3, the lot ...
I used it to convert my good lady - she now never even misses Windows.
1. You don't want to install Linux on a FAT32 filesystem (it doesn't suppport unix file permissions/symlinks and so on), but it's OK to use FAT32 for a data partition shared with XP. So /, /usr, /home etc should be ext3/reiser (these are preferable to ext2 as they are journalling filesystems).
2. As far as I know, XP cannot read unix filesystems. Linux can read/write FAT/FAT32. It can read NTFS and 2.6.x has partial write support for NTFS (but apparently it is still somewhat unsafe (though I don't have Windows, so I'm not certain)).
As for SimplyMEPIS, I've had a quick look at it, it's not my cup of tea but it should be fine. There isn't a huge difference between distros as they all have basically the same software. The main differences are with installation and package management.
EDIT: Everyone else answered while I was making a cup of coffee, excuse my unnecessary repetition!
Thanks all so far. One more if I may - does the partitioning sofware allocate partitions in any particular order on the disk, or is it purely by preference? Does it matter? Or is it taken care of during the actual Linux installation? What's best?
Clarification then, please - should I just shrink NTFS to start with today and let the install handle the rest later, or divide up the spare capacity now into several partitions, and then install later?
Can't believe it! Indications were that resizing an NTFS partition may have taken ages - 140Gb down to 50Gb. Ran DirMS-S defragger, booted into gparted, and it took 30 seconds: operation completed. I won't ask, What went wrong, but, What went right?
You stated: Clarification then, please - should I just shrink NTFS to start with today and let the install handle the rest later, or divide up the spare capacity now into several partitions, and then install later?
For the first time, one idea is to let the installer take care of the partitioning layout---one suggestion is to pay attention to how the partition manager wants to lay it out for you. If you still have an internet connection with that 'other OS', give a hollar back if you have questions concerning the layout and someone in here may have a good recommendation for you according to the size of your hd('s) and what you want to do in particular with your system.
I've now got about 100Gb unallocated: my plan now is to create a 40Gb primary as FAT32 so that Windows and Linux can read and write to each other. Then when I DO THE BIG DEED AND SET UP A DUAL BOOT, I'll let the installer make suggestions (if it does - but I've got some figures prepared anyway). I'll also now set up a Linux swap on HDD2.