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Old 06-12-2011, 03:27 PM   #1
gallicbear
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Side by side install of Linux with Windows 7


Hi there. I’m new to Linux, halving always dealt with Windows. Current I have Windows 7 installed, and have a separate, empty partition. Also, I have the install disk for Linux Mint 11, which I burned and am ready to use. I want to install Linux on that empty partition and continue to use Windows 7.
Some of the tutorials talk about a ‘shrink’ procedure. I suppose I do not need this, since I have a partition already. Where I am confused is that the tutorial on www.linuxbsdos.com on dual boot talks about creating more than just 1 partition, but one with ’boot’, ’swap’, ’home’. Why does it have to be so complicated? As far as booting I just want the choice to be between windows 7 and Linux (on the black screen with white letters). So do I have to even be worried about a partition for swap and home?
Finally, when the PC boots into the install disk, I see there is 3 choices: Install Linux Mint alongside Windows 7, or Replace Windows 7 with Linux Mint, or Something Else. The first option makes it sound like Linux wouldn’t be installed on a separate partition.
Can someone enlighten me on this, please? Thanks in advance.
 
Old 06-12-2011, 03:31 PM   #2
TobiSGD
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The only partition you need to run is Linux is a root-partition (named /-partition), but it is highly recommended to also use swap-space.
It doesn't have to be complicated, just delete the free partition and let the installer use the free space, it will create all needed partitions automatically. And yes, the one you want to use is the "alongside Windows"-option.
 
Old 06-12-2011, 03:38 PM   #3
johnsfine
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Edit: While I was typing everything below, TobiSGD wrote a much more concise version of the same answer. I don't disagree with that concise answer. I hope the extra info below is helpful rather than just longer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gallicbear View Post
Current I have Windows 7 installed, and have a separate, empty partition.
You should delete that second partition. You do not want to install Linux into a partition created by Windows. It is simplest if the Linux installer is allowed to create partition(s) for Linux from unpartitioned space.

Quote:
Some of the tutorials talk about a ‘shrink’ procedure. I suppose I do not need this,
Correct, you don't need to shrink the Windows partition to leave the unpartitioned space for installing Linux.

Quote:
since I have a partition already.

But you don't want that either. You want unpartitioned space.

Quote:
talks about creating more than just 1 partition, but one with ’boot’, ’swap’, ’home’. Why does it have to be so complicated?
It doesn't have to be. I think swap is a good idea as a separate partition. But it isn't absolutely necessary. Linux can work with no swap at all, or the swap could be a file within the main Linux partition.

I think boot and/or home as separate partitions is usually a bad idea. If you don't set up those partitions, each will automatically be a directory within the main Linux partition. I think they are better as directories than as partitions.

Quote:
Install Linux Mint alongside Windows 7, or Replace Windows 7 with Linux Mint, or Something Else. The first option makes it sound like Linux wouldn’t be installed on a separate partition.
At that point the Linux installer has seen Windows installed and probably thinks Windows is using both partitions. It hasn't measured the unpartitioned space after your second partition (of which I expect you have approximately zero). So it offers you a choice that won't actually work. "alongside Windows" means don't touch the existing partitions and make new partitions from the unpartitioned space.

After you have deleted the second Windows partition (the one you said was empty) you will have the unpartitioned space so that "alongside Windows" will be the correct choice.

Last edited by johnsfine; 06-12-2011 at 03:47 PM.
 
Old 06-12-2011, 03:42 PM   #4
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnsfine View Post
I think boot and/or home as separate partitions is usually a bad idea. If you don't set up those partitions, each will automatically be a directory within the main Linux partition. I think they are better as a directories than as a partitions.
I don't want to derail this thread, but may I ask how you come to this conclusion?
 
Old 06-12-2011, 04:09 PM   #5
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TobiSGD View Post
I don't want to derail this thread, but may I ask how you come to this conclusion?
Cost / Benefit.

The most obvious cost is you need to figure out how much space to give each. You won't guess perfectly, so you may have one of /, home, or boot fill up while there is free space left in the other two. If you hadn't split them, you could get further before running out of space. See note (1)

There also may be performance costs due to increased seek time.

If you do side by side install (which I prefer) for a distribution change or major version upgrade later, you would have more partitions to juggle.

What about benefits?

Separate boot had big benefits for recovery from serious problem situations before liveCD's were invented. Now you would almost certainly use a liveCD in any situation in which your main install was that sick.

Separate boot has big benefits (pretty much becomes necessary) if your RAID or other advanced partitioning methods go beyond what the boot code understands. That obviously isn't the case in this thread.

Separate home is often justified as making it easier to coordinate multiple Linux distributions installed at once and/or preserving state when deinstalling one and installing another. In my experience, it does the opposite. Many config files are mixed into each user's home subdirectory and then have formats tied to a specific distribution and/or version. So most people who recommend sharing /home between Linux installs recommend changing the users' identities between Linux installs so those config files don't collide.

But if you change user identities between installs, that trashes every benefit of sharing /home. It is much better for a user across installs to have the same subdirectory of /home in multiple instances of /home itself, than to have different subdirectories of /home in one instance.

Note 1: If you were making a server, not a workstation then sharing all the free space within / across all the directories of the Linux system becomes a disadvantage instead of the advantage I described above. Especially for an unattended system, you want a graceful degradation as you run out of space (increase the likelyhood of space problems while decreasing their severity) , so you need to carefully predict and split the space to give safer margin to more important directories. But we're not talking about a server. We're talking about a workstation set up by a beginner. So any split is more likely to be wrong and just increase the likelyhood of failure without decreasing the severity.
 
Old 06-12-2011, 04:33 PM   #6
TobiSGD
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Given your advices to a beginner in this specific situation may be right, but your statement was
Quote:
boot and/or home as separate partitions is usually a bad idea.
And I don't think that you are right in this general statement.
Here my thoughts:
Quote:
The most obvious cost is you need to figure out how much space to give each.
Isn't that hard if you have a little bit experience with your distro. Of course more difficult for a beginner.

Quote:
There also may be performance costs due to increased seek time.
Only true when you have the /home (like in this specific case) on the same drive. In all other cases you may see a performance increase.
Have a look at the partition setup on my workstation, of course it is a bit unusual:
sda1 : 100GB, /-partition, rest of this drive (360GB) is free for experiments with other distributions.
sdb1 + sdc1: RAID 0, 1000GB, /home
sdd1 : 1000GB, backup-partition

Of course this is because I am a somewhat experienced user, and your advice may be right in this specific case, but it is not right in general.
 
Old 06-12-2011, 05:01 PM   #7
jefro
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Consider a free virtual machine. It really is easy to install and run.

You don't have to shrink or whatnot. You would be able to run multiple OS's at the same time.
 
Old 06-13-2011, 11:11 AM   #8
gallicbear
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Side by side install of Linux with Windows 7

Thank you everyone for your tips, especially TobiSGD and johnsfine. My install went without a problem. I appreciate being able to find a source to help a beginner.
 
  


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