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Old 06-17-2013, 08:17 PM   #1
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GPT - MBR Mental Block during new Slackware 14.0 Installation.

To install Slackware 14.0 on the new Dell Inspiron 17 laptop with Windows 8. I want to wipe the disk clean of Windows 8. I have nothing to save on that disk.
I changed the BIOS from UEFI to Legacy. Now Windows 8 can't boot and my laptop can read Slackware 14.0 DVD. I can login as a root.
When I try to type fdisk /dev/sda, I get the message: GPT detected on /dev/sda. Utility fdisk does not support GPT.
1. If I were to use 'gdisk' (I am not quite sure how to use it.) to delete existing partitions and create new GPT partitions of my choice, can I install Slackware 14.0 on GPT partitioned disk? Will it work?
2. How can I convert GPT hard disk to MBR partitioned hard disk, so that I can use tried and trusted 'fdisk' to create partitions and go ahead with installation? My hard disk is 500GB, hence I don't really need GPT.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

-- Sampra
Old 06-17-2013, 08:46 PM   #2
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Maybe try cfdisk /dev/sda
Old 06-18-2013, 12:21 AM   #3
Registered: Jan 2006
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Do this:

# parted /dev/sda
mklabel msdos
mklabel creates a new partition table, replacing whatever exists currently. So you'll get a standard msdos style partition table if you specify mklabel msdos.
Old 06-18-2013, 03:22 AM   #4
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If you just want to kill the GPT partition table, you might want to follow our BDFL's advice from another thread:

Originally Posted by volkerdi View Post
For the record, the way to handle that situation is with gdisk's extended option 'z' (zap GPT partition table). Since the main GPT table is at the end of the disk, wiping the protective MBR and backup table at the start of the drive doesn't get rid of GPT.
Then you can create new MBR partitions with fdisk, if that is what you really want.

By the way, yes you can use GPT partitions with Slackware. I use GPT partitions. Also gdisk works almost exactly like fdisk. So if you are familiar with the latter you should have little trouble with the former.

Last edited by ruario; 06-18-2013 at 03:25 AM. Reason: spelling
Old 06-19-2013, 11:21 AM   #5
Registered: Feb 2012
Location: United States
Distribution: Slackware 14.0
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I had this same problem. My laptop is a brand new Asus with all the various bells and whistles. I did not go mucking around in the BIOS and change anything. When I booted up the Slackware install DVD it spat out some error to the effect of:

It appears you have a GPT style partition use gdisk or cgdisk to partition your hard drive.

When I ran one of those (I think cgdisk) it spat out some error about how it couldn't do it, but gdisk returned no error and asked if I wanted to use MBR or GPT. I chose MBR wiped all the other partitions on my hard drive leaving one big 750GB partition which I applied the boot flag to and formatted to ext4.

Hope this helps! I struggled with this too for a while! But now I am running Slackware 14.0 64bit and lilo installed with no errors (which was my problem before.)


It was gdisk I used:

bash-4.2# gdisk /dev/sda
GPT fdisk (gdisk) version 0.8.5

Partition table scan:
  MBR: MBR only
  BSD: not present
  APM: not present
  GPT: present

Found valid MBR and GPT. Which do you want to use?
 1 - MBR
 2 - GPT
 3 - Create blank GPT

Your answer:
Just select 1 (MBR) and you will be able to format/partition/set boot flag as needed. Hope this helps! Good luck slacking.

Last edited by flyinggeorge; 06-19-2013 at 11:24 AM.
Old 06-19-2013, 04:19 PM   #6
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Musings after installing SlackWare 14.0.
Comments and constructive criticism, specific to each point, will be helpful to me and to those experimenting with SlackWare 14.0 on newer laptops. Please accept my sincere thanks for posting your replies to my query that started this thread.
First stumbling block was UEFI. Dell Inspiron 17 with Windows 8 could not recognize SlackWare DVD. I found on this forum that I need to change to legacy BIOS. This is what I did once I reached the Boot Menu, after hitting F2 during boot process: Secure Boot changed to <disabled>, Load Legacy Option ROM changed to <enabled> and Boot List Option changed to <Legacy>. Now laptop could not recognize Windows 8, but did boot from SlackWare DVD.
Can someone with enough expertize write a comprehensive document for novices explaining UEFI, Legacy BIOS, GPT and MBR? Why someone like me, armed with a new laptop and a Linux DVD has to struggle for 3 evenings just to get the installation going?
Can SlackWare at least provide a 2 to 3 page addendum to installation procedure along with the DVD they sell? I was not quite sure what to do when the accompanying book asked me to create two floppy disks!
After changing to legacy BIOS, I printed the partition table: gdisk /dev/sda, then used the 'P' option. There were six partitions: EFI system partition and five more Microsoft related partitions. I had no clue what EFI System Partition was? I thought it was OS agnostic. Hence I kept it and deleted the five Microsoft partitions. Then using gdisk, I created six Linux partitions: swap, /, /home, /usr/local, /var and /tmp. As I hit 'w' command to write the new partition data, error... (On Dell, I was never given a choice of MBR or GPT after running gdisk.)
Warning! An error was reported when writing partition table. This error might be harmless ....! 'w' command option in gdisk never completed and the system was hung.
Restarted the whole process. This time I removed all partitions, including the EFI system partition which I had kept in my earlier attempt (#4, above). Recreated the six Linux partitions mentioned before and hit 'w' to write the new GPT data. New errors: In addition to the statement in #5 above, I got "udevd [1702]: symlink '../../sda4' '/dev/disk/by-partlable/Linux\x20filesystem.udev-tmp' failed. File exists." gdisk command did not complete, again.
I hit ^c to kill gdisk and went ahead with installation anyway. In the ADDSWAP menu another error: "No swap space detected. You have created swap partition with Linux fdisk. Do you want to continue installing without one?" Well, I did NOT use fdisk. Since my hard drive had GPT, I used gdisk. Now what to do?
After searching for an hour, I found a post that mentioned, I have to use mkswap /dev/sda1 to activate my swap partition before I could use the setup program. Who knew? Now the setup program detected swap space and proceeded to format the partitions and then to assign the mount points.
Before setup started to move packages to the hard drive, I noticed that only / had ext4 file system and all other partitions had ext2 file system. I thought something was wrong and I might have made a mistake in choosing the file system. I tried the reformat the / partition with ext2, but was greeted with a system crash. Holy Camoly!
Redid the whole thing again starting from booting the SlackWare DVD. This time, along the way, I made sure that I am formatting all partitions using ext2 file system. Before transferring packages to hard disk, the installer AGAIN listed / file system as ext4 and all other partitions with ext2 file system. Why is it so? I decided to go ahead with installation of packages anyway. At this point, I was tempted to use the hammer.
The installation proceeded smoothly with LILO safely tucked away in MBR. I have no idea what that means. I am just paraphrasing the installer message. With 1024 x 768 x 32K frame buffer active, I finally got the pleasant KDE window. There were hiccups though!
During network configuration, I was asked for a hostname. Do you mean the computer name? Do you mean the name of the host computer at Comcast/Charter Cable? Which host? There are a thousand hosts on the campus. Setup also asked me for the domain name. I don't have a domain name. I just typed in Well, I was able to go on the Net, which ain't bad.
I guess, I will need six more months of combing the forum to glean and collate legible and relevant pieces of wisdom to use SlackWare effectively. There was more frustration and long hours of it, than joy. Is this SlackWare specific or all distributions exhibit this?
Apparently, I now have a working Linux laptop. It still needs some work and more customization. At the back of my mind, though, I am thinking; during installation, gdisk command never completed. I killed it using ^c. My / partition has ext4 while other mount points have ext2. Is this OK? Is this Linux installation reliable? Can I use it for critical computational biology research? Any thoughts?
In about a year, I think, I will get enough competence to write a NEW installation tutorial that will be detailed and specifically targeted to only one task, that of installing SlackWare on its own dedicated laptop.

Thank you all again,

-- Sampra

Last edited by Sampra; 06-19-2013 at 05:25 PM.
Old 06-19-2013, 04:37 PM   #7
Registered: Feb 2012
Location: United States
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Yikes! That is quite a tale of trials and tribulations! Speaking from experience (having a laptop I bought in May and came with Windows8/GPT disk partition) the GPT disk partitioning scheme seems to be confusing to linux in general. Before I found out about gdisk (which worked for me. I have no idea what the issue was for you, sorry I couldn't help more) I couldn't get a boot loader to install, but other than that I don't remember having any other major issues. I used to own a Dell laptop, until it was stolen from me and replaced with this one, and the way they do their BIOS is weird. In fact, Dell as a whole is weird, quite frankly I don't recommend them. Out of curiosity, I wonder if cgdisk would have worked for you. I wonder this only because it didn't work for me where gdisk did, and obviously you had the opposite problem. As for domain and hostname, I think the defaults are fine and those things aren't of huge importance to the desktop user if you don't know what they are for (If someone else knows better, please tell me so!). Overall though, I'm glad you finally managed to get an install going, and I wish I could lend more of a helping hand.

Forgot to mention I also tried installing Gentoo as a shot-in-the-dark kind of thing just to put linux on my laptop and I couldn't because for whatever reason grub wouldn't install correctly. Which in hindsight I probably could have fixed with gdisk, but I am more familiar with Slackware anyway.

Last edited by flyinggeorge; 06-19-2013 at 04:40 PM.
Old 06-19-2013, 05:06 PM   #8
Registered: Jan 2006
Distribution: Slackware
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Sampra, regarding items 3 and 8, did you read the README.TXT and the Slackware-HOWTO text files that are in the root directory of the DVD? These explain the installation process, particularly Slackware-HOWTO. There's no mention of UEFI or GPT or gdisk in there, but if you follow the instructions in the HOWTO document, you should end up with a working usable swap partition.

You should also always read CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT and RELEASE_NOTES. UPGRADE.TXT is essential if you are doing an upgrade rather than a full install. There are other README* files that cover other things that may apply to some users, such as crypto, RAID, and LVM instructions.

Regarding your partitioning scheme that you mentioned in 4, it is really a matter of individual preference, but I don't ever use that many different partitions. I create swap, /, /home, and /boot. I let /tmp, /var, and /usr/local reside in /. There are some good arguments for partitioning the way you did, so I'm not saying you shouldn't do it if you have a reason to.

Regarding 10, I would suggest you do another install and use ext4. I would not use ext2 for anything other than boot.

Regarding 12, yes, hostname is your computer name, whatever you want it to be so long as it conforms to RFC 952 and 1123. Mainly, don't use an underscore in a hostname. Hyphen is ok, and upper or lowercase letters A-Z, and digits 0-9. No other symbols, punctuation characters, or white space are permitted. The "" portion is the domain name. As long as you aren't running a public nameserver that tries to resolve hosts on that domain to your IP, you can use that, but I'd suggest coming up with your own domain name that's not already in use. You don't really have to conform to ICANN TLDs.
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