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Old 06-02-2009, 12:21 PM   #1
PointToVerify
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Partitioning Strategy for Dual Boot With openSuse


Hi,

Long time reader, new member! Never had the need to register as a) the answers I found solved it and b) wasn't experienced enough to answer other people's questions. Both have now changed so here I am

I have a spare 2.7Ghz Celeron with a 120GB disk I wanted to Dualboot Ubuntu and openSuse. I jumped in with some tactics I remembered from dualbooting XP a few years back but they haven't worked out well.

Here was my plan, I'd love it if you could comment on improvements...

I wanted to split the 120Gb as followings:

1 18GB EXT4 for Ubuntu
2 2GB SWAP for Ubuntu
3 18GB EXT3 for openSuse
4 2GB SWAP for openSuse
5 80GB EXT3 to share (pictures, video, files etc.)

I had imagined that Ubuntu would be able to read EXT3 but openSuse not EXT4 out of the box hence EXT4 for Ubuntu's install but EXT3 for the shared file "server".

Ubuntu installed fine, even got my two screens going with relative ease (had some issues with not being able to write to x.conf).

So next I popped in the openSuse CD. It suggested to wipe the partitions I had designated for Ubuntu so I told it to delete and remake the 18GB and 80GB instead. I instructed it to not install a bootloader as I seemed to remember that because Ubuntu already had installed Grub, I'd only need to add the openSuse boot volume to some Grub config file. OpenSuse proceeded to install seemingly fine though it did pop up some errors about EXT4, not sure why it was even looking at that partition.

When done I rebooted and got a Grub error, couldn't get anywhere from there, neither to Ubuntu nor openSuse.

My observations:

1. I didn't really need separate Swap space as once in Ubuntu, it showed some 4GB swap space, it seemed to bundle them together. So I guess if re-partitioning, a single 2 to 4 GB Swap space may suffice (it has 786 RAM).

2. I must have cocked up the boot loader as evidently, I didn't get anywhere. I don't understand why openSuse ignored my instructions and somehow went and affected the existing boot loader setup.

3. Somehow, openSuse didn't like the presence of EXT4 so perhaps make everything EXT3?

4. Partitioning in Ubuntu was confusing as I had to assign mount volumes like / or /home or /srv for each partition. I guess these are the C: and D: etc equivalent of Windows. Do these have any special designated functionality or can I just pick freely? What makes most sense?

So my revised plan is:

1 18GB EXT3 for Ubuntu (would really like a play with EXT4 though)
2 18GB EXT3 for openSuse
3 4GB SWAP for either
4 80GB EXT3 file storage

Questions...

A: Which mount volumes should I use for each partition? /home /boot ???
B: What should I do with Grub?
C: Any point in installing Ubuntu or openSuse first before the other?

I'd appreciate your insights.
 
Old 06-02-2009, 02:14 PM   #2
ronlau9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PointToVerify View Post
Hi,

Long time reader, new member! Never had the need to register as a) the answers I found solved it and b) wasn't experienced enough to answer other people's questions. Both have now changed so here I am

I have a spare 2.7Ghz Celeron with a 120GB disk I wanted to Dualboot Ubuntu and openSuse. I jumped in with some tactics I remembered from dualbooting XP a few years back but they haven't worked out well.

Here was my plan, I'd love it if you could comment on improvements...

I wanted to split the 120Gb as followings:

1 18GB EXT4 for Ubuntu
2 2GB SWAP for Ubuntu
3 18GB EXT3 for openSuse
4 2GB SWAP for openSuse
5 80GB EXT3 to share (pictures, video, files etc.)

I had imagined that Ubuntu would be able to read EXT3 but openSuse not EXT4 out of the box hence EXT4 for Ubuntu's install but EXT3 for the shared file "server".

Ubuntu installed fine, even got my two screens going with relative ease (had some issues with not being able to write to x.conf).

So next I popped in the openSuse CD. It suggested to wipe the partitions I had designated for Ubuntu so I told it to delete and remake the 18GB and 80GB instead. I instructed it to not install a bootloader as I seemed to remember that because Ubuntu already had installed Grub, I'd only need to add the openSuse boot volume to some Grub config file. OpenSuse proceeded to install seemingly fine though it did pop up some errors about EXT4, not sure why it was even looking at that partition.

When done I rebooted and got a Grub error, couldn't get anywhere from there, neither to Ubuntu nor openSuse.

My observations:

1. I didn't really need separate Swap space as once in Ubuntu, it showed some 4GB swap space, it seemed to bundle them together. So I guess if re-partitioning, a single 2 to 4 GB Swap space may suffice (it has 786 RAM).

2. I must have cocked up the boot loader as evidently, I didn't get anywhere. I don't understand why openSuse ignored my instructions and somehow went and affected the existing boot loader setup.

3. Somehow, openSuse didn't like the presence of EXT4 so perhaps make everything EXT3?

4. Partitioning in Ubuntu was confusing as I had to assign mount volumes like / or /home or /srv for each partition. I guess these are the C: and D: etc equivalent of Windows. Do these have any special designated functionality or can I just pick freely? What makes most sense?

So my revised plan is:

1 18GB EXT3 for Ubuntu (would really like a play with EXT4 though)
2 18GB EXT3 for openSuse
3 4GB SWAP for either
4 80GB EXT3 file storage

Questions...

A: Which mount volumes should I use for each partition? /home /boot ???
B: What should I do with Grub?
C: Any point in installing Ubuntu or openSuse first before the other?

I'd appreciate your insights.
First about EX3 or EX4 I never used EX4
Normally opensuse do notice the other OS , but maybe not EXE4
in this case it might be better to install opensuse first
But the next opensuse 11,2 seems to use EX4 see opensuse 11.2 Milestone2
Normally did not matter which GRUB you like to use
So first GRUB on his own partition second GRUB in MBR
If necessary both menu.lst are easy to modify
 
Old 06-02-2009, 10:36 PM   #3
yancek
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Unless you are heavily into gaming or graphics you should not need more than 2GB of swap and you will be better off buying a RAM chip. And no, you do not need more than one swap partitions, whether you have one OS or 15 or more.

Quote:
So next I popped in the openSuse CD. It suggested to wipe the partitions I had designated for Ubuntu so I told it to delete and remake the 18GB and 80GB instead
I'm not sure I understand this, you had Ubuntu installed on the 18GB then had Opensuse wipe the partition?? Almost all your bootloader files are on whatever root partition you have except for the 512 bytes in the mbr. since you chose not to install bootloader for Opensuse, there was no way remaining to boot.

It won't matter which you reinstall first. You need to install Grub to the master boot record from either Ubuntu or Opensuse. This is usually the default so the one you install to the root partition. Usually need to click and Advanced tab to get that option, or at least look for it. If you install the first distro to the mbr, you will then need to add a title line to its menu.lst file for the second distro.
 
Old 06-03-2009, 12:52 AM   #4
tommcd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PointToVerify View Post
A: Which mount volumes should I use for each partition? /home /boot ???
B: What should I do with Grub?
C: Any point in installing Ubuntu or openSuse first before the other?
A: Install Ubuntu first. (It really doesn't matter though, just my preference). Choose manual partitioning. Create these partitions:
12GB primary ext4 partition for Ubuntu's root.
1-2GB primary partition for swap (easily enough).
12GB primary ext3 partition for Suse's root.

(12GB is easily way more than enough for Ubuntu's and Suse's root partitions).

The rest of the drive will be a logical ext3 partition for your files and stuff. You can choose the mount point /data for this partition. This is what I do, since I boot several distros.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B: Install Ubuntu's grub to the MBR. Then install Suse to the root partition you have made for it. Choose manual partitioning, and select your /data partition as mount point /data. Install Suse's grub to the Suse root partition. Then add this to the bottom of Ubuntu's grub's /boot/grub/menu.lst:
Code:
title		Suse
configfile      (hdX,Y)/boot/grub/menu.lst 
savedefault
Replace X and Y with the partition for Suse's root. If you follow the partitioning scheme I suggested, it would be (hd0,2). The configfile line is the path to Suse's menu.lst. I have used the configfile method in Ubuntu's grub to dual boot with Debian, Mandriva, and Arch and it works like a charm. This way Suse's grub will automagically keep track of kernel updates without you having to edit Ubuntu's menu.lst every time Suse gets a kernel update.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
C: You could install Ubuntu or Suse first. I suggested installing Ubuntu first since I have much more experience with Ubuntu; and I prefer Ubuntu over Suse.

And welcome to the LQ forums!

Last edited by tommcd; 06-03-2009 at 01:06 AM.
 
Old 06-03-2009, 03:54 AM   #5
PointToVerify
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Great, thanks for the replies. Seems pretty clear!

One thing though, about Grub, MBR etc. I don't remember from installing Ubuntu and openSuse yesterday that I was presented with any options. I ran through most of the default stuff on Ubuntu and indeed went advanced on the openSuse installation. All I remember from openSuse regarding boot loader is whether or not to use one.

So to recap, checking that I have this right. When I install Ubuntu and so the initial partitioning:

- 12GB EXT4 for Ubuntu, mount volume ??? shall I use just / ?
- 2GB SWAP for either
- 12GB EXT3 for openSuse, mount volume ??? shall I use /boot as it doesn't matter as openSuse install will want to redo this partition anyway
- Remaining GB EXT3 for data on mount volume /data (not sure /data was an option in the drop-down, I do remember /srv which I thought was appropriate as it's a file server of sorts)

When we're talking about MBR and Grub, we're not talking a dedicated partition for this, are we? When you say "install Grub to the MBR" does Master Boot Record just mean "the 'master' partition that is used for that particular Operating System"? In other words, I'd install Grub when installing Ubuntu first, to the same partition as Ubuntu will be installed on.

And then when installing openSuse I tell it to install Grub on that dedicated openSuse partition, right? Then by editing that menu.lst file, I make Grub aware of the option. Do I have to do this for both Ubuntu's Grub as well as openSuse?

I guess I'm rambling a bit but just not sure yet on the Grub/MBR config.

I'll give it another shot in the meanwhile though.

Thanks for the detailed examples!
 
Old 06-04-2009, 12:09 AM   #6
tommcd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PointToVerify View Post
One thing though, about Grub, MBR etc. I don't remember from installing Ubuntu and openSuse yesterday that I was presented with any options. I ran through most of the default stuff on Ubuntu and indeed went advanced on the openSuse installation. All I remember from openSuse regarding boot loader is whether or not to use one.
I always install Ubuntu from the alternate install CD, which does give you the option of where you want to install grub. The default is to install grub to the MBR though, so using the default is fine.
For Suse, I'm not sure if Suse gives you the option of where you want grub. See if there is an advanced tab on the install, which should allow customizations like this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PointToVerify View Post
So to recap, checking that I have this right. When I install Ubuntu and so the initial partitioning:
- 12GB EXT4 for Ubuntu, mount volume ??? shall I use just / ?
- 2GB SWAP for either
- 12GB EXT3 for openSuse, mount volume ??? shall I use /boot as it doesn't matter as openSuse install will want to redo this partition anyway
- Remaining GB EXT3 for data on mount volume /data (not sure /data was an option in the drop-down, I do remember /srv which I thought was appropriate as it's a file server of sorts)
When installing Ubuntu, the mount point for Ubuntu's root will be / (root). You can choose to make a mount point for Suse's root partition on Ubuntu if you want. Just choose /media/Suse, /media/sda3 or whatever. You have the option of manually entering a mount point. You don't have to have a mount point for Suse in Ubuntu if you don't want to. I don't choose mount points for other distros when I install Ubuntu. I can always mount them manually if I ever need to.
Similarly, the mount point /data will have to be entered manually. You don't have to call it /data, you could call it /whatever_you_want. You could also make it /media/data if you would prefer it to be under /media. I just use /data.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PointToVerify View Post
When we're talking about MBR and Grub, we're not talking a dedicated partition for this, are we? When you say "install Grub to the MBR" does Master Boot Record just mean "the 'master' partition that is used for that particular Operating System"? In other words, I'd install Grub when installing Ubuntu first, to the same partition as Ubuntu will be installed on.
Yes, the MBR is not a separate partition. It will be on Ubuntu's root partition if you install Ubuntu first. The MBR is the boot sector of the drive:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_boot_record
Quote:
Originally Posted by PointToVerify View Post
And then when installing openSuse I tell it to install Grub on that dedicated openSuse partition, right? Then by editing that menu.lst file, I make Grub aware of the option. Do I have to do this for both Ubuntu's Grub as well as openSuse?
No, the configfile entry for Suse only needs to be added to the end of Ubuntu's grub's /boot/grub/menu.lst.

Last edited by tommcd; 06-04-2009 at 12:26 AM.
 
Old 11-16-2009, 07:32 PM   #7
alnuemann
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Similar dual-boot predicament

Hello!
Great instructions -wish I would have seen them sooner. So, I have first installed SUSE but, probably mistakenly, put grub into its partition (not the MBR). I then installed Mandriva 2010 on a second large partition. (They were to share a 1GB swap) However, I first rejected creating any boot loader for Mandriva as I though I would be able to modify the one I had from SUSE. -Then I found your thread...
Okay, I then re-ran the Mandriva installation as I knew it would quickly run thru to the end for creating a boot loader. This time I created one in the MBR which automatically created three choices, nicely including one for SUSE.
However, neither of the two Mandriva choices (regular or failsafe) will boot, although its SUSE choice hands off the booting to the SUSE loader and SUSE boots just fine.
So, can I patch this MBR-based (Mandriva) boot loader file? i.e.: could I go into SUSE and edit...? Or, does the MBR-based boot loader always need to be created first, and thus I really need to overhaul...?
Please advise.
Al
ref. curernt 80GB drive includes:
1GB swap
18GB SUSE partition (sda1)
12GB Mandriva partition (sda2)
45+GB (Open territory)
 
Old 11-16-2009, 09:32 PM   #8
yancek
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Quote:
However, I first rejected creating any boot loader for Mandriva as I though I would be able to modify the one I had from SUSE
Yes, you could have easily done that.

Quote:
This time I created one in the MBR which automatically created three choices, nicely including one for SUSE.
I'm not sure what "created one" means? Did you install the Mandriva Grub to the master boot record of the drive? You did this and can't boot Mandriva but can boot OpenSuse?

Quote:
could I go into SUSE and edit...?
Yes.

Quote:
does the MBR-based boot loader always need to be created first, and thus I really need to overhaul...?
No.

If you cannot boot Mandriva and can boot Opensuse, the simplest thing to do is to boot Opensuse and log in as root user, type grub in a terminal to get the grub prompt (grub>) and here type the following, assuming Opensuse is in fact on sda1:

root (hd0,0) (hit enter key)
setup (hd0) (hite enter key)
quit (hit enter key)

You might run the fdisk -l command as root and post the output as well as the output of /boot/grub/menu.lst file if you are not sure about above.
 
Old 11-16-2009, 11:52 PM   #9
alnuemann
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Hello!
Yes, I "created one" Mandriva MBR-based grub which boots SUSE just fine but not Mandriva. Well, like a lot of things, there turns out to be more than one issue...
I afterwards found that the Mandriva boots were crapin' out on the display driver. (Why? -I have no idea.) So, I elected to give things an overhaul of sorts.
Since my SUSE was already customized from display settings thru Windows' domain membership, I blew away the Mandriva partition to 'half-way' start over. I also took this route as I found SUSE has a slick little facility to migrate its grub from its partition to the MBR, as well as GUI screens to add add'l system boot lines much like those spec's Tommcd provided. The 'short of it'...
1GB swap (sda0)
18GB openSUSE 11.2 (sda2)
12GB Mandriva 2010 (sda5)
(Hey, I don't know what happened to sda1 & 3-4, but I imagine they were taken by partition extension 'headers' or similar.)
NOTE: Apparently both SUSE and Mandriva automatically recognizes a preexisting system and includes a line item for it in its own boot menu. Cool! And, both systems have a GUI-based boot menu editor, although I think SUSE's is a little more thoughtful -just break apart Tommcd's "Configfile" spec' into the two text box entries w/in SUSE's "menu-based" boot line creation method, as "(hdX,Y)" separate from "/boot/grub/menu.lst"

Once these systems were shown to run correctly, I simply booted to Mandriva and set its boot menu to zero (0) seconds display so it 'skips' into its system without delay when its chosen from the initial SUSE's MBR-based boot menu. (This may seem risky as I then eliminate access to the failsafe mode, but Mandriva has an excellent install iso with repair/reinstall ... options -even for the booter.)

Thanks again Tommcd from Phila for a good start (I'm just a newbie to Linux, out here in Blue Bell.) Thanks Yancek for the added info -nice to know boot management is easier than thought before.
Al
 
Old 11-17-2009, 03:54 AM   #10
tommcd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alnuemann View Post
1GB swap (sda0)
18GB openSUSE 11.2 (sda2)
12GB Mandriva 2010 (sda5)
(Hey, I don't know what happened to sda1 & 3-4, but I imagine they were taken by partition extension 'headers' or similar.)
When you create logical partitions, the next partition after the primary partitions becomes an extended partition that contains the logical partitions. The first logical partition is always /dev/sda5. The next is /dev/sda6, and so on. You can see this if you open a terminal and run as root the command: fdisk -l (Note that is a lowercase "L", and not the number 1).
This command lists your partitions. For example, on my system:
Code:
bash-3.1# fdisk -l

Disk /dev/sda: 120.0 GB, 120034123776 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 14593 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x4c184c17

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *           1        4864    39070048+   7  HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda2            4865        6566    13671315   83  Linux
/dev/sda3            6567        6688      979965   82  Linux swap
/dev/sda4            6689       10092    27342630    5  Extended
/dev/sda5            6689        8390    13671283+  83  Linux
/dev/sda6            8391       10092    13671283+  83  Linux
Since you only have 3 partitions the Mandriva partition is sda5 because it is a probably a logical partition.
I don't know why your first partition is sda0. I don't think I have seen that before. I have never used Suse though. Just out of curiosity, could you post the output of "fdisk -l" please?

Glad you got things worked out. Hope the stuff I wrote was helpful. And welcome to the LQ forums!

Last edited by tommcd; 11-17-2009 at 03:55 AM.
 
Old 11-17-2009, 09:48 AM   #11
alnuemann
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Tommcd,
ref.: (I guess I assumed "0", but swap is "1")
Disk /dev/sda: 82.0 GB, 81964302336 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 9964 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 1 132 1060258+ 82 Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda2 * 133 2524 19213740 83 Linux
/dev/sda3 2525 4072 12434310 5 Extended
/dev/sda5 2525 4072 12434278+ 83 Linux
Not bad for a rookie! I see I could probably 'daisy-chain' a few of these OSs in the same way. I might next try adding Mepis, Fedora, and perhaps a Windows system, although I heard Windows OSs should be added first (so maybe I'll just keep this drive Linux). i.e.: I'm searching for the best, current all around system to build clients for my kids that will also be educational, so I may need to add a lot of apps once I decide on the base system. Although, I heard "Ultimate Edition" apparently includes a whole hoard of apps, and it's now built on Ubuntu 9.10
Mandriva is now almost fully customized at same level SUSE, however I do not see how to join it to the Windows 2003 Server domain.
Thanks.
Al
 
Old 11-18-2009, 04:04 AM   #12
tommcd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alnuemann View Post
I'm searching for the best, current all around system to build clients for my kids that will also be educational, so I may need to add a lot of apps once I decide on the base system.
Have you heard of Edubuntu? From the Edubuntu site:
Quote:
Edubuntu is an educational operating system that is a part of the Ubuntu family. It aims to make Ubuntu, the popular Linux-based operating system, a great choice for the computing needs of children, students, parents, teachers, and schools.
You can check out Edubuntu here:
http://edubuntu.org/
I suppose you could set up essentially the same thing on Ubuntu just by installing whatever educational apps are included in Edubuntu. Here is a list of the apps included in Edubuntu:
http://www.edubuntu.org/applications/8.10
The list is based on Edubuntu 8.10 though. There does not seem to be an updated application list for 9.10 on the Edubuntu site.
 
Old 11-19-2009, 01:34 PM   #13
alnuemann
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Yes, we've seen Edubuntu however my kids just 'snicker' at it. (My 10th grader is already taking college-level courses and his younger sister is on a similar track.) It's really begun to look like I'll be piecing a system together to 'clone for each of them but I'm not certain Unbuntu will be the base OS. I have now seen a few system preloaded with a vast array of higher-level educational goods. i.e.: SkoleLinux (Norway), Quantian (although 3yrs outdated), and linux.softpedia.com appear to have a multitude of apps to choose from.
In any event, I think I have everything resolved here minus smoothly joining systems under a Win2003 domain.
Thanks for the input.
Al
 
  


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