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Installing Linux on a new SSD (in a desktop PC with a second hard drive)

Posted 02-08-2016 at 09:31 AM by beachboy2
Updated 07-21-2017 at 02:16 AM by beachboy2

If, like me, you have a lot of data and a suitable conventional hard drive (HDD), then I recommend that you just buy the smallest, good-quality SSD you can find.

30GB or 60GB is more than enough to accommodate a Linux distro.

6 SSDs to consider:

NB Do bear in mind that cheaper, smaller capacity versions of the these drives are available in addition to the featured ones.

See the original LQ thread and further details about SSDs at:

This blog features a fresh installation of Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon 64 bit onto a 120GB Samsung 850 SSD in a desktop PC, which has a 1TB HDD as a second drive for data storage.

The HDD is called drive2 and the username is jimmy.
Please change these to your own details.

NB BACKUP all personal data before proceeding with a change of drive!

Open the case of the desktop PC and locate the internal SATA 3 (or SATA 2) ports on the motherboard. Connect the SSD to port 0 and HDD to port 1, using either SATA 3 or SATA 2 cables.

SATA 2 ports/cables are rated at 3 Gbps and SATA 3 are rated at 6 Gbps.
Don't worry if your motherboard only has SATA 2 ports, or you have lost the SATA 3 cables for your SATA 3 port motherboard, because the SSD is so fast, you will hardly notice.
SATA 3 cables are cheap in any event.

Using gparted, or similar partitioning software, partition both of the drives:

SSD (sda)
Suggested partitions:
root.......15GB to 20GB (ext4), swap 2GB, /home for the remainder (ext4)

Format the whole partition (sdb) to ext4.

Next, insert the Linux Mint 17.3 DVD, then reboot to install Mint 17.3.

Do Mint updates via Terminal:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
Next, find the UUID of the HDD. In Terminal, type:

sudo blkid
Copy the UUID of HDD:

Example: /dev/sdb1: UUID="94b3caef-4536-4ba6-ae70-44ca89bbdeb7"
NB Ignore the quotation marks when copying!

Then, create a new directory (drive2), followed by modifications to /etc/fstab file:

sudo mkdir /media/drive2
Next, modify the /etc/fstab file by pasting in the copied UUID (without quotation marks!) for the HDD:

gksudo gedit /etc/fstab

# /etc/fstab: static file system information.

# <file system> <mount point> <type> <options> <dump> <pass>

# /media/drive2 was on /dev/sdb1
UUID=94b3caef-4536-4ba6-ae70-44ca89bbdeb7 /media/drive2 ext4 defaults 0 2

# / (root) was on /dev/sda1 during installation
UUID=4a8455b4-7b5a-4365-9267-85bcaf551133 / ext4 errors=remount-ro 0 1

# /home was on /dev/sda6 during installation
UUID=2df03568-787c-418d-b6b5-21c262813c7c /home ext4 defaults 0 2

# swap was on /dev/sda5 during installation
UUID=17e15732-47dd-4661-8327-dbb4a90be070 none swap sw 0 0

NB Make sure all pass numbers are correct.

1 for root, 0 for swap, 0 or 2 for /home and drive2.

File > Save and Close.

Next, mount drive2:

sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /media/drive2
Then reboot:

sudo reboot
Next, give the user permission:

sudo chown -R jimmy:jimmy /media/drive2

First, create the following (7) directories on the HDD.
Go to the home folder on the SSD and find drive2. Right click inside drive2, then left click on “Create Folder”.

Create and name these folders:
Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Public, Templates, Videos.

Next, delete the existing, corresponding folders in the home directory on the SSD, but leave the Desktop folder untouched.

Note that ~ means /home/jimmy

sudo rmdir ~/Documents
sudo rmdir ~/Downloads
sudo rmdir ~/Music
sudo rmdir ~/Pictures
sudo rmdir ~/Public
sudo rmdir ~/Templates
sudo rmdir ~/Videos
Next, make the symbolic links:

cd ~
ln -s /media/drive2/Documents/ Documents
ln -s /media/drive2/Downloads/ Downloads
ln -s /media/drive2/Music/ Music
ln -s /media/drive2/Pictures/ Pictures
ln -s /media/drive2/Public/ Public
ln -s /media/drive2/Templates/ Templates
ln -s /media/drive2/Videos/ Videos
Next, do these 3 modifications:

1. Modify /etc/fstab file:

gksudo gedit /etc/fstab

Now add noatime to the line for your root partition and /home
but NOT to the line for the swap partition!

ext4       noatime,errors=remount-ro     0     1 
ext4       noatime,defaults              0     1
Save & Close.
2. Swappiness > Change to 1

Type in the terminal (use copy/paste):

gksudo gedit /etc/sysctl.conf
Press Enter.

Add the following lines, at the very end of the existing text in that file (use copy/paste to avoid errors):

# Sharply reduce swap inclination
Save & Close.

3. Change the Disk I/O scheduler to deadline for the SSD drive.

gksudo gedit /etc/default/grub


GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash elevator=deadline"
Save & exit.


sudo update-grub
General points with the latest (Feb 2016) SSDs:

1. There is no need to move /var, /tmp and others to the HDD.

2. As of Ubuntu 14.04, scheduled TRIM is enabled by default for Intel, Samsung, OCZ, Patriot and Sandisk SSDs, so there is no need to use discard.
NB For some Linux distros and other SSD manufacturers it may be necessary to manually run fstrim occasionally.

Here are three articles about using fstrim, which may be useful:

How to enable TRIM:

Optimise your Solid State Drive for Linux Mint 18.1, Ubuntu 16.04 and Debian:

Enable TRIM on SSD:
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