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michapma 09-23-2004 05:04 AM

Booting concept -- from Win32, pri/log partitions
Hi all,

I have a fairly specific question. Last year after purchasing a second IDE harddrive (80GB), I installed my Windows (2k & XP) on that one, making it the master (hda), and also made a FAT32 partition for file sharing. I then placed the older disk (40GB) in the slave position (hdb) and installed SuSE 8.0. So far, so good.

Except that now I've installed Debian and found out that I am running into difficulty with the division into primary and logical partitions. When I installed SuSE, I didn't know what I was really doing and made 3 partitions. As you know, hd*1-4 are primary partitions:

hdb1: swap paritition, 1GB
hdb2: Linux Reiser, 11-12GB
hdb3: Linux Reiser, 11-12GB (the bootable one, I think)

This left only Debian for me. I wanted to try to use the fourth primary partition for the Debian root mount point. cfdisk would let me do this, but after partitioning the fourth primary, I could then no longer create any additional logical partitions! So I had to resort to create all of my Debian partitions as logical partitions: /, /usr, /home, /home2, /var, /tmp and the (second) swap. This works, so I went ahead and wrote these partitions and installed Debian 3.0r2. I got a warning though that MSDOS can't boot into a logical partition.

The way I boot SuSE is by using the Win2k boot manager in the MBR, installing LILO into the SuSE root partition, and copying the LILO boot sector into a *.lin file, copying it into C:\ and editing boot.ini to find it. I want to do the same thing for Debian, but there is that catch. Translating from my SuSE 8.0 manual:

"Be careful with the wish to make a logical Linux partition startable by installing LILO there: it often works fine, but even when your other boot manager could start logical partitions, success is for now not guaranteed."

Okay, so I have two problems: 1) Windows can probably not boot (start, point to?) the logical partition, 2) it might not work for Debian even if Windows can, despite that warning being for SuSE 8.0.

So what would I have to do in this situtation? For the time being I can boot into Debian with my boot floppy, and you know how reliable that is. If the floppy failed at this point, I'd probably just reinstall Debian -- that would be the fastest thing. Note that I haven't actually tried anything yet; my time to work on it is limited, and I'm trying to gather ideas in advance.

Eventually I will replace my SuSE partitions, especially if I update to SuSE 9.X. Although it has been installed for nearly a year, there isn't any actual valuable data on those partitions, I just didn't have the heart to get rid of the installation because I sweat over it so much last year getting the mouse, graphics, Internet and sound working, and it's the only Linux I currently have with a graphical interface. (Practically a catch-22 for the moment.)

One idea is to reformat the swap partition of hdb1. I could put the Debian root partition in that primary partition and let SuSE and Debian share a swap partition mounted on a logical partition. The reason I haven't done this (would it require a reinstall of Debian to move the root like that?) is because I wasn't sure how to reconfigure SuSE to find the new swap partition. I suppose that if I transplanted the Debian root and booted SuSE, SuSE wouldn't find its swap partition and would ask me to initialize a new one, allowing me to specify the current Debian partition.

Ideas, comments, laughter at my predicament? :)


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