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Old 07-23-2007, 03:26 PM   #1
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Partitioning advice with new SATA drive, multiple OSs

Hi all,

Im getting ready to purchase and install a new SATA drive and would appreciate some feedback. I currently have two IDE drives: a 160 GB master drive that runs XP and an 80 GB slave drive that runs Slackware v. 11. Id like to keep XP as is, do a fresh install of Slackware 12 on the new SATA drive, set up some extra partitions for experimental play with other OSs, and remove the 80 GB drive altogether (after backing up my personal data). My main concern is the partitioning scheme, since its the one thing that cant get fooled with once the OSs are installed. My hardware and existing hda configuration is below, as well as my working model for the sda configuration.

MB: Soyo Dragon w/ VIA-KT600 chipset
Processor: AMD Athlon XP 2600
Memory: 1 GB Kingston (2 x 512 Mb)
Video: EVGA NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500 256 MB AGP
Existing Hard Drives: WD 1600JB IDE and WD 800JB IDE
Power Supply: Enermax Whisper II 535W
New SATA Hard Drive: Western Digital SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA

Existing IDE Drive (installed)
hda1: Primary NTFS, 20GB
hda2: Primary NTFS, 40GB
hda3: Primary NTFS, 75GB
hda4: Primary FAT32, 20GB

New SATA Drive (not yet installed)
sda1: Primary - /boot (<1GB) (probably not in use)
sda2: Primary Swap (2GB)
sda3: Extended
sda4: Logical Slackware / (30 GB)
sda5: Logical Slackware /home (120GB)
sda6: Logical FreeBSD / (30GB)
sda7: Logical Debian / (30GB)
sda8: Logical other OS? (30GB)

I currently boot through the MBR of the Windows (hda) drive; I included a boot partition in the new SATA drive in case I can persuade my girlfriend to abandon Windows (Id rather not have to re-partition in the future just to add a boot partition). As far as I can tell, I should switch the setting on my IDE drive from Master to Single since the SATA drive will run through a separate interface. I thought about keeping the 80 GB IDE drive as a slave, wiping it clean, and formatting the whole thing to FAT32 as extra shared space between Linux and Windows, but am a little concerned about the power requirements and heat accumulation (even though I do have a fairly large case with a fan in front and back pushing air across the hard drives). Would keeping the 80GB drive be pushing it?

Unless another OS really hooks me, Slackware will be my primary workhorse everything else is just for fun. My plan is to install Slackware 12 first, set it up to boot with LILO, then bypass the boot installation in the other OSs, instead editing the LILO file by hand as required. I need to leave Windows alone altogether since I am not the sole user. My current scheme is a working model; any advice would be welcome especially if Im missing something and getting ready to walk backwards over a cliff! My space allocations are built around my limited experience and what others have suggested in this and similar forums; Id be curious to know what your approach would be in this situation.

Thanks everyone!
Old 07-23-2007, 03:55 PM   #2
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Why assign 30 GB to Slackware / ? I think 10 will be more than ample as long as /home is in a partition of its own. Just check the size of your current / and you'll see what I mean.

FreeBSD will not install with the proposed layout since it requires a primary partition, just as windows and solaris do.

Having a shared data partition may be more convenient than having huge home partitions for each. I have multiple OSes installed and my favorite layout is like this:
- /
- var
- tmp
and one shared boot partition, that's it. You may even want to include var & tmp in / so each OS has only one partition. Then I make one big data partition that I mount under the home partition of each OS - accessible to all, no mounting ever needed. Of course, /home itself will be under / in this scheme.

I hope this was helpful.

Last edited by jay73; 07-23-2007 at 03:56 PM.
Old 07-23-2007, 03:57 PM   #3
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As far as the jumper on the remaining IDE hard drive, check the label on the hard drive for the proper setting. I've run into problems when I thought that the jumper should be set to master to run alone when the drive manufacturer specified that it should be set to cable select. Follow the instructions on the label.
Old 07-23-2007, 03:58 PM   #4
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Few points of interest

(a) FreeBSD needs to be installed in a primary. It can't cope with living in a logical.

(b) All logicals start at the 5th position. If sda4 isn't used this primary partition is empty and will not appear.

(c) Put swap in sda5 is better instead of wasting a primary.

(d) You don't need a separate /boot partition. Just use any partition one that has Linux. I advocate one partition per Linux.

(e) Unless you build Grub into Slackware it is served by Lilo only. You can let any distro that has Grub to do the multi boot. Lilo can do it too. Just about twice more work.

(f) I would use the existing smaller IDE to store data in fat32.

(g) I recommend using cfdisk to do the partitioning and keep a copy of the partition table. You will find use round numbers, like 1000Mb, 20000Mb etc, for partition sizes will enable you to rebuild them a lot easier, if you have ever had the need.

My signiture has plenty tips may be of interest to you.

This and that are recent ones.

Last edited by saikee; 07-23-2007 at 04:01 PM.
Old 07-23-2007, 04:16 PM   #5
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I would keep one for /boot. But the size of 200meg would be plenty.

Old 07-23-2007, 04:22 PM   #6
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If one has a dozen distros the /boot is hellish to manage. Why not let each kernel and boot loader live in its own distro partition? That way you can boot the Linux directly, as using the /boot, and also indirectly by chainloading.

You can mix Lilo, Grub, NTLDR and the bootloader of FreeBSD too.

Anything a /boot can do one can do it with a single partition installation. /boot on its own is only useful if one use a LVM.

If the idea is to use one kernel to boot all Linux then one only need to specify the common kernel by the absolute name (including its partition reference).

Last edited by saikee; 07-23-2007 at 04:26 PM.
Old 07-23-2007, 04:27 PM   #7
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Thanks! I hadn't really looked into the requirements for BSD yet; by the time I had, I probably would have already partioned everything. Saved me a lot of trouble.

Having a large data partition mounted to the home directory sounds like the right ticket in this case. Simpler is better, after all. Thanks JayZ. I wanted to keep data from all the OSs (Linux and maybe BSD, at least) in the same place, but didn't want a shared /home directory because of problems with one OS changing the settings of another OS; I'd read that a shared /home can spell trouble. The mounted directory inside the /home directory, though, seems ideal.

Thanks for the links Saikee, and the Swap recommendation. I don't know why I was thinking that Swap was better utilized as a primary. It dones't really make sense that it would.

You all are great
Old 07-23-2007, 05:31 PM   #8
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One final remark about the data partition: make sure your users have the same UID. If you have 500 on one system and 1000 on another, you'll find yourself struggling with permission issues half of the time. Just make sure you assign the same uid on all your distros.


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