-   Linux - Newbie (
-   -   Dual Boot on Dual HDD's (

redmoon 01-29-2005 10:57 PM

Dual Boot on Dual HDD's

I have an 80GB HDD with XP Pro installed on it (NTFS). I have a secondary 40GB HDD on which I wish to install Suse 9.2 Pro on. What is the best way to install Suse 9.2 so that I can still share (read/write) files between the 2 OS's with ease - until I become accustomed with Suse and dump XP ;) - ie. what partitions do I need to create on the 40GB HDD so that Suse and XP can co-exist for a while?


linuxLuser 01-30-2005 12:17 AM

I'm not familiar with Suse's installation but you shouldn't have any problems just telling it that you want to install it on the second drive.

For a basic linux installation you need at least two partitions: one for the system and another for the SWAP. Linux basically requires a separate partition for doing memory swapping, about 500 MB is good (OK, technically Linux doesn't make you do anything really, but for simplicity's sake, you need a separate partition for swapping). The system partition should be an ext3 filesystem, and the swap should be...well, the SWAP filesystem.
Anyway...I usually manually do the partition stuff instead of just telling setup to "autodetect" everything. It's not hard to do it "manually" and you get to see how your system is setup (topologically anyway). When it comes time to install a boot loader (usually one of the last things you do), you should tell it to write to the MBR (master boot record) of the first disk (primary IDE). This will make your computer boot into the bootloader (probably GRUB) before anything else, from which you'll be able to setup an option to boot into Windows (called chainloading) or into linux.

As far as the NTFS thing, you'll probably have to manually write this into the /etc/fstab file

/dev/hda1    /winxp    ntfs    ro,defaults  0  0
or something similar (if you need specific help with this, you'll need to post your /etc/fstab file and ask what to put in it). But be warned:
OK, again, this isn't entirely true...but for starters it is. Because NTFS is proprietary and it's exact code specifications are not for public viewing, writing to NTFS in linux is experimental and probably not even possible with the default kernel of Suse. The best (safest) way to write to NTFS is to use a program called "Captive NTFS". But that's another topic.

Holla, if things are unclear.

-- the dudeman

redmoon 01-30-2005 12:31 AM

Hey dudeman,

cheers for the info. I have recently installed the older suse 9.1 and had that running as a dual boot alongside XP fine. The problem is however that XP does not recognise the 40GB HDD anymore (the one with suse 9.1 installed) - does not show up in 'My Computer' - I just pointed Suse to the blank 40GB HDD dring install and it took care of the rest (set up the OS on the drive and organised the boot option screen for windows or linux - was really pretty straight forward). I am going to be installing a fresh version of Suse (9.2) soon and was really wondering if I need to partition the 40GB as maybe two FAT32 partitions and install Suse to one of the partitions and reserve the other FAT32 partition as a type of intermediate swap directory between XP and Suse. Is this a good option or even possible? if not, what is the workaround?


linuxLuser 01-30-2005 01:06 AM

You're not going to like it, but the answer is "DON'T DO IT" and "it still is possible".

If you're going to reinstall windows so you can get better read/write capabilities, by all means format it as FAT32. IMO FAT32 is slower and not as secure as NTFS, but usually you can't notice these things on a winXP machine anyway (at least I never have). That's just my opinion.

As far as making the second drive a FAT32 filesystem just so you can see it from windows is kind of nuts if you ask me. There are better ways. Before I explain them, though, I will say it's possible...but probably not with Suse. There are other distributions that you would have to use to install a full Linux system on FAT32:

A list from

Now for a better way. Install Linux on an ext3 filesystem. Boot into windows and install
explore2fs. Then you'll be able to see your linux files, even copy them to and from your windows system, and you won't have to cripple Linux to do it :) (note that write support is included but not recommended yet).

I hope that answers your question and I'm glad that Suse was able to set things up automagically for you.

-- the dudeman

Tuvok 01-30-2005 01:13 AM


Originally posted by redmoon
I am going to be installing a fresh version of Suse (9.2) soon and was really wondering if I need to partition the 40GB as maybe two FAT32 partitions and install Suse to one of the partitions and reserve the other FAT32 partition as a type of intermediate swap directory between XP and Suse. Is this a good option or even possible?
It's a good option. Many users who dualboot do that. It works.

JimBass 01-30-2005 01:52 AM

Another simple solution would be to create a single partition on the 40 gig that has a fat32 filesystem. There is no rule that all of your partitions need to be formatted in the same way. You still would have the ext 3 system for the Suse install, and swap for swap, but you could easily create a 3rd partition that is partitioned with fat32 or vfat. I would think 10 gig is plenty large enough, and both window$ and linux can read and write to it. That is (to my mind at least) simplest. The link provided by LinuxLuser might be easiest, but I have never seen or tried that. You would have to edit /etc/fstab to show linux how to mount the fat drive and what to name it, but that is very easy. You can find plenty of info on that by searching the forums here.


The Deserter 01-30-2005 04:40 PM

the thing we should say first, is remember linux do not recognise NTFS, and it is the case for all of the distros, but it work fine with fat and fat 32
I do not know what knowledge you have about linux but i assume you know how many partitions it needs, /boot,/, swap part double of your ram, exemple: 128 ram, /swap 256,
for win you can format the part you will install it in with NTFS, you do not need to access it from Lin, then the partition you install in your soft and data with fat 32 that linux recognise , ok
there you are,
go to /etc/fstab , open it you will find something like that:
(I m not used to Suse", only RH, but i assume they are the same, check man fstab for further infos)
LABEL=/BOOT /BOOT ..........the boot partition, if you have it!.
LABEL=/ / ....... the linux part
...... cdrom knock hardware manager, look for hard disk
you will see hda1, hda2....... and their format, ok once you know what is the name of your FAT 32 part add the following line

(x1= a or b or c depending on your hard disk installation, x2 number off the part assume it hda4)
/dev/hda4 /home/fat32 msdos,rw,auto,user
home/fat32 the name given for the mointing rep, for me Labos lol, you can make what you want
msdos =type,
rw= read and write, ro read only
auto = mouting on boot, noauto, the opposite
user= accessible for all the user,or root= if you love

NB: if the first line is LABEL=/boot˛ replace it by its device name /dev/hdxx i think now you know xx, and do so for /LABEL=/

redmoon 01-31-2005 06:53 AM

Excellent. Thankyou for your advice people. Your time and knowledge is much appreciated :)

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:58 AM.