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Old 11-12-2007, 08:09 PM   #1
Registered: Nov 2007
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Linux Partitions, Multiboot

Hi everyone.
I am trying to configure a multiboot system in my computer.
I have Windows XP installed in my computer and my next step will be to install Fedora 8 Linux distro. Now I have to consider partitioning the hard disk keeping in mind that I want install another Linux distro (Debian Etch) later continuing to use XP.
What partitions should be primary and why? What is RAID? Shoud I create a RAID partition? Why? what is the size? What partitions should be LVM and why, and what are the advantages?How can I specify that a partition is primary using Disk Druid?
I know I can configure only three partitions besides Windows partition: /boot, / and swap. But I know that for security reasons, upgrade reasons etc, it`s not good. What the difference between to create several partitions for different purposes and the simple configuration referred initially? What happens if a partition is filled up? what are all the options for partitioning and the advantages? how can I preview the size of the partitions being a Linux newbie (can you give me an advice, to get the most of my operating system and to economize my tight HDD space - 40 GB)?
If I create a swap partition for for Fedora should I create another swap partition for Debian after?
What are the partitions that can be used mutually by Fedora and Debian?
I want to creat a partition that is accessible to read and write by XP, Debian and Fedora, should the file system be VFAT? VFAT32? can I create this partition during Fedora installation? What mounting point should I use?

Thanks in Advance.

Last edited by Kryptos; 11-12-2007 at 09:01 PM.
Old 11-12-2007, 11:04 PM   #2
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With the 30GB hard drive on my Dell laptop I left the Dell recovery partition alone and resized the OEM XP to 10GB. I created a 2GB FAT32 partition to share files. That takes care of 3 primary partitions. I created an extended partition from the last primary and added a Linux swap (2x RAM) and 2 Linux root partitions of about 7GB.

The minimum for your setup is 4 partitions. Windows, shared Linux swap, 2 Linux root. If you use that they can all be primary. If you add so much as one more you need to use an extended partition. Since Linux is happy on logical partitions, all Linux partitions can be logical partitions.

Creating a partition to share files was more necessary when Linux could not write to NTFS. Now Linux has ntfs-3g and can write as well as read NTFS partitions. You can now read from and write to Windows from Linux. There would be no problem with creating a shared FAT32 partition to share if you wanted.

I have not used RAID or LVM yet.

I use the command line cfdisk for partitioning but some other utility is required for resizing.

For all my home use Linux installs I use only a swap and root partition. For other uses I have added additional partitions. On a larger drive I use a data partition and on a smaller just backup to CD as needed.

Maybe this answers some of your questions?
Old 11-12-2007, 11:26 PM   #3
Wim Sturkenboom
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You only need one primary partition, the rest can be logical partitions within the extended partition. I usually create three primary partitions before I start using the logical ones. Windows might want to be installed on a primary, not sure.

For RAID, check wikipedia (google e.g. for wiki raid). It's a way of combining harddisks to create a larger capapcity disk and/or to add redundancy). You do not need it unless reliability of the system is of utmost importance (server setups usually).

LVM stands for logical volume manager and allows you to expand a partition at a later stage (i.e. run out of space on the /home partition, add a new disk and add it to the LVM). No experience but there might be a problem if it breaks.

Partitioning has the advantage that you will not bring the whole system down if a partition fills up and that it's more likely that you don't necessarily loose data if you have to re-install. The disadvantage is that you will loose space (i.e. /home or my documents partition is full while there is still plenty of space on the root partition)

I'm not familiar with diskdruid, but I'm quite sure that it's reasonable obvious how to indicate that a partition is primary, extended or logical

The swap can be shared between the linux distros.

Nowadays it seems to be possible to reliably read/write NTFS. I still don't trust it and therefore have a FAT32 partition for the shared partition. Others might have a different opinion. I would format it under Windows although one should be able to do it under Linux as well.

Sharing the home directory between two distributions is a tricky business; I strongly advise against it.
First of all, user IDs in the two distro's might not match so one can not access it from within one of the distros.
Further different desktops might interfere with each other's configuration and different versions of software might interfere with each other's configuration.
You switch in FC8 to the KDE desktop and next boot into debian (which might use gnome only, not sure). What will happen is that debian will try to load KDE but does not have the necessary files).
If both use different versions of e.g. evolution (an email client), you might run into compatibility issues (different file formats).

Your disk is quite small and therefore I would only create two root partitions and a swap for the Linux part.
I assume that Windows will be your main OS and that FC8 and Deb are there to become familiar with Linux. In that case, I would setup the following scheme
  • windows partition, 5 .. 10 GB NTFS (includes programs, pagefile, temp)
  • windows my documents, 10 .. 20 GB NTFS (if you have to re-install windows, you don't loose your data)
  • shared, optional, size to your liking, FAT32
Assuming 10 GB for WinXP, 15 GB for my documents and 2GB for shared, we're on a total of 27 GB
  • swap (2x memory with a max of 1GB)
  • linux root partition for FC8
  • linux home partition for FC8, preferred but not feasable in my opinion in your setup
  • linux root partition for Deb
  • linux home partition for Deb, preferred but not feasable in my opinion in your setup

I will make the first three partitions primary and the rest logical.

Subtracting the swap (1 GB) from the available space leaves you with 12 GB for 2 Linux distros.
I don't have experience with either FC8 or Deb, so can not really advise on the size of the partitions. However, FC8 is probably quite big and therefore should get some more space. Debian is probably quite slim and can have a bit less space. I would probably divide the remaining 12 GB into a 7/5 for FC8/Deb.
Others with experience with those distros might be able to advise more accurately.

Last edited by Wim Sturkenboom; 11-12-2007 at 11:29 PM.


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