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Old 03-30-2004, 03:27 AM   #1
Eury
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Need help on dual OS setup and filesystems


Greetings,
I'm using currently Windows XP Pro that is installed on my 36.7 GB Raptor, and I got also another SATA drive that is a Maxtor on 250 GB.

I'm going to install Linux for the first time (Mepis to be more precise, I would love Gentoo but I think Mepis is a bit better for a newbie) and I got a few questions:

How should I setup all partitions?
I was thinking about splitting the Raptor pretty much in two having Win XP on a half and the Linux with boot/root and swap partition on the other.
Do you people recommend having difference partitions for boot and root or is it fine to just run them from the same partition (and if I should have them separated how big should the boot drive be?) Should I also put the Linux partitions on different hard drives performance wise, like having the swap on my other hard drive?

About file systems, which ones to use?
I was thinking about still going NTFS for the Windows XP partition, running ReiserFS for all Linux partitions and then for the other hard drive Fat32. But I wasn't too found on making 250gb to Fat32 (storage lost), but then a friend told me that it exist a pretty stable system driver for ext2 to windows at tuningsoft.com/projects/projects.htm#ext2fsd (You have to add www before that adress, I'm not allowed to post urls yet) so now I'm thinking about going ext2. I would however prefer ext3 or XFS, but I'm unable to find a driver for windows that supports both read and write, so I guess support for those file systems under windows aren't done yet. :/
I might add that the 250 GB disk I will only use for multimedia files.

In summary here is my dual OS setup I'm thinking of...

On the Raptor:
  • C: - Win XP partition using NTFS at 10 GB
    D: - DVD-ROM drive
    E: - Linux Boot/root drive using ReiserFS at ~25 GB
    F: - Linux swap drive using ReiserFS at 1gb (I have 512 in RAM and I don't think I need to swap more than twice that amount.)
On the 250 GB:
  • G: - Storage partition using ext2 at 250 GB

I'm installing Linux for fun mostly however I'm planning to do as much work as possible in Linux from real work to gaming (I hope Winex is good...).

Well I would appreciate every little bit of assistance you can give a Linux newbie like me.
Regards,
 
Old 03-30-2004, 04:21 AM   #2
Punboy
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I would use a journalled filesystem for your storage partition for one. Think ext3 (slow) or reiserfs (fast), or even NTFS and upgrade your linux kernel to 2.6 after you install (It has non-dangerous r/w support for even XP versions of NTFS).

I would put the swap on a separate drive, for the performance issue, unless the drive is on the same IDE channel in which case it won't make too big of a difference.

If you want to go a realllllly nice, fast system Gentoo would be great. As a matter of fact, that's what i'm on now! wheee.....

Anyway, so Set up your partitions the way you said, except put the swap on the 250 gig drive.

When fdisking the 250GB drive, keep in mind that Windows XP only allows "primary" partitions in the first 120GB of the drive, so I would make the swap a primary and the rest an extended partition. I would also recommend using NTFS on that partition to you can access it in both Windows and Linux with no hassle (except maybe upgrading your kernel, which isn't hard. ask if you need help with that).

I don't know if you were planning on reinstalling WinXP, but if it's already installed you can defrag the WinXP partition and resize it. I think knoppix may have the utils, and I know the SuSE 9 Pro install CD does. You can probably go find the tools and put them on a knoppix or equivalent CD yourself. Then you don't lose the XP stuff you already have.

When setting up the dual boot, make sure you leave the boot sector on the Windows partition intact! Instead install the bootloader onto the Linux partition, and set the boot flag to that partition instead (fdisk interactive mode, hit a to toggle boot flag). Otherwise you will have to insert the windows XP cd and do a recovery. Big hassle, big waste of time.

As far as a separate boot partition, doesn't really matter IMO. If you have any other questions, just ask.

*Post-post note: I would also consider making a separate "/home" partition on the 250GB drive, using reiserfs or ext3. This way if anything ever happens to your main install your home directory is safe.

Last edited by Punboy; 03-30-2004 at 04:23 AM.
 
Old 03-30-2004, 04:57 AM   #3
Eury
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To begin with thanks for the all the help Punboy.

Well I will use partition magic to create the partitions before I install Linux, also if I remember right it is fairly easy to resize NTFS partitions and it even got a special option to create and install an another OS on the same hard drive as windows, so that shouldn't be a problem.

About file systems yeah a journalled file system would be faster however the thing is that I want to be able to both read and write under Linux and Windows, the only alternative left for me then is fat32 or ext2 it seems...

Well perhaps I'm too greedy and should settle with having separated windows and linux partitions...

About Gentoo, I love the desciption that I have read about it, but I got the impression that I might be better off with Mepist if I don't know anything about linux beforehand.

Last edited by Eury; 03-30-2004 at 05:00 AM.
 
Old 03-30-2004, 05:10 AM   #4
Punboy
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if you get the 2.6 linux kernel you can read/write the NTFS partition in linux safely. That's what i do.

And your welcome.
 
Old 03-30-2004, 05:16 AM   #5
motub
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So... basically you're planning to install Linux but access its data and files from Windows? Why else would you need an ext2 driver for WinXP? For all of that, you might as well lay out for VMWare or Win4Lin or something.

It's your PC of course, but I myself wouldn't go installing some strange drivers under Windows under any circumstances-- and definitely not for this, since the other only reason you might need them is to prevent XP from trying to give the Linux partitions drive letters at Windows load, which it will fail to do because it will have no filesystem drivers. However Windows will not even attempt this if the Linux partitions are extended/logical rather than primary in the first place, which is a much safer solution overall than to install unknown filesystem drivers under Windows, especially when there is little to no reason to access Linux files under Windows (applications won't run, shared data can and should be saved to a shared partition that Windows recognizes natively, and if you actually need to edit Linux system files because Linux won't boot, your distributions Rescue CD or running Mepis as a Live CD works perfectly well to do that).

On the rare occasions that you might actually need to read Linux files under Windows (because you want to post the contents of /etc/X11/XF86Config here so we can help you with a problem, and you happen to be in Windows) Explore2fs is an excellent file manager which runs under Windows to read ext2 and ext3 perfectly well (I use it). Explore2fs does not read Reiserfs and will not in the future, so if you expect to be using it a lot, Reiserfs and beyond are still out, but at least you can have a journalling fs (ext3) under Linux.

Linux swap cannot be Reiser-- there is a specific filesystem for the swap partition (Linux swap), and you will be required to use this.

On the whole, I think you're trying to do too much with too little knowledge of the system(s) you're working with, how they interact, and how you will be needing to use them.

I would suggest using the Mepis CD live (running from CD) for a while to get more familiar with what Linux can do, and how you're likely to want to be using it before risking messing up your XP install (which is atm clearly more important than any possible Linux install--especially since you're just installing Linux "for fun") with outside filesystem drivers solely because you can't get a small enough cluster size to avoid wasted space, or are unwilling to partition the 250GB drive to separate your stored data into "I need this accessible on both OSes" and "I only need this on one OS" groups.

Knowing why you're doing what you're doing, and partitioning appropriately is the most important step in any install of Linux, and while most new users make a few mistakes along the way and wind up repartitioning and reinstalling several times before getting it right (I sure did), the setup you're proposing risks your data on that 250 GB (who is to say that these drivers will read/write every kind of file you're storing on that drive reliably? Who's to say that an update of WinXP won't corrupt the driver, and thus your filesystem or partition table?) and risking data is imo absolutely unacceptable.

But that's just my 0.02 cents-- it's your PC, and maybe you're willing to bet 250GB of data on being a beta tester for this driver, for "fun". If so, more power to you.
 
Old 03-30-2004, 05:17 AM   #6
Eury
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I thought the writing support for NTFS in 2.6 was still very limited, you can only overwrite files that are in the same size, and if they mean same size down to the byte you can't do more than pretty much writing over a file with the same file again, that was what I thought at least.
 
Old 03-30-2004, 05:23 AM   #7
Punboy
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I'm running Linux 2.6.3-gentoo-r1 and it has FULL write support. i can create and delete directories, files of any size....... etc.

And to that other guy:

I think Eury just wants to be able to read-write media, etc... from both linux and windows..... on that 250GB partition. Hence the 2.6 kernel with its NTFS write support, and the 250GB partition being formatted ntfs, would be the best solution. its free. it delivers. omg, its heaven? please correct me if you have any evidence that this solution will not work, or that yours is a better one. Also, VMWare is very very slow compared to running windows by itself. The only real advantage is that you can run both simultaneously.

Also, Eury, if i'm wrong as to your intentions please let me know.

Last edited by Punboy; 03-30-2004 at 05:28 AM.
 
Old 03-30-2004, 05:32 AM   #8
Eury
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motub thanks for your concern, very valid one I might add.

About file systems, yeah I have begin to change my mind about it, having a fat32 as a "swap drive" or bridge between windows and linux is probably the way to go.

Of course when doing anything remotely as big as installing another OS I will backup all the data that is important, that is a given for me even though sadly many people doesn't do that.

Also I'm not installing this purely for fun even though it is a big part of it - for what I have gathered linux is still a server OS and most desktop users installs linux for fun - I'm about to get myself a server later this year and considering running linux on it, it would be pretty good if I could use Linux by then.
 
Old 03-30-2004, 05:41 AM   #9
Eury
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Punboy that is exactly what I want, didn't knew though that Linux had anything even near to full NTFS support, it must be quite risky though but perhaps not more than installing ext2 drivers under windows as motub pointed out. However 250 GB is quite much data, even though most of it is multimedia files, so I'm perhaps willing to take the chance if it is quite stable, if bad things happend I guess I just have to rip everything again, pretty time consuming but I won't end up losing any data at least.
 
Old 03-30-2004, 05:42 AM   #10
Punboy
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Lol.... linux is also now a MAJOR desktop OS. Look at IBM and HP, they are setting up to offer SuSE Linux on their desktops.

Anyway, Fat32 would work, although you have a greater chance of something going wrong with your data if there's a power failure. NTFS is journaled, so there's a much smaller chance of anything going wrong if not "properly unmounted"
 
Old 03-30-2004, 05:47 AM   #11
Eury
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I want to know more about this NTFS full write support, is it gentoo only or is it in all 2.6.3 kenels and how stable is it really?
 
Old 03-30-2004, 06:00 AM   #12
Punboy
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its in all 2.6.3 kernels, and so far I have had no problems with it. It was tested by the kernel developers extensively. They wouldn't say it was safe unless it really was.
 
Old 03-30-2004, 06:38 AM   #13
motub
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Quote:
for what I have gathered linux is still a server OS and most desktop users installs linux for fun
Not true, exactly. Linux was pretty much created as a server OS, and its use as a desktop OS is relatively new, that is true. And because of this, it is not "perfect" as a desktop OS (if one considers the example of Windows "perfect") -- but Windows has had over 10 years to refine itself as a desktop OS and Linux has been working on this for much fewer.

But in those signicantly fewer years, Linux has become a strong enough desktop OS that governments and businesses use it happily-- the obstacle now is home desktop users, who are an entirely different kettle of fish, with different needs-- and while we tend to think of ourselves as the most important market in terms of creating/refining a desktop OS, we totally are not, so our cries of "Linux is too hard for the "average" user!" and "Why can't I easily set up this extraordinarily bizarre configuration, with files shared between several OSes on the same PC plus across the network which runs several other OSes-- all of which need to be accessible to all possible users at all times-- plus have all my freaky hardware (digital cameras, USB Pen Drives-- which may again be formated with any number of filesystems-- gigabit ethernet cards, Radeons with TV-in, you name it) work perfectly, and plus I should also be able to play high-end games designed for a different OS under Linux perfectly, so why can't I, dammit??!!!" are usually met with a sigh and maybe some rolling of eyes.

But even so, you actually can do (most of) this, right now. Even though the Linux desktop is only a few years old and is not as "polished" as the Windows desktop (which is partially caused by an unfair advantage in the first place, and of course depends on one finding the Windows desktop "polished" in the second place, which many people don't). For myself, the only thing that I can't do atm is watch TV on my AIW Radeon 9800 SE (because the GATOS project is still working on drivers for the new RageTheater 200 chip, and when they have it working in a few months, I'll be able to do that, too). I can play 98% of my favorite games either through WineX, natively, or via Linux versions of console emulators-- but then, my needs are not that great, because I'm not the kind of home user who needs to play every single current game, and throws away all her old favorites, never to be seen again. Other home users are different, with different needs. Naturally I can do all the "normal" stuff-- surf, chat, write, open any kind of file, burn CDs, play DVDs and music, etc.

To be honest, if there wasn't 1 game that I play which will never work under Linux (the Sims + expansions), and a few which are supposed to work, but don't atm, and a few that I want to play in the near future which will not be supported for a while, I could have taken Windows off my system months ago. So it's not like I'm a Windows user "dabbling" in Linux for fun (no offence-- "for fun" is as good a reason as any, if it's your reason). I'm a Linux user who occasionally uses Windows for a couple of days for reasons (mostly) beyond my control (given that I'm not quite ready to change myself and give up playing the Sims forever-- but then again, that's my problem, not Linux's).

I think that the main issue is that long use of Windows tends to cause people to forget what "a whole different Operating System" really means. If the same people had bought a Mac, they would already understand that things were going to change significantly, and that they might have to give some things up that they currently loved using under Windows. For instance, I'm not sure, but Halo was not, afaik, released for the Mac as well as the PC. So if you were going to use OS X, you would have to accept that you were not going to be playing Halo. Period. Unless you wanted to also buy a console. But new Linux users migrating from Windows have, due to their inexperience, a strong tendency to behave as if installing and using a different OS (especially one that they just downloaded, for free) ought to be as simple and clear-cut as installing a graphics program. And it's just not.

So without meaning to disparage "for fun" as a valid reason to install another OS on a currently running system, side by side with a second, I have to object to it because it mininizes the importance and significance of such an undertaking. The undertaking itself is certainly not "fun" (you'll find that out soon enough, if you haven't already), although succeeding certainly is. And while there are a lot of new users here who are "experimenting" like you, I'm fairly sure that a large portion of the 103,626 members of this forum are using Linux on their desktops just normally, as their regular OS for their day-to-day use, and not as some sidebar to their "real" OS.

Sorry, but if you're around for a while, you'll get used to my general long-windedness .
 
Old 03-30-2004, 07:23 AM   #14
Eury
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Motub that was I meant however I used few and poor words to describe that, Linux haven't enter the mass market for home computers as now but is is coming thanks to easier configuration and more native support for hardware and software, that I like with linux that you still can maintain advanced distros like gentoo so it exist stuff for almost every kind of user.

I agree with you also about the satisfaction after succeeding in things, but the road or progress to that can also be fun even though it might be frustrated sometimes, but it will only add to the satisfaction in the end.

Your needs and usage of your computer sounds pretty similar to mine expectations what I will be doing when I have installed Linux, that is I'm serious considering to use linux more than just a "sidebar", if I get it to work that is, let us not skip too far ahead.

What I mean by fun was do I really need to use another OS than Windows with my current needs? Not really but I still want to check out Linux to see if I like it better or if it better suits my needs than Windows.

And by the way a post can't never be too long as long as you use sentences and paragraphs.
 
Old 03-30-2004, 07:53 AM   #15
motub
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Well, you've hit the most important question that anyone must answer before installing Linux (when they have a perfectly good Windows install), and that question is, Why am I doing this?

I've been through a whole lot of distros in the past year since I decided to try Linux; I've repartitioned and reinstalled these distros a whole lot (in fact, I'm about to try my first repartition on a working and running system without messing it all up-- cross your fingers), and I've done a lot of "crazy sh*t" that I didn't know if I could even do, and certainly wasn't supported by any fancy GUI tools, such as sharing mounted FAT32 partitions back to the network while making them accessible to both me and the network users but no one else-- which doesn't sound all that hard, until you add, "under a multiboot of 2 versions of Windows and 5 versions of Linux" (which was hard enough to set up in itself). Not to mention the challenge of mounting a shared Linux partition and making it accessible to me as a user under all 5 of those distros. Took a fair bit of man page reading, I can tell you that, but it's quite doable.

But if you don't know why you're putting yourself to all the trouble, trust me, you won't want to bother. After fighting to get Wine(X)/ your WinModem/your nVidia or ATI card/your printer/samba/sound working; suffering through dependency hell; breaking X because you tried to upgrade to KDE 3.2; figuring out how to make mounted files accessible to yourself as a user without breaking security too badly; installing the files necessary to get mp3 or dvd playback under those distros that don't include them; setting up Apache/MySQL/PHP/sendmail-- all while trying to learn how to navigate the system and use different programs to do the same old things you normally do-- believe me, unless you have a driving need or desire, it's much "easier" to just use Windows.

Maybe you want to learn, maybe you want to be different, maybe you've had enough of Microsoft and their policies. Whatever. I don't care, but you need to-- because you're risking screwing up your whole system (most likely only temporarily, but you can certainly do irreparable damage if you aren't careful, and let's face it, your system was working fine up to now, so even a temporary interruption in use is not really acceptable), and it's important to have a reason to take such a risk.

It really helps get you through the dark times-- and we are talking about a whole new operating system (see previous post), so dark times there will be.
 
  


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