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Old 05-29-2006, 06:16 PM   #1
Registered: May 2006
Distribution: Ubuntu 8.04
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I have never partitioned a drive that is already being used. I had this belief that that was something that was normally done right after the hard disk was initially formatted. I suppose that is primarily an issue of semantics and incomparable functionality between Windows and Linux. Is it really necessary to physically go through the motions of creating partitions?

Is it possible for a distro to form its own partition, solely for the space needed to store its software, enlarging its own partition as needed as other components are added, but leaving the rest of the free space as a distinct, separate partition? Does it already do this without even thinking about it?

I am trying out this Live Knoppix CD, but fairly soon, I will be using a full distro package and I am not sure how it will behave differently, at least in this aspect.

Next question is, once I install a new full-fledged distro, will I just be able to delete all of the old Windows software with the touch of a button, not having to mess with partitions unless I want to try a different distro or something like that?

Last edited by agentchange; 05-29-2006 at 06:31 PM.
Old 05-29-2006, 06:38 PM   #2
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I am not totally sure what your question is, but I will offer this.

If you are going to install a distro and you are NOT going to dual boot (with Windows) you do not need to worry about removing windows. That option will be offered when you install your distro.

If you do plan to dual boot, you will need to make room for Linux by partitioning. If you can tell us exactly what your plans are, we can offer some specific advice.

Hope this helps

Old 05-29-2006, 06:40 PM   #3
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I'm not totally clear on your question, but I think this is the answer...

You will always need to have partitions--nothing happens on a hard disk without at least one. Depending on the installer, you might not ever need to THINK about them. For example, Windows will happily take your whole disk and make one big partition for itself. It does offer other options.

Linux installers will typically give you a variety of choices (including taking the whole disk).

After you create a partition, you have to set up the file system. (Windows calls this "formatting"). In Linux, you can choose among several options.

Once you have created one or more partitions, the OS will not dynamically adjust them to fit it's needs.

With all this in mind, tell us more about exactly what you want to do, and we can give more specific help.
Old 05-29-2006, 06:50 PM   #4
Registered: May 2006
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I don't want to mess with dual boots. I am going to completey disassociate myself with Windows and, so far, this experience has been user-friendly enough for me to do what I need with my level of understanding.

When it offers me the option to remove Windows, will it format the entire drive, or leave the things that I want to save?

I don't really see the need to create partitions. I can live with one partition. Is it possible to go back and change the size of a partition, say, if I want to try out another distro on the side?

I am probably going to use a Suse distro, since that seems to be a good quality distro with few headaches associated with it.

Last edited by agentchange; 05-29-2006 at 06:51 PM.
Old 05-29-2006, 07:07 PM   #5
Registered: May 2006
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Then again, maybe I am not in such a hurry and dual-booting would be a good failsafe, even though most of my hardware seems easy to use in Knoppix. Is it as simple as not deciding to delete Windows when installing Suse?

After I do decide to ditch Windows, is it as simple as deleting files?
Old 05-29-2006, 07:53 PM   #6
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Partitions are sections of your hard drive into which your data is written. They are fixed in size, and do not dynamically enlarge themselves or shrink. In other words, think of a partition as a glass bottle - it may contain a full liter of water, it may be half-full, or it may be nearly empty. Regardless, the bottle itself is always the same size. Partitions are the same way - regardless of how much data they may contain, they themselves are a constant size.

To illustrate things more concretely, if you had a 20G partition, regardless of whether it contained 1G of data or 19G of data, it's still a 20G partition. Your question is still unclear, but if you are trying to set up a dual boot Linux partition on a Windows drive, then Yes, you will need to do some partitioning work.
Old 05-29-2006, 08:19 PM   #7
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I'd recommend keeping windows around just in case you encounter something that needs windows and you can't get it to work through wine. You have it already, so unless you're short on hard drive space it doesn't hurt much to have it hanging around just in case.

The exact process of creating partitions varies between different distros, and I haven't used Suse so I can't tell you much. But based on the ones I have used there's usually options to install using the whole drive as a single partition, another to create a partition in all the free space not being used by windows, and a third to choose your own setup of partitions. The more advanced distros I've tried just go straight to what the others give as this third option. Another option since you're already using knoppix is to use this to partion ahead of time, and just use the installer to assing identities of the partitions. I believe knoppix has a program called qparted which can do this.

If you get rid of windows it will be the same result as if you were to reformat the drive, so you would lose anything on the disk if it's not been backed up. It's proably smart to backup important files even if you are keeping windows, just in case something bad happens.

Even if you do decide to have just have linux I'd reccommend having multiple partitions. You'll at least want a small partition for swap, which is basically like giving yourself a little extra RAM. It's usually recommended to have twice the RAM size for swap, though you can probably get away with less. I have equal amounts RAM and swap, which is 512MB each. I like having a seperate partition for my home folder, which will have all your personal files and settings. This makes it easier if you have to reinsatll for some reason, since you don't lose all of these files. If you keep windows it would be good to have some partition that has fat32 format. Linux can't write to NTFS which is what XP uses by default, but both windows and linux can read and write to FAT partitions fine, so you can use this to transfer access files that you might want to use in both systems. I also use a seperate /boot, so I can use a common partition for both distros on my computer.

After the install you can create new partitions in your free space if you want, though the disk can't be in use, so you would have to do this either through a liveCD or through the installer of a new distro.


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