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wongfoo 03-15-2006 07:29 AM

Questions about adding a second hard disk to install more distros
hi peeps

at the moment my setup is a dual boot xp & ubuntu system and I would like to try out some of the various other linux flavours to find out which one(s) I like best.

to do this Im planning on getting a second hard disk as a slave to the first one, where I want to install the other distros.

I have three partitions at the moment, one NTFS for win xp, one ext3 for ubuntu, and one shared FAT32.

my questions are:
  • will adding a second hard disk, just be like increasing the logical storage capacity of the first?
  • will other distros allow me to install them where I want? i.e. only take up a predetermined storage space.
  • i'm using grub to select between xp and ubuntu, how can I update or edit grub to select between all of the to be installed distros?

Thanks for any advice and similar experiences :)

slackhack 03-15-2006 07:32 AM

1. basically
2. yes
3. edit the /boot/grub/menu.1st file

acid_kewpie 03-15-2006 07:33 AM

1) what do you mean "increasing" ? you won't just get a single drive that's substantially bigger, unless you're using some for of LVM to abstract the filesystems from the physical devices.

2) yeah you'll be able to install wherever you want normally

3) that's the tricky bit really... generally i would say you should get the new bootloader to install into the /boot or / parititon of the new install, then manually add the bootloader entry to your primary grub.conf under ubuntu if you wish. as you've' got the bootloader installed firstly you will have a grub.conf from which you can take the required commands (assumign it IS grub of course) and 2ndly you could actually just make your main grub chainload to that parition and two seperate grub instances running to get to a new installed distro. depends what's easiest for you.

jonaskoelker 03-15-2006 07:36 AM

1) no, adding the second hard disk won't "magically look like" you've just added space to the first, in the sense that you can e.g. grow partitions across disk boundaries. However, you can create new partitions on the hard disk, mount them as regularly, boot from them, and basically do all the things you seem to want to do. AIUI, LVM can make the second hard disk look like an "extension" to the first.

2) Generally, yes--GNU/Linux is happy to be installed anywhere. XP wants to be on the master hard disk, but since that's what you plan to do, no problem. Otherwise, you can have grub lie to it to make it boot from slaves.

3) Add a section similar to the one(s) that boot your current kernel, but change (hd0,<whatever>) to (hd1,<probably something different>). See the grub manual (run "info grub").

hth --Jonas

wongfoo 03-15-2006 02:21 PM

thanks for the responses, really appreciate it.

what sized hard disk would you recommend for 8 or 9 distros? And what would be a decent sized partition for each?

jonaskoelker 03-15-2006 02:33 PM

I use around 15 GB for my non-personal files on my debian system. Allowing for a bit of variance, I'd say 20 GB per distro is enough for most. Multiplying, you get a 160 to 200 GB disk.

Also, by trying out many distros, do you have enough time to spend on each distro to really judge it? I'm just saying you should consider this--I haven't tried anything like it, so I won't know whether or not it's a good idea.

wongfoo 03-15-2006 02:39 PM

thats a good point - maybe 8 or 9 is too many, also since some of them are based on same cores eg. debian, etc.

what distros would you suggest would give me a flavour of the different available cores?

jonaskoelker 03-15-2006 02:50 PM

Some of the popular ones are the Red Hat ones, SuSE, Mandriva and Ubuntu. The less popular and more 'geeky' ones are Debian, Gentoo, and Slackware.

A good balanced selection of three of those (IMO) is SuSE, Ubuntu and Gentoo.

wongfoo 03-15-2006 02:53 PM

thanks for the input jonas, i'm already using ubuntu though am still a newbie.

jonaskoelker 03-15-2006 03:00 PM

hmm... then try out Debian istead (and possibly.. hm... Mandrake?)

wongfoo 03-16-2006 10:04 AM

id appreciate more suggestions from experienced users who have tried out most distros.

can anyone suggest any additional sites (apart for linux questions) that provide good side-by-side comparisons or reviews of all distros?

thanks peeps.

jonaskoelker 03-16-2006 11:32 AM


wongfoo 03-17-2006 11:26 AM

at the moment theres a single swap for ubuntu. would I need swap partitions for each of the other distros to be installed?

saikee 03-17-2006 11:42 AM

This should satisfy all your needs.

If you get stuck the tools are here to get you out in one piece.

jonaskoelker 03-18-2006 04:07 AM

Assuming that you're not going to run multiple distros simultaneously, no: using the same swap partition for all distros is a safe (and good!) optimization, AFAICT.

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