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lebabyg 03-31-2007 04:28 PM

Dual booting with more than one linux distro
Hey Guys,

Quick question: My laptop has buggy ACPI and so thermal management, but I have been told that Ubuntu feisty has necessary kernel patches in it's beta release to sort this out. I currently run Mandriva. My question is, if I wipe my current windows partition and install Ubuntu on it, is it possible to use my existing Home partition for both Mandriva AND Ubuntu?? A quick yes or no is appreciated, cos Ubuntu is downloading now!!!

MasterC 03-31-2007 06:55 PM


The long version:

Yes, but. The 2 distros, assuming they are relatively close in release cycles, will probably have the same packages and nearly the same package versions. However, the customizations (what lives in your home directory) will probably be different. So, you will probably not run into 'real' problems, but some of the looks of your distros may be different. So, you'll probably be fine, just be ready for some oddities.


jay73 03-31-2007 07:01 PM

There is an alternative solution (that I use myself) if you want to pare down the number of partitions without running into conflicts: leave a relatively small /home under / for all your distros and create one big partition that all your distros can share. Make your /homes large enough to hold what you need most urgently but small enough to make them unattrative as a permanent place for your personal stuff.

lebabyg 03-31-2007 08:08 PM

I like the sound of that Jay73. That makes the most sense I think. Cheers

Eqwatz 04-01-2007 06:43 PM

Share the /boot directory of the default distro. Copy all of the kernels (and initrds) into their own distro directories--ie /boot/slack, /boot/ubunto, /boot/Mandiva. Use grub as loader. Edit "menu.lst" appropriately; grub will parse directories if the path is given to the kernels and initrds. When the pivot_root thing goes on the kernel will read the specific "map" files from /boot in it's native "/" along with the init-scripts. If you want to go really crazy, do custom installations to make things identical and share much much more.

Easy way is to make an empty folder in each of the /home directories for all of your: sources, personal files, music, pictures, whatever else. Mount them at boot-up using fstab. Then, the only things that the individual /home directories have is the d*mned "." files. Remember to redo all of the settings for your Office, downloading software and other stuff to point to these mounted directories. You can set up one partition, mount it in fstab then: use the mount --bind option to remount the directories (also usable in fstab.)

Since Linux 2.4.0 it is possible to remount part of the file hierarchy
somewhere else. The call is
mount --bind olddir newdir
After this call the same contents is accessible in two places. One can
also remount a single file (on a single file).

This call attaches only (part of) a single filesystem, not possible
submounts. The entire file hierarchy including submounts is attached a
second place using
mount --rbind olddir newdir

Note that the filesystem mount options will remain the same as those on
the original mount point, and cannot be changed by passing the -o
option along with --bind/--rbind.

Since Linux 2.5.1 it is possible to atomically move a mounted tree to
another place. The call is
mount --move olddir newdir

I've only used the --bind command. I really don't know about the others--I've been afraid to try them as I don't have time to thrash a system anymore. I would say that the -rbind means "recursive bind" so it is probably safe--although I remember making directories and using them with an original mount --bind command in /etc/fstab. It's been a while.

Eqwatz 04-01-2007 06:52 PM

Come to think of it, I probably used the mount --rbind. But, to be honest, the music is on it's own 160GB drive now (will need a bigger one soon), and the package sources are in their own partition, the rest is in "Stuff"; another partition. I don't really ever throw things away. Random play on the Music drive, would probably take two years to play all of the music.

Eqwatz 04-01-2007 07:31 PM

One more thing: As long as you keep README files in all of your /mnt directories; what's this desire to "pare down the number of partitions" thing? Yeah, you can only have 4 primary partitions, but you can have many more logical partitions, and can boot any one of them as long as you set up a 60MB or so /boot partition as one of the primary ones.
4)extended--either linux or "W95 Ext'd (LBA)"
5-19 to be windows-safe. You are talking about a windows safe drive with 24 drive letters available less: cdrom devices, virtual cdrom devices, usb devices and other stuff (A & B are reserved for floppy AFAIK.)

With the nifty kernel-space ext2 filesystem driver for NT/2000/XP one can use the ext2 filesystem natively in Windows. (but one has to be more careful with the partition layouts to keep things windows-safe,and still must have to have a Windows-native partition for booting windows.)

NT extensions will enable double-letter drives as well, but I don't remember how to do it.

Partitions are your friends, they don't waste space--It's just that you have to have an ACCURATE permanent physical file somewhere with the layout if so you can recover everything from a serious "mis-hap".

Sorry for the multiple posts, I couldn't find any kind of edit button. It is probably somewhere obvious.

jay73 04-01-2007 08:21 PM

The edit button is right under your posts; but you need to be logged in to get at it (otherwise anyone could do the editing for you...).

phantom_cyph 04-01-2007 08:28 PM

Why have Mandriva and Ubuntu? Pick the one you are more comfortable with, and go for something more indepth for the other one, so you learn Linux more, but can fall back on the OS you are used to in doubt. Unless you are just interested in everday computing...which would make me ask: Why are you using Linux?

jay73 04-01-2007 08:37 PM

Why not? Urpmi and aptitude are radically different package managers, I think it's worthwhile playing with both for a while before deciding which you like most. As for going "in depth", I've never really understood that one. If you want different, get Solaris or BSD instead of moving from one Linux distro to a different one. Just my opinion.

lebabyg 04-02-2007 04:23 AM


Why have Mandriva and Ubuntu?
Well I intend not to have both in the future!! Mandriva is up and running pretty well, but doesn't have the necessary kernel patches to deal with the thermal issues on my notebook. Yes I could patch the kernel, but why bother when Ubuntu Feisty has the necessary patches installed.
I'm dual booting at the moment because I'm not familiar with Ubuntu, and in my experience it's best to keep a fall back system with working internet when trying a new distribution. And yes I'm really only interested in everyday computing, but isn't that what Ubuntu and all the other "next generation" distros are aiming for. I don't use windows because I can't afford it, so linux is the obvious choice. Plus linux looks a lot better, is less prone to viruses, and is more configurable.

Eqwatz: I would love to have many partitions as you suggest but don't have the disk space. I have managed to mount my Mandriva home partition butt I can't gain access to it (permission problem). Any idea how to get around this?

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