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Old 05-09-2006, 11:20 PM   #1
Registered: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Distribution: Slack 10.2
Posts: 53

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Partitions (XP and Slack 10.2)

I'm pretty well ready to go. I could have placed this under "Linux" but I'm using Slack 10.2, and I thought I'd stay close to home. I did my basic homework several weeks ago, but then I was involved in some hardware changes.

I have two drives, master 80 + slave 30. Each is partitioned (via Windows XP) into the same arrangement (just by coincidence), which is:

extended comprising 5 logicals

The drives are formatted in either NTFS or FAT32, according to whether I anticipate Linux involvement with the data they hold. Basically this is a data system; music but no games.

I have just done low-level formats on both disks and set everything up again brand new. Linux is not on yet. I want to use NTLDR as my main bootloader. At the moment I have an XP in what you guys would call hdb2 as my boot drive. I have changed my plans from originally, but it looks like I'll put on Slackware 10.2 and Ubuntu, and they are intended to go into the last primaries on each disk, so Slack gets a total of 14.01 GB on the tail end primary of the master disk; ubuntu gets 7.51 GB on the tail end primary of the slave.

They will share a swap partition, which I am prepared to make 2048 MB, as I have a gig of RAM.

I can easily change those primaries to free space before I begin, or just leave them as FAT32 primaries and let Linux change them as it wishes.

First question: WINDOWS likes a maximum of 3 primaries plus one extended per hard disk. Oops. I already have that. Until now, I've been just assuming that Linux works independently, and can take its space and subdivide it to its heart's content. But now I am not so sure. Considering that I already have, on each HDD, three primaries plus an extended, is Slack going to get upset and tell me it can't make its Linux partitions on that third primary? If so, I have a problem.

Okay, let's assume that one has been figured out. Now, as you can guess, I am a partitioning sort of guy. I love partititions. I love being able to re-format chunks while leaving other chunks with their data safe and sound. Actually I have a very small system drive on my master, just 2 GB, which holds my boot files plus a complete store of ZIP and EXE files (not extracted) which could be used to set up a whole new system. But I don't have any OS on that system drive. Windows itself, as I said, is on the slave's second partition—where it resides mostly alone; the operational program files are on the next partition over. Therefore, I could delete my Windows OS (as I do, about every 6 months), reformat its partition, and set up a new Windows—all without hurting either my system files or the majority of my programs. Very nice and clean.

As I've said elsewhere, for now I'll stay with NTLDR. I'm going to install LILO into the boot partition of Slack; i.e. the beginning of the last primary. Then I'll go find it. I'll use the technique of copying it onto a DOS floppy and modifying Boot.ini. I'm comfortable with Boot.inis; have done lots of customizing with Boot.inis in the past.

However, for you guys who love LILO, yes, I'll be learning more about it as time goes by. At the moment I'd like to keep my NTLDR nice and safe and sound. And, remember, I replace my XP about once every 6 months. Also, I run as many as 4 XPs on the same machine. I expect to put a second XP on this one when I've finished my Linuxes.

I still intend to add Ubuntu, but Ubuntu has given me some problems (surprisingly) on my little "test" computer, and I am tired out from testing it too much. Actually I think I prefer Slackware's setup style. Slack lets me know exactly what is happening, or else tells me I'd better go and learn some more. Ubuntu left me wondering. But I would like to follow through and use both.

Your ideas for a very nice assortment of partitions, and roughly how big? Keep in mind I like more rather than fewer partitions. And which ones would you share between Slack and Ubuntu? I also have a huge store of programs in FAT32. I can keep my Linux programs in the same store, or else segregate them. But I know almost nothing about Linux partitions.

Thanks, fellows. Oh—yes, I have done lots of reading, and I have the beautiful big Slackware Linux Essentials book printed out, all 262 pages of it. I'm trying to focus right in on my particular needs and my particular ignorance now. :-)
Old 05-10-2006, 12:54 AM   #2
Registered: Apr 2005
Location: Scottsdale, AZ, USA
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 196

Rep: Reputation: 43
First, on the partitions, you can only have a max of 4, but one of those can be extended, like you have. To create more partitions you're going to have to squeeze them into your extended partitions. You can't further subdivide a primary. What you can do using parted (or gparted or qtparted) is shrink hda4, enlarge hda3, and then create more logical partitions, all without tampering with any of your data (assuming of course hda4 is empty).

Your swap partition can be cut down to somewhere around 512MB, or even less. I have 256 + 256 of swap. It starts to get full when I have Firefox w/ PDFs, Thunderbird, amaroK, Gaim, and a few shells open running KDE.

As for NTLDR, yes you can go that route. I did for a few months, until I got tired of booting into XP every time I ran lilo. Now I use lilo to (rarely) load NTLDR. (I haven't booted windoze for over 2 months.) BTW, the first time you install lilo to the MBR, it will create a backup of the MBR for you. That way you can always go back without using the fixmbr utility (or whatever it's called).

With the amount of memory you have, you can mount /tmp as a tmpfs. If you don't want to do that, you can make a partition for it and share it between your linux partions if you clear it out every reboot.

Make one /boot partition to be shared among all your Linux distro's. 50MB should be plenty big.

Personally, I have everything on one partition. If you want multiple partions, I think most people agree that /var and /home can be put on seperate partions. If you put /usr on it's own partion, you can mount it read only, which is more secure, and remount rw when you install software. Basically, if 4 people respond with partioning suggestions you'll get 5 answers.

P.S.: How does your 6-month reinstall cycle go? I have XP on a 1.9 GB partion with everything else on a vfat partion. The problem with reisntalling XP is now the registry won't "know" about all my other programs I didn't touch. (registry=dumberest idea ever). The only solution I have is to back-up and restore the registry, but that kind of defeats the whole purpose, doesn't it?

Last edited by drumz; 05-10-2006 at 12:58 AM.
Old 05-10-2006, 01:42 AM   #3
Senior Member
Registered: Sep 2004
Distribution: slackware
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Originally Posted by Grongle
Considering that I already have, on each HDD, three primaries plus an extended, is Slack going to get upset and tell me it can't make its Linux partitions on that third primary?
Linux is a lot more flexible than Windows in this area. It doesn't even have to be on a primary partition.

What I would've done first up is to partition the drives using Linux's fdisk. I find it to be much more capable than the Windows version. Windows will see the partitions you create under Linux, but it sees Linux partitions as "unpartitioned space". You just have to remember to use Linux fdisk to mark your Windows partitions as either NTFS or W95 (FAT32).

That said, it is dangerous to use different partitioning tools on the same drive. I have the doorstop to prove it!! Linux partitions are nothing like BSD disklabels. They are 'real' partitions, and you risk losing data by re-writing the partition table with Linux fdisk, which is why I always use Linux fdisk on a new disk no matter what. It supports every type of partition under the sun.

Note: I'm talking about fdisk, not cfdisk.
Originally Posted by Grongle
As I've said elsewhere, for now I'll stay with NTLDR.
Whatever floats your boat. I reckon LILO is worth your learnin'.
Originally Posted by Grongle
I run as many as 4 XPs on the same machine.
You, my friend, are a psychopath.

Last edited by rkelsen; 05-10-2006 at 01:44 AM.
Old 05-10-2006, 02:11 AM   #4
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Registered: Mar 2003
Location: Boise, ID
Distribution: Mint
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Two comments:

1. Assuming you've got at least 128Mg of RAM, a 256Mg swap space is all you need - assuming you're running a typical desktop system. If you're running a database or web server with 1000's of concurrent users, you'll need more swap, but swap is only used when physical RAM is exhausted and the system is forced to write memory pages to disk. That becomes increasingly unlikely as the amount of RAM increases, and once you get past 256 or 512, it would be unusual for a home system to regularly require swap.

2. For your Linux install, use a Linux file system, in particular, a journaled FS such as ext3 or reiserfs. FAT32 is useful from the standpoint of being accessible from either Windows or Linux, but it does't support file permissions. Personally I use reiserfs, as it's the default for both Slack and SuSE

Good luck with it. Strictly as an FYI, this bitbender article provides an excellent overview of the Slack installation, even though it's not for the current release. Have fun!

Last edited by J.W.; 05-10-2006 at 02:13 AM.
Old 05-10-2006, 06:40 AM   #5
Registered: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Distribution: Slack 10.2
Posts: 53

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
Well, first of all, anyone looking at this thread, notice I posted last evening with my questions—only about 7 hours ago; and here, in this truly superb Slackware way, are three excellent replies. Thank you very much, all three of you. :-)

I have only just read these now, and I'll delve into them later today. Overnight I realized I had confused a hard drive partitioning concept with rules specific to OSs—I had always thought the "3 primaries + an extended" was simply an MS Windows rule; and that Linux would have its own independent system. Wrong! Both OSs, or any OS, are obeying the rules of the hardware itself.

So, although this is my first glance here, I see what you are saying, drumz. Yes, I can make changes to my layout. (Well, I MUST make changes!)

[Because you asked: Windows re-installs involve re-establishing a lot of programs, true. I have a really nice layout of programs within their files, using my own system which leaves Microsoft's default "Program Files" to just a few, mostly MS, programs. MS's storage system is much too messy for my liking, and I hardly use the Windows OS partition at all, except for running Windows. (And I avoid Microsoft My-Mys like the plague!) In a separate partition, I have everything categorized, so you could glance over my system, with no help from me, and in a minute or two you'd see exactly what I had and how it worked. It's just simply a good system of hierarchies, that's all. Within that there is a big difference between "installed" programs (which show up in Add or Remove) and programs which are technically not "installed"—these are much my preference—and which are content to simply trigger by EXE files that could be directed anywhere. But in my system, the real work is in the organization. If the tree layout is maintained during a Windows re-install, I can just fire down the tree and re-instate the programs. I include an "Installation Files" folder in each app, which would have the original ZIP file plus anything that was separately required, such as manuals, plug-ins, or TXT notes I'd made myself. I can erase all the opened files except "Installation Files" and re-setup from there, usually in minutes. In yet another partition, I have all my settings and, oh yes, my icons files, which are home-made and which are copied back into system32 when Windows is back again. Yes, the entire operation takes a few days (to make it super-spiff), but I enjoy it. (As you might gather, I download a LOT of freeware, test it out, and discard tons of stuff. I clean my registry several times a day, and I run a comprehensive defrag every night. It's a clean machine, so those exercises are mostly automated; well, the defrags are totally automated. But I imagine this kind of use simply wears poor old Windows down after a few months.)]

More later. Thanks very much again.

Last edited by Grongle; 05-10-2006 at 06:54 AM.
Old 05-10-2006, 09:13 PM   #6
Registered: Feb 2006
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Distribution: Slack 10.2
Posts: 53

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
Originally Posted by drumz
The problem with reisntalling XP is now the registry won't "know" about all my other programs I didn't touch. (registry=dumberest idea ever). The only solution I have is to back-up and restore the registry, but that kind of defeats the whole purpose, doesn't it?
Tonight I'm one step closer to my install. I moved data and programs out of my extended partition, then killed the five logical partitions and the extended; killed the tail-end primary; reformatted that entire chunk—almost all of my 80 GB drive. I created a third primary at the front, followed by a new extended with new logicals with Linux in mind, as per suggestions above. I'm all set to go, and I'll put in a smaller swap file, again according to advice.

Now, drumz, I don't know a lot about drives, but because of your comment, I took particular interest in my K-Meleon and Firefox browsers, which had to be moved for all this to take place. K-M is not a true "install". I had a bit more hope for it. When the files were moved back into a drive of the same letter (M: ), even though that partition is not located in the same place on the hard drive as it had been—both Firefox and K-Meleon worked! One shortcut to Firefox actually worked as though I had done nothing to it at all; one had to be replaced with a new shortcut icon. Apparently all the registry cares about is that the drivepath is the same. It doesn't care whether the actual physical location on the hard disk is the same. Interesting, huh?

—I've experimented just a bit with this before. An old trick in enabling any number of Firefoxes to be set up and ready to run—though only one at a time—is to move the "installed" folder out of Windows' Add or Remove Programs. (This isn't necessary with builds that don't actually "install" themselves.) We used to set up the brand new Firefox, and then copy the entire folder to another location. Then we'd "uninstall" the program. Then we'd move the copy back into its original location. Now it would work just fine, but it would no longer demand to be the only Firefox, and we could have 20 if we wanted for comparison testing. (Only one actually running at a time.) My guess is that if a person interrupted the procedure with a registry clean and a reboot, he'd wreck this procedure, but as long as the whole operation is done in one go, it will work. Just so long as everything the program looks for is on the correct filepath, the registry never guesses anything was changed. AFAIK.

Last edited by Grongle; 05-10-2006 at 09:31 PM.


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