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  1. #1

    Need help installing debian alongside windows 7.

    I've been studying the instructions in

    How to install and boot 145 operating systems in a PC

    I'm interested in installing squeeze and wheezy onto a system that already has windows 7.

    One thing I don't understand in this guy's instructions is how to install a debian system into a partition of it's own without modifying the hard drive's MBR in any way.

    Can anyone instruct me as to how to do this?

  2. #2
    Linux User zenwalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Inland Empire
    It appears to me the author had to create the multiple partitions first. Suggest telling us how large your hard drive setup is, how many OS are intended to be installed on it, and reading the onsite article here, especially the partitioning section.

    Another critical bit of info is how many partitions of what sizes does Win7 currently reside on in your hard drive setup? Tell us about your hardware, too.
    Last edited by zenwalker; 08-18-2013 at 04:33 PM. Reason: typo
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  3. #3
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Tucson AZ
    The link you refer to was posted in 2006, 7 years ago and explains how to use the Grub Legacy bootloader. If you try to use those instructions, you will run into all kinds of problems because Debian by default uses Grub2 which is quite different as far as the menuentries and commands. It also explains how to do this using the Grub bootlaoder in the mbr. If you boot your Debian install CD, you should be able to open a terminal/konsole and type this command: sudo fdisk -l(Lower Case LetterL in the command) to get drive/partition information requested above to post here.

    You should not have any difficulty getting advice here or finding online tutorials to install Debian to a partition and not installing its bootloader to the mbr. Obviously, if you do that, you will not be able to boot Debian until after you either manually configure the windows bootloader in some fashion to boot Debian or install third party software to do it. A windows default installation will not be able to boot any Linux.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Wow have I been on the wrong track. Thanks for the responses, guys.

    What I've got is a refurbished hp computer that I just bought from walmart. It's got 8 gig of ram and a 1 terabyte hard drive. Two primary partitions are devoted to windows 7. Using gparted I was able to shrink the number two windows partition to 300 gigabytes.

    Guess I don't know where to go from here.

  6. #5
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Tucson AZ
    You can either use gparted or the Debian installer to create new partitions for Debian. I would suggest for the sake of simplicity that you first create a / (root filesystem) primary partition of 20GB (you can create a larger partition if you want because you have a large drive) and then use the last partition to create and Extended partition with the remaining space on the drive. You will then be able to create a swap partition (2-4GB more than enough) and then create data partitions for later use.

    The two windows partition in gparted or Debian will probably show as sda1 and sda2. The sda part refers to the first hard drive, the numbers after to the number of the partitions. If you had a second drive, it would be sdb, etc.

    If you are not sure what to do, run the fdisk command I suggested above and post the output here. I posted a sample output of fdisk below showing just two windows partitions on aa 320GB drive. You can see the partitions under the Device column on the left and the System column on the far right shows HPFS/NTFS meaning windows partitions:

    fdisk -l

    Disk /dev/sda: 320.1 GB, 320072933376 bytes, 625142448 sectors
    Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    Disk identifier: 0x1549f232

    Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
    /dev/sda1 * 2048 206847 102400 7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
    /dev/sda2 208845 82959659 41375407+ 7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT

  7. #6
    Thank you, yancek. I didn't mean to mislead with my questions. I'm actually pretty well versed in partitioning the hdd. What I'm unsure about is what will happen to my windows 7 if I go ahead and create the partitions and install debian wheezy into them. Will win7 become corrupted or unusable as a result of my doing so? Judging from the posts that people make after they have done similar, I'm not sure. Any suggestions?

  8. #7
    Penguin of trust elija's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Either at home or at work or down the pub
    Unless you install Debian over Windows it will be installed on a separate partition, leaving Windows alone. When Grub2 is installed to the MBR as part of this process, the Windows boot loader will be overwritten. Grub2 will detect both operating systems and when you boot, you will have access to a menu that will allow you to choose which one to load.

    There is always a risk that something could go wrong such as installing to the wrong partition or a power cut at exactly the wrong moment. If you are careful and have appropriate backups these can be minimised. Many other issues can be fixed quite easily using a Live CD. I would exclude overwriting Windows from that though
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  9. #8
    Thank you, Elija, that's encouraging. I'll give it a try.

  10. #9
    Linux User IsaacKuo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Baton Rouge, LA, USA
    On tip--Debian's installer will probably refuse to resize the existing Windows 7 partition. In my experience, it's able to resize Windows OS partitions up to Windows XP, but starting with Windows Vista you're better off resizing the partition from within Windows itself.

    Unlike Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 are able to resize the OS partition even when you're booted up in them. So, you want to first shrink the Windows OS partition from within Windows (it's under disk management options). Leave the rest of the drive as free space.

    Then, when you boot up the Debian installer CD, use the manual partitioning option to create 3 new logical partitions in the free space--two ext4 partitions for the desired OS partitions, and one swap partition. Do NOT set any of the new partitions to be the Boot partition. Windows 7 is very picky and will only boot up if it's on the Boot partition.

    I've done lots of dual boot installs of Debian on Windows machines (Windows 98, Me, XP, Vista, 7) basically always works, so long as you don't make the mistake of setting a different partition as the boot partition, and let Windows have the first partition on the first drive.
    Isaac Kuo, ICQ 29055726 or Yahoo mechdan

  11. #10
    Thank you, IsaacKuo, for your excellent and very knowledgeable response.

    I was able to shrink the win7 partition using gparted. Probably should have don so in win7 itself but I didn't know about that capability.

    So when I tell the installer to create 2 logical partitions, do I first have to create an extended partition as a container for them? I've forgotten much about how extended and logical partitions work.

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