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Here's the grand plan. I'm going to have 2 hdds in my desktop. A 160 gig drive will be the boot, and a 640 gig drive will be the storage ...
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  1. #1
    Just Joined! Artesia's Avatar
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    Creating a boot drive; seeking advice on partitioning


    Here's the grand plan. I'm going to have 2 hdds in my desktop. A 160 gig drive will be the boot, and a 640 gig drive will be the storage drive. Ubuntu will be my primary OS, but I want to play around with different distros, and I want to set up the partitions ahead of time for 3 to 5 of them (plus one swap, of course).

    One, how much minimum space should I allocate per distro? I want each to have its home folder within the boot disk, but all my files will be on the other drive. So I just want to give it enough space for the OS, installed apps, and some breathing room. I found some recommendations out there but I don't think they took into account that I don't need storage space.

    Secondly, this is my gaming box, so it's going to get Win XP. (Win is going to get about half the boot drive and no space on the storage drive.) I know that I have to install Windows first, but does that mean that I have to partition everything after the Win install, too? Or if it sees 80 gigs of NTFS, will it peacefully settle into it and leave the rest of the drive alone? (I've never installed Windows myself so I'm not sure what I'm in for.)

    Lastly, the intended boot drive is a 5 year old Maxtor drive that's been in active use as part of a RAID since its birth. Where HD lifespan is concerned, I've heard it said that if a drive doesn't die early, it will last for many years. But still... is it risky to use a drive that old?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Linux Engineer khafa's Avatar
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    hi,


    1) 10G is largely enough for Linux distros and you will have enough room for applications

    2)with Windows also you can choose which partition to install and it will leave your other partitions in peace(i think )

    3) i have never heard of that rule. and i think that if you can afford it i would be wiser to get a new HD
    Linux and me it's a love story

  3. #3
    Just Joined! Artesia's Avatar
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    Hi khafa,

    thanks for your input!

  4. #4
    Administrator jayd512's Avatar
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    Hi, Artesia!

    khafa is spot-on when he said that 10G is enough, but I like to give myself a little leeway on it. Example being, I have a PC with 2 drives on it right now. Both being only 20G each. Fedora 8 is on drive 1, churning through a first try at CRUX 2.4 on the second. Each time I try something new, I give myself 15G of a drive, just so I can have a little space ready in the event of the need to re-size something.

    On the other hand, be aware that if you should install Windows, it will overwrite GRUB, and you'll need to re-install it (simple task... had to do it last week). If you've not installed Windows though, and you have problems or questions, PM me and I'll try to help you out (had to install that a few times too)

    In my opinion, if the hard drive in question doesn't sound like a John Deere on start-up, you should be fine. (Don't laugh... I've talked to people in that situation)

    Let us know how it goes!
    Jay

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  5. #5
    Just Joined! Artesia's Avatar
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    Hi Jay!

    Installing Windows is the part of the project that worries me the most! lol Thanks for the offer to help with that.

    I was guessing 8-12 gigs before, so 10 sounds good... My Ubuntu partition will get 15 since that'll be my primary OS and I'm probably going to install more stuff.

    The hd doesn't sound bad at all. It's been in constant use, too, not just sitting around. The nice thing is that it was part of a RAID with another identical 160. I think that I'll just leave them both installed, set one up the way I want, duplicate it on the other one, and disconnect the second one so it doesn't draw power. Maybe. I might be making this whole thing more complicated than it needs to be by doing that but we'll see.

    My 640 arrived in the mail today. I think I'll be tackling this over the weekend.

  6. #6
    Just Joined! Artesia's Avatar
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    This is exciting! I'm halfway there. I took out the small drive, installed the 640, disconnected one of the 160's, and formatted the 640. I'm so proud of myself! lol

    The next step will be partitioning the boot drive. I'm going to place them on the drive in this order:

    1) 80 GB NTFS for Win XP
    2) 4 GB swap partition
    3) 10 GB ext3 distro #1
    4) 10 GB ext3 distro #2
    5) 10 GB ext3 distro #3
    6) remainder: ext3 for Ubuntu

    Does the order really matter?

    And the big question is, where does GRUB end up? My understanding is that there's only one GRUB and it needs to be edited so it sees all the distros and Windows. GRUB doesn't need its own partition, does it? (I'm closely watching the other active thread on this topic going on right now but I'm still confused.)

  7. #7
    Administrator jayd512's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Hi, Artesia! Congrats on tackling your project!

    Quick question... why 4 GB of swap? By rule of thumb, you should only need between 1 or 2 times your RAM as swap, and all your distros will be able to utilize the same swap partition. If you have a fairly new machine there with a medium amount of muscle, I would go for maybe 1 GB of swap (I have 512 RAM, didn't really need the Gig of swap... using 512 swap).

    As far as the order goes, since you already know to install Windows first, doesn't really matter. So long as you edit GRUB properly, they will all be present for selection at boot time.

    No, GRUB doesn't need it's own partition, because it will be located (preferably) on the main OS's partition... most likely your Ubuntu install.

    If you have more questions, throw 'em out here!

    Good Luck!:

    *EDIT*

    When you go to install your selected distros, make sure to pay close attention to which partitions you install to. I've made the mistake before of installing one OS right over another by sheer misfortune of choosing /dev/hda3 instead of /dev/hda2 for my target partition!
    Last edited by jayd512; 09-07-2008 at 12:08 PM. Reason: Important after-thought
    Jay

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  8. #8
    Just Joined! Artesia's Avatar
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    Thanks for replying so fast! I definitely want to continue this today

    I chose 4 GB for swap based on that 1 to 2 X your RAM rule. I just upgraded the RAM to 2 GB along with the new hard disks. But it is a 5 year old machine--the RAM is DDR and the processor is a 32 bit 2.09 GHz chip. This thing was built to handle Half-life 2 just before it came out. But anyway, I have plenty of room on the boot drive, so I don't mind giving up 4 Gigs for swap.

    Thanks for the GRUB info... I was really confused on that. I'll install Ubuntu right after Windows and take it from there.

    During this thing I've learned how much I really need Ubuntu. I played around with a Fedora live CD, and even though it had Gnome I was still a little lost. As I was in Windows--which I used for 14 years! I gained a huge amount of my computing skills in the last year under Ubuntu, and I found that I preferred using the Ubuntu live CD over XP. This amuses me. But in a good way.

  9. #9
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    Swap 2 x RAM upto 1GB ... I think you are not going to use much of the 4GB allocated ... try running free every now and again and see how much swap you use.

    You can setup Windows partitions before, during or adjust after the install. Gparted is probably the best tool for this ... which you already have on the Ubuntu live CD.

    I think you may end up a bit short of space with 10GB rather than 15GB for some distros ... although that depends on what desktop environments/windows managers/applications you decide to install on each distro. I'd say 5GB is the minimum but if you have the space I'd go for 15GB and cut it back if not used.

    Grub ... grub does not need a separate partition. Grub has two parts - one that lives in the boot sector and one that lives on your Linux distro root partition (or boot partition if you created one - I suggest you don't do this unless you really need to ).
    My recommendation is to use either the default grub install for each distro (which will be the MBR of the first hard drive) or install grub to the boot sector of the root partition of each install. Doing this means you end up with a configfile (menu.lst or grub.conf) setup by the distro installer ... some distros like Ubuntu will detect other Linux and Windows OS and setup entries for them as well.
    You can easily add an entry to grub menu after to link all grub menus together something like this ...
    Code:
    title grub on sda3
    root (hd0,2)
    configfile /boot/grub/menu.lst
    Doing this is much easier than trying to guess what the correct entry to boot a particular distro is and ... more importantly ... when you do updates including kernel updates on distros like Ubuntu it will automatically update the standard grub menu file for you. The update won't go looking for your Ubuntu entry in openSUSE grub ... so you would need to do that manually if you go for the single grub menu file option

    Ed: don't worry about breaking the bootloader ... you can fix things quickly with the Ubuntu live CD anyway (at least for Linux) and can usually get Windows going again with the SuperGrub CD.
    eg boot from live CD & open a terminal
    Code:
    sudo grub
    root (hd0,0)
    setup (hd0)
    quit
    shutdown and restart system replace (hd0,0) with partition with grub config files (hd0,0)=sda1 (hd0,1)=sda2 (hd1,0)=sdb1 etc ... and (hd0) is the MBR of drive 1 (hd1) MBR of second drive etc.

  10. #10
    Just Joined! Artesia's Avatar
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    Hi Jonathan, thank you. I'm glad I checked back here before proceeding. That makes a lot of sense with the swap... I have noticed that even on my laptop with 1 gig of RAM, I only use a small portion of the 2 gig swap partition that Ubuntu made for itself. I gave this one 2 gigs and everything was just perfect for 5 15 gig ext3s after that. I want to be able to exeriment freely to get to know other distros, aplications, whatever. I'm not really building a boot drive. I'm building a playground.

    I have been using Gparted on the live CD... I love that thing!

    Here's what I ended up with:

    Code:
    /dev/sda1               1       10199    81923436    7  HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/sda2           10200       10454     2048287+  82  Linux swap / Solaris
    /dev/sda3           10455       12430    15872220   83  Linux
    /dev/sda4           12431       19929    60235717+   5  Extended
    /dev/sda5           12431       14342    15358108+  83  Linux
    /dev/sda6           14343       16254    15358108+  83  Linux
    /dev/sda7           16255       18166    15358108+  83  Linux
    /dev/sda8           18167       19929    14161266   83  Linux
    I think I'm understanding what you're saying about GRUB. I'm about to put it to use. When I finish this post, I'm going to grab a Mountain Dew and begin the dreaded Windows install.

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