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Hi there! I´m about to install Gentoo, OpenSUSE and gOS in my notebook. Before there was only Gentoo in there, and the partition table had four partitions - /, /boot, ...
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  1. #1
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    Multiple distros, multiple doubts...


    Hi there!
    I´m about to install Gentoo, OpenSUSE and gOS in my notebook. Before there was only Gentoo in there, and the partition table had four partitions - /, /boot, /home and swap.
    I erased the /, so my kernel and grub config stayed in /boot. My personal files were also saved, safe in /home. But I was very afraid of losing it all... So I have some questions concerning the installation of the other two distros.
    In my old Gentoo box, my account was named peterson. Before I created any user in the new Gentoo instalation, I moved the folder peterson within /home to petersonr, because I didn´t know if the creation of a user with the same name would replace the folder, erasing its content... Now my home has two folders, an (almost) empty peterson directory and petersonr. My first question is: when I install the other distros, will my /home directory be erased? And (how I expect it to be) if this doesn´t happen, what would happen with the peterson directory if I created an user called peterson at the other distros's installation?
    My second question is concerning the boot. Can I point the boot directory to be at the boot-specific partition, or will it replace all the files and grub configuration (so I should put it along with the OS dir)?
    My last question: let's assume I installed OpenSUSE (along with its boot directory) in, hum, hda7. After the installation, could I copy the kernel over to the boot partition (hda1), and only change the grub config after, or will it harm opensuse's behaviour?
    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    Need an extended partition ...
    Your going to need to create an extended partition because you will need more than 4 partitions. Personally I would not bother with a separate boot partition unless you need one because of BIOS limitations (1024 cyclinder limit to boot from).

    Grub install ...
    You can install grub to the root partition of each OS you install, that way you retain your original grub at boot and can just link to the grub menu.lst or grub.conf files for each install. I do a default grub install and sort grub menus out after the install process. I link to the grub menu of each install otherwise things can stop working after kernel updates etc

    Home partition ...
    You can share a home partition but the user names must be different if you do this during the install process. I install but tell the installer not to use a separate home partition and add that after - that way I have full control over things and only have myself to blame if I cp something over my existing data! If you decide to use the separate home partition during the install process make sure that you select don't format the home partition (usually the installer defaults to format the home partition).

    Shared data ...
    I put genuine user data on a separate partition - not the home partition. That way things I want to share/access can do so without having to play with user id or permissions. Because I have dual boot with Windows I keep shared data on an NTFS partition. FAT32 will allow you to do something similar without having to worry about permissions.

    Boot partition ...
    I don't use a separate boot partition because I don't need to ... but if I did then I think the kernel + initrd + grub files would need to be on it.

    Hope this helps and makes sense ... I'm sure there are other ways of doing things but that method above works for me. One last thing ... backup the data before you do the install ...

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    Thanks for the answers! =D

    Extended partition
    Already did it ;D

    Grub install
    Sorry, I didn't get that very well... you mean, I install e.g. gOS with its /boot along with the /root - and then grub is replaced in MBR. After that I make a symlink of menu.lst / grub.conf pointing them to the boot partition ones?

    Home / Shared
    I guess I will set the home partition together with root at first... I heard at another site that I could have three different usernames - and then after set the same UID for them, so they could access the same folder. Is this a good solution?

    Boot partition
    You mean, all the three kernels + three initrd -> within /boot part?

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    Forgot to ask...
    I have to compile madwifi in gentoo, but it has to be compiled against a kernel. As I used my old one (safe in /boot), I didn't take the time to configure gentoo-sources. Is it possible to, hum, make a config file out of a built kernel?

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    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by petersoncekemp View Post
    Grub install
    Sorry, I didn't get that very well... you mean, I install e.g. gOS with its /boot along with the /root - and then grub is replaced in MBR. After that I make a symlink of menu.lst / grub.conf pointing them to the boot partition ones?

    Home / Shared
    I guess I will set the home partition together with root at first... I heard at another site that I could have three different usernames - and then after set the same UID for them, so they could access the same folder. Is this a good solution?

    Boot partition
    You mean, all the three kernels + three initrd -> within /boot part?
    Grub ... put / /boot /home on the same partition during the install. It's upto you if you allow the new grub to be written to the MBR. Once you have done the install you edit the /boot/grub/menu.lst or /boot/grub/grub.conf file and add an entry to allow you to access other Linux grub menu eg
    Code:
    title grub menu on sda3
    root (hd0,2)
    configfile /boot/grub/menu.lst
    
    title grub menu on sda4
    root (hd0,3)
    configfile /boot/grub/menu.lst
    You end up with a /boot/grub/menu.lst or /boot/grub/grub.conf file on the root partition of each distro.

    Home/share
    You can share the same home partition. It depends if you want the same config if you use the same folders or setup separate folders. I like to keep the home folders separate so would use /home/gentoo/jonathan for gentoo /home/opensuse/jonathan for openSUSE etc. You can set the uid equal to allow read/write access to all the home folders from each distro.
    Ed: ... take a look here as well

    Boot partition
    I think you can keep separate folders for each distro and just update the grub entries with the correct location. So lets say you have /boot/gentoo with kernel and initrd you just update grub to include /boot/gentoo for kernel and initrd entries. Not sure how kernel updates for other distros will cope with this (as previous post I don't have a separate boot partition). Or you can keep all three distro kernels in /boot as long as you don't have duplicate file names. Its your system so the choice is yours not sure if there is a down side to one way or the other.
    Having a separate boot partition makes things more complicated than they need to be in most instances ... just my opinion

    Ed: The bit of the gentoo handbook I don't follow when I do an install is creating a separate boot partition, I followed the handbook the first time for this but have not done since. The only thing that seems to be affected by this is genkernel during the install process, if you don't set valid entries in fstab before calling genkernel it tries to mount the partitions given in fstab and throws a wobbler.

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    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by petersoncekemp View Post
    Forgot to ask...
    I have to compile madwifi in gentoo, but it has to be compiled against a kernel. As I used my old one (safe in /boot), I didn't take the time to configure gentoo-sources. Is it possible to, hum, make a config file out of a built kernel?
    I don't know about that ... you may try starting a new thread for that problem because its more of a kernel config issue - not really linked to the current thread title

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    Kernel
    oops, sorry, didn't realize. Gonna start another thread =D

    Everything else
    I got it now, but the last question is... Where is the option to not overwrite MBR in the installers? As far as I remember, never seen it =S Is it a text-based only option?

    Thanks a lot =D

  9. #8
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by petersoncekemp View Post
    Everything else
    I got it now, but the last question is... Where is the option to not overwrite MBR in the installers? As far as I remember, never seen it =S Is it a text-based only option?

    Thanks a lot =D
    You should be able to install grub to root partition rather than MBR ... to be honest its not a big deal reinstalling grub ... just boot from a live CD open a terminal and
    Code:
    sudo -s
    grub
    root (hd0,0)
    setup (hd0)
    quit
    Just replace (hd0,0) with partition containing grub config files ... sda1=(hd0,0) sda2=(hd0,1) etc

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    Humm, ok, that's cool =D Thanks a lot

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    I found the option to not install gOS's boot loader, but I guess that was a mistake... Now I don't know what parameters to use =/
    Besides, there was no clear indication on what was the kernel inside /gOS/boot directory... There are a lot of *-2.26*generic there. After trying out some of them, I found the correct - but I still can't boot in

    This is the config I'm using in grub:

    Code:
    title gOS
    root (hd0,6)
    kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.24-19-generic root=/dev/hda7 quiet staticx splash
    I got this from the livecd and took out some words I considered as "liveCD" ones (such as "ubiquity=something" "caspert", "noprompt", etc). But, after it recognizes the kernel, it says it can't boot (sorry, forgot to write down the message. After posting I'll reboot, then come back and post it... [ 13.322379] Kernel Panic - Not syncing: VFS: Unable to mount root fs on unknown-block*)

    But I think the problem is: hda7 is not bootable. Does it make any sense? And if it does, and I have to turn it bootable, will it format the partition? And the /boot partition, is it going to not be bootable anymore? =S

    * After that I tried sda7 instead of hda7, but the same message appeared.
    Last edited by petersoncekemp; 09-07-2008 at 02:31 AM. Reason: put the error message in the post...

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