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Hi everyone! First of all, thanks for reading this. I'm a Mac OS X user forced to use a PC at work just to run two applications, but I'm still ...
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  1. #1
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    New to PC and Linux with a virgin HD ;) Installation doubts.


    Hi everyone!

    First of all, thanks for reading this.

    I'm a Mac OS X user forced to use a PC at work just to run two applications, but I'm still in the process of buying it. I must say I have only occasionally used a PC, but have never owned one. So, please, don't assume I have any Windows or PC hardware knowledge. I have always used Macs.

    After looking around and instaling a few linux distros on VirtualPC for Mac OS X, I'm decided to install Mepis (the one I like the most), Fedora and probably Libranet on the very roomy 160 GB HD the PC is gonna have, along with a copy of Windows 2000 (or XP), just in case a Windows application can't be run through Wine. That is a total of 4 bootable OS's, plus separate partitions for my /home folders (can only one be shared?) and any other dedicated partition any of the distros may require.

    If possible, I'd like to share the swap partition among the linux distros (the computer is gonna have 1 GB RAM (2x512 MB)). The Windows partition doesn't need to be very large: 20 GB or so will suffice.

    What's the best pathway for me to follow to accomplish all that? I would need a kind of step-to-step guide on the order and type of partitions I need to make, as well as the way to actually make them. Or, even a more basic doubt, if it is possible to get what I want.

    As I'm sure you will need this information, the PC configuration will be like this:
    * Motherboard: PB P4 ASUS P4P800 I865PE S-478 DDRX4 A6 L1GB
    * CPU: Pentium 4 3.0 GHz
    * RAM: DDR400 512 MB Kingston
    * HD: Seagate 7200 160 GB ATA100
    * GC: ATI RADEON 9200SE 128 MB AGPX8
    * Writer: LG 16X GSA-4160B

    On the other hand, is there something on the above configuration not recommendable for Linux?

    Thanks very much in advance.

  2. #2
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    the partitioning scheme can be something like so (i'm going to use linux device names (/dev/hdXN (where X is the device letter and N is the partition number))):
    Code:
    /dev/hda1: windows
    /dev/hda2: common swap space
    /dev/hda3: common /home
    /dev/hda4: extended
    /dev/hda5: / for first distro
    /dev/hda6: / for second distro
    /dev/hda7: / for third distro
    that is the simplest scheme you could use, and that would keep the distro's system-specific fs's separate from each other... just remember that the type numbers for linux are 82 for swap and 83 for all other linux partitions.. i would use cfdisk for creating the partitions... it can create the windows partition, also.. just remember that you have to install windows before linux, or else you'll bork the installs...
    Their code will be beautiful, even if their desks are buried in 3 feet of crap. - esr

  3. #3
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    Thanks a lot

    Your answer is very helpful. Thank you.

    However, please note that I come from the Mac OS X world, where I can format a HD the way I please, and I can install any OS in the partition that most appeal to me. In other words, there are no restrictions at all, neither formatting nor installing OS's nor choosing from which of them to boot.

    So, I have some questions to make:

    1) What is a "extended partition", and what purpose does it have?
    2) What is the "type number" for a partition?
    3) cfdisk is a win or a linux program?
    4) Do I format the partitions at the same time they are created in the partition table, or do I leave them alone and let the OS installers format the one they need?
    5) Will the next linux installation ruin the /home from the previous one? I'm afraid some configurations files could be deleted or changed (.bashrc and stuff like that).
    6) Does it matter the linux distros installation order?

    I'm sure other questions will come up later, depending on the responses to the above ones.

    Thanks very much in advance.

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  5. #4
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    1) PC hardware limitations only allow for 4 primary partitions.. an extended partition is just a way to get around that.. it allows for logical partitions so that you can have >4 partitions on a single drive.

    2) the type number for a partition is a hex value telling the OS which OS the partition is for and what filesystems may be used on it.

    3) linux

    4) the installers will ask about formatting

    5) yes, you can share /home between the linux installs.. just be sure to tell the installer *not* to format the partition and to mount it at /home

    6) no. just be sure to install windows first on /dev/hda1
    Their code will be beautiful, even if their desks are buried in 3 feet of crap. - esr

  6. #5
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    More doubts

    I've been doing some tests on VirtualPC for Mac OS X (way too slooooow on my old 400 MHz G4). However, the disk image size is 15 GB, and I wonder if a real 160 GB drive has any restrictions as to where can the linux partitions reside on it. I intend to format it as follows:

    /dev/hda1: 15 GB Windows
    /dev/hda2: 2 GB swap (is this a good size for a 1GB RAM?)
    /dev/hda3: 10 GB /home
    /dev/hda4: extended
    /dev/hda5: 25 GB / for distro 1
    /dev/hda6: 25 GB / for distro 2
    /dev/hda7: 25 GB / for distro 3
    /dev/hda8: remaining space FAT32 common partition

    Is the above scheme possible? I've read something about /boot residing in the first x cylinders of the drive. So, do I need another size arrangement? do I need separated /boot partitions for every distro? A common one? Or can every distro's /boot reside in its / and be bootable from the above scheme?

    Thanks in advance.

  7. #6
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    I don't think it matters where the linux partitions are located, although I don't know about /boot.
    When you install windows, however, make sure you can select the partition size, as the windows installer seems to insist on partitioning the entire drive to itself. As stated above, it's also important to install windows first because otherwise windows will overwrite the linux bootloader, and while the linux bootloader can load windows, i don't think the windows bootloader can boot linux.
    bootloader=initializes boot process for OSes
    I usually just place the entire linux tree in one partion except for swap, but if you're going to have multiple distros, /boot and /home should be separate.
    2GB swap is fine, since the general rule is to have it equal to double the RAM. Swap is like windows virtual memory, except it's not hidden like it is in windows, and it should automatically be shared among the linux distros.
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