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I have probably pondered over this topic for at least 10 hours with countless failed efforts and frustration. I want to have the perfect partition set up on my single ...
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  1. #1
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    Perfect partition lay out and method for multiple OS's?


    I have probably pondered over this topic for at least 10 hours with countless failed efforts and frustration. I want to have the perfect partition set up on my single hard drive to install multiple OS's and leave enough space for future OS installations.

    I want to install the latest versions of fedora, ubuntu, and windows each on their own partitions while leaving space (or maybe just an empty partition) all on the same HDD and be able to choose which OS to load at start up (via GRUB). Now I've had partial success before (ubuntu and windows 7) but I always run into problems which I'll describe below.

    I have a very crude understanding of partition set up. I know what a partition is, but that is all I know. Starting completely from scratch, how can I achieve my goal in the most efficient and organized way? Although I have a basic understanding of computers (I'm pretty much A+ certified) and I have experience in linux, let's assume I know nothing, for the sake of clarity throughout this thread.

    So what do I have to do in order to install fedora, ubuntu, and windows on their own partitions while leaving some space for a future OS and being able to choose which one to load at boot up? I know there are tutorials out there but a vast majority of them follow different methods and set ups. So I come here for comprehensive answers, suited for my particular situation, from respected linux veterans who have been doing this for years. I appreciate any answer given and I thank you in advance.

    Miscellaneous:
    I have a 64 bit processor, to throw that out there. Also, if you know of any sources to where I can learn about the fundamentals of partitioning as a whole, please share so I wont have to bother you guys in the future

    Edit:
    If there is any necessary information I left out feel free to ask and I'll do my best to provide it.
    Last edited by ukballer1012; 10-10-2012 at 08:19 PM.

  2. #2
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    First, come up with a plan. How much space do you want to give Windows, and how much space do you want to give to your Linux distros?

    Okay, so here's what I would do:
    5 partitions.
    1: Windows
    2: Linux swap file
    3: / (distro one root)
    4: / (distro two root)
    5: /home (both distros)

    Caveat: you either have a different user name for your account on each distro, or you set one of them up to use an alternate home folder such as /home/user_b or something like that. Having the same home folder for two separate distros is going to cause you a lot of grief, so just make them separate.

    How to accomplish:

    (This assumes you have nothing installed and hdd is new)

    1: Fire up any live CD. Use partitioning tool such as fdisk to partition your hdd as you desire.
    2: Install Windows.
    3: Install Ubuntu. Manually assign swap file to partition 2, manually assign / to partition 3.
    4: Install Fedora. Manually assign swap file to partition 2, manually assign / to partition 4.
    5: Sign into Ubuntu as root via terminal (press ctrl+alt+f1).
    6: mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda# (# replaced by whatever # is for partition 5)
    7: mkdir /tmpmount
    8: mv /home/<username> /tmpmount
    9: add the following line to the end of /etc/fstab
    /dev/sda# /home ext4 defaults 0 0
    10: Reboot system.
    11: Perform steps 7-9 for Fedora.

  3. #3
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    This doesn't have enough detail. Do I make each one a primary or logical partition? What about the recovery partition windows automatically generates? Why do I need the /home partition and how big do I make it? Can you please go more in-depth to where I don't have to make assumptions? Assume I know nothing. Run me through everything, including the process of making those partitions. Essentially, walk me through all of the steps. I would highly appreciate it.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukballer1012 View Post
    This doesn't have enough detail. Do I make each one a primary or logical partition? What about the recovery partition windows automatically generates? Why do I need the /home partition and how big do I make it? Can you please go more in-depth to where I don't have to make assumptions? Assume I know nothing. Run me through everything, including the process of making those partitions. Essentially, walk me through all of the steps. I would highly appreciate it.
    No.

    There's tons of articles about how dual or triple boot a system. Try one, if you have questions, come back.

  5. #5
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    I have installed Windows OS + 6 Linux OSes in my test machine and there is a space left in HD to install a few more OSes.

    Partition structure of Test Machine:

    /dev/sda1 - 60GB - Primary - Windows OS
    /dev/sda2 - Rest of free space - Extended Partition
    /dev/sda5 - 1GB - Logical - SWAP (All distros uses single SWAP partition)
    /dev/sda6 - 10+ GB - Logical - Linux OS
    /dev/sda7 - 10+ GB - Logical - Linux OS
    /dev/sda8 - 10+ GB - Logical - Linux OS
    /dev/sda9 - 10+ GB - Logical - Linux OS

    You can create as many Logical Partitions as you like. Its limit was 11 partitions earlier but latest kernel supports 64+ partitions. If you are planning to install multiple Linux OSes, its not recommended to create /home partition.
    It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
    New Users: Read This First

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    I want each distro to have their own folders, not shared. So should I just mount each to "/"? And do I need a /boot partition?

    Edit: I think it would be best if I understood why mount points are needed and their significance in linux systems and how they can be used with multiple linux distros. I understand the file system of a basic linux OS just not how to handle partitions for multiple distros.
    Last edited by ukballer1012; 10-12-2012 at 10:03 PM.

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    When I select ununtu from the boot options it loads fedora instead. I think it has something to do with the partition id's:
    Code:
    [Sithon@localhost ~]$ sudo fdisk -l
    [sudo] password for Sithon: 
    
    Disk /dev/sda: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders, total 976773168 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: 0x0008f6f5
    
       Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
    /dev/sda1   *        2048      206847      102400    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
    /dev/sda2          206848   104859647    52326400    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
    /dev/sda3       104859648   105883647      512000   83  Linux
    /dev/sda4       105887742   408111103   151111681    5  Extended
    /dev/sda5       105887744   315602943   104857600   8e  Linux LVM
    /dev/sda6       315604992   316579839      487424   83  Linux
    /dev/sda7       316581888   328579071     5998592   82  Linux swap / Solaris
    /dev/sda8       328581120   348110847     9764864   83  Linux
    /dev/sda9       348112896   408111103    29999104   83  Linux
    
    Disk /dev/sdb: 1993 MB, 1993342976 bytes
    38 heads, 37 sectors/track, 2769 cylinders, total 3893248 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: 0x74158b98
    
       Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
    /dev/sdb1   *         992     3893247     1946128    b  W95 FAT32
    
    Disk /dev/mapper/RJ-swap: 4194 MB, 4194304000 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 509 cylinders, total 8192000 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 /dev/mapper/RJ-root: 6308 MB, 6308233216 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 766 cylinders, total 12320768 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 /dev/mapper/RJ-home: 31.5 GB, 31474057216 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 3826 cylinders, total 61472768 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

  8. #8
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukballer1012 View Post
    When I select ununtu from the boot options it loads fedora instead. I think it has something to do with the partition id's:
    Code:
    [Sithon@localhost ~]$ sudo fdisk -l
    [sudo] password for Sithon: 
    
    Disk /dev/sda: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders, total 976773168 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: 0x0008f6f5
    
       Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
    /dev/sda1   *        2048      206847      102400    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
    /dev/sda2          206848   104859647    52326400    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
    /dev/sda3       104859648   105883647      512000   83  Linux
    /dev/sda4       105887742   408111103   151111681    5  Extended
    /dev/sda5       105887744   315602943   104857600   8e  Linux LVM
    /dev/sda6       315604992   316579839      487424   83  Linux
    /dev/sda7       316581888   328579071     5998592   82  Linux swap / Solaris
    /dev/sda8       328581120   348110847     9764864   83  Linux
    /dev/sda9       348112896   408111103    29999104   83  Linux
    it looks as though you have only allocated about 360GB of the 500GB hard drive. You should have upto 4 primary partitions including the extended partition.
    sda1 and sda2 look to be windows partitions.

    The 50G allocated to windows should be more than enough for that purpose.
    My advice regarding partitioning is to have the windows partition at the start of the disc - which looks to be what you have anyway.
    Having a separate boot partition is optional in most instances. Personally I stick with a root partition for each distro (no separate boot partition). Allocate 20 to 50G for the first distro on a primary partition and then allocate all of the remaining disc space to the extended partition. In the extended partition you can create logical partitions for each additional distro you want to install. If you want to share data, have a shared home partition etc then create logical partitions for them also.

    Depending on system use it may be worth considering separate partitions for var and others ... but there are pros and cons to layouts, there is no one right answer

    The output of
    Code:
    sudo blkid
    mount
    would also be useful to help work out what partitions you have and at what point in the filesystem they are mounted ....

    Ed: personally I don't use lvm I just use ext3/ext4 and reiserfs partitions ... but I think fedora defaults to using lvm (lvm may force you to have a separate boot partition)

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