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After spending the last 3 days rebuilding my Windows 7 system (typical programs, files, etc.) I feel ready to install my second OS onto my laptop -- Arch Linux. I ...
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  1. #1
    Just Joined! Chezziwick's Avatar
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    Dual-boot Arch Linux


    After spending the last 3 days rebuilding my Windows 7 system (typical programs, files, etc.) I feel ready to install my second OS onto my laptop -- Arch Linux.

    I have two drives -- a 128GB SSD (actually 119) and a 500GB HDD (actually 465). I shrank the main partition as much as I could and it takes up 74GB (with 21GB free apparently). The only things on the SSD are programs and things pertinent to my Windows system (WinZip, Imgburn, etc).

    All my documents, music, pictures, games, etc. are on the 500GB HDD.


    Here's my question: I'm not really comfortable with partitioning from a Linux terminal interface, so I can partition using Windows instead. I've read a lot into how much space Arch Linux needs and the partitions you need to make, but it seemed like that was for a one-drive system where Arch was your only OS.

    Boot, Programs, Files and SWAP seemed to be the four big ones. Do you need the boot file on a dual-boot system? If so, that's fine. The programs partition can take up the rest of my SSD for all I care. As far as files goes, I shouldn't need to do that because they're on my HDD, right? And SWAP is unnecessary because I have 12GB of RAM.

    TL;DR: In a dual-boot Arch/Windows system what partitions do you really need, and what can you share? Also, how big does the programs partition have to be?

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    Here's my question: I'm not really comfortable with partitioning from a Linux terminal interface, so I can partition using Windows instead.
    My suggestion is to work with Windows partitions from within Windows, first, as you've done. After that, you can use a Linux utility CD to work with Linux partitions. A good one is PartedMagic... gotta download then burn the iso image to a CD. PartedMagic has a GUI partitioner (gparted) so you don't hafta use the terminal.

    I've read a lot into how much space Arch Linux needs and the partitions you need to make, but it seemed like that was for a one-drive system where Arch was your only OS.
    Depends on the use and the desktop environment... if it's a general use OS, like for surfing, email, etc, and a full DE like Gnome or KDE, then 15-20GB for the OS (/root) partition should be okay.

    Using a SSD suggests high read/write directories, like /var, should be on the 500GB HDD in its own partition. Others here, who are more familiar with a SSD/HDD combo can likely offer better suggestions.

    In a dual-boot Arch/Windows system what partitions do you really need, and what can you share?
    A general partition scheme: 15GB for the OS (/root), 2-4GB for swap and the rest for personal files (/home). With 12GB ram you may not need a separate swap partition, but if you want to hibernate the OS the saved state hasta be saved somewhere, so you might wanna assign swap to a directory on the HDD in your /home partition. If saving to ram (like Windows' sleep) you probably don't need swap.

    I have two HDDs... one for the Linux /root, /home and swap partitions, and for the Windows partition. The second HDD's for multimedia storage and backup. The second HDD is formatted to ext3: Linux can read and write, Windows cannot. If the second HDD was formatted to fat32, both Linux and Windows could read and write. From my Linux OS I can mount, read and write to/from the Windows partition. Windows cannot mount, read or write to/from the Linux partitons.

    Arch is a really fine distro but installing and setting it up requires a familiarity with the terminal. You might wanna consider installing Virtualbox in Windows to try the installation a few times, taking notes, before doing the actual HDD install. To your benefit, Arch's install manual and how-tos are among the best.

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    Depends on the use and the desktop environment... if it's a general use OS, like for surfing, email, etc, and a full DE like Gnome or KDE, then 15-20GB for the OS (/root) partition should be okay.
    I really wanted two full operating systems. I want to eventually main Linux, but because I do a lot of PC gaming and am currently most comfortable with Windows, I'd like to have two full systems. It may seem irrelevant to do that (having two of essentially the same programs), but it's what I'm going for.

    Using a SSD suggests high read/write directories, like /var, should be on the 500GB HDD in its own partition. Others here, who are more familiar with a SSD/HDD combo can likely offer better suggestions.
    I'm sorry, that didn't make much sense to me. Are you saying that having Arch on a SSD isn't necessary because it's for high read/write directories? I just figured it was like moving -- put the family and most important things that you need (teddy bear, books, etc) in the car (SSD) with you and all the things that don't need to arrive so quickly can go in the moving van (HDD). Bad example, but you get the idea.

    A general partition scheme: 15GB for the OS (/root), 2-4GB for swap and the rest for personal files (/home). With 12GB ram you may not need a separate swap partition, but if you want to hibernate the OS the saved state hasta be saved somewhere, so you might wanna assign swap to a directory on the HDD in your /home partition. If saving to ram (like Windows' sleep) you probably don't need swap.
    So with my ~40GB of free space on my SSD, I should partition 15GB to /root, and then I should be done. Are programs installed on /root? My personal files are all on the HDD, and I've used Windows for so long that saving to ram isn't a big deal. Though if I have 25GB free on my SSD for Arch I'm sure I could fit a swap in there easy.

    Arch is a really fine distro but installing and setting it up requires a familiarity with the terminal. You might wanna consider installing Virtualbox in Windows to try the installation a few times, taking notes, before doing the actual HDD install. To your benefit, Arch's install manual and how-tos are among the best.
    Thank you! I keep trying to dive in just so I can learn the ***** but I should probably learn a thing or two first.

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    I really wanted two full operating systems.
    Didn't mean to imply you can't. By "Depends on the use and the desktop environment" I meant the amount of space devoted to the system partition depends on the system and desktop environment YOU decide to install. I don't use a desktop environment, just a window mgr and a file mgr, so 10GB is plenty for my /root partition. With a full desktop environment install, 15-20GB would be better. That make more sense?

    So with my ~40GB of free space on my SSD, I should partition 15GB to /root, and then I should be done.
    Yes... unless you plan to install every app you think you might want in which case I'd suggest 20GB. Home should also have its own partition, but on the HDD. That's so if something totally glitches the system, you can reinstall the OS to the /root partition. In other words, you can leave the home partition as is and not worry about losing your personal files, and just reinstall a new OS to the /root partition.

    Are you saying that having Arch on a SSD isn't necessary because it's for high read/write directories?
    Nope, I saying the '/var' directory has a lot of reads and writes... more so than other system directories. I'm also saying that, from what I understand of SSDs, its better (safer, longer-lasting) to use a HDD for constant read/write directories. My suggestion was to create a separate partition on the HDD for /var, with the rest of the system on the SSD. There may be someone here who can give you a better explanation or you can search for how others with dual SSD/HDD set up their systems, and why.

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    Is the home directory comparable to a Windows user directory? (ex. my documents, my music, my pictures, etc.). /var looks like temporary files to me.

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    Yup, the /home directory's like Windows' user directory... personal files in documents, music, pictures, etc, as well as personal settings files for the apps you use.

    The /var directory isn't for temporary files; those are in /tmp. What's in /var are the records of what's going on in your system. In, say, /var/log, you can see the logs of what happened when the system booted, when it shut down, when it went to sleep or hibernated, what apps are installed or deleted and when... logs are very useful when trouble-shooting the system because there's a record showing what happened.

    If, say, I wanna see all the config files for cpufreqd, and where they are on the system, I'll open /var/lib/dpkg/info/cpufreqd.list and it'll tell me the config file names and where they are. That's in my Debian system; in Arch it's something like /var/lib/pacman/local/cpupower/files.

    The moment to moment and week to week stuff that is happening in your system, or has happened, is generated and stored in /var... which means lotsa read/writes. Boot to a LiveCd and take a look.

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