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What I plan on doing is installing Windows on one drive, Linux on another (probably Mint), and using the third drive as a shared home folder. The way I plan ...
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  1. #1
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    Dual boot with 3 drives.


    What I plan on doing is installing Windows on one drive, Linux on another (probably Mint), and using the third drive as a shared home folder.

    The way I plan on doing this is first I will install windows on drive 2 and put my home folder on drive 3. (I will google this, I'm sure it is not too hard) Then I will install Linux on drive 1. I will configure grub to dual-boot between the two drives. I will edit fstab to mount drive 3 and I will edit passwd to point to drive 3 as my home folder.

    Here are my questions:
    1) Is there any reason why a shared home drive just won't work?
    2) Is there a better way to do the same thing?
    3) If I use this method, is there anything else I need to do to make it work just right?

  2. #2
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    Do you want to have a shared data partition or drive? I'm not sure what else you would be referring to as windows doesn't use a 'home' directory/folder.
    You should install windows on the first drive or you will have trouble booting it and will need to get into mapping drives. After installing windows, reboot to test that it boots and then install Mint on the second drive but put Grub in the mbr on drive one, the windows drive. Then create a partition or partitions for your shared data on the third drive.

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    This may not work for you, but it's one way to move between operating systems and share data: I use a switch (Lian Li HDD Power Controller Model BZ-H06B (about $65)) that allows me to have up to six systems in my box. Note well: it does not allow me to have two operating systems open at the same time. I transfer data using a USB thumb drive.
    Last edited by Reynard; 05-24-2013 at 02:30 AM. Reason: Left out one )

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    You should probably leave /home on the Linux OS drive and leave My Documents on the Windows OS drive. Besides the fact that the directory structures are completely different, they require different file systems for the application software in the different OS's to access them properly. In particular, differences in how user access rights and time/date stamps cause weird effects if you don't use the appropriate file system.

    Instead, the third drive should be used as a shared data drive. This should be formatted in either ntfs (Windows format) or FAT32 (older Windows format which is easier for older operating systems to access).

    Also, do you really mean 3 different physical hard drives? Or do you mean 3 different partitions on a single hard drive? In Windows, different partitions tend to be called different drives, so that may be a point of confusion for you. If you mean the latter, you should be aware that Linux works best if you have at least two different partitions devoted to it--an ext3 or ext4 partition for the OS and a swap partition which is the Linux equivalent of the Windows swap file.

    Note that while Windows can't access ext3/ext4 partitions without kludgy third party software, Linux can access ntfs partitions out-of-box. So, to share data you could just put shared data somewhere on the Windows OS partition. This is generally simpler and less wasteful of space, but it does mean that you have to blow away your shared data if you do a clean reinstall of Windows.
    Isaac Kuo, ICQ 29055726 or Yahoo mechdan

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    Hi. If you want to share a drive between Linux and Windows, you're doomed to using FAT32 or NTFS. Unfortunately those 2 filesystems don't provide the necessary features Linux is waiting for in a /home system. Your idea is not bad though, but you can't share your whole /home folder. You should refine what you REALLY want to share. So :
    -keep your /home folder in the Linux world
    -the same, keep your c:\users\dmobbjr\ in the windows world
    -Have folders in your 3rd drive for what you want to share. Examples :
    -> videos
    -> photos
    -> music
    -> everyday's documents.

    If you dare trying it, you may try to share your thunderbird folder, although having emails on windows is really risky. One way could be to install and configure thunderbird under windows, and then point your linux thunderbird to your windows data, like with a hard link.
    Code:
    dmobbjt@hostname:~> ln -s /mnt/your_windows_mount_point/Users/dmobbjr/AppData/Thunderbird /home/dmobbjr/.thunderbird
    Let us know is it works. I must admit I retrieved thunderbird windows install with linux by copying the data folder and it worked ; I never tried to share the folder between the 2 systems because I don't email under windows (I'm fed up with virus and other issues)

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    Quote Originally Posted by DmobbJr View Post
    What I plan on doing is installing Windows on one drive, Linux on another (probably Mint), and using the third drive as a shared home folder.

    The way I plan on doing this is first I will install windows on drive 2 and put my home folder on drive 3. (I will google this, I'm sure it is not too hard) Then I will install Linux on drive 1. I will configure grub to dual-boot between the two drives. I will edit fstab to mount drive 3 and I will edit passwd to point to drive 3 as my home folder.

    Here are my questions:
    1) Is there any reason why a shared home drive just won't work?
    2) Is there a better way to do the same thing?
    3) If I use this method, is there anything else I need to do to make it work just right?
    You don't state how big your drives are, but in my situation, I have a 500g drive with both systems on it, I formatted the drive with a 200g ntfs partition for Win7 Ultimate (games are really big), then a 40g (2g for swap and 38g for Mint, this will create the right format for you when installing) partition for Linux (Mint Nadia on one machine and Ubuntu 12.04 on my laptop). Install windows on the first partition then install Mint on the next partition, grub will see both and Linux will let you see the windows partition easily, but I also have a third partition on the backend of the drive (using whatever is left over) for storage of whatever I want, that could be your shared home folder.

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    Yes it is actually 3 different drives. Infact drive 3 will probably be a RAID 1 so really it is 4 physical drives.

    I want to use the third drive for all of my data. (mostly movies and music) I don't really want to have to move stuff though. I want my OSs to see the third drive as the location for the Movies folder and the Music folder (and Documents and Downloads...).

    Can Linux really not use NTFS for its home folder. I would think there would be support for that. If not I guess what this is impossible.

    Oh and by home folder I mean /users/username/

    Edit: I didn't reallize you asked how big they are. The linux drive will be 2TB the The windows drive will be 240GB and the data will be 2x1TB in RAID1. This is why I can't store stuff on my windows drive anyway.

  9. #8
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    If you want to use the third drive for data (Movies, Music, etc.) then the methods suggested above of having this data on the third drive are the best.

    Can Linux really not use NTFS for its home folder
    IsaacKuo explained that above, totally different filesystems. There is more to a Linux /home/user directory than just data files and perhaps doing some reading on that would help you to understand why this would not be a good idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DmobbJr View Post
    What I plan on doing is installing Windows on one drive, Linux on another (probably Mint), and using the third drive as a shared home folder.

    The way I plan on doing this is first I will install windows on drive 2 and put my home folder on drive 3. (I will google this, I'm sure it is not too hard) Then I will install Linux on drive 1. I will configure grub to dual-boot between the two drives. I will edit fstab to mount drive 3 and I will edit passwd to point to drive 3 as my home folder.

    Here are my questions:
    1) Is there any reason why a shared home drive just won't work?
    2) Is there a better way to do the same thing?
    3) If I use this method, is there anything else I need to do to make it work just right?
    I do something similar, and perhaps my experience will be of value. My laptop has two 465 GB drives partitioned as follows:
    1st drive: Windows (C: 200 GB), Windows (D: 241 GB), Linux (swap 8 GB), Linux (/tmp 16 GB)
    2nd drive: Linux (/ 50 GB), Windows (E: swap space + storage 200 GB), Linux (/home 205 GB)
    All linux partitions are formatted ext4. As you can see, my hard drive space is biased to NTFS, because Windows can't read an ext4 partition, but Linux can read NTFS. So I use the Windows spaces on D: and E: for common storage.

    Having swap on the opposite drive from the boot gives me a speed increase. Not much, but when I am really hammering the system, it approaches 4%.

    I do prefer to run Linux, but the only decent DVD rippers are Windows based, so I maintain XP for this and other tools that I can't get in Linux.

    I think other people have indicated there is no way to have a single shared home directory between both operating systems. I can't figure out why you'd want this anyway. I keep movies on the D: drive, music and other stuff on E:. I mount those two partitions as /movies and /music on the Linux side, which gives me easy access to files which are easily sharable on both OSs. I keep documents in the folder Documents on E:. Both Windows and Linux desktops are littered with shortcuts pointing to the appropriate locations for files. I can make either OS work, but I prefer not to have to remember XP's quirks, so I try to do things the Linux way. Likewise, I have Open Office on both sides, both configured to use Micro$oft file formats. I have implemented everything I can to have one set of standards.

    Incidentally, I'm aware that my partition sizes are not optimal. I set this up 4 years ago, and I wanted to make sure I had room for expansion. My C: drive is almost full, whereas after 4 years of downloading every linux tool that looked even mildly interesting, my root drive is under 9 GB. Likewise I made my /home partition way too big, because anything that I need on both sides needs to go into an NTFS partition. If I ever do it over, I will shrink the root and home to 25 GB each and put the extra into E:.

    I assume you know how to set up such a scheme, but just in case ... I wrote my initial scheme including partition sizes on a piece of paper. Then I started with the XP boot and used fdisk to set the first two partitions on both drives as NTFS and with the sizes I indicated above. Once I had XP working, I put in my Ubuntu disk, changed sdb1 to ext4 and put / in there, and created the remaining 3 linux partitions. No problems; never looked back (except of course, for overestimating the needed sizes of my linux partitions.)
    Last edited by Toadbrooks; 05-25-2013 at 01:57 AM. Reason: spelling

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by DmobbJr View Post
    I want to use the third drive for all of my data. (mostly movies and music) I don't really want to have to move stuff though. I want my OSs to see the third drive as the location for the Movies folder and the Music folder (and Documents and Downloads...).
    The most elegant way to do this is to format the third drive in NTFS and set Windows to put your My Documents folder on the third drive. Then, in Linux, you use symlinks to point various folders within your home folder to the corresponding folders in that My Documents folder. In particular, you would symlink ~/Music to "/media/drive3/My Documents/My Music" or whatever specific location Windows decided to put your "My Music" folder.

    The reason for doing it this way is because Windows doesn't support links very well, but Linux does. Windows has folder links, but a lot of software doesn't really handle them properly. So, it's best to just let Windows decide to put stuff where it will, and then adapt Linux to point to those locations.

    There are various ways to create symlinks using the GUI, but I'm only really familiar with making them with the command line. Here's an example:

    1) open up a terminal window
    2) remove the existing empty folder with: rmdir Music
    3) create the symbolic link with: ln -s "/media/drive3/My Documents/My Music/" Music
    Can Linux really not use NTFS for its home folder. I would think there would be support for that. If not I guess what this is impossible.
    Linux will let you use NTFS or any other supported file system for its home folder. But if you try to do it using a graphical Linux installer, it will probably warn you that it's not a good idea.

    There are a bunch of (usually hidden) preference files stored in your home folder that depend on Linux/Unix style file permissions in order to function properly. If it's on a file system like NTFS which doesn't have the same sort of file permissions, the software will behave in weird ways and sometimes not function at all.

    That said, the visible folders within the typical home folder, such as "Music" or "Pictures" or "Downloads", are just places to store files. It's safe to mount them or link them to any old file system, or even just remove them entirely. Linux software generally isn't picky about whether these folders even exist, much less where they are, specifically.
    Last edited by IsaacKuo; 05-25-2013 at 04:47 PM.
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