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  1. #1

    Partition Control for OpenSuSE 11.2 (and 11.1)


    From around March 15th I have been getting "stomped on" by problems on my latest computer. The computer is a HP Compaq dc5850sff which is a nice little business computer based on a 2.8 GHz Athlon 5400B dual core CPU and the AMD 780V chipset. I upgraded the 160 GB HDD to a 250 GB HDD and the 2 GB single port RAM to 4 GB dual port RAM.

    I intended to run this as a dual boot computer with the supplied Windows and a version of OpenSuSE.

    Given a choice of 32-bit Vista Business and 32-bit XP Pro I prefer the Vista, but when it came time to start the computer, I accidentally chose XP Pro. I will not say more about it, but yes, it really was an accident.

    I might be upgrade the XP Pro to Vista, but the difficulties I have had lately make me want to stay with the simplest setups.

    The problems I have had all center around partitioning and booting.

    1st Problem: I am aware that the OpenSuSE 11.1 GNOME (and I believe also KDE) had problems creating dual boot installations over Windows because of errors that arose in the installation of Grub. It was possible to "trash" the HDD losing both the Windows side and the Linux side. Yes, the damage was repairable, but after reading the summaries and trying to understand them (they are, or were posted right on the OpenSuSE Website) I pretty much gave up. I could see that if I studied them hard enough, I should have been able to fix the various problems, but it was just going to take too much time for me.

    Keep in mind that I have installed dual-boot Windows/OpenSuSE 11.1 setups on 2 different computers successfully. One is still in fairly regular use, but the other eventually failed. I am still waiting to get around to removing critical data files from that computer in order to attempt a fix. I believe the failure happened due to changes in partitioning, but I need to check my notes to be sure.

    Apparently, this bug has been "fixed" and there is a newer ISO for a "LiveCD" of 11.1 created by someone else (NOT an official OpenSuSE distribution) which should include the new version. If I could find that, I might give it a try.

    2nd Problem: OpenSuSE 11.2 Gnome has a bug in the "Expert Partitioner" which means that it should also not be used. There has been a fix submitted, but the last time I checked (about a week ago now) it had not been distributed. The 11.2 KDE LiveCD discs should not have a problem in this regard, but I do not have time for more "test run" software.

    To get around the "Expert Partitioner" I had hoped to use "Parted Magic" for partition control. The latest version I had at the beginning was 4.8. I found that I could use 4.8 to create a layout. I then used OpenSuSE to re-format and mount the partition. All that worked fairly well, but every time I used "Parted Magic 4.8" to move or re-size a partition *after* it was installed, it would result in an "Invalid Partition Table" and the whole HDD (both Windows and OpenSuSE) would be unbootable (most likely due to an incompatibility with how Grub uses Partition Tables).

    Because of this problem I ended up losing the installations over and over again, due to changes I wanted or needed in the partition layout.

    Looking at the documentation for "Parted Magic 4.9" and "4.10" it appears there was a bug in it all the way from at least "4.7" throught to "4.9". So "4.10" may be the first stable version in a while. I have just started to use it and my first use -- shrinking an NTSF "C:\" and creating a new Primary "D:\" for Windows XP Pro seems to have worked.

    That leaves me to a question: Has anyone been using "Parted Magic 4.10" to modify the partitions in a dual boot Linux installation like OpenSuSE 11.2 lately? How has it worked?

  2. #2
    Did you ever consider to use LiLo (Linux Loader) instead of GRUB?

    It seems that GRUB does a lot of harm to some people.
    But nevertheless the only thing is does is to create a text file named menu.lst.
    And this you can edit to your needs as you want.
    So GRUB doesn't do anything to the partitions.
    It just tells where everything is residing.
    You can also make a GRUB boot-cd, and boot from it, also manually.

    If I remember well, Parted Magic uses the linux program parted.
    I am not sure if there were problems with versions of this.
    Or if it concerns only Parted Magic.
    Anyway, info about parted is at:

    Parted User's Manual

  3. #3
    Linux Guru gogalthorp's Avatar
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    If you can resize and create partitions that is all you need to do. Actually the best a simplest way to install Linux on a dual boot is to shrink the Windows partition and just leave space for the Linux installer to use.

    Note that you can only have max of 4 primary partitions. So If you plan 2 Windows partitions and a normal Suse install (3 partitions) you will need an extended partition. Also note that partitions must follow one another with no overlap and no space between them.

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  5. #4
    Yes, that's true.
    Mostly it suffices to have 1 primary partition and 1 extended.
    On the extended you can create more logical volumes, which are also partitions.

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