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Installing Linux On A Partitioned Hdd


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#1 silver threads

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 06:30 PM

I would like to try Linux Ubuntu as an alternative to Windows XP and wonder what changes I would have to make to the partitioning of my HDD to dual boot. The HDD is 100 GB and has 3 equal size partitions. I would like to install Linux on the D partition if that is possible. From what I can recall, I set the C drive as the active one for XP and do not know if I will have to do something similar with the D partition.

Any suggestions and advice would be appreciated.

Many thanks

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#2 Trio3b

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 11:40 PM

My personal recommendation for someone new to Linux is to run a LiveCd version of *buntu which will run off the CD drive being uncompressed into RAM on the fly. This allows you to get a feel for Linux without touching your HD. It WILL run slower than a HD install but is the safest method if you have critical data on your Windows partition or are unsure of dual boot installs. I have never, ever damaged a Windows installation using the Mandriva installer but it is something to consider.

If we're talking about one hard drive and IF you have correctly partitioned the drive into three equal partitions then Ubuntu should see all three partitions and allow you to select one of the three to install Linux to. Remember that Linux does not name the partitions as C, D, E etc. It will call them hda1,2,3 etc.

Windows will install itself to the first partition hda1 so this leaves you with 2 more unallocated spaces. There are numerous configurations but if you want to have files readable by both OS's I would setup partition 2 as a FAT partition and then install Ubuntu to the third partition using ext3 ( which I think is the default for buntu). Pay close attention to the options during the Linux install that you DON'T select erase Windows and use whole disk. During install you will be given the option to install the boot loader and should install it to the MBR on hda1 upon which Windows is installed. GRUB or LILO will recognize the Windows install and should setup the bootloader to give you the menu option of either Windows or Linux during successive boot up.

Google various install options to get a feel for dual boot procedures.


Hope this helps

#3 silver threads

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 03:48 PM

Thank you for that info which is very helpful. I will certainly try out Linux from a live CD as that willl be a great help I think and it may also act as a tutorial for me.

I realised after posting my query that I had partitioned my HDD as 3 NTFS partitions and remember reading somewhere that Linux generally runs on FAT 32 partitions. I asked the question as I suspected that I might have to change the 2 remaining partitions into FAT32 format. I am aware that Linux likes to have two partitions, one to hold the OS and another for files. I originally set up the two additional partitions intending these to be used for files and downloads etc and reserving the C drive for the XP OS. The info on the 2 current partitions can be saved on my external hdd, no problem there.

Do I need to change the two partitions to FAT32 first before I try the Linux CD?

Again, very many thanks for your help.

#4 Trio3b

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Posted 26 August 2008 - 09:18 PM

Linux does not actually use FAT or NTFS files systems, but can read and write to them. Linux uses several file systems, mainly ext2,ext3, reiser and a few others. AFAIK Ubuntu uses the ext3. Windows cannot read, write or access Linux files systems (without third party sftwr), so..... that's why we leave an unused FAT partition so that Linux can WRITE to the FAT and then Windows can read those personal files off this partition.

The Ubuntu installer should be able to take care of reformatting any partitions so don't worry about changing anything to FAT or whether Linux can handle it. What you DO have to worry about is to map out what YOU are calling "D" partition to what Linux is calling hdax, where x is any of the partitions that was NOT used by Windows. You must be careful NOT to select "erase and use entire disk" or " resize Windows partition". You should only have to select either of the two UNUSED NTFS partitions upon which to install at which time the Linux installer will create three partitions WITHIN that partition that you previously made. It is these three NEWLY MADE partitions that you will assign as / (known as the root directory....where the OS goes), a swap partition, and /home ( where your personal files will go). Just a quick note...your external HD will probably be recognized as hdb 1,2,3 etc.


If you are going to use a common FAT partition to exchange files, I would install Linux to the last partition so that the common FAT partition is physically between the two OS's for faster access. (that's my understanding anyway)

If you use the LiveCd, this will not be an issue, however if you install to the HD then there should come a point in the installation where you can review the partitions detected by Linux BEFORE you install. I don't use Ubuntu so I am not familiar with the specifics of their installer, but if memory serves, the installer will come to a screen that shows the partitions. My guess is that partition D will correspond to hda2 as it does in my dual boot with Wxp (NTFS) on hda1, a FAT partition on hda2, and Mandriva on hda5,6,7.

Notice the Windows XP install on hda1 and the blank FAT partition on hda2 in orange.

Notice the Mandriva installation on hda5,6,7 in blue.

/dev/hda5 / ext3 noatime 1 1
/dev/hda7 /home ext3 noatime 1 2

/dev/hdd /mnt/cdrom2 auto umask=0,user,iocharset=iso8859-1,codepage=850,noauto,ro,exec,users 0 0
none /mnt/floppy supermount dev=/dev/fd0,fs=ext2:vfat,--,umask=0,iocharset=iso8859-1,sync,codepage=850 0 0
/dev/hda1 /mnt/win_c ntfs umask=0,nls=iso8859-1,ro 0 0
/dev/hda2 /mnt/win_d vfat umask=0,iocharset=iso8859-1,codepage=850 0 0
none /proc proc defaults 0 0
none /proc/bus/usb usbfs auto,devmode=0666 0 0
/dev/hda6 swap swap defaults 0 0
/dev/hdc /mnt/cdrom auto umask=0,user,iocharset=iso8859-1,sync,codepage=850,noauto,ro,exec,users 0 0

As far as the root and home partitions, yes Linux likes to keep the users data separate from the OS so if you have to reinstall the OS, you haven't touched your personal data, but this is generally done automatically by the installer. I don't think you should worry so much about installing to "D". Rather you should install to a partition that is indeed free and large enough to accomodate the Ubuntu install. If you can post a description of your partitions AS THE LINUX INSTALLER sees them, not what the Windows OS tells you, maybe we can help.

Again, let me remind you that a LiveCD will allow you to tinker a bit WITHOUT touching your HD.

Hope this helps


UPDATE: oops, yes if you want a common FAT partition then go ahead and convert one of your NTFS to FAT. I think the Ubuntu installer can do that as well. The other NTFS part will be converted automatically to ext3 by the installer.

Edited by Trio3b, 27 August 2008 - 12:30 AM.


#5 silver threads

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 09:06 AM

Thanks again for the extra info. I have requested the live UBUNTU CD - I chose Ubuntu as I understand it is a good distro to start with and I hope it proves to be so. It will probably take a while for me to receive the live CD but that is not a problem right now.

I realise that the Linux system does identify the partitions on a HDD differently. Does that also mean that the Windows C drive will also be "re-badged" by Linux?

I will have the Linux on my laptop which has a 100 GB HDD split into 3 partitions of 31 GB each (as per My Computer.)

It is helpful to know that Linux will split up the hdd beyond the Windows OS, to suit and I will certainly ensure that the C drive is left alone. The tip about having the FAT partition (D drive in Windows) between Linux and Windows is appreciated and I will install Linus OS on the remaining partition (E drive in Windows) as advised.

No doubt I will be back with more questions when I receive the live CD. In the meantime very many thanks for all the help and guidance.

#6 Trio3b

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 11:19 AM

Another pro to using LiveCDs is that generally (not always) you can see if the distro finds and sets up all your hdwr. With a full install however, if for some reason it does NOT recognize all your hdwr, you now have the task of finding and installing modules (drivers) to have a fully functional system. In your case, since you are not resizing or touching the Win partition, you should be fine if you go ahead with the install. If any problems you can always tinker without affecting Windows.


Yes Linux will rename your Windows install as being on hda1 but this will NOT affect anything as far as Windows goes.

31 gb should be plenty of room. Remember however that you can fill up a partition this size very quickly if you do any video or sound stuff or if you d/l and install lots of apps from the Ubuntu repositories over and above the stock install.

Please accept my disclaimer that I cannot take responsibility for any unforeseen issues .....but you should be OK to proceed with an install.

good luck

Edited by Trio3b, 27 August 2008 - 11:29 AM.





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